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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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A Shock Factor

Danny C. Estes Author Interview

Danny C. Estes Author Interview

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.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Mother Athina (The Books of Athina Book 3) by [Estes, Danny]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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Off the Cuff

Danny Estes Author Interview

Danny C. Estes Author Interview

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.

Author Links: Website | GoodReads

Lord Athina (The Books of Athina, #1)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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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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Storm of Arranon

Storm of Arranon (Storm of Arranon, #1)5 Stars

Storm of Arranon by Robynn Sheahan is a science-fiction fantasy saga of Erynn and her people. This book is a fictional self-journey. Erynn is not entirely who she thinks she is, and as a result, she goes on an epic adventure of self-discovery and acceptance. Along with her personal growth, she discovers another world within her world. Erynn then embarks on a journey with new friends filled with mystery, magic, and murder. Through this excursion from an omnipotent narrator, you are sucked into a unique, wonderful world and learn the intimate thoughts, wishes, and desires of everyone.

This book is astonishing. It is a thrilling ride filled with excitement from the beginning to the end. The opening line in the book grabbed my attention and made me want to continue. There is an air of mystery that also kept me hooked and wanting more. It was difficult for me to put the book down.

Sheahan also creates a refreshing book with a female lead. In most books, the man is rescuing the woman, but Erynn is a strong, independent women calling the shots and fighting her own battles. One part of this I did not like was that Sheahan compared the leading female to a man to show her strength, something I could have gone without. Another aspect was that she was small, which is also another trope with female lead characters. Otherwise, it strays pretty far away from the stereotypes of female leads.

The story is complex, interwoven with various plot devices. There is an entire world the author creates complete with a made-up language. Some of the words were not explained or given context, but you find out what they are or what they represent later. One writing style device I had issues with was the use of italics; there were some instances I was not sure why the author used them.

It is important to note that you must pay close attention to everything going on in the book. Something or someone you would deem as insignificant in most books turns out to be important. There is also a lot of action going on at the beginning of the book, and then throughout the rest of it, do not let that deter you. It may be overwhelming for some, but it is easy to keep track of and incredible. Storm of Arranon is a fascinating, fun read. Overall, the world Sheahan created is a wallop of a tale that fully immerses you.

I got to discover this novel world with Erynn as she discovered it, which left me with a feeling of wonderment. I highly recommend this book to others. I have also seen there are more books in the series, and I am looking forward to reading more about Erynn and her adventures with her friends.

Pages: 287 | ISBN: 1466234970

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The Taming of Adam

The Taming of Adam: Part 1: The Path to Envale3 Stars

Adam Miller was never much of a student. Even though he dropped out of high school, his wealth and skill in magic get him into Cooper University for the Magical Sciences. Even though he’s signed up for many classes, he only attends the lectures on black magic. The shadow world of black magic fascinates him, and he’s learning fast. Adam is the ultimate loner; he’s rude and dismissive of others, considers his own professors to be idiots, and is physically violent with women. When he goes completely out of control, he’s arrested for his crimes and is forced to face his own shortcomings.

Gene London, Adam’s lawyer, has his own set of secrets. He is desperately looking for a powerful black mage to help him bring his lover Ellen back into the real world. Ellen is a white mage who is trapped in Envale, a place she describes as a world of light. When Adam meets Ellen, she shows him a whole new level of power that could grant him everything he ever wanted, or destroy him completely.

What I liked about this novel was that it is set in a contemporary world where magic is common. Mage is a trade like any other, and mages can earn a good living through magic. There’s also a predictable set of people who want to keep magic under control and set strict rules for mages to follow.

Adam starts out as a completely unlikable character. He’s a jerk to everyone, even those he thinks of as friends, and he seems to have no real reason for it. But when things go bad for him, he realizes that he can’t do everything alone, so he begins to make a few friends who help him practice and learn more spells. He’s not only mastering magic but also learning compassion for others and how they can be stronger by working together.

Gene London isn’t the greatest guy, either. He’s a slightly shady lawyer who uses bribery and intimidation to get what he wants. If he can secure funding for a top-secret magical experiment, he may be able to free her. He needs a powerful black mage to do it, and Adam just might be the one he’s looking for.

The first half of the novel is a chore to get through. It’s slow to start, bogged down by too many spelling and grammar errors and long information dumps that delay the plot. The information is “told” rather than shown, which makes for a dull reading experience. I was particularly disappointed in the chapter that laid out the origin of Renin. What should be an inspiring myth of gods and creation was poorly told.

Fortunately, both the quality of the writing and the plot gets much better, and the stakes get higher as the story progresses. As the magical experiment looms closer, danger and magical intrigue ramp up to a confrontation that could destroy everything Adam has accomplished.

Pages: 305 | ASIN: B00NJ2BZIW

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Forgotten Laws of the Universe

Katlynn Brooke Author Interview

Katlynn Brooke Author Interview

The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana is book two in the Ialana series and picks up right where book the first one left off. What was your inspiration for the setup of this story and how did that help you create the ending?

In the setup for the second book, I wanted to bring in two very diverse, but related, elements to play off each other. The first one was the continuation of the training of the Six in elemental command, and the advanced use of crystals. The second was the power struggle for control of Ialana by the ruling classes.

I wanted to further illustrate how the forgotten laws of the universe, otherwise known as “magic”, can be used for opposite ends. When someone understands fully how the universe works, that actions always have consequences, and what those consequences may be, then they will not abuse this knowledge to gain personal power over others. To do this knowingly would feel insane to them. On the other hand, when someone learns only how to manipulate power for his or her own purposes, without understanding the consequences, then they will always suffer the inevitable consequences. This, I felt, produced a satisfactory ending, as the natural laws of the universe came into play.

The Six go through a thrilling and perilous journey to make it home while avoiding a shape shifting king. Is there any moral or idea that you hope readers take away from the story?

The perils the Six faced were the results, or consequences, of the misuse of power by others. It is the same in the real world, the one we inhabit. The monstrous creatures the Six encountered could be seen by us as disease, poverty, ignorance, and despair—the consequences of misunderstanding or ignorance of the laws of the universe. It is also known in this world as Karma. It doesn’t have to be personal to one to experience consequences of others’ actions and their misuse of power. It affects everyone at some point, but I also wanted to stress that when one is willing to learn, then one can find protection in knowledge, create a different reality for themselves, and avoid needless suffering.

Just like in book one, the characters are all well developed. What were some of the trials that you felt were important to highlight the characters development?

The Buddhists believe that suffering produces growth. For me, it seems unnecessary when one understands how to use the laws of the universe correctly, but in many instances, suffering works, and the trials the Six went through all contributed to more understanding about themselves. For example, in the first book, it was difficult for them to work together as a team. They did not understand their goal, their past, or about the nature of reality. Once they went through different trials together, they learned how to work as a team, understanding what their common goal was.

Another thing that occurs to me, is that one appreciates knowledge so much more when it has not come easily, and, it does make the books so much more entertaining!

What is the next story that you’re writing and when will it be published?

The next one is already published. It is the third in the series, The Six and Anwyn of Ialana. This book continues with the adventures of the Six, only with some exciting new characters, and an old enemy that resurfaces, but in a more frightening form. The difficulties for the Six in this book ramp up in tandem with their abilities and responsibilities. With great power often comes even greater responsibility, and this book will not disappoint.

I am working on a fourth in the series, no title as yet, but this one promises to be the best one so far. I have learned much from the first three books, and I also wanted to take the Six in a new direction and bring in problems they had not faced before. This book has a whole new feel to it, but it does retain the elements of mystery and adventure that my readers have enjoyed, while keeping the characters intact, and introducing even more challenges for them.

While this book is still in the early stages, it should be published sometime in 2017. My website and Facebook page will keep readers updated.

The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana is now in the production stages of audio book narration by the same talented narrator, Jeff Hays, who narrated the first book. I intend to release all books of the series in audio, as well as ebook and print, in 2017.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

In a seamless continuation of the first book in the series, “The Six and the Crystals of Ialana”, the six healers find themselves caught in the midst of a power struggle between the competing rulers of Ialana. Unable to complete their healing mission, to heal mutants who were genetically altered by crystal manipulation, they flee the Galonese warlord, Ortzi, and attempt a dangerous journey back to their homes in northern Ialana. Trapped by malevolent creatures, hunted by a monster who seeks them for reasons of its own, and on the run from a king and a conniving shape-shifter, there seems to be no place of safety for them. Will they find the mysterious abode of the Gardeners? Who are the Gardeners, and what is their purpose for the Six? Will The Six be able to find Queen Catrin, who sets off on a quest of her own, or will Catrin run afoul of her husband, King Brenin, before she can find The Six? In The Gardeners of Ialana, the Six explore the mysteries of healing, elemental command, and through many more trials, learn their true purpose in life.

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Chaste: A Tale From Perilisc

Chaste: A Tale from Perilisc4 StarsChaste is the third book by Jesse Teller in the Tales from Perilisc. In Teller’s prior book, Legends of Perilisc the god Cor-lyn-ber is mentioned the father of Hope and Light; Chaste focuses on Cor-lyn-ber and his followers in the small town. The town of Chaste is a remote town dedicated to Cor-lyn-ber that has been overcome with a deep sickness. Five strangers to the town arrive and all their destinies take a turn. The book is dark and filled with detailed violence. It is not for someone looking for fairies and elves. The theme of rape, abuse and murder run though the whole book revealing a dark and sick society struggling to find the light again.

The main characters are Father Frank, Cheryl the barmaid and self-appointed watcher of the town, and the five strangers, Ambul, Ruther, Sai, Sob, and Trevonne. Cheryl watched her parents die, her mother and battle and her father murdered. They were the religious leaders for Cor-lyn-ber and Cheryl from that point on lost all faith in her god. The first half of the book is all about the devastation of the town, the murders of their children, the sickness and evil that penetrates the land and people. The reader learns little about the five strangers only getting pieces of their history bit by bit. Trevonne is wizardass in training, she arrives in the town of Chaste weak and sick. Sob, an assassin and thief has taken on the role of protector of her. Ruther appears to be the leader of their group with a no nonsense mentality. Ambul and Sai call themselves brothers but they are not related. Sai is known as the great swordsman and dreams of a woman each night where they continue their love saga from afar. Ambul is referred to as the gentlest and good man known to man. He is an innocent and pure of heart, with a secret past.

The five strangers arrive in the town right after the death of another child. They all feel there is a wrongness in the town. The first night there Sob is out looking for jewelry to steal and comes in contact with the killer of the children. She recognized there was something evil and not human from the start but wasn’t staying around to investigate further. Meanwhile, back at the tavern and inn Ambul goes missing after a fight with Sai. The fight was brought on out of nowhere, the towns sickness already infecting them with its poison. From here the story of finding their missing friend, discovering the source of the sickness and purging the town of the poison is told.

The story of Cheryl is key to the novel, and she goes through a drastic transformation. Like all major transformation in life hers is a hard story and she learns lessons of pride and sacrifice. She also learns just how much control the gods of Perilisc have over her life and that of the world around her. She learns that her destiny is set by them, not herself. She must face her past, and Cor-lyn-ber himself.

Overall this book is not for the reader looking for a happy ending fantasy novel. This is fantasy at its darkest. Abuse, demons, and torture are key themes and some are described in vivid detail. If you can get past all that, the story is one of transformation, overcoming evil and delivering justice.

Pages: 244 | ASIN: B01J0FVC9S

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Without Forethought of the Moral Costs

Stephen Arend Author Interview

Stephen Arend Author Interview

Soul Searcher takes place in a world where magic is as common as breathing, but a soul transfer goes terribly wrong. This is an intriguing setup to an epic fantasy novel. What was your moral goal when writing this novel and do you feel you’ve achieved it?

I wrote a good portion of Soul Searcher while I was working as an Adult Felony Probation Officer. Working in such a position gives a person the opportunity to experience many different views of why we are here, in this life. One such outlook was the need to obtain immediate gratification without forethought of the moral costs or consequences: addiction. Another outlook was the sometimes jaded, superior opinion many in the field get when working in that environment. Mordeth was addicted to the power of his position and the euphoria of the magical weave, and he felt he was justified in what he was doing. This addiction made him impatient, and his superiority caused him to other the criminals, to make them less than he. Mordeth’s straying from the moral code of society led to his downfall and to wasted years. He forgot he was supposed to serve instead of being served.

Rork is an intriguing character that knows little about his past. What were some of the trials that you felt were important to highlight the characters development?

First and foremost, Rork felt he needed no one. That is false. No matter how strong or independent, we all need someone. Everyone has unique traits and skills, but no one person is perfect. We all have weaknesses, and Rork sure had his. In discovering friendship, Rork improved his place in the world and brightened his existence. Also, Rork lacked faith in a power higher. He needed to learn to believe and have faith; his ax, Retorter, could not hack its way through everything. In the end, that was his redemption.

How did you balance magic and its use throughout the story to keep it believable?

I wanted magic to be addictive, to siphon life with each usage. It may cost seconds, minutes, hours, days or years of life with the depth of the draw. A Mage-Lord could instantly light a torch with a wave of his hand and only lose seconds of his life–about the same amount of time it would have taken to physically light it– or she could wield destructive power and lose years of life. A mage would have to balance his or her current need with the cost and danger, because accepting the weave is addicting and dangerous.

What is the next book that you’re working on and when can your fans expect it out?

I am working on Shadow Court. Rork’s redemption is complete, but his atonement is ongoing. Rork has to face all he did as Mordeth, and that man’s sins are far reaching. Shadow Court will be out January 2017.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Soul Searcher: The Reckoning Part OneSoul Searcher: The Reckoning details the journey of one man, Rork, as he strives to find his past and answers to the strange memories and images which have plagued him for the past ten years. In making this journey, he will discover who he really is…and was. Along the way, Rork gathers to his side an enigmatic forester with ties to a long-forgotten race, that young man’s secret protector, and a boisterous islander with pride as large as the open canyon country. In the end, Rork finds himself torn between what he must do for himself and what he can do for others around him, for he learns of friendship and caring, and that it hard for a man with only half a soul. The past cannot be changed, and for some, the reality of that may prove too much to accept.

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The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana

The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana (The Ialana Series Book 2) by [Brooke, Katlynn]4 StarsBook two of the Ialana series by Kaitlynn Brooke picks up right where book one, The Six and the Crystals of Ialana, left off.  Because of this, it’s essential to have read the first book to understand the previous experiences of the six healers, and this review cannot avoid mild spoilers for book one.

Jarah, Tristan, Kex, Djana, Teagan and Adain take some time to rest and regroup. With the help of their friends, they head to the kingdom of Galon to continue healing the animalistic Trueni return to human forms. There are other survivors of the disaster and the remnants of Armafalus’ leadership vie for control. Blaidd is rescued by a beautiful woman named Branwyn who takes him under her wing to help rebuild the city.

When the Six get to Galon, they start their work. As they begin to heal the Trueni there, they gain the attention of a warlord as well as a shapeshifter and are forced to flee. With the help of their mentor Irusan, they run for home, hoping to find their families. To do so, they must journey through territory filled with dangerous, mutated creatures. Irusan has told them to find the Gardeners, who will aid and teach them. They also have an unknown ally—Queen Catrin of Galon—who is on a quest to find them before her husband does.

I enjoyed the first book and was happy to read the second. Katlynn Brooke delivers more exciting adventure for the Six. With Armafalus’ grip on power shattered, leadership and domination are up for grabs, and the scramble for political control is on. Several factions believe if they can find the Six, their abilities to use the crystals will turn the tide in their favor. It’s quite realistic, and the manipulative struggle for power on both sides is well done. When the Six find the Gardeners, their skills and understanding of both crystal and elemental power deepens, and helps them understand their place and role in this multi-layered world.

There are a lot of characters to follow, but most of them are so fleshed-out as individuals that it’s not difficult to remember who is who. When it comes to the healers, Jarah does most of the talking for the group, but I missed experiencing the story through the perspective of different characters, like Djana, Tristan, and Kex. Blaidd continues to be both a strong character and a catalyst for change, and while I know he’s a betrayer at heart, I couldn’t help feeling bad for him.

The end of this book is tense, action-packed and exciting as the forces of Anfawl, Galon, and the Six crash together in an inevitable conflict. The author delivers more twists and surprises that don’t disappoint and plants the seeds for book three. This series is shaping up to be an engaging high fantasy adventure that’s perfect for teen readers while being enjoyable for adults as well. I’d recommend this series for fantasy readers of any age.

Pages: 205 | ASIN: B00N42SCDS

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