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Fantastical Battles

Yolanda Ramos Author Interview

Yolanda Ramos Author Interview

The Seventh Sentinel takes readers on an incredible modern day journey where the purpose of angels is still alive and well as they commune between man and God. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this entertaining story?

I’ve always been intensely fascinated by angels. According to the Bible and other ancient manuscripts angels are powerful, highly intelligent beings commanded by God to serve man. Being an avid reader, I grabbed up any books featuring angels but they were always portrayed as the bad guys and demons as the good guys, which rattled me. So I decided to write a novel where the opposite is true and based on as many historical facts as I could find about them. I wanted to show angels interacting with humans in a good way, in the age old fight between good and evil with epic fantastical battles, great tragedies and moments of joy.

Cristiano is raised in an orphanage and has no apparent past. I felt that his character was well developed. What was the ideals that drove character development in this story?

Cristiano was brought up in a loving, but strict environment where religion is important but not in a shove it down your throat way, and until his world is turned upside down, he’s had it fairly easy. When matters take a turn for the worse, he has to make that simple choice between good and evil, and the sacrifices that go with each path. Cristiano’s ideals can be summed up in one sentence. Meet the expectations placed on his young shoulders by God and the people who love and look up to him for leadership, with courage and humility. And to never give up, no matter what. (Okay, that’s two sentences).

I felt that the world the characters live in is very intricate yet subtly built. What was your approach to world building in The Seventh Sentinel?

I researched how many levels of Heavens there are from a variety of sources. Some say there are nine, some say five and some seven. Who really knows? I settled on seven because it fit the title of my book. Seven archangels, seven sentinels, seven continents and seven Heavens. Most of the descriptions of the Heavens are inspired from the Bible and The Book of Enoch. Then I had to figure out a way for my hero to fight in the spirit realm, and every hero has to have a weakness or several weaknesses, right? That’s where transmutation came in, which left Cristiano’s body open for attack in the physical realm, and hence the need for paladins.

Everything and everyone has a history, known or unknown and I love stories that include orders like the Templars, St Johns, The Golden Fleece and many others. There are so many stories with the Templars, so I went instead with the once famous Order of Calatrava, in Spain, which turns out, had links with the Knights Templars, and threw in the ancient Celts for added mystery.

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

I’m working on the third book in the series (no title yet) and hope to have it out by the end of the year. Due to serious illness last year I’m way behind schedule and trying hard to catch up. I’ve just finished my short story, titled the Igigi Chronicles, which is going through a round of beta reading as we speak. This tale is a spin-off from False Gods, the second book in the Sentinel Series, featuring the Eljo and all manner of mythical beings set in ancient Sumer and modern times.

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The Seventh Sentinel (The Sentinel, #1)

“Moments before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the seven Archangels remove powerful, ancient artefacts from the Jewish temple. These are given into the safekeeping of seven men. Throughout the ages, these men and their descendants become known as the Seven Sentinels.

In medieval times, the Seven Sentinels formed various military Orders as a cover for their activities. Today, of the Seven Sentinels, two are dead and two have turned rogue, which means only three remain to carry out their roles.

A war rages between Heaven and Earth. It is up to the newly empowered Seventh Sentinel to stop the rogues and Fallen Ones, from using these artefacts to gain control of the souls of mankind. Can the Seventh Sentinel endure?”

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The Sky Throne

The Sky Throne4 Stars

The Sky Throne, by Chris Ledbetter, is a tale set in Ancient Greece. Zeus, a youthful prankster, finds himself entangled in a conflict that reaches the slopes of Mount Olympus itself. Living a life as an unknown, Zeus’s world changes entirely with the violent attack by an Elder deity, Hyperion. Zeus, seeking an answer for this attack, finds himself at Mount Olympus Preparatory Academia. He finds sanctuary and a temporary reprieve from the sorrow that haunts him, but trouble still follows him. Students and faculty begin to vanish from Olympus, which leaves Zeus and his peers to solve the mystery.

Ledbetter takes the best pieces of contemporary YA and gives them their own mythological flare. The academia of Harry Potter becomes the independent schools of the Mediterranean and Aegean. The survival of The Hunger Games is embodied by Zeus’s ingenuity throughout the story. Even tones of Red Rising can be felt in the opening pages of the very humble beginnings of a character we have known about for thousands of years. The breadth of the world is very thorough, and will please any Grecophile. Ledbetter covers everything from Crete to Tartarus, and all that lies in between.

These very familiar characters from mythology are made a new by being “made young” and formed into literal student roles. The twist on these old figures was one of the reasons why I kept turning the page. This, and the mystery of Zeus’s parentage, kept me enthralled with the character; especially since Zeus is a character that not only grows and changes throughout the book, but becomes endeared to the reader. For example, he consistently struggles with how to flirt with girls!

The actual pacing itself is done quite well. Within the first dozen pages, the reader feels the very real consequences of violence and aggression and the plot only gathers speed from there. It especially begins to escalate when the real threat against Olympus Prep arises and Zeus begins to show the true core of his character, to the delight of the reader.

If anything negative can be said against the plot and world building of the book itself, I would say that Ledbetter’s technical skill could use a bit of Olympus grace. While reading, I found some of the sentences awkward, while others were quite unnecessary based on context. This forced me out of the story. Beyond that, I found the dialogue to be inconsistent along the lines of pushing melodrama or self-deprecating humor. This is not to disregard the appreciation I had for his presentation of different cultures that actually did have their own way of speaking.

All of this taken into account, the reader of YA literature will not be disappointed. Following in the footsteps of Rick Riordan, yet also striking out on his own when his path diverges, is not a feat to be taken lightly. Ledbetter achieves this with brilliant originality and a story uniquely his own.

Pages: 324 | ASIN: B06W5LXJFN

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Life Gets Complicated

Kevin James Breaux Author Interview

Kevin James Breaux Author Interview

The Lifeblood of Ill-Fated Women revolves around the story of two Valkyries, sisters Astrid and Yrsa, in a world still ruled by Nordic Gods. What was the inspiration for this novel and the Norse mythology used throughout?

Spoiler alert in that question. Lol.

My inspiration was two fold.

One, I really had not read or seen much about Valkyries in years. They are very interesting mythological beings, but not really focused on in movies, cartoons, or TV. Seems like a wasted opportunity, so I took it. I wanted to write a story about a woman who was questioning her reality on several levels. Is she alive, is she dead, was she adducted by aliens, is she in hell? etc.

Two, I felt like Norse mythology is something people, readers, movie-goers, are willing to openly accept easier than some other myths or cultural beliefs. Maybe because of it being so fantastical. Sometimes we believe the things that are harder to believe and accept quicker than those things more based in reality.

For example…. So many people watch and follow ghost shows and believe all that we are shown, but then laugh at the hunters chasing Big Foot in the forest. Paranormal vs. A living being (although myth). Seems like it would be easier to believe in a missing link than spirits from another realm right? Well, maybe that’s just me.

Note: I believe in both actually. 🙂 And aliens.

Regardless, Norse myth is fabulous. And there are a few good fiction books you can find and read. I read one prior to writing this book. Good reference material to pick over. That and my old original Deities and Demigods D&D book. 🙂

What kind of research did you have to do to make sure you got the mythology correct?

As stated about, I bought and read one book. Norse Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs by Lindow. I also used my old hardbound Deities and Demigods D&D book for inspiration.

I spent a LOT OF TIME online researching what “curse words” and foul language would have been used in the Viking Age. I could not deal with or accept the use of modern four letter words being said by my characters. I really lost sleep over it. I finally found some replacement words that were close to the time period or language. Not perfect, but I felt like the reader would understand what I was going for.

I never like watching movies set in ancient times with characters spewing modern day bad words….unless we are talking about STARZ’s SPARTACUS. That was awesome, and with all the over the top blood and guts it was fine. 🙂

As a writer who researches, I like to find the facts and then decide how best to use or alter them to fit into my works of fiction.

When Astrid falls in battle and wakes up with no memory the reader is brought into Astrid’s mind to be witness to her paranoia, fear, confusion and inner struggles. What were the obstacles you felt were important to highlight to connect readers with Astrid and develop her as a character?

Everyone struggles with these things on some level.

Astrid is a big, strong, proud Viking warrior. Who can relate to that? BUT they can relate to all her inner struggles. Who hasn’t questioned their reality? Who wasn’t felt afraid of something one moment, then loved it the next. Think of skydivers. Fear and then joy in a matter of seconds.

Astrid was originally designed as a near cave woman. She grunted and groaned. Took what she wanted. Feared nothing. But an early draft was read by my editor and she pointed it right out. Astrid was unrelateable. I did not want that.

My plan was to write a fantasy-horror story with a character who just cannot figure out if she is alive or dead. Her beliefs would pull her thoughts into both directions; a tug-of-war. While she struggled, the story played out. Things would be happening all around her and she would have to decided what to do, regardless of her inner struggles. That’s life. We all are faced with that.

I was really sick with the flu or something the other week. Two days of being the sickest I had been in 20 years. And guess what, I needed to go get my new drivers license photo. Time had ran out. I was faced with an obstacle on top of another obstacle. Life gets complicated.

In some books or movies, it seems like the hero only has one major concern. That’s unrealistic to me. Yeah, go save your kidnapped daughter Liam Neeson, don’t worry about needing to buy more ammo, or the authorities, or laws, or weather, or your own wounds, or….

This is a well written novel that leaves open the possibility for other stories to follow. Do you have another story in the works?

Book two is currently being written. It takes place several months after book one. I envision this series as 3-5 books long.

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The Lifeblood of Ill-fated Women (The Blood, Sun, and Moon. Book 1) by [Breaux, Kevin James]“Astrid the White isn’t an average princess. She has always stayed by the side of her father, King Kol, and learned warfare and weaponry from the best Vikings in the land. When she awakens in the city of Birka and hears the sounds of war, she rushes proudly into the fray. She is more than capable of taking down any enemy wishing to disturb the peace.

This enemy, however, isn’t what she expected. Before Astrid even gets outside the walls, a golden light knocks her out.

She comes to in the snow, in full battle armor. Astrid first suspects that this is a challenge from her father–or even the gods themselves. By acting correctly, she can gain the favor of Odin, the Allfather.

Astrid wants to complete the test, but it becomes more and more difficult as she explores this new part of the world and encounters both monsters and monstrous men. As creatures from the darkest legends reveal themselves, Astrid will discover that her journey isn’t about acting correctly or passing Odin’s test. It’s about pure survival. Before she can even think about finding Birka, she will have to defend herself against the demons of this new world.”

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His Quest to Save the World

Nathaniel Turner Author Interview

Nathaniel Turner Author Interview

The Chimaera Regiment follows Hector as he sets off on a world altering journey. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?

The first idea that I incorporated into this story, or what eventually became this story, was the question, “What if someone compelled a worldwide society, perhaps not far into our future, back to a level of technology and culture comparable to the very first tribal communities?” Of course, by the time I wrote the book, I had decided to aim for something closer to the late Bronze or early Iron Age than the Stone Age, and the whole question became part of the world-building rather than a story I tell during the book.

The character of Hector started to develop as I began to catalogue ideas and lay out a basic plan of the plot. Up to that point, I had never completed anything longer than a short story (in spite of my best efforts), so I wanted to make it as easy as possible for myself to get all the way through a novel. To that end, I took that advice so frequently bandied about, “Write what you know,” and decided to make the hero someone a little younger than I was at the time.

The first draft of the novel was quite a bit shorter than it is now, and it ended up collecting dust in a box for a few years. (I prefer to write first drafts by hand.) Around the time a movie was released with, by total coincidence, my working title, I decided to go back to it and see what I could make of it. By that point, I had gotten a college degree and learned enough to know that the first draft had a good core, but the implementation was all wrong. Over the next couple of years, I went through the entire book and rewrote it, this time trying to make sure all the pieces aligned. It was at this point that I incorporated mythology into the story and titled it The Chimaera Regiment.

That initial idea is still in there, and you can see the edges of it as the backstory develops through this book, but I’m going to explore that question more closely in future books.

I think the story has roots in mythology. Do you read books from that genre? What were some books that you think influenced The Chimaera Regiment?

It does, and I do. My bachelor’s degree is focused on the Classics, which some may have heard called Classical Studies or (my favorite) Classical Philology, so I learned Latin and ancient Greek and I read a lot of Greco-Roman mythology, both in English and in the original languages. (My knowledge of Norse mythology is pretty limited, I’ve barely touched Egyptian mythology, and I’m as clueless as the next guy when it comes to anything else.)

For The Chimaera Regiment in particular, I looked to a lot of different sources for inspiration. What I wanted, perhaps most of all, was to craft a story that people would enjoy regardless of their educational background, but I also wanted to include a lot of “Easter eggs” for people with the same knowledge-base I have. So on the surface you have Hector on his quest to save the world from the Chimaera Regiment, and underneath that, I’m incorporating themes and plotlines from the myth of Bellerophon. Bellerophon, of course, was the hero that killed the Chimaera in the Greek mythos. Most of that particular tale comes to us from the writings of Apollodorus and one section of Homer’s Iliad, but there are a lot of minor references in other works, too.

While the myth of Bellerophon and the Chimaera is interwoven with the main plot, I also included references to other myths, both significant and minor, throughout. The vast majority of those can be found in Homer (either the Iliad or the Odyssey), Vergil (the Aeneid), or Ovid (the Metamorphoses), but to be honest, I enjoyed the process of hiding those references so much that I’m not completely sure I could tell you all of them at this point!

I found the characters in this story to be complex and engaging. What were the driving ideals that drove the characters development throughout the story?

Especially when it came to Hector, whom we follow more closely than anyone else, I wanted something realistic. I find a lot of “coming of age” hero stories jump too quickly from “callow youth” to “great warrior” without much reason for it. I didn’t want my readers to ask, “Wait, why can he do that? How come he’s not daunted by this fight or fazed by this tragedy? When did he have time to learn strategy?” Incorporating that development was important to me.

When it came to the other characters, it was a matter of establishing ideals for each of them—how they saw the world, how they expected life to go—and then challenging those ideals with reality. Sometimes reality is better than they thought, but usually, it’s worse; either way, they have to adjust to deal with that. It’s a process not altogether different from the way we deal with change in our own lives.

I find a problem in a well written stories in that I always want there to be another book to keep the story going. Is there a second book planned?

There is a second book planned (and, very roughly, a third). The sequel is titled The Aegipan Revolution and picks up, not where the main story of The Chimaera Regiment leaves off, but rather where our epilogue leaves off, with the child learning this epic tale from his history.

I’m in the midst of writing The Aegipan Revolution, and I’ve passed the halfway point, but there is still a lot left to tell. After that, I’ll need to edit it thoroughly (though hopefully not as slowly as the first book!). On top of that, my day job has me incredibly busy these days. So I’d love to set a date for the next book’s release, but I can’t realistically estimate that right now.

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The Chimaera RegimentIt is late autumn in the 2040th year of the Sixth Era. For centuries, peace has reigned among the tribes of men, but as an early chill descends on the land, a new war looms from the south. Lord Derek, ruler of the Chimaera Regiment, seeks to reestablish the ancient Fylscem Empire under his banner, and he will stop at nothing to restore the dominion of his bloodline.

Before him lies the idyllic Valley of Kyros, home of the Alkimites, where the last direct heir of the old empire lives in ignorance. Guided by the ancient Guardian Lord Aneirin, Hector son of Abram must travel to the primeval capital of his heritage. There, in the Library of the Ancients, he must retrieve the three Blessed Blades of the Emperor, symbols of his authority. Agents of the Chimaera Regiment pursue him, and barbaric tribes stand in his way, but his path may unlock the secrets of the past, and it could bring light—or darkness—to the future.

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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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The Agony Of My Own Life

Simon Rumney Author Interview

Simon Rumney Author Interview

Another Self throws us into the life of a girl who has been broken of all spirit and self-esteem, but by her wits and grit she becomes the richest person in ancient Rome. What was the inspiration behind this fascinating novel?

The sad truth is, this story is inspired by my own life. Because of undiagnosed dyslexia and ADHD I left school at a young age with no qualifications and, more importantly, ‘no’ self-esteem. Like Julia in Another Self I became successful while believing myself undeserving, even deceitful.

The writing in your story is creative and filled with twists. Was it a conscious effort to create a story in this fashion or is this style of writing reflective of your writing style in general?

From the age of 5 until a complete mental breakdown in my late 40’s, I was too ashamed to write anything down. After a psychiatrist diagnosed my dyslexia I started to write spontaneously. This story quite literally poured out of me and took its own course. The character may be a woman and the story set in ancient Rome, but Julia is experiencing the real agony of my own life.

Julia’s character is like none other I’ve read this year. What were some of the trials that you felt were important to highlight the Julia’s development?

Writing Another Self was like therapy for me. Searching for the words that sent Julia on her journey of discovery helped me understand how I could achieve so much while believing myself so completely worthless. Now, I’m a little in love with Julia because she and I have been through so much together.

Can you tell us more about what’s in store for Julia and the direction of the second book in the Our Eternal Curse series?

In book two, Another Tribe, Julia’s character is forced to confront racism in the southern states of America during the civil war. In book three, Another War, she must come to grips with her guileless part in causing The First World War. At the end of book three we learn why Julia has been Eternally Cursed, but I won’t spoil it for your readers.

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Our Eternal Curse: Another Self by [Rumney, Simon]Julia, brilliant yet humbled by cruelty and abuse, overcomes great disadvantage to become the richest person in ancient Rome. Living a double life, she wields power from behind the scenes to bring vengeance down upon those who wronged her. When her schemes ensnare Rome’s two greatest generals, Lucius Cornelius Sulla and Gaius Marius, Julia provokes civil war and condemns herself to suffer for the sins of her past.

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Zurga’s Fire

Zurga's Fire (The Orfeo Saga, #3)4 Stars

Travel back in time in this fantastical adventure with Zurga’s Fire, book three in the Orfeo Saga. Murray Lee Eiland Jr weaves his tale that takes place in historical Greece and the rest of the Mediterranean. Broken up into four books filled with short, easy to digest chapters we begin with Daryush, a young man who has been living as a consort for the Empress Zinaida. If you are just coming into this saga, you won’t be able to get a true grasp on what previous volumes have covered. What we learn from Daryush and Zinaida is that theirs is a young love and she has recently acquired her position of power. Due to their differences Daryush decides to leave Babylon in order to preserve his life. We then begin to follow him on his journey while meeting other important characters and breaking off to follow them. It all comes back around and end with Daryush.

Eiland is very good at keeping his chapters short and to the point. Instead of long, drawn out chapters that cover far too much information to digest well, this tale has the benefit of being broken into four books and a total of 70 chapters. While that may seem like a lot, the story doesn’t break 300 pages. There is even a historical note for those history buffs who are reading. This is a historical fantasy-adventure tale and Eiland does his best to keep information as true to history while taking certain artistic liberties. This makes the book easy to read without getting bogged down by technicalities. While the information regarding tribes, empires and villages is indeed massive, it is all presented in shortened, easy to read ways.

Daryush is not the titular character, although he feels like one. He weaves in and out of the story that the reader can get deluded into thinking it’s all about him. The book is called Zurga’s Fire for a reason and that is made quite apparent in the third book within this volume.

Aside from being a bit in the dark to previous accomplishments in the first two books, Zurga’s Fire stands well on its own. The story feels complete at the end and doesn’t leave too many unanswered questions. The writing is clean with little to no grammatical errors and the chapter formatting is nice on the eyes. The intrigue, romance and mystery that pepper the tale are all tasteful with nothing feeling forced or contrived. This is a spectacular feat to accomplish when you have so many characters with such intricate lives.

If you’re looking for a good read that won’t have you feeling overwhelmed then Zurga’s Fire by Murray Lee Eiland Jr is definitely something you should consider. Not too heavy on historical explanations and easy to read with short chapters, this third installment in the Orfeo Saga is pleasant and satisfying.

Pages: 244 | ASIN: B017YFKZSU

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Accomplishing Great Things

Diane Mae Robinson Author Interview

Diane Mae Robinson Author Interview

In Sir Princess Petra’s Mission, Petra’s father sends her on a mission where she is expected to fail so that she can stop having fantasies of adventure and become a proper lady. The book is beautifully written, did you set out to create a story rich in kindness and morality, or did that happen organically?

Before I began to write the story, I did tons of work creating the characters. When I felt the characters were fully rounded and as well-known to me as friends, I began to write their adventures.  It was, also, important to me to have noble characters doing noble deeds.  So, the story was written and developed with noble values in my mind, but the characters seemed to develop the story organically because of who they are.

Princess Petra is a strong young woman. What was the inspiration for the main character’s traits and dialogue?

I’ve always believe that gender was never an issue to accomplishing what one’s heart desires. Petra’s character was created out of that belief. Petra is a strong young lady, and I am sure those traits come out because of my upbringing with a strong mother figure who has, and still is, accomplishing great things in life whether those accomplishments are male or female orientated.

What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in Sir Princess Petra’s Mission?

Believing in oneself is the most important theme Petra instills throughout the series. Also, kindness, acceptance of others, standing up for what is right, bravery, and friendship were important themes to bring out in all the characters.

What will the next book in that series be about and when will it be published?

The characters haven’t told me yet what the next book is about yet. They have mentioned that they like the title Sir Princess Petra’s Quest. I’m hoping we’ll have created the 4th book for publication in later 2017. In the meantime, I have a new book, based on these characters, releasing in early 2017. The book is entitled The Dragon Grammar Book, and it’s an-easy-to-understand grammar book for middle grades through adults. The book is kind of quirky (well, if you think fantasy characters giving grammar lessons is quirky), and a fun and easy way to learn grammar.

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Sir Princess Petra's MissionSir Princess Petra has already attained her knighthood in the Kingdom of Pen Pieyu and her non-princess-like talent certificate from Talent School, neither of which pleases her father and mother, the king and queen. The king writes up more silly rules in the royal rule book to deter Sir Princess Petra from her knightly ways and useless talent, and turn her into a real princess once and for all. Will the king finally succeed with this newly written, ridiculous mission for Petra?

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Sir Princess Petra’s Mission

Sir Princess Petra's Mission5 StarsChildren’s books are more than just fun stories on paper. More often than not they are designed to teach the readers a skill or lesson that will serve them as they grow older and interact more with the world. The key is to make the lesson seem so natural in the story that it gets absorbed without much notice. Diane Mae Robinson does this with Sir Princess Petra’s Mission. The book is the third in a series and the very beginning gives a synopsis of the two prior installments. This is exceptionally beneficial for those who are coming into the tale so far behind. In our story we find Petra, the Princess Knight, who has been given a mission by her not-to-pleased father. As is the case with many books where young women strive to be outside the ‘ordinary’, Petra’s father is displeased at the fact she is a knight. He charges her with a mission that he desperately hopes she will fail in an attempt to conform her to his views.

The language is very fun and easy to read. There are several pictures throughout the story which give a great addition to the words. It is always fun for readers to have an idea of what the author intended when they describe something and this is a welcomed bonus for young readers who are possibly reading for pleasure for the first time. The text is simple enough for children yet interesting enough for adults to actually be engaged with what they are reading with or to their children.

Petra is a strong female character who has a desire to live her life the way she wants. Much to the chagrin of her father this means being a knight and going on knightly adventures. This means no pink frilly dresses and no classes on how to faint properly. The story of the young girl going against expectations has been around for quite some time, but Petra truly needs no saving by anyone. She is not a trapped princess who needs help getting out of the tower or the princess who tries to fight a dragon but needs help from a male. Petra takes every task head-on and does her best to deliver results with her own hands. Even when she is faced with a difficult question or situation, she does her very best to think about what the right answer in her heart would be.

It’s truly sad that Petra’s father can’t be excited for his daughter and proud of everything she has done for the kingdom. How many princesses subdue a snarling dragon, only to become allies with them? Not many, even in the realm of children’s books. Sir Princess Petra’s Mission is no different in that her father hands out an impossible task, yet when she does her best to achieve her mission and strives to straighten out some incorrect information on the way, her father’s response is less than delightful.

Robinson weaves a wonderful tale of adventure and excitement that any boy or girl could love. With an underlying message that doesn’t scream from within the pages all readers, adults too, are sure to come away with the desire to emulate Petra’s wonderful tenacity; even if only for a while.

Pages: 106 | ASIN: B01AX8G1Q0

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The Emperor of Babylon

The Emperor of Babylon (The Orfeo Saga, #2)4 StarsThe Emperor of Babylon opens with Zurga being captured by a mysterious group and whisked away to Babylon. Despite his skills as a Wanderer, his captors appear to be well prepared. The purpose of his capture becomes clear as an old friend demands to be granted the power Zurga is rumored to possess from the well-known war of years past. This rumor is what spurs the plot forward, along with the discovery of a new metal used for weapons, as Zurga and his friends search for a way to keep Nurim Sin from waging war on anyone who has a power he might fear. In the meantime, the village of the Wanderers has been neglecting its duty, leaving them open to the dangers of the world.

Orfeo and Clarice, on their separate, but shared, quest to find Zurga, are both given the opportunity to grow, and the reader is treated to two very different styles of travel through these characters. It gives the narrator a lot of breathing room when it comes to how the story is told, developing each of them into well rounded individuals, rather than a married couple.

I felt that Nurim Sin was not presented as a very dangerous antagonist, and the fear and tension normally derived from that was lacking. Because Zurga and his crew are granted a seemingly easy escape, it diminishes the suspense regarding Nurim Sin’s actions in the future. Much is revealed about Nurim Sin’s plans by him talking to characters like Zurga and Clarice, which removes the concern a reader might have about his secret plans.

The first half of the novel follows the characters as they travel and try to avoid suspicion. There are hints of a threat to the characters, but the anxiety from the danger is rarely felt. The characters were a highlight in this novel. I felt that they were well developed, nuanced and had meaningful interactions. The second half of the book shows the politics of the region as pieces fall into place in preparation for war. The characters play their parts and move the pieces as much as they can. Clarice’s deception of Nurim Sin is entertaining and I wish I was treated to more of it because that’s the kind of action that makes this book shine.

Overall, the novel has many entertaining moments built on slowly developed tension and conflict. The characters are dynamic and intriguing and the author does a good job of establishing new faces in the story. I can’t wait for the third book, but I’ll be begging for more edge of your seat conflict that this series has the potential to deliver.

Pages: 256 | B016SNL510

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