Category Archives: Fantasy

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.

The Oxford Inheritance: A Novel by Ann A. McDonald

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

The Oxford InheritanceCassie Blackwell, a Smith College student, has come to Raleigh College at Oxford University for her sophomore year abroad. Although the obvious reason for her journey is an exciting year of study at one of the world’s premiere universities, Cassie has another motivation. After receiving a box of her mother’s possessions, Cassie is determined to uncover the life her mother led before Cassie’s birth. A life that apparently ended when she left Oxford.

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When the book opens, Cassie has just arrived on campus and has to hurry around to get to her orientation, mandatory photographs and try to settle in to her new room. We know nothing of what brought Cassie to Oxford except that she has won a prized seat in the class. Right away we meet some of the other characters from fellow students to professors, who will be major players throughout the book.

It is through her quest for her mother’s past that readers become familiar with Cassie’s childhood, her life with a bipolar mother who couldn’t care for herself little lone her child. We learn of her personal struggles that led her not only back to school but drove her to excel-all so that she could make this trip to Oxford. We sit with Cassie in the bowels of the library as she searches for photos and other information of about her mother’s time here.

The book appears to be an academic mystery for most of the book. The author puts the reader squarely in the day to day life of the college and does a fairly good job of giving readers a sense of the class distinctions among the students. But even early on there is a definite sense of foreboding. There are hints along the way that not everyone nor everything is as presented. There is a darkness that lingers.

The Oxford Inheritance is a difficult book to review without giving away some of the main plot twists. The turn in the story comes when someone close to Cassie commits suicide and Cassie realizes that the behavior leading up to the suicide mirrors her own mother’s before her death by suicide. This realization makes Cassie even more determined to figure out what is really going on at Raleigh College. The book would be classified as “Gothic” I suppose, although I didn’t really find it to be that exactly. I’d say it’s more of a traditional academic mystery with a Stephen King ending. However it is categorized, it is a compelling read.

A Question of Power (The Fire Chronicles Book 2) by Susi Wright

Reviewed by Timea Barbaras

A Question of PowerA Question of Power is the second book of the series The Fire Chronicles by Susi Wright. Preceded by Lord of Fire, this Question offers some answers in this volume, but hides several more in a sequel yet to come. If you want to take a trip into a land of fantasy, filled with adventure and romance, embark on the journey of The Fire Chronicles.

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While it is preferable that you read the first volume, the second volume is also strong enough to stand on its own. Before you land on Susi Wright’s fantasy realm she equips you with a map and a crash course of Gaian philosophy, so you have a sense of orientation once you arrive. It is refreshing to notice the abundance of female characters in the book. Some of them are present since the first volume while others are introduced just now. They are quite intriguing and portray different visions of the ideal Woman.

Sunborn Rising: Beneath the Fall by Aaron Safronoff

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

Sunborn RisingBreaking into the world of fantasy with a meaningful contribution is not an easy task, but Aaron Safronoff managed to do just that with Sunborn Rising: Beneath the Fall. Actually, this is only the first book of the series and it’s the key to the gates of a magically fresh universe. This YA fantasy thriller is but a part of the Sunborn Rising experience, which stretches far beyond the colorful pages of the book.

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A world that bares a slight resemblance to ours is on the verge of darkness. At the center of all there is a sun floating in an ocean and this is the spring of life for the floating tree islands covering the planet. But there is a disturbance in the flow of life and the world is at risk of falling into darkness. Salvation is uncertain and in the paws of the most unlikely of heroes.

Our main guides to this world are Barra – a young Listlespur, a catlike humanoid – along with her two best friends Plicks – a Kolalabat, resembling a bat – and Tory – a Rugosik, a puppet like humanoid. Barra starts out by wanting to learn more about her deceased father and so she sneaks into his study and finds his hidden journal. But his writings not only strengthens the father-daughter bond, but also propels Barra and her friends on the adventure of their lives. They learn that their existence is threatened by darkness and driven by curiosity they set out to explore the uncharted territories of the Middens surrounding their Loft. But things do not go exactly as planned and they fall from the comfort of their leafy bows to the muddy root. There a new unfamiliar world unfolds before them, filled with dangers, enemies but also allies and wonders. But now they struggle to find their path to the Loft and also to bring back the light to their home.

The Sunborn Rising series is clearly aimed at a younger audience, so the occasionally simplistic narrative serves its purpose. The black and white pages are sprinkled with colorful images vividly portraying scenes from the magical realm. Actually, these pictures are a valuable support for the imagination of the reader, as some creatures and plants are quite different from our reality.

In fact, Aaron Safronoff did a lot more than just start a fantasy book series; he set the grounds for a complex Sunborn Rising experience. So, the readers can also immerse themselves in music and art. But more dimensions are about to be added. Games and animated media are in the development stage. One thing is for sure, there is a lot to explore and even more to come.

James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra by Colm McElwain

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

James Clyde and the Diamonds of OrchestraAn exciting adventure in fantasy reading for tweens, Colm McElwain’s, James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra, brings readers along on a heroic young man’s journey into the enchanted land of Zara, a world imbued with sorcery, diamonds, evil beings, bravery and for James, self- discovery.

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11 year old James Clyde is an orphan, he has an affable nature, but is no stranger to odd or harsh circumstances. Adopted by the seemingly overly strict Anne Brown, James and his other adopted siblings Ben and Mary live together struggling for comfort. However, despite circumstances, there is one ray of solace for the kids, and that is their visits with Wilmore, Jame’s grandfather. Wilmore’s house is a palatial estate that holds comfort, affection, and for James holds much, much more. For James it holds the key to a legacy of magical diamonds, super powers, kingship and self-realization.

Control by Lydia Kang

Control

Reviewed by Teri Davis

In the year 2150 genetics is common. While trying to create a more perfect world, there will always be errors. Unfortunately can be people creating “freaks” of nature. Life for these individuals requires them to be hidden away from society. For each of these people, they feel odd, left out.

Zel Benton is one of those people. She has her own physical mutation, Ondine’s Curse. Her lungs forget to breathe and she needs to constantly wear a device to assist her to live. Added to that, she is constantly studying molecular biology.

Ends of the World by Matthew Waterman

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Ends of the WorldAuthor Matthew Waterman treats readers to a unique reading experience with his debut thriller, Ends of the World; an interesting read that slickly captures reader’s attention by virtue of it’s distinctive characterizations and creative storyline.

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Author Waterman weaves a stimulating tale fraught with mystery and elements of fiction and reality that are both intertwined and apposed. Matt (the author) is also the story’s protagonist; however, this story is not quite a biography as there are strong fictional elements woven throughout the story.