Sunday, December 29, 2013

Book Blast and Giveaway: Zierath: Lord of the Alliance

About the Book:
Title: Zierath Lord of the Alliance
Genre: Fantasy
Author: M. David Loyal
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 284
Language: English
ISBN – 978-0-59569-622-2

Welcome to the Achar, a huge rotating mobius strip encircling a yellow sun. The Achar is home to hundreds of sentient races, bizarre monsters, thousands of countries, and the Imrhys, a race of immortal humans with great magical abilities who believe it is their responsibility to save the world.

More than three thousand years have passed since the last great Gnarrhys War, but Lord Zierath and his fellow Imrhys still remember it. More than half of all the sentients on the Achar died in that war. Now, rumors of a darkness forming off in the west set Zierath out on a quest to gather allies, armies, and information before the darkness envelops them all. Of course, the first trick is to get out of the tedious administrative duties of ruling a large confederation of countries. Zierath’s solution is simple. Sneak out of the castle, city, and country before the regent can stop him. However, if the regent can see into the future, things can get complicated very quickly.

About the Author:
M. David Loyal is a jack-of-all-trades. He is an author, an artist, cartoonist, an animator, a web designer, a musician, an actor, and a director. He has worked as a cashier, a waiter, a factory worker, a teacher, and a TRIO professional. He lives in the Driftless area of Iowa with his wife, Kathleen. 
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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Review: The Crown Tower by Michael J Sullivan

The Crown Tower (Book 1, The Riyria Chronicles)
by Michael J. Sullivan
Release Date: August 6th, 2013
2013 Orbit
Softcover Edition; 416 Pages
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

A warrior with nothing to fight for is paired with a thieving assassin with nothing to lose. Together they must steal a treasure that no one can reach. The Crown Tower is the impregnable remains of the grandest fortress ever built and home to the realm’s most valuable possessions. But it isn’t gold or jewels the old wizard is after, and this prize can only be obtained by the combined talents of two remarkable men. Now if Arcadias can just keep Hadrian and Royce from killing each other, they just might succeed.

My Thoughts
The Crown Tower is the first book in the Riyria Chronicles, the prequel to the Riyria Revelations, the books that first introduced us to the adventures of Hadrian and Royce.  Being totally captivated by their adventures, I was intrigued about this series of novels about their earlier life, their first meeting, and how they managed to become such a successful team.  I enjoyed the novel very much, practically devoured it, but in hindsight, wonder how much of that fascination and enjoyment was because I absolutely enjoyed the Revelations series I think perhaps my judgment is a bit cloudy because of that fact.

What I liked:  The author's smooth and lyrical writing style is definitely continued in this novel and while he concedes and acknowledges the Revelations series in a very subtle way, this is very much a stand-alone novel that accomplishes what he set out to do - show us how Royce and Hadrian first met, with those small little twists that readers have come to expect.  And while the story may be a little slow at first, it definitely picks up in a way I would expect, throwing Royce and Hadrian into a near-impossible situation, and leaving the reader wondering how they would yet again, get out of it.  

Hadrian was somewhat naive and very trusting, almost too trusting for someone who spent the past five years fighting for different military groups/armies, and the by-play between himself and Royce was interesting as Royce was so jaded and sarcastic, ready to pretty much stab everybody in sight.  The fact that they hate each other is not news to readers, but the bickering and interplay between them was comical and fascinating, and I found myself chuckling a couple of times over the interaction, one of the things I loved in Revelations.  Personally, this is why I think readers are so fascinated by these two characters!!

I also enjoyed Gwen's POV as we finally learn a bit more about her story.  This is where things become a little dicey though as it's a point I really liked but thought more was needed.  Let me explain.  I really enjoyed learning how Gwen stood up for herself and became the owner of a brothel and inn, but what I would have really liked knowing were more about her inner thoughts towards this type of life and what really brought her there.  I felt this part was kind of glossed over and while I enjoy her character, I feel like there is this disconnect with her because her real feelings aren't always evident, it's more about everyone else's. I'd like to see a deeper character development with Gwen and a bit more about her background and what really drove her.  She is a really classy lady and played such a huge role in Royce and Hadrian's development that it would be nice to really know what she was thinking. Perhaps more in the second book?

What I wasn't sure about: Not too sure about Hadrian as he seemed overly naive and trusting to me, not someone who had just spent five years in one military unit after another.  And I would question his leadership ability as he seems to have difficulty making good decisions and good judgment calls.  It mentions his ability to judge people by the way they move and the way they speak and how Hadrian has this ability, yet Hadrian got himself into a couple of dangerous situations in this novel that he really shouldn't have if he had used this so-called ability.  Was the author trying to impress on us readers that even with great ability, we still can make silly and stupid mistakes by not paying attention or by trusting blindly?  Not really sure what the mixed messages were here, but I was confused by this early on in the novel and frustrated by Hadrian at times.  Royce was far clearer, as it was just stab anybody who got in his way.  I still haven't learned a lot about his early years, so hopefully that will come in future novels as he's a mighty interesting character.

The Crown Tower is a worthy prequel to the Riyria Revelations.  I was somewhat skeptical going into this novel as I enjoyed the Revelations so much I was afraid of the big disappointment.  Luckily for me, Mr. Sullivan was able to tell the story of Hadrian and Royce's first meeting with the same spunky feeling as in his Revelations novels and the spirit and fire of those novels really came through here.  The novel has excitement, suspense, mystery, fighting, and comedy, all elements we come to expect from a Sullivan novel. It is hard to say whether you should start with Revelations first or Chronicles, but my gut would say Revelations as you get a feel for the partnership first before learning how it all started.   I am currently reading The Rose and the Thorn, the next book in the Chronicles series, and loving it!! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: The Rat Chronicles

About the Book:
Title: The Rat Chronicles 
Genre: Science Fiction
Author: G.W. Rennie 
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 204
Language: English
ISBN – 978-1-47599-934-1

An alien race known as the Xzebuliens that exists in an alternate universe has developed the technology to create a rift in our own, that appears on the blind side of the moon. They send asteroids through the rift and deflect them to land on all the major continents of Earth, containing a virus engineered to wipe out the human race, so they can leave their dying world behind after we are gone. There will however, be limitations to the virus, like how far and fast it spreads from the epicenters of the land masses that they strike making our environment toxic to humans, but not to most any other forms of life on the planet. The virus, also designed to turn the environment against humans, including the plant and animal life.

What the aliens did not count on is that the rats of Earth are affected by the virus in a way that mutates them, rendering the virus inert so as not to be dangerous to us through them, but giving them an ability to become telepathic with people through their Meta cognitive abilities that they share with human beings which is evidently lacking in other animal species. They eventually become our allies using their superior senses and intellect that work through us because of their mutated telepathic abilities and the Meta cognitive powers that both our species have in common in thwarting the alien attempts to invade.

An ancient secret the rats discover in an otherworldly alien AI database that they reveal to us through their enhanced mental abilities is so shocking it will change the way people look at rats and our world forever. The human race becomes subservient to the rats because of their accidental alien viral metamorphosis as we depend on each other for the survival of both our species….

About the Author:

Gerald Rennie, currently working in Port Coquitlam in beer distribution, graduated High School in 1981, has a life long interest in the subject of rats. Previously published a short auto biography about experiences with them in The Rat Worshiper. Lives alone with his five rats in Maple Ridge, British Columbia.

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Book Spotlight and $25 Giveaway: Becoming Josephine by Heather Webb

About the Book:
Title: Becoming Josephine
Author: Heather Webb
Publisher: Plume
Pages: 320
Language: English
Genre: Historical Fiction

Readers are fascinated with the wives of famous men. In Becoming Josephine, debut novelist Heather Webb follows Rose Tascher as she sails from her Martinique plantation to Paris, eager to enjoy an elegant life at the royal court. Once there, however, Rose’s aristocratic soldier-husband dashes her dreams by abandoning her amid the tumult of the French Revolution. After narrowly escaping death, Rose reinvents herself as Josephine, a beautiful socialite wooed by an awkward suitor—Napoleon Bonaparte. 

Rose Tascher sails from her Martinique plantation to Paris to trade her Creole black magic culture for love and adventure. She arrives exultant to follow her dreams of attending Court with Alexandre, her elegant aristocrat and soldier husband. But Alexandre dashes her hopes and abandons her amid the tumult of the French Revolution.

Through her savoir faire, Rose secures her footing in high society, reveling in handsome men and glitzy balls—until the heads of her friends begin to roll.

After narrowly escaping death in the blood-drenched cells of Les Carmes prison, she reinvents herself as Josephine, a socialite of status and power. Yet her youth is fading, and Josephine must choose between a precarious independence and the love of an awkward suitor. Little does she know, he would become the most powerful man of his century- Napoleon Bonaparte. 

BECOMING JOSEPHINE is a novel of one woman’s journey to find eternal love and stability, and ultimately to find herself.

About the Author:
As a former military brat and traveling addict, it was tricky choosing a landing pad. At
last, I settled in a rural town in New England. For a decade I put my degrees in French and Cultural Geography to good use teaching and coaching high school students.

Currently, I am a historical novelist and work as a freelance editor (For rates, check my EDITING page.) You may find me lurking at the popular where I contribute to their blog with editing advice, and at the award-winning site,, where I pose as Twitter Mistress (@WriterUnboxed). I also kick around a local college teaching classes called “Write to Publish” and “Crafting Your Novel”.

When I’m cross-eyed from too much screen time, I flex my foodie skills or geek out on history and pop culture. My debut historical novel BECOMING JOSEPHINE will be published by Plume/Penguin on December 31, 2013. (See my BOOKS page for more details.) I am represented by agent Michelle Brower of Folio Literary Management. – See more at: 

Connect & Socialize with Heather!

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