An ancient order. A young man with no knowledge of his past. Three friends who have trained and grown up together since infancy. This has all the trappings of a great fantasy-adventure tale with a back story that can rival even the most intricate video game. Yolanda Ramos has definitely done her homework with her epic tale The Seventh Sentinel. We have our main character, Cristiano, as he is raised in an orphanage by his mentor Julio Sierra: the man who has lost everything but is given the opportunity to retain meaning in his life. A boy with no apparent past. The boy becomes a man and is rigorously trained and skilled in various forms of combat and intrigue, but for what purpose? Readers will take an incredible journey in our modern day where the purpose of angels is still alive and well as they commune between man and God.
Even if you don’t particularly enjoy stories based on biblical characters or events, The Seventh Sentinel has a knack for focusing more on the actual adventure portion of the tale. Yes, there are angels. Yes, there are the Seraphim who are said to serve God alone. These angels have a purpose, and a personality, thanks to Ramos’ hard work. The descriptions in this tale are elegant and vivid. It seems as though it is based on actual events. In our modern world many feel as though God and His angels have abandoned us. Perhaps they have no need of us. Ramos is able to bring that slightly mythical sounding ideal into our century. These angels have a plan for Cristiano: he has a purpose. He will see it through.
Like most protagonists in this situation, Cristiano is an apparent orphan who was raised under the watchful eye of a male mentor. Julio cares for and teaches Cristiano as best as he can. Our protagonist is plagued with visions for a purpose he does not yet understand. And like most protagonists in this situation right as the truth is about to be revealed there is an attack and his mentor falls.
This is a fantastic book that deftly uses inspiration from religious ideals. Some may be uncomfortable because this book makes assumptions about what certain celestial beings can do while others may feel as though religion is a separate fairy tale. In the end, the way Ramos wove her tale together is entertaining in any case.
A story where a young man learns his purpose for our world is usually a delight to read. Yolanda Ramos does her research and attempts to be as faithful to the real monuments and angelic characters as she can be in The Seventh Sentinel. This book ends in such a way that if ever there were more, that would make sense. However it also ends in a fashion where questions are answered and another book is not entirely necessary. Readers will enjoy the journey Cristiano and his fellows take as they epically travel the world on a quest to discover whether or not the past truly matters.
Pages: 286 | ASIN: B00JVR7YPW
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The story of Nickerbacher takes you on a journey of mystical beings and starry-eyed dreams. It’s an adventure with a dragon and a prince and princess. Nickerbacher is a dragon destined for a life of working as a protector of princesses- a job that was proudly held by his father and his father before that. However, Nickerbacher dreams of something more and wants to perform on The Late Knight Show where he can show off his comedic value. With the help of a leprechaun, a prince and other magical beings, can Nickerbacher change the hearts and minds of all La La Land?
Nickerbacher, written by Terry John Barto, is a fun-loving children’s novel based on the story of a dragon and his friends. Nickerbacher dreams of being something more than a dragon protector of princesses and sets his sights on becoming a comedian. There is an underlying message that children will love as it promotes following your dreams even if other people may not believe that you can achieve them.
Throughout the story, the fantasy characters participate in modern-day activities, like taking selfies with mystical beings or trying to fit their feet into the prints of famous celebrities. This provides a modern twist to a classically styled fairy tale that combine beautifully in this incredible city. My favorite character is Miss Phoenix, a receptionist who rises from the ashes to greet the unlikely trio. She is dedicated to her work but has a heart of gold which sings true to the end.
Pictures are included throughout the novel which brings to life the extraordinary fun loving characters. My favorite image is one that includes ghosts and goblins at the Fairywood Forever Cemetery, royal chariots at LAX and the Medieval Tar Pits. The images are a mix of castles with high rise style buildings that replicate a similar style of what I would imagine LA would look like if it had been sprinkled with a touch of fairy dust. I love how the imagery complements the text and helps with engaging the reader in expanding their imagination.
This story will help children to learn the importance of friendship and believing in yourself. Nickerbacher also touches on issues such as family, societal expectations and breaking through the barriers of life in a fun and engaging story line. Children will relate to parts of the story and see parts of themselves in each of the magical beings. I love the relationship between Princess Gwendolyn and Nickerbacher and how they break the stereotypes of the typical dragon and Princess friendship.
I would recommend Nickerbacher to any school-aged children who wants to be lost in the magic of La La Land. This book would be perfect as a bedtime story to be read aloud as Terry John’s Barto’s wonderful way with words will delight all children and adults alike.
Pages: 34 | ASIN: B00SKKX2AW
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The Hunter’s Rede by F.T. McKinstry is a tale of adventure, mystery and deceit. Lorth is a hunter/assassin who obeys the Hunter’s Rede; a series of rules the dictate the isolated lifestyle of an assassin. He has never questioned their necessity; until now.
He is summoned home by the mysterious Mistress of Eusiron and arrives to find the region invaded by the Faerin army. Even more alarming; a member of the Keepers of the Eye has been assassinated.
Lorth must use his wits, magic, and sheer determination to escape being framed for the murder, find the perpetrator and defeat the invaders. All the while, he must juggle the Hunter’s Rede – a selfish code – with morality, loyalty, and love.
This is an enjoyable read for those who like suspenseful fantasy. The world building is strong and specific; a requirement in fantasy stories. The battling kingdoms, the Hunter’s Rede, and the Keepers of the Eye are all thoroughly referenced and explored by the author. However, the origins of the Rede are vague and difficult to visualize.
The characterization is fuzzy at first but the reader eventually becomes well acquainted with many of the characters who decorate the story. Lorth, in particular, grows on the reader overtime. Some of the most enjoyable characters are placed in the background and only dip into the story occasionally – such as the amiable Captain Ivy.
The plot is entertaining and ornamented with twists and tension. The story focuses on its characters and conflicts but also has a strong theme revolving around morality and sacrifice, which finds its way into the story. You could say that The Hunter’s Rede is inspired by the video game series Assassins Creed; as I felt that it dealt with similar concepts, story models and parallel titles. But I enjoyed the variances that allowed The Hunter’s Rede to have uniqueness.
While the story has some thrilling action scenes, at times they were either too cumbersome or unclear. Overall the story was clever and entertaining except for the romance moments which come off as less inspired. The Hunter’s Rede is one proofread away from being a fascinating and exciting read.
Pages: 303 | ASIN: B01LZS174X
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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.
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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Mother Athina continues to follow Jim, a modern man’s soul trapped in the body of a medieval 16 year old girl, as he struggles with accepting his new place in life. How has Jim’s transformation changed in this novel compared to the two previous?
By this book, Jim has discovered he was always meant to be born a woman. Back in modern times, the female part of him was beat out of him by his father. With his discovery of his true nature, Jim becomes Athina. With her acceptance a whole new world opens up to her. Loving a man is a major step. Birthing children another and what they mean to her. With all these new adventures, Athina still must struggle with medieval culture and how they treat women.
The book opens with Athina in prison and her father trying various unscrupulous methods to get her out. What was the inspiration for the relationship Athina and her father have and how do you see it developing?
Chamberland is a normal thinking male in his culture. Back in those times high ranking women were used to mend grievances, even unto being married off to kings or prince’s to prevent war between two townships, provenances, counties, even kingdoms. This is the mentality I choose for her father. Still, I sought to show he loves his Daughter. A task made difficult to show as Athina always saw him as a big bully, like his modern day father. As for their relationship, a mutual respect will aid them to accept one another.
In the first book Jim is Athina, but now it seems Athina is taking over. What is the transition point for you? Will Athina always be Jim? Can their souls ever be separated?
In point of fact, Jim is Athina. This development happened in the course of writing the books. I wanted to present a shock factor, something new in each book that was unexpected. The final chain of events was this. Athina dies in childbirth only to be reborn in modern times as a man. Here, at the age of 41 Jim dies. Yet in Athina’s home world, only seconds have passed after her soul left her body before a master wizard reaches out for Athina’s soul and pulls her back into her body. But as Athina had been born and died in another reality, she has no memory of her first life in this time zone and place.
What is the next book in the series, where does the story go, and when will that be available?
Master Athina is the book title. In this last book, Athina’s trails come to a conclusion, at least for the time being. Athina must face capture by her worst enemy. She must work to save herself, her children, her husband, even the very land she calls home. She has many decisions, but in each case she discovers she truly only has one bad choice to choose. Her final conflict ultimately opens new doors for her future.
Former construction company owner Jim Sanders left behind the modern life he knew when a master wizard hooked his freshly-dead soul out of the ether and placed it in the body of a 16-yr-old girl, Lady Athina Burgundy. She now stands accused of treason.
Lady Athina faces her accusers with trademark honesty, bringing into question Lord Tallar White’s claim to Athina’s former home and its important seaports. For the good of the kingdom, her father and Lord Wendell’s father must wrest control of the border country from Lord White, who is fomenting a new civil war. Forced by politics to marry a son of the Blue Lands, she makes her choice and becomes Lady Athina Blue. If only being the lady of the house didn’t require jewels, tiaras and asset-baring fashions!
When Master Wizard Giddion returns with another mind-blowing revelation about her soul, Athina begins to see the larger tapestry. Assassins hide behind every post, putting her new husband, Lord Wendell and her other loved ones in danger. She now straddles an unprecedented level of power and influence over four major houses at once. She would give it all away to simply accept Wendell’s love and become Mother Athina.
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Jim Sanders left behind modern life when a wizard hooked his freshly-dead soul out of the ether and placed it in the body of a 16 year old girl from the middle ages. I find the setup of Lady Athina to be entertaining. How did this idea start and develop as you wrote?
In truth, it just sort of came to me. I knew I wanted to move Jim into a fantasy world, but simply doing that seemed anti climactic. I pondered for a bit and thought, what would happen if a macho guy suddenly ended up in a small girls body. With this new twist, I rewrote Jim to be a large guy, then gave some hint of his life before I moved him to the new world.
Jim Sanders is an intriguing character with an interesting backstory. What was the inspiration for the main character’s traits and dialogue?
I’ve worked around construction people for a few years and drew up what I considered most wanted to be, a strong, tall and confident man. However, such would be boring without some tragedy to mold his personality. Thus as the story progressed, I sought out meaningful snippets of his life to make him more viable and believable.
Are you a fan of the Sword & Sorcery genre? What books do you think most influenced your work?
Right out of high school, some friends introduced me to fantasy roll playing. We mainly dealt with magic and swords. Elves, dwarves and the like were always on hand. So yes I’m a big fan of Swords, magic and the medieval era. Reading fantasy books also caught my eye, but real history books of the dark ages put everything into perspective for me.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
My next book is Mother Athina. This is the 3rd book in a series of 4 books. Currently Mother Athina is on the market at Amazon.com.
Former construction company owner Jim Sanders left behind the modern life he knew when a master wizard hooked his freshly-dead soul out of the ether and placed it in the body of a 16-yr-old girl, Lady Athina Green. Newly widowed and displaced, Jim must dodge advances from Athina’s old boyfriend, outmaneuver assassins, and avoid Athina’s father marrying her off to anyone else for political gain. Jim borrows knives and trouble when he jumps the fence and disappears into the night to save himself from a medieval world controlled by men. While on the run, memories of emotional abuse at his own father’s hands manifest in Jim’s nightmares, culminating in an identity crisis that shakes him to his core. With the help of Athina’s few allies, Jim faces his largest trial yet as a woman. It’s time to pull on his big girl panties and face an uncertain future.
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Lord Athina is an interesting story about Jim, who’s killed in an accident, gets his soul sent back in time and placed into a sixteen year old girl. How did you come about this original idea and how did that develop into a story?
My story development path starts with a blank computer screen. I think up a situation and start writing. A lot of times I’ll write up to 5,000 words before a true idea comes to mind, if at all. If what I have written catches my attention I let my imagination run for while. By this time I’ve an idea concerning the main character. Who he or she is. In this case I wrote a bit about Jim and his hard luck life. It then came to mind what if he died and was reborn, which finally changed to being placed in the body of a girl. Most people have seen Freaky Friday, or a similar version. Once this came across as a possibility, I started looking into a starting point and began writing off the top of my head. That’s my style of writing. Off the cuff. Once I transferred Jim into Athina, the situations presented themselves.
Jim finds himself in the body of a sixteen year old girl. How did you go about writing what it would be like to be stuck in a girls body?
I’ve read many history books which gave me some insights into the daily lives of women back in olden times. I also asked my girlfriend and my editor of what I’d have to learn to take care of a girls body and what they go through to keep clean and healthy.
I found that the magic used in the novel was efficiently used to great effect. How did you approach using magic in your story so that it’s believable?
I’ve read a lot of fantasy stories and enjoyed them. A lot I noted used quite a bit of magic. As this is my first series, I wanted to keep magic at a minimum so I could pay more attention to the characters then what spell was used and how powerful can I make them. In addition, by limiting the spells, I didn’t have to come up with ways to try and counter the spells, their by making the effects believe able.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will that be published?
My next book is Lady Athina. This is the second book in a 4 part series. Lady Athina is currently on the market at Amazon.com.
Jim Sanders is the first-born son of a city planning official in New York. Brought up in the midst of street gangs, construction, and the greed of politicians, Jim learns to keep physically fit and watch his back. Tired of the stress, he moves to Los Angeles to build his own construction company. But the hard knocks of life seek him out even here—Jim becomes the center of several vicious wrongful death lawsuits, caused by third-rate materials he never ordered. Hospitalized for a mental breakdown, and slapped with a divorce, Jim is exonerated only after he’s lost everything.
Released from the hospital, Jim reapplies himself in an attempt to overturn his failing company, but then he’s killed in an auto accident. Relieved from his troubled life, his soul ascends skyward. But fate is not done with Jim, for instead of heaven, Jim awakes back on Earth in the past, sealed in the body of a sixteen-year-old girl named Athina, mother to a newborn baby and heir to a citadel. Due to a healing spell gone awry, Jim is now breasts-deep in a firestorm of medieval social plots. Like a newborn babe in this unfamiliar world, Jim must now cope with primitive political realities from the opposite gender with only his wits and a devoted nursemaid who was deceived of her true charge’s death.
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In a whirlwind of action and danger, peppered with instances of magic, Master Athina by Danny C. Estes comes to a gallant close. For four books we have followed the journey of Jim, construction manager from our world into the body of Athina; lady of another world. Jim’s evolution into Athina as a full human being has been carefully crafted and readers should be satisfied with how things have come to pass. Our poor Athina has lost the voice of Jim but retained his knowledge and parts of his personality. It is as if they have melded to become a new Athina. Unfortunately, as we have well learned, Athina does not have an easy life.
Our story picks up a short while from where it left off. Athina is happily married and is about to have twins. She has learned that her entire existence was not two souls switching occupation in her body, but one soul that has lived two lifetimes. This revelation is incredible in that it takes the struggles Jim had in being in a young woman’s body and feeling out of place and brings about the idea of reincarnation and multiple lives. Estes does a great job in slowly, but surely, melting the two into one throughout the course of the Athina series.
There is only one disappointment in this book and that is the very few spelling errors that pop up now and then. It doesn’t take away from the story, but it is a sharp distraction in a series that has obviously been crafted with care.
Athina has been born into a world where her greatest short coming is the fact that she is a woman. There is much she cannot do because of her gender and it shows in her frustration when the rebuilding of her home commences. She clearly has the knowledge to be a master builder, yet she is not allowed to. Athina does obtain her Master title, however, in a discipline that might come as a surprise to readers of the series. It is a title that she wears with confidence and brings about some unexpected conversations.
The action scenes in this novel are still well written and important to the tale. There is no action just for the sake of action which can be a downfall for many fantasy-adventure stories. Estes knows his craft and he has definitely had the time to hone it.
Master Athina opens with a helpful and refreshing prologue which considerably compresses the events in the previous books. This is great for those who have gone a long time between installments and need a refresher, or for those who are picking up Master Athina without reading the predecessors. This final installment in such a thrilling adventure that wraps up the journey nicely and should satisfy all curiosity while leaving bits for the imagination to go wild over.
Pages: 316 | ASIN: B01FPDV1LS
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There is only so much a person can go through. Danny C. Estes walked us through the incredible break-through Athina/Jim had before the end of the previous installment in the Athina series. In the previous two books Jim held on fiercely to his identity as a man from modern Los Angeles and it was only at the end of the second that Jim came to terms with being Athina. In Mother Athina Estes takes that development and cultivates it further as Jim truly becomes Athina in mind and body by the end of the book. We open with Athina in prison and her father trying various unscrupulous, misguided methods to get her out. Athina remains as she always had been: headstrong and determined not to succumb to the pressure of a convenient marriage. She fights for her innocence and is finally released from her cell. But in the end, is she truly free?
In the beginning of Mother Athina our protagonist is still very much against the idea of marrying any man, especially the one her father has chosen for her. She still rejects the idea of male companionship which alludes to the pieces of Jim’s identity still rumbling within her mind. In this installment there is far less emphasis on breasts and buttocks so perhaps the over-all attention paid to these parts of the female form in previous books were a tool to keep the reader aware that Jim was the one in control. Near the middle of the tale Jim has accepted he is a woman, he is Athina, and that he could try to have a relationship with a man. Estes refers to Athina using female pronouns more and more often as the tale unfolds which subtly hints to readers that Jim is slowly leaving. While there will always be a part of him within her, the truth becomes that Athina is no longer Jim, and she is no longer Athina. She is a combination of the two.
As if treachery and betrayal wasn’t enough for Athina to go through she must suffer loss. Athina achieves a fantastic breakthrough in discovering her feelings for Wendell and all he has done for her. The book is called Mother Athina for a reason and the brief happiness that envelops Athina is lost far sooner than it should be. She doesn’t catch a break and it is the devastating loss she suffers at the end of the book which will rend relationships and steel her to her resolve much more than what would have happened if all had remained alive.
Estes does a good job showing the anguish Athina goes through during the loss of her son, John, and the deep loss she suffers near the end of the book. Our protagonist is no stranger to losing people she cares about and the development of her emotional response is that much purer in this installment than previous. No longer does Athina have to wrestle with being Jim as well as managing her loss; now she is allowed to be Athina alone and grieve with all her heart. Some relationships may never be recovered in the final book, but that remains to be seen.
This is a fantastic installment in the Athina series that will have readers eager for the final tome.
Pages: 234 | ASIN: B00VVMQ3G6
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Things have gotten worse for our protagonist since we saw them last in Lord Athina. Danny C. Estes outdoes himself in the second installment of his trilogy: Lady Athina. Our protagonist, Jim, who was whisked away from the world as we know it and plunged into the body of a sixteen-year-old high-born woman who has just given birth is not out of the woods yet. Lady Athina follows Jim’s trial in the body of Athina as he tries to make sense of what happened to him at the end of the previous book. Feeling more isolated than before, Jim finds himself meeting both of Athina’s parents and realizes that he is now an eligible female whose parents want her wed. Still struggling to accept the fact that he is no longer a man in his late thirties but a woman in her prime, Jim rejects everything and everyone with the entirety of his being. Assassination attempts have him learning how to use a knife but he’ll be damned before he lets himself be married off.
Lady Athina is much more of an emotional ride than the previous tale. Even though he is in a woman’s body, Jim’s male mind is still infatuated with breasts and women so the very thought of marrying, and consummating said relationship, with a man makes the very heterosexual Jim balk. In fact, we learn that Jim would rather get naked with Renault, a female guard who is staying with Athina’s family since she saved Athina’s life, than with Wendell; the young man Athina was apparently smitten with many years before she was married off.
Jim struggles in this tale with the fact that he is not used to the frail female body he’s trapped in, but he also struggles in dealing with trauma from his former life. Dealing with flashbacks of his youth growing up in a household ruled by domestic violence, it is clear to see that his distaste for how Athina’s father treats her is founded in personal experience. There are some things that will translate no matter what sex you are.
In an attempt to flee marriage to Wendell, Jim/Athina finds himself/herself running from the safety of Athina’s father’s walls and out into the unknown world. Jim receives kindness from strangers who basically keep him alive long enough to be sucked into an enchanted forest and into the hands of the wizard who rules there. It is here that Jim reunites with Renault and discovers parts of himself he thought were long buried. With his newfound understanding of himself and his relationship to the body he now inhabits, Jim forges forth to write a new tale for Athina.
This installment in the Athina series is a refreshing change from the obsession with the female-form that the first had. Estes has a clearer grip on Jim as a person as he guides the story over more realistic emotional hurdles that the first book lacked. Picking up smoothly from where the first book ended, Lady Athina is a welcome tale of adventure and defiance that leaves readers begging for more.
Pages: 224 | ASIN: B00JSQ5XHW
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