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The Battle of Barkow

The Battle of Barkow by [Simmonds, Paul]4 Stars

The Battle of Barkow tells the tale of dark vs light, good vs evil, from a world where magic is not all bad, and religion is not all good. He takes readers into the mind of his characters and through them shows the good and bad of society. In the words of Paul Simmonds, “Two men will embark on a journey that will change their lives forever, if there is a forever at all. For in the world that they live it is not named nor is it entirely different from that of our own early world” (Simmonds: prologue).  The characters are intricate and plagued by the same assemblage of emotions as any other person; kindness, compassion, greed, hate, bigotry and evil. This superb confluence leaves you wondering who is going to come out on top in this novel, the simple man of God, the magician, the girl that doesn’t speak, or the dark forces that are mounting?

The story starts out with a man, hidden in a cloak speaking with an elderly woman. No names are used, but it is clear the women is a sorceress and he is there for her assistance. He is angry, he feels he has been wronged by others and denied his rightful riches and power, this woman offers him the vengeance he so greatly desires, but warns the price he will pay will be high. While she does not disclose the price, it is implying that it will not be all together pleasant for the man, but he hesitantly agrees desiring his vengeance over all else. From here the story jumps 125 years later. We meet Bolan, a simple man of God. He takes no excessive pride in his status and simply ponders life as it comes, he does not dwell too much on the past or the future. He agrees to take on an assignment for the church delivering holy books to the neighboring towns. With him goes his longtime friend and magician in training Hogarth. Hogarth can do simple magic but longs to learn more, to become something great in world that will make a difference. It is on this journey that they meet Sterre, the young women that does not speak but communicates in a form of sign language and drawings. Sterre has the gift of visions and has predicted a great danger to the city of Barkow. Barkow is the capital of sorts for this world, it is where the Pope lives and where all their laws begin. Towns outside of Barkow are not as strict as in the holy city. Bolan, Hogarth and Sterre travel to the city of Barkow to warm them of  the impending trouble that Sterre has foreseen. While they are traveling to the city, the dark forces are also headed there as well. They have no names to start, as readers we only see their evil and destruction, wiping towns out, stripping them of all life leaving no one alive to bear witness to what has happened.

The journey that these three take brings them in contact with many others, some are willing to help fully, others offer veiled advice. Some are strong war heroes that have their own battles to fight but ultimately must decide between their own personal gains or the greater good. We are left looking at a vast cross section of people whose characteristics could be anyone in modern society. In The Battle of Barkow Simmonds is able to show us that their may be darkness in us, but being good is a choice, and often times we fall somewhere in between.

Pages: 240 | ASIN: B06XK7YDBX

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A Believable Source of Magic

Alex Vick Author Interview

Alex Vick Author Interview

Stealing Magic follows three characters as their worlds collide and they must help each other. Earth’s trees carry all the magic that the residents of Androva are trying to harvest. Where did the idea of harvesting magic from trees come from and how did that help you write the rest of the story?

Great question! The idea of magic-taking, or harvesting magic, came first, and then I needed to find a believable source of that magic. I live in the South of England, at the end of a street that’s completely ordinary, apart from the ancient woodland next to it. ‘Ancient woodland’ in the UK means that the trees have been around since at least 1600. It’s easy to imagine there could be something magical about trees that old.

It helped to balance the rest of the story. Although Earth didn’t have any magicians, it did have a lot of powerful magic. If anything were to happen to that supply of magic, it could (and eventually does) cause enormous problems for everyone.

Shannon is from Earth and learns of her magical abilities when Jax and Darius go to Earth to harvest magic. What were some aspects of these character that you felt had to be different and some aspects that you felt had to be the same?

I loved writing all three characters, but especially Shannon. She’s just an ordinary teenager, until she touches some of the magic that Jax is harvesting. She has no idea what she’s capable of. I needed Shannon, Jax and Darius to have quite distinct personalities, not just to keep the story moving forwards, but to give them each the chance of learning something different from their adventure.

However, I wanted them to be friends, and to trust each other. Making them close in age, having them be honest with each other, and also able to have fun together, was important for that.

Some of the key themes in this book are loyalty, family bonds, trust and letting go of the past. Do you feel that these were important ideals to write about or did they happen organically as you were writing?

The loyalty and trust, and the bonds of family and friendship, were important right from the start. All the excitement of discovering magic could seem pretty meaningless otherwise. And of course, the characters can only overcome their challenges if they work together. Everyone has a part to play.

The idea of letting go of the past happened more organically. It became obvious as I was writing that the adults in the story allowed the past to shape their current decisions in a way that the teenagers didn’t. I ended up exploring what was good and bad about that.

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

I am about to start writing the fifth book in the series. The fourth book, Controlling Magic, will be published at the end of December 2016. Shannon’s friend Penny is now a main character alongside the other three underage magicians, and this time they’re up against an enemy who can turn their magical ability into a disadvantage. Each of the four books has a self-contained story, as I can’t quite bring myself to write a cliff-hanger!

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Stealing Magic (The Legacy of Androva #1)What would you do? Would you open your eyes, if you were the one that heard them? Two magic-takers from another world, arguing about whether they can collect what they came for before you wake up. It sounds like a crazy dream, or a practical joke. But what if the air around you started to vibrate with an invisible force field? What if, all at once, it felt terrifying yet familiar too?

You would have no way of knowing that your life would change forever. That this discovery would set you on a path no-one from our world has taken for centuries. Towards a deadly enemy, and a fight that you will almost certainly lose. All you know is that your heart is beating so fast you’re worried they will hear it, and your brain is starting to buzz as the force field reaches it. Would you open your eyes?

Join Jax and Shannon as they live through the most exciting and terrifying ten days of their lives (so far). This is the first book in the Legacy of Androva series.

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No Rest for the Wicked

No Rest for the Wicked5 Stars

When a rich gentleman finds a beautiful young woman lying in the snow, on the brink of death, he takes her back to his house and, when she has recovered, employs her as a maid.

It had magic, romance, family drama, and hot sex. Needless to say, this story was right up my alley! At first I found the relationship between Anthony and Elira a bit rushed, but the more I read the more I could see the beauty in it. When he asked her ‘What scares you the most?’ I was flooded with memories of when I first found out I was pregnant with our oldest when she responded with ‘getting pregnant’.

Inexplicably drawn together, they begin a tentative romance.

When he said he loved her and she didn’t have to say it back because her knowing how he felt was enough, my heart melted. He was so sure of their future that he would wait for her to be ready to say the words. From the moment he lifted her out of the snow and brought her to his home you knew there was something there. Every glance. Every touch. Every second they were in the same room together seemed to burn with the heat between them.

Elira did not make things easy for him nor for herself as she fought against falling for him. Although we all knew that it was a losing battle. Them both talking about their families was very touching. When she stopped him from killing his brother even though he had every right to do so showed her compassionate human nature. Even though she fought him at every turn, having her ask him to marry her was awesome. Her responding to him asking where she wanted to go by saying anywhere as long as it was with him was perfect.

Aside from those characters I also loved Moira. I want a cook or housekeeper exactly like her. She wasn’t afraid to tell them what she thought. Her and Han were a great addition to the story. She reminded me of an old babysitter of mine when I was younger. Very caring and loyal while still minding her own business when she had to. Han being a beginner magician and having Anthony there to help was cute.

In conclusion I give this story a 5 star rating. No way would I have given it anything less. I think I found my new favorite author. I’m going to have to look around for more books by M.L. Sparrow. What a very talented author. The characters and events were very relate-able and as realistic as characters and events in a story can be. I look forward to reading more from this author. Buy Now From Amazon.com

Pages: 249 | ISBN: B016SBJ9X8

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