The Status Update

The Status Update4 Stars

Ever wonder what would happen if you made just one different decision?  The Status Update by Sonia Buck examines the power inherent in just one choice. Christine Reed supports herself and her three children. Her twins, Brian and Brenda, are seniors in high school, and Samantha, her surprise child, is eight. Although Christine wants to keep her children safe and close to home, she allows the twins to attend a college party on New Year’s Eve, believing there is little harm because they are good kids. The repercussions of that night haunt Christine and her family until a miracle occurs through an unlikely source: a defunct Facebook account on an outdated computer. Christine gets to experience the ripple effect of that one decision and the gift of changing it.

Buck focuses on themes that resonate with many readers: choice and grief. Everyone wishes for an undo button in life, but only hindsight can reveal the choices that mattered. Christine and Brian Reed spend ten years of their lives wishing they could go back in time and change the one night that ruined everything. Brian’s alcoholism and Christine’s refusal to treat an illness force them to live in a world of pain, punishing themselves. Both Brian and Christine succumb to their own grief in destructive ways. Anyone with loss or regret can relate to these two characters. Then there is a moment of magic that allows Christine to alter her past and future, and who wouldn’t want that?

The Status Update follows a familiar path but with new twists. A magical moment gives Christine a second chance, and social media is the impetus for this change. The new approach piques the interest and pushes the reader to keep going until the end where Buck unpacks some surprises.

While the plot keeps readers engaged, I felt the character descriptions were doled out mechanically through second hand accounts rather than organically. There is a lovely scene in which Brenda is able to help her younger more analytical sister understand the magic of a fairy tale. The interaction between the two characters felt like a genuine moment, but there were too few of these experiences. I felt I was being told who a character is rather than being shown.

Sonia Buck has a way of leaving tantalizing bread crumbs throughout the story that lead to an entertaining ending. I would say the pacing of the novel was spot on except for one spot; the event that allows Christine to alter her choice and her future is told twice: once as it happens and again as part of a journal entry. This time could have been spent with more anecdotal accounts that make readers fall in love with the amazing characters Sonia Buck has created.

Overall, The Status Update by Sonia Buck is a fun read and is an enjoyable way to pass the time.

Pages: 99 | ASIN: B01F2EXTQU

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A Genuine Curiosity

Robert Stava Author Interview

Robert Stava Author Interview

The Nightmare From World’s End is a science fiction thriller that begins when various people go missing along a river and a mythical squid may be to blame. What was the inspiration behind the idea for this book and how did that change as you were writing?

It was two things, actually. The first was an offhand comment by my wife one day while we were having lunch along the Hudson River. It was something out in the water that I took a grainy photo (zoom lens) and it came out looking like the classic ‘Loch Ness’ hoax photo. She looked at it and said: “Oh, that’s Ossie!”. “Indeed it is,” I replied, and so it started. The second was a massive crate I discovered along the shore of the Hudson after a big storm. It looked like it had been underwater for some time. That’s how it usually works – something I saw here, a comment there.

Along with that was a genuine curiosity about the American Indians that once populated this area, which go back at least 8,000 years. For me it’s a fluid process of researching and letting it inform the story as it develops. For example, I’d had the concept of the ‘Crazy Jack’ character for years, but dismissed the name as a product of me watching too many movies or TV shows. So, I initially wrote a scene where the American Indian anthropologist – Sarah Ramhorne – is saying as much. Then I discovered (to my shock) that in Munsee/Lenape mythology, there really is an enigmatic trickster named ‘Crazy Jack’. The joke was on me.

Native American folklore around the Hudson River area is a relevant theme within the book. What was the inspiration to infuse such rich culture in this novel?

So little is written about it yet aside from local names – Wappinger, Kitchawank, Weckuaesgeek, Sint Sinck – almost nothing remains of it here. It’s like a ghost hiding in plain sight. Many of the local tribes here were wiped out completely within a couple decades of first contact – we don’t even really know what they looked like. That naturally piqued my interest.

Is there anything that readers connect with in your story that surprises you?

People seem to really be into the characters in this one. That and the American Indian history. A frequent comment I get is: “Is all that stuff true?”. As far as I know, yes.

Your story makes mention of the ancient alien theory. Why did you include this in your novel?

Mainly it was by accident. I was at a local Indian pow-wow researching the story when I ran into an American Indian vendor who in a confidential tone started going off about ‘lost technology’, Atlantis and how the Indians ‘really’ got here in spaceships and had forgotten it. I immediately thought “This is too rich, I have to work this into the novel!” Then it became a running joke through the story: what if some real phenomena was going on to one side while everyone in the story is focused on the hoax phenomena happening on the other?

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?

Currently writing another novel for Severed Press titled The Lost World of Kharamu. It’s an updated take on Michael Crichton and Arthur Conan Doyle themes. It’s due out later this year – stay tuned.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The Nightmare From World's EndIn the aftermath of a major hurricane, a massive antique crate washes up on the shore of Raadsel Point. It’s smuggled cargo from the wreck of the Edmund Wood, an unregistered transport returning from a very unusual expedition. . . a ship that went down in the deepest and most dangerous part of the Hudson known as ‘The World’s End’. The nightmare creature it contains is about to unleash havoc on the citizens of the sleepy river village of Wyvern Falls and inadvertently draw to it a predator thought extinct a millennia ago. It will come down to two people to figure out what both these creatures are and how to stop them: expat CID Detective John Easton and American Indian anthropologist Sarah Ramhorne. The two of them will have to unravel local Indian myths, outmaneuver a corrupt mayor, a failing Ancient Astronaut Theorist TV show and an overzealous Green Folk Festival if they are to stand any chance of saving the day.

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The Shadow Of The Almighty

Sharon D.  Moore Author Interview

Sharon D. Moore Author Interview

Hidden in Plain Sight follows Jason White as he discovers a devastating family secret about the identity of his biological father. This is an intriguing setup to a well-developed novel. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this book?

The inspiration was a reoccurring dream I had for over a year starting in 2001. I quite literally had the dream every single night, sometimes multiple times per night. It was very disturbing not just because of the imagery but also because of HOW I experienced the dream. As I went through the mental movie each night I would become a character. For example, one night I would be Jason. I would have all of Jason’s thoughts and memories from birth to present. I would think like Jason and see things the way Jason saw them. Not only that but I would dream the exact same dream with the exact same dialogue but from Jason’s perspective. The next night I may go to bed and become Lucy in the dream!

The dreams were so incredibly vivid that when I awoke it would take a few seconds for me to come back into myself again. I experienced phantom pain and the emotional residue of the character as I regained consciousness. I honestly thought I was cracking up! Long story short I tried and failed to journal the dream in a notebook. I sat down at the computer and began to type it out instead. Months later I finished and had over two million words. It was a story! I knew the name was Under The Shadow Of The Almighty because it deals with living in the shadow of the ‘almighty’ celebrity types but also living under the Shadow of an Almighty God as outlined in Psalm 91 (Bible). I was advised that I had a series on my hands and needed to break the book down into smaller books. The first installment is Hidden In Plain Sight.

I thought you did a great job drawing the reader into the culture surrounding the life of the families that make these super churches function. Is there any moral or idea that you hope readers take away from the story?

I would like the readers to realize that religious leaders are people too with families and lives to live. Leaders have histories and not all of them are pretty.  I want people to develop a compassion for leaders rather than being so quick to tear them down. At the same time I also want people to understand that no person is worthy of a pedestal. Respect is one thing but worshipping a person is another. We live in a church culture that has created rock stars out of their leaders. Even if the leader is a good, honest person, the rock star mentality is dysfunctional and often corrupts sparking a sense of entitlement.

Mega churches are essentially large corporations and due to the size of the membership need to be run as such to make sure every ‘I’ is dotted and every ‘T’ crossed. That being stated, some neglect the faith aspect in favor of the dollar which causes situations like Bishop Stewart. Others neglect the business side in favor of faith which often results in IRS charges, church foreclosures and other financial embarrassments. As with everything else, there needs to be a balance.

I also need for people to realize that just because someone calls themselves a pastor, bishop (or whatever), does not mean they are called to that role. It also does not mean they are honest, good, operate in integrity, etc. Too many churches are led by Quincy Stewart-types. It is obvious to the naked eye but the members choose to remain blind to it or if they see the shenanigans, they makes excuses because it is easier to ignore than to confront.

 I felt that Jason White was a complex character. What were some of the trials that you felt were important to highlight the characters development?

Ah, yes. Jason. It was important to understand the slights Jason experienced in his childhood with regard to his sister’s fathers and the majority of his external family. He was unwanted and they had no problems telling and showing him how they felt. An impoverished childhood with an oft absent mother who worked three jobs put a very large chip on his shoulder. That chip caused him to also strive to be the best which he accomplished thanks to educational intervention from his aunt. Then his mother’s sudden lifestyle switch had her turning to God when he was a preteen. That change rubbed Jason the wrong way. It made anything dealing with faith a turn off for him because he saw it as a intrusion into his life that took more than it gave. All of those things also speak to Jason’s misogyny in the form of using women as a means to an end. It also speaks to his resentment of men in authority / father figures.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will that be published?

I am currently working on the second (yet unnamed) installment in the Under The Shadow Of The Almighty Series. Although it was written 14-15 years ago, it requires a lot of clean up. Now that I have  been through the publishing process once I am viewing it with fresh eyes and a better understanding of what it takes to tell a story. I have no idea when it will be released I hope it will be out  at least by this time next year but that all depends on how long it takes me to complete it as well as my publisher’s timeline.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

When Philly-born playboy, Jason White, discovers a devastating family secret about the identity of his biological father, he launches an angry quest to find and confront the man. A lengthy investigation into his father, a prominent pastor of a large church in North Carolina, spurs a quick, covert, out-of-town visit to the pastor s church on Easter Sunday. Will Jason follow through on his desire to destroy the man he believes left him alone and in poverty? In Raleigh, North Carolina, the greedy and lecherous Bishop Quincy Stewart’s less than discreet history of deceit and all around messiness is threatened with exposure when he loses control over his manufactured persona. A chance encounter and life-changing lunch unlocks the chains holding Stewart s wife, Lucy, hostage and sets the stage for a much needed shift in her life. In a desperate act to break his wife s spirit and force her into compliance, Bishop Stewart does the unthinkable. Will he go down for his horrific actions? Will Lucy ever be set free from the pain he has caused her? The Camelot-like existence of popular and honorable Bishop James Collins becomes shrouded in an indefinable dark cloud when his wife, Victoria, invites an unstable element into their lives. Will Bishop Collins overcome being blindsided by the ugly truths he s forced to face or will his life and ministry be forever changed?

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Delving a Little Deeper

Dr. Chenee' Gilbert Author Interview

Dr. Chenee’ Gilbert Author Interview

It’s Okay, I’m Watching follows LaTrell Wiggins, a caring young girl who loses her mother to cancer and is left to raise her family. What was the inspiration to write this heartfelt novel of love and strength?

It’s Okay, I’m Watching is the second book I’ve published, but the first of the Dear Grief Series. I lost my mother to cancer when I was nineteen. I was a sophomore in college. I was on the cusp of adulthood. Yet, I felt like a small child lost at a mall. Instead of verbally communicating, I wrote my thought and feelings in a journal. Years later during my stint as a classroom teacher in urban city schools, I encountered students who struggled with emotional and social issues. After delving a little deeper into those situations, I found that they all shared one thing in common, grief. They either lost their loved one to death or through absence. Having gone through a life changing experience of losing my mother I could relate to the different characteristics displayed by these students. This prompted me to turn my journal into my first children’s book entitled, “Mama, Did You Mean To Leave So Soon?It’s Okay, I’m Watching is the sequel. It goes into more detail with describing the family dynamics and the perspective of parenting as a single father.

It’s Okay, I’m Watching opens the door to conversation with those experiencing all forms of grief. What is one thing that you hope readers take away from your novel?

Wow! I wish there was only one take away. In fact, there are three. I want readers to know you don’t have to grieve alone, you can express your emotions without doing harm to yourself and others, and the importance of communicating feelings to trusted adults.

One of my favorite characters is Shajuan Martinez, LaTrell’s friend. Sassy and confident; she tolerates very little. What were the driving themes behind your characters as you were creating them?

I wanted to take realistic situations and based them off of real-life friends. There’s a lot of single parent homes and kids who have one or both parent’s enlisted in the service. I wanted this book to educate the reader on what Grief is. Grief doesn’t only relate to death. It’s simply a big reaction to a loss.

It’s Okay, I’m Watching is the first book in the Dear Grief series. In which direction does book 2 go in and when will that be available?

Book 2 will highlight LaTrell in her seventh grade year. She wants to test the waters a little bit with her self-image. She is trying to figure out how to fit in and be comfortable within her own skin. The readers will also get a chance to see the different issues Daryl and Luis (LaTrell’s brother & father) experience and how they are coping since the loss of Paulina. Communication will still be the highlight and the one thing that keeps the family bond intact. Book 2 will be released in September 2017.

Author Links: Amazon | Twitter

Growing up in Scott Park, Florida, ten-year-old LaTrell Wiggins lives a normal life. She has it all—two loving parents Luis and Paulina, her humorous younger brother Daryl, and ride-or-die childhood friends, Chandler and Shajuan. But this all changes when cancer takes LaTrell’s mother. The Wiggins are left to pick up the pieces and figure things out emotionally. If this isn’t enough, puberty introduces itself to LaTrell, causing her to reluctantly accept that her body is changing. During this adjustment period the Wiggins quickly learn that communicating is key. Can Luis handle the pressure of raising LaTrell and Daryl alone? Will LaTrell be expected to fulfill her mother’s shoes? It’s Okay, I’m Watching is a story of love, loss, and expected discovery of the strengths in each of us and our loved ones, whether they are with us or not.

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The League of Wizards

Danny Estes Author Interview

Danny Estes Author Interview

Master Athina comes to a whirlwind close. Through four books we have followed the journey of Jim, construction manager from our world into the body of Athina; lady of another world. What was one thing that you wanted to make sure you accomplished in the final chapter?

To illustrate no matter the sex or size of a person, we all have our strengths and can shine if allowed.

Athina has slowly absorbed Jim and now they seem to be one person. The transition over the series has been subtle and fantastic. Did you map out this transition or did this happen organically as you went into each book?

I knew I wanted something to surprise my readers, so I was looking for the opportunity as I was writing. So you could say a bit of both however, I didn’t come by the full details of her life’s events until I’d finished Book 2, Lady Athina.

Athina obtains the title of Master Builder. Why do you think this was an important milestone for her character?

By the end of book 4, Athina is inaugurated into the league of Wizards. All through the books I hinted very subtly she had Magical abilities. But not until book 4 did I let them come out so everyone could see. As for Master Builder, that title will come in time.

How does it feel to have your series come to a close?

Breathtaking. My writing style is finishing a story in one book. Working this story into 4 books was a large task for me. Keeping track of dates, places, names and personalities was a real job as it takes me a full year to write a story. In the end though I’m real glad I took the venture.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will that be available?

My next book is a world apart from this one. An arctic wolf by the name of Braxton Snow is my main character. His girlfriend Joann is a jackrabbit. Braxton is a private investigator by trade. The title of this up coming work is, Braxton Snow P.I. With any luck it’ll be out late in the year of 2017.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Master Athina (The Books of Athina Book 4) by [Estes, Danny]Athina and Wendell have returned to the house of Burgundy, ready to rebuild and protect the coast; they must not allow landfall to Tallar White’s army from across the sea. But Wendell’s brother betrays them both. Kidnapped, thrown into Tallar’s dungeon, Athina must use all her willpower and wits to survive, escape, and warn her people about the invading force headed to her homeland to overthrow the king. With the assistance of merpeople long believed to be legend, Athina and her allies have a narrow chance to race Tallar to the throne.

More important than the kingdom to Athina, she cannot lose her children to the scheming usurper. Desperate to know how they fare, she discovers latent magic that could turn the tide of battle. If only the men around her would believe the magic is real and recognize her as a Master.

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The Bug Boys

4 StarsWhat kid doesn’t want to be a super hero? Imagine stepping into a world where two boys suddenly have the power to take on the bullies and save the day. In the small coal mining town of Rossolington, Alex and Ian ingest nanobots by accident and suddenly their bodies and lives are transformed by this alien race. While fighting a bully Alex swallows a live bug which turns him into a hybrid human-bug. With their new-found abilities to become part bug, part human Alex and Ian decided to help Alex’s father uncover a conspiracy at the coal mine and take on the town bully.

Stewart Hoffman has written a novel that will appeal to young adult reader as well as adults looking for a fun and quick read. The Bug Boys takes place in the small coal mining town of Rossolington. The mine is owned by the sketchy business man Donald Brock who only cares about profits and considers the safety of the workers to be an annoyance to his schedule. While digging the mine to a record depth the miners unknowingly awake a group of aliens called nanobots.

The concept of an alien robot being able to turn humans into bugs is entertaining on it’s own and is brought to the next level by Stewart Hoffmans writing. The challenges that Alex and Ian face, a bully that tries to steal their lunch money, is a relatable problem that is creatively solved in The Bug Boys. So often in super hero stories does the character go stomping around indiscriminately destroying things. Which is why I was happy to see a different approach taken by the author to throw a twist into the end of the story that will show how, despite having super human powers, the power of compassion and humanity will win. The novel expertly highlights the struggle to do what is right vs getting revenge. Stewart Hoffman has the ability to entertain while also showing that being good isn’t always easy or fun.

Overall The Bug Boys is an entertaining read that will appeal to young readers, especially boys looking for something fun and a bit on the gross side. It is an easy read and not too long so it will hold their interest. I felt that the book left open the possibility of more novels to come, and I look forward to it.

Pages: 199 | ASIN: B01L4JBAO0

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Reverence

5 Stars

Reverence by Joshua Landeros is a futuristic military story based around the United Nation Republic, a group created in 2046 as a new reigning form of government. The majority of Reverence takes place in the year 2065, with flashbacks to what ensued during the great war that began in 2044 and how the UNR came to be in power. Reverence follows the stories of humanoid super soldiers Will and Luis as they work under their fearless leader, Chancellor Venloran, and follow his orders to demolish a budding resistance that threatens the utopian world.

From the opening pages of the book, you are thrown into a world unlike ours, from the introduction of the cyborg super soldiers and the descriptions of futuristic technology. Witty banter between the characters pulls you in immediately, and the reoccurring flashback chapters offer a bit of mystery that will leave you eager to turn each page. The story takes place mainly in Washington, D.C. at the UNR headquarters, with a few exhibitions to places such as Iran, Virginia, and other locations with strong political influence. Despite the many flashbacks and location changes, Landeros makes the journey effortless as you read, and his colorful writing style brings the images to life as if you were seeing them on a screen.

Strong elements of action, politics, and even romance bud in the corners of this revolution driven story. As rebels rise up against the UNR in attempts to bring them down by assassinating the Chancellor, life goes on amidst the characters. Themes of forbidden romance are touched on as android super soldiers face their own mortality and the lingering human emotions of their previous lives before their existence was rewired. The satisfaction of mystery solving is included through thematic flashbacks to the beginning of the war that began the UNR in the point of view of a young Joseph Halsey, a prisoner when the story begins. He is a personal favorite of mine, as I love a story of moral transformation and strong beliefs.

Landeros brings together the appeal of a utopian future and corrupt government together in a beautiful way. The story highlights human nature and what is behind a person that drives them to fight against what their heart tells them.

At times, the story was slow, but was always urged along with clever dialogue between characters. It was the super soldier units that made this story a blast to read. The flashbacks that Will suffers in secret and the mysterious connection between him and the lovely Val sucked me in and made me want more. I loved seeing Landeros showcase the difference in maturity with the varying ages of the characters, especially with Cisco. A little more information closer to the beginning of the story about what the UNR was would have helped with early understanding and interest, as well as more time spent on flashbacks for a more clear picture.

Landeros is able to successfully create a realistic and intriguing world in this dystopian novel.

Pages: 334 | ASIN: B01D2A51YY

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The Leader of Lors

The Leader of Lors (Atriian Trilogy, #2)5 Stars

I was pleased to return to the land of Atriia with The Leader of Lors, the second book in the Atriian Trilogy. I recommend you read The Heart of Hannen first, before trying to pick up the complex story and the Atriian language.

Christine Clavin is back in her hometown on Earth. Her daughter Becca, a cherub with blue eyes and her mother’s red hair, is nearly a year old. Christa has reunited with Kyle, who loves Becca even though he is not her father. The night before she is to move in with Kyle, her daughter is kidnapped by Hannen, and she’s dragged back through the fraigen lairs of Black Pond to save her daughter. She is justifiably furious with Hannen and refuses to stay with him. Unable to get back home, she’s forced to remain in Atriia.

In her absence, the legend of Crista Clavin, the Loper of Zeria, has spread throughout the land. Jerrod, the Lor of Cas Zeria, is heartbroken without her. Unable to stand living with Hannen for another day, she and Becca slip away during a day at the market, and Crista’s harrowing adventure begins. Her path leads toward fame as commoners and nobles alike recognize her as their hero. Jerrod wants her for himself, convinced she will bear his heir and will do anything to protect her. Hannen will not give up on her. Others want to use her as a pawn to further their own standing or for their own twisted pleasures. These conflicts become political, and threats of war and unrest are everywhere. But Christa has only one desire that matters: protect her daughter at all costs.

I am happy to say that this book is better than the first. As Christa faces captivity, betrayal, false safety and gilded prisons, she proves time and again that the legends about her are not just “tot’s tales” but very true. Her fiery temper, fierce maternal instinct, and devotion to those she loves carry the plot, and it’s a nail-biting read full of tension and adventure. I had a hard time putting this one down. The characters are vivid, with old friends returning from the past, as well as new characters who bring joy, passion, tragedy, and high drama to the story.

The author’s skill at building a memorable fantasy world is excellent in this installment. A stand-out example of this is when Christa travels the countryside in disguise and uses her legend and notoriety to reward those who help her or intimidate and punish those with bad intentions. It’s a tale straight out of the heroic myths of the past and added so much heart to the story.

Don’t forget that this heroic tale is also a romance. I often found myself ready to throttle Christa for being an idiot, but that’s a compliment because I was that invested in her story. The love scenes are tastefully written, but I would recommend this series for mature readers. Overall, it’s a fast-paced, exciting read. Christa is a heroine with plenty of flaws, and the Atriian Trilogy is a fantasy world you’ll enjoy escaping to.

Pages: 590 | ASIN: B00J3D2CQU

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Paracelsus

Paracelsus3 Stars

War is never pretty. It’s a gruesome, deadly instrument used by those seeking something. Whether they seek power, reassurance or a misguided view of peace depends on those orchestrating the show. In Paracelsus by James Powton we see the horrors of an ongoing war of subterfuge and nuclear consequences as it spans nearly fifty-years and the entire world. When does one war end and another begin? These are questions that cannot be answered concretely. Powton uses this as he spins his tale of destruction with the backdrop of the world’s worst atrocities post World War Two. This story begins like several different threads spread out until you delve deeper and see that they are all entwined together into the perfect knot.

It is important to note that the story tells a slightly alternate history to the one that we have been taught in schools. It begins in 1969 and continues on until a time in our very near future. While it seems logical to assume that none of the characters in this tale truly existed, a reader can’t deny that reality is often stranger than fiction. If these characters did or do exist, let us all hope it is not in the same capacity as Powton has had us read.

Think of a world where nuclear weapons have been compartmentalized on a smaller scale to fit inside a briefcase. This unlocks a multitude of possibilities: none of them good. Powton uses this concept to his advantage as he paints a picture of a bloody war that the average person would know nothing about. This is not a war for the television or the media until things go too far. It’s definitely a thrilling ride as you read on, wondering how the characters will be connected in pages to come. Powton wraps all his threads up quite nicely.

There are a few stylistic errors and spelling mistakes that crop up in Powton’s work. The issues are not so substantial that they detract from the story itself. Because the story can be quite complicated it is impressive to see such organization and careful storytelling, which is where the real challenge is.

It is always interesting to read a piece of fiction that uses a real event as a back drop. By looking at past events with new eyes and a different idea of what potentially happened brings such an interesting twist to the history we have all been taught. Paracelsus does just that and takes the events further by covering a time frame in the not-so-distant future. With the world being slightly unstable at the time of writing, it is almost terrifying to think that James Powton’s idea may become a reality. If you are in the mood for intrigue and the blurring of historical lines, this is definitely a tale for you.

Pages: 316 | ASIN: B01MU6S0P5

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The Wanderer’s Last Journey

The Wanderer's Last Journey (The Orfeo Saga, #4)4 Stars

On a trade visit to Malta, Orfeo – in line to the throne of Pylos – is kidnapped by mysterious strangers. The net is spread far and wide, with heroes from all over the Aegean joining forces in the quest to find the lost prince.

Is Orfeo in danger, though? His captors seem to have strange motives, what exactly do they see him as? A prince, a prophet, a political pawn, or something more? Only one thing is for certain, nothing is as it appears on the surface, and Orfeo must keep his wits about him. This wonderful work of historical fiction will amaze and engage you in equal measures.

With The Wanderer’s Last Journey, Murray Lee Eiland Jr. has woven an astounding and complex tapestry. It has all the makings of a classic fantasy epic, as the rich and evocative world he creates is as intriguing as it is intricate, whilst the narrative constantly keeps us on our toes. Eiland Jr. clearly has an eye for important details, as his simple use of language is restrained and mannered. He writes much like any of the great classical fantasy writers, with simplistic, well-constructed sentences forming the framework for a complex and sprawling narrative. Where he does choose to go into detailed description, he paints for us a clear and colourful picture. The milieu of The Wanderer’s Last Journey, whilst mostly serving as a stage on which to set the players, is perhaps one if the novel’s most astonishing features. This mythical, magical Mediterranean is exotic and enticing, and we are left wanting to learn more about it. As the story expands and speeds towards its thrilling crescendo, its setting is left unexpanded, and one wonder’s whether the novel might have benefited from going into greater detail in this regard. In many ways it is unfamiliar from the Ancient Greece we know and are familiar with, yet it verges upon Virgil and Homer. The Iliad is an obvious reference, and Eiland Jr.’s love of this period is clear on the page.

This novel sets Eiland Jr out as an author of great scope and intention, however one who isn’t afraid to create a world of great depth and complexities. He cleverly weaves multiple storylines and, for the most part, manages to keep on top of this, and keeps all the strands of his stories working together. There are moments, though, where the machinations of the plot seem to get the better of him. The action tends to flit between one character’s perspective and another’s, and whilst this serves to provide us with a huge wealth of storyline, it occasionally distracts from it. It also means, at points, that we aren’t given long enough in each character’s story to form an emotional bond with them, and we are left wondering who exactly our protagonist is. This is perhaps to be expected, though, with a story so vast, and one with so many strands, and for the most part The Wanderer’s Last Journey works well as a rich, entertaining fantasy epic.

Pages: 237 | ASIN: B018RHOIRI

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