Tag Archives: #Loyalty

Angell, Lorena (co-authored by Joshua Angell): The Diamond of Freedom (The Unaltered III) (2013)

Cover design by Lorena Angell

Great cover. You will find each item in the novel.

Thanks again to Lorena Angell for providing me with a reviewer’s copy. Does receiving a copy influence the review I write? I would hope not, but knowing human nature it probably does to some extent. I try to be aware of this possibility. Hopefully that does not make me harder on the author than I need to be.

A Diamond in my Heart is my favorite of the three novels. Brand is probably part of the reason. I like him a lot more than Chris.

Chris is difficult to get a handle on. I’m sure that is Angell’s intention. Is he for Mathea’s work or is he against? How does he tackle the whole situation with Calli? It is obvious he at least lusts for her and he has previously seemed to love her (according to surface thoughts). But loving a person does not necessarily mean that we look out for their best interests.

Calli is even more confounded by Chris’ behavior than I am. It must be weird having a person change their behavior toward you almost from day to day. Realising the seriousness of having a shard of diamond lodged in her heart is a process. Coming to accept that protecting her heart also means keeping a distance between herself and Chris would also be difficult.

Freedom craves having Calli’s shard in his possession. He will go to any length to get it. Killing her is only part of it.

Brand’s ability to repeat comes in quite handy in The Diamond of Freedom. Life would be a whole lot more difficult without him.

There was plenty of action in The Diamond of Freedom. At the beginning of the novel Chris and Calli are on the run after Brand saved their lives. They are trying to stay off-radar but are finding that a challenge. From there on we go from one adventure to the other. Some of it is kind of funny (like the biker gang) and Chris’ uncle was adorable (yes I mean that). Kind of cute in his own way.

We are told a bit more about the world of Mathea and meet some of the other Diamond-bearers. I’m left wondering what sort of person I would be after 5000 years. How would it be possible to keep up her motivation for keeping the world in balance for all that time? Is it even possible to retain all of the flighty emotions we short-lived people have? Thankfully I will never find out.

How do I know Lorena Angell (and her son Joshua) have created a well-written fantasy novel? I am left wondering and pondering the characters and their future. That really is the sign of a good series/serial. The author has to keep her readers interested in the story-line and characters that live in it. Good job Lorena. I certainly want to read the next addition to The Unaltered series.


My reviews of books no. 1 (A Diamond in my Pocket) and 2 (A Diamond in my Heart).

Carlon, Lee: The Godslayers’ Legacy (The Bastard Cadre II) (2013)

Cover design by Lee Carlon

First of all I want to say thank you to Lee Carlon for sending me a reviewer’s copy of The Godslayers’ Legacy.

I liked book no. 1 of the series: A God-Blasted Land and had hopes for the rest of the series. I wonder what it must be like to be an author writing a series/serial??? I imagine the pressure you put on yourself to perform well the second time around must add to the stress whenever you feel lost in your own work. The excellent writer is like any excellent performer out there. We as a public aren’t supposed to guess how much work goes into their art. They get the tears. We get the pleasure.

Lee Carlon is turning out to be such a writer. To me he writes in minor key and plays those black tangents on his keyboard like an expert.

When Avril Ethanson decided he would fight Lord Obdurin’s bond, he did not know it would be so difficult. His reins are not as tight as those of the other cadres living up on Frake’s Peak, but they are nevertheless reins. Ronara enjoys being able to live there but she does not have to fight the bond that Lord Obdurin has tied between himself and Avril.

Not only Ronara and Obdurin add to Avril’s conflicted feelings. He is first sworn of his cadre and feels the need to seek out his other cadre members. For some reason Lord Obdurin wanted a semi-independent cadre to play his games with, and Avril’s is it.

We get to meet four of the other cadre members in this novel. Telling all of their names would only be a spoiler, but one of them is safe to share. Dune d’Turintar is on a mission to kill Lord Obdurin. Doing so is bound to bring her within reach of Avril.

Newterra is a bleak place. The world has been left in ruins by the Gods and the Gods pretty much rule the world. Who and what the gods are will probably be revealed later on, but I’m guessing Gods aren’t it.

Alexander, Cassie: Moonshifted (Edie Spence) (2012)

Moonshifted is as delightful as Nightshifted. Moonshifted remains as dark and gory as Nightshifted and keeps on being just as fun to read.

Edie’s life has changed after all of the happenings in Nightshifted. Her perspective has widened and her prejudices have been challenged.

Due to an accident Edie witnessed during her lunch-break, she becomes involved in a battle between two were-wolf clans. Little does she know where her instincts will lead her.

Her vampire connections keep on popping up, and not in a pleasant manner. In a sense Edie seems rather self-destructive. However, once we get to know her, we find that it isn’t so. Yes, she is attracted to rather “interesting” men. Yes, she tends to run towards danger. But her motives are anything but self-destructive.

Like I said about Nightshifted: Edie is a wonderful character and someone I would have liked to have met.

Good job Cassie Alexander. You have done it once again!

Monk, Devon: Magic on the Hunt (Allie Beckstrom) (2011)

Cover art by Larry Rostant

I think these covers by Larry Rostant are beginning to grow on me. Part of it is the swirling lights of magic. The other part probably has to do with how Allie is portrayed. She is all about business and I like that in a cover.

As the series about Allie Beckstrom has continued so to has Devon Monk’s writing grown. I expect that in a writer but do not always see it. Kudos to you Devon for growing as an author.

Zayvion and Allie’s relationship has changed. Their strength, closeness and abilities is making the Authority wary of them. Fortunately, the couple does have friends within the Authority. Two of their closest are Shame and Terric (who are also soul complements).

Given her unique relationship with her father, Allie is doing an excellent job of coming to terms with the situation. Monk has given the term father/daughter relationship a new dimension.

The division within the Authority is widening. Allie and her friends are discovering unpleasant truths about the regulation of magic and the leadership of the regulators. We begin to see the contours of decision-making that might not have the well-being of everyone as its goal after all.

As the Allie series grows in complexity, so do the characters. They are filling out quite well and the world we get a look at is both strange and familiar in the art that is Devon’s writing.

My reviews for books 1 (Magic to the Bone), 2 (Magic in the Blood), 3 (Magic in the Shadows), 4 (Magic on the Storm) and 5 (Magic at the Gate).

Monk, Devon: Magic at the Gate (Allie Beckstrom) (2010)

Cover by Larry Rostant

Magic on the Storm left us hanging there – a real cliff-hanger ending. And that is fine. Not that I have a say in the matter. I might have wanted to knock Devon Monk on the head with hammer for a moment, but that is my problem. Authors can be sooooooo ??

To say that The Authority is in trouble at this point would be an understatement. It became clear during Magic on the Storm that there were two factions (at least) within The Authority. Obviously Allie belongs to the “good guys” (and Jingo-Jingo to the bad).

Sadly, Zayvion is not there to aid her through most of Magic at the Gate. For obvious reasons he is out cold and Allie is not at all certain he will wake up back to his old form. Fortunately Allie is strong enough to handle that. I think she would probably be a good role-model for girls today. She just does what she has to do realising that life doesn’t play favorites.

Her dad’s old games with forcing magic to do his will is coming to bite them all in the behind. Allie tries to clean his mess up but has to fight trust-issues when it comes to good ol’ dad who just happens to be co-habitating with her. Annoying geezer and stubborn daughter.

Shame and Terric are at odds. Just because other people believe them to be soul-complements does not mean that they have to accept that. I mean, come on, we are talking about Shaymus Flynn – the king of stubbornness. I think he even tops Allie in this area.

The entertainment value of the Allie Beckstrom series is high. Devon has managed to create characters that grow and has a storyline that draws toward some kind of inevitable conclusion. While I as a reader might not know where Monk is going with the series, it is clear that she does. I am definitely going to be along for the ride.

Reviews for books 1 (Magic to the Bone), 2 (Magic in the Blood), 3 (Magic in the Shadows) and 4 (Magic on the Storm).

Monk, Devon: Magic on the Storm (Allie Beckstrom) (2010)

Cover art by Larry Rostant

One of the things I like about Devon Monk’s Portland is the kind of magic she uses (well, her character anyways). In a place where magic has become something so ordered and available that everyone can use it for just about anything, what would happen if that magic got messed up?

When Allie discovers that a storm of apocalyptic force is bearing down on Portland, she and Zayvion have their work cut out for them in trying to convince the Authority to act. How to deal with a storm that threatens to take out the entire city while at the same time turning magic unstable and destructive, is something that has to be solved. But the Authority is divided in its approach to the problem.

Having to keep any knowledge of the Authority from non-Authority friends/acquaintances is another challenge Allie has to deal with. Fortunately Zay and Shame are also members of that “elite” society and get to play with people’s lives. For that is what the Authority does. It controls magic and how much people know about it. If some person gets too much knowledge the Authority messes with their heads. Allie hates this part of the Authority but has little choice in the matter.

Imagine you had your dad living in your head. That would be enough to drive me insane. Insanity is something Allie has to keep from happening all the while trying to be the one in charge of herself. Both she and her father are incredibly stubborn people and Daniel Beckstrom is used to people doing what he wants. But Allie is no push-over and seems to be handling her co-habitation.

Another thing Allie seems to be coming to terms (more or less) with is the acceptance of the responsibilities that have been thrown her way. Trouble still has a tendency to find her, and it seems Allie has recognised that this is her lot in life. As a “leader” of the Hounds her charges adds to the pot of trouble. But there is plenty of good that comes with all of Allie’s challenges. Her relationship with various people gives her life a dimension that had been missing.

Shame is still Mr. Naughty. His character is a gem. He and Zayvion are like two brothers (lots of love and lots of annoyance). Time and again we see Zay falling for Shame’s na-na-na-na behavior. Monk does an excellent job in portraying the balm that these relationships are to Allie’s loneliness. It is fun to follow an author that shows growth.

Reviews for books 1 (Magic to the Bone), 2 (Magic in the Blood) and 3 (Magic in the Shadows).

Monk, Devon: Magic in the Shadows (Allie Beckstrom) (2009)

Cover art by Larry Rostant

There is especially one character in Magic in the Shadows that I want to point out. In Magic in the Blood Allie managed to bring alive a gargoyle. Stone, the gargoyle, is a wonderful “pet”/”friend” for Allie. Our block-building dude. I love him.

Another one is Shame (Shamus Flynn), our self-destructive but ever so loyal friend. I don’t know why, but characters that get into “trouble” are incredibly fun. Shame is the prankster of our trio/quartet.

Zayvion has a larger part than the other two – naturally. He is Allie’s second half (so to speak). A lot of the Allie Beckstrom series describes the growth that these two characters go through (well the rest of them as well). Monk manages to give us characters that grow and she explores human nature in all its glory and horror.

Allie’s problems are not over. The voice in her head is not helping her at all. As the series is told in 1st person, we get to view all of Allie’s incredibly dense moments, but also those moments when she gets to show what she is good for.

The Authority is very interested in getting Allie to deal with the voice in her head. They feel threatened by it. But it comes in useful when Allie has to fight with a magically created “demon”. Allie’s ability to store magic in her bones is a phenomenon no-one quite understands. Her lack of ability in controlling her magic makes it necessary for her to get help – through the Authority.

 

Wright, Melissa: Pieces of Eight (Frey Saga)

Cover art by Robin Ludwig

Pieces of Eight is the second book of the Frey Saga trilogy. What we saw in Frey was someone whose world had been turned upside down. What she thought had been self-evident truths, weren’t. For some reason she was hunted as the witches of “the good ol’ days” were.

When we begin Pieces of Eight Frey realises just how little she knows about who and what she is. But what she thinks she knows is that there are seven other elves who are there to protect her. But even they raise doubts in Frey’s mind. I guess that would be the problem with memory loss. Who do you believe?

In Pieces of Eight the Grand Council is still hunting for Frey because of her supposed abilities. Yet Frey is in no way able to utilise these abilities properly. She is getting better at fighting but magic – not so much. There is plenty of action and frustration in the novel.

Melissa Wright writes well. She gets Frey’s frustration across to me as a reader and her fear of the Grand Council is believable.

Dalglish, David: Night of Wolves (The Paladins) (2011)

Coverart by Peter Cortiz

Grrr, roar. Kind of looks like those nails and teeth could do some damage. With abs like that there is probably some strength as well. This wolf-man looks like the description in Night of Wolves – dangerous and fierce.

Jerico’s charm lies in his red hair, according to himself. As a Paladin of Ashhur, he fights for light/life/order. As fate would have it he has actually befriended a traditional Ashhurian enemy – a Paladin of Karak. Karak stands for dark/death (non-life)/chaos. Darius thinks his charm lies in his personality. These guys are really supposed to try to kill each other. Instead they are working together for the good of the village they live in and both of them struggle with their consciences because of it.

On the other side of the river that is next to the village Durham a clan of wolf-men live (see picture above). Well actually they are wolf-people because there are wolf-women too. The wolf-people are desperate to get away from the Waste (the place where they live). To do so they will even gather their clans together into a unit led by a wolf-king and try to attack the human side of the river.

Both Jerico and Darius are interesting personalities. Their struggles with their beliefs of what they are supposed to be like make for interesting tension in the novel. But the really fun parts come in the action that the wolf-people engender. We all know that I like action and Night of Wolves has plenty of it. The tone in the first novel of The Paladins is lighter than the tone in The Weight of Blood. Interesting to see the difference between the two. I like authors who veer from formulas used with one character to try on something new. Good on you Mr. Dalglish.

Diemer, Sarah: The Witch Sea (2012)

I love this cover. It illustrates perfectly the longing of the witch in the novel. In my head that is what The Witch Sea is about. Longing to belong, to have someone to love and to love you back.

Being responsible for holding the magical net surrounding her island is becoming a difficult task for Meriel. She is no longer certain of the beliefs that her mother and grandmother have tried to imprint on her.

Both Meriel’s longing and the longing of the sea-people shines through Diemer’s prose. Very minor-key and absolutely lovely.

The author makes a point of this being a lesbian fantasy short story. Once it was pointed out to me, I could see it.


The Witch Sea won first place in the Kissed by Venus Fresh Voices short story competition.

Dalglish, David: The Weight of Blood (The Half-Orcs) (2010)

Coverart by Peter Ortiz

There is a timeline for Dalglish’ books. You can find it on his website. However, that does not mean you have to read the books in that order. I haven’t.

David Dalglish has created a world called Drezel. Once upon a time the brothers Ashhur and Karak came to Drezel and ended up representing dark/chaos/death and light/order/life. They are godlike-creatures who have been cast from the planet and acquired followers. Like many brothers out there Ashhur and Karak fight. Unfortunately that usually involves getting their followers to fight each other.

The Weight of Blood is a dark story, one of death and destruction. The Half-Orc brothers Harruq and Qurrah Tun are responsible for quite a bit of that destruction. These two brothers seem very different yet Harruq would do just about anything for Qurrah, even if it means killing children or friends. What Qurrah will discover in The Weight of Blood is just how far he can drive his brother. Because one thing is for sure, Qurrah manipulates his brother. In spite of this, the brothers have great love for each other.

Dalglish writes dark fantasy well. His characters are complex and loveable (in spite of their deeds). Life isn’t a matter of black and white in Dalglish’s litterary world. Instead we get shades of grey that mirror real life.

I loved his writing and the world he has created.

 

Cummings, Shane Jiraiya: The Smoke Dragon (The Adventures of Yamabushi Kaidan) (2011)

Cover design by Shane Jiraiya Cummings

Shane Jiraiya Cummings is a popular writer of dark fantasy. You can get the short-story Smoke Dragon for free on his website.

Power-hungry and greedy people are to be found all over the world I imagine. Along with the hunger for more we also sometimes find those who work for a lighter world.

Smoke Dragon is the story of the fight between two who are on the polar opposites of the above traits. The people fighting on the side of the Smoke Dragon want what they do not have even if it means killing to get it. On the other side we find Yamabushi Kaidan and his apprentices.

In Smoke Dragon we get a story packed with action, magic and martial arts set in a kind of Japan. Mr. Cummings writes a fascinating tale of disillusionment and the fight for something more than oneself and those nearest and dearest to us.


Originally published as “Yamabushi Kaidan and the Smoke Dragon” in Fantastic Wonder Stories, ed. Russell B. Farr (Ticonderoga Publications).

  • 2008 Ditmar Award Nomination, Best Novella/Novelette
  • 2008 Aurealis Award Nomination, Young Adult short story

 

Doyle, Kevin: Mourning’s Song (2010)

I have not been able to find any information on Kevin Doyle (except the email address he shares at the beginning of the novel). Too bad, really. The best I can do is link you to Amazon.

Super-heroes. Their aliases are Poison, Winterkill, Eagledawn, Heart, Kalide, Squire, Plaza, Kriegen and Liegelord. These are the ones we are introduced to in Mourning’s Song. These super-heroes are born or created genetically.

While hiking in the mountains two young guys discover an oddity. When they go to find out what it is they get attacked and disappear. This is our first meeting with the Liegelord. Lord of the mountain, insanity and world leaders. We then jump to the city and get to meet two run-aways and five superheroes who try to make the world a better place.

If you are looking for a happy story with a happy ending, you need to go elsewhere. Mourning’s Song is filled with tension, action and death.

So, is it any good? Holy, freaking cow – YES. Mr. Doyle certainly knows how to hold my attention. I recommend Mourning’s Song to any and all interested in mutants, superheroes and fighting/action-scenes. There are no rose-colored glasses to make life beautiful. But in all its harshness Mourning’s Song manages to leave the reader with a tiny ray of hope.

Weinberger, Michael Louis: Blood Harvest (The Hidden Amongst Us) (2010)

Michael Louis Weinberger’s website on Photium seems to have expired. I guess you might as well use Amazon or one of the other books-sites to find out a tiny bit about him. I did find him on Twitter

Cover art by ???

Blood Harvest sure is a leading title, wouldn’t you agree. The cover no less so. It would have to be about serial killers or vampires. Knowing me – vampires. From the cover you might guess there would be a lot of blood and gore. There is gore, but Blood Harvest is a far cry from gore-celebrating novels. There is about as much blood and gore as you would find in most action novels today.

Blood Harvest was fun. I know, I think that about a lot of novels and authors. But that is the way it is. A lot of books and authors out there are fun.

Tons and tons of action and mystery galore. A real who-dun-it. The answer is revealed to the reader pretty early on in the novel. Once I know I sometimes get annoyed at the characters for not realizing sooner what is going on. That is unfair of me. Yes I realize characters in novels are not really alive – but they are in my head while I am reading a book. Steve and Chris were fun characters. I loved the ending – too funny.

Part of the blurb reads:  Respected by his fellow officers and enjoying a special bond with his Captain, whom he considers to be his mentor, Steve feels that he has finally found a place where the world makes sense and he can leave his dark past behind. So when his Captain calls in the middle of the night and instructs him to come to a highly unusual crime scene, Steve does so without question.    Arriving on the scene Steve discovers that the entire staff and patronage of nearly one thousand people at a popular and hedonistic Los Angeles nightclub have suddenly and mysteriously collapsed where they stood and appear to be dead. Rumors of a biological or chemical terrorist attack are doubted by the large number of LAPD and emergency personnel on the scene, but there seems to be no other explanation for the unnerving occurrence.     Then, before Steve can even fully begin his investigation, the case goes from unusual to absolutely bizarre with the appearance of an exotically beautiful and seductive woman in the company of a large, incredibly powerful white haired man.

Blood Harvest was a great first novel for Mr. Weinberger.


“Blood Harvest: Book 1, The Hidden Amongst Us” recently won a 2012 Next Generation Indie Publishers Award for Regional Fiction

Wright, Melissa: Frey (Frey Saga) (2011)

Cover art by Robin Ludwig

In the same manner Catherine M. Wilson writes in minor key, Melissa Wright writes in major. Initially I read Frey because it was a freebie on Kindle. That is not why I continued reading the rest of the trilogy. Some authors just seem to have fun thinking up their stories and writing about them.

Part of the story was rather obvious, but the rest worked out a whole lot better than expected. I think it was the cover that fooled me. The blurb of Frey reads: “Unaware she’s been bound from using magic, Frey leads a small, miserable life in the village where she’s sent after the death of her mother. But a tiny spark starts a fury of changes and she finds herself running from everything she’s ever known.

Hunted by council for practicing dark magic, she is certain she’s been wrongfully accused. She flees, and is forced to rely on strangers for protection. But the farther she strays from home, the more her magic and forgotten memories return and she begins to suspect all is not as it seems.”

The first sentence kind of sets the tone for the rest of the novel and kind of demonstrates what I mean by writing in major key: “Crap!” I complained as I stubbed my toe on a root, one of the pitfalls of living in a tree. It says quite a bit about an author that begins her story like that.

Frey is an interesting character. As she realizes just how lost she is she also reacts in a manner that I could sympathise with. Frey was a fun read and brought me on to the next two books of the trilogy.