Category: Heroic Fantasy

#SpooktasticReads Book Review | “Shifty: Tales from the world of SAGE” (anthology) by Marian Allen

Posted Sunday, 21 October, 2018 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

#SpooktasticReads banner created by Imyril (@imyril) Photo Credit: Unsplash Photographer Mark Tegethoff. (Creative Commons Zero) Used with permission.

The following selection is part of the stories I am reading for #SpooktasticReads – which are curated to route me through the following genres of interest: Dark Fantasy, Cosy Horror, Paranormally inclined stories inasmuch as stories of Suspense, Thriller and Cosy Mysteries. 13 days to read the spooktacular stories we’re drawn inside leading into Halloween!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Acquired Book By: One thing I love about being active in the bookish side of the twitterverse is being able to interact with authors. Ms Allen is one of the authors I first crossed paths with when I first started to interact with the authors and friends of Seventh Star Press back in Autumn of 2013 and the first six months of 2014 – when I was a 1st Year Book Blogger. Over the years, I have happily been following her writerly career, however it wasn’t until I accepted for review an anthology called: Gifts of the Magi from an author who I also knew of via Seventh Star Press (RJ Sullivan*) gave me the chance to become properly introduced to the collection of stories and the writers who wrote them a few years ago. I wasn’t able to review the anthology until January 2017 – giving my first introduction to the world of SAGE writ by Ms Allen.

(*) On my connection to Mr Sullivan and Ms Allen: 

I have reviewed stories by Mr Sullivan whilst hosting for Seventh Star Press via Tomorrow Comes Media or directly for the author himself. His writing style is one of the ones I happen to love reading and without being able to host blog tours for Seventh Star Press, I am unsure if I would have discovered his writings, Ms Chris (Garrison), AshleyRose Sullivan or Stephen Zimmer’s as well. They are one of my favourite Speculative Fiction publishers in the Indie market.

My path in the twitterverse crossed a few times with Ms Allen, especially in regards to events attached to Seventh Star Press, The Star Chamber Show or the Imaginarium (an annual writer’s convention); however, despite our paths crossing over the past five years since I first went on Twitter, I sadly haven’t had the chance to seek out one of her stories to read. Reading her short story “The Warmth of Midwinter” from the anthology ‘Gifts of the Magi’ was my first introduction to her craft of writing Fantasy fiction and from there, a conversation emerged between us how I could re-enter the world of SAGE.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Ms Allen or Mr Sullivan during bookish events online or in convos via Twitter. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author, whether I am reading a book by them for the first time or continuing to read their series in sequence of publication.

Closer to the time I released  my review for ‘Gifts of the Magi’, Ms Allen and I were in communication and she offered for me to receive ‘Shifty’ the anthology of stories which also takes place in her world of SAGE. This anthology was released in print and thereby was a good option for me to continue reading her stories. I had fully intended to read this close to the time she sent it to me, however, for most of 2017 I was still adjusting to the first year of healing my father was undergoing after his stroke and for most of 2018 I was transitioning through my own set of health afflictions and issues. Autumn 2018 became the first time I could honestly focus on reading the stories within this anthology and I am so very thankful I could feature them during my co-hosted event called #SpooktasticReads which is an extension of my co-hosted event #WyrdAndWonder (@WyrdAndWonder) which celebrates the world of Fantasy.

I received a complimentary copy of “Shifty” by the author Marian Allen in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Re-Visiting my Introduction to the world of SAGE:

I liked how Ms Allen pre-empted her story by asking the question ‘does time truly matter when it comes to stories that encircle your mind?’ to which I would aptly reply: not really!

What was quite stirring about this short, is how wicked interesting the world was where Ms Allen set her tale! To have food magically appearing in cookpots and having a hen produce eggs which whip up the delights of your foodie senses upon cracking them? Or rather, upon first crack of an egg – what you truly need might not even be food? It could be something dearly necessary (i.e. clothes) by which somehow your thoughts of willing an object or item to be ‘hatched’ is stirred inside the egg and thus, the egg produces what is needed. Who wouldn’t want to live there!? It would be a foodie’s dream or a baker’s delight – imagine if you could cull the magic to help you bake everything ‘right’ the first time you attempted a new recipe!? How fetching the aromas would be in that kitchen! Not to even mention how all the rudimentary necessary items would no longer be a worry because you’d always have exactly what you need!? I am sure there is more to this kind of magic, but on the onset of learning about it, how lovely it would be to know by cracking an egg, at least one immediate worry is dissolved?

There are two rather eccentric characters at the heart of this story – an elder man of unknown years and his equally elder grandmother; she is a bit more interesting because she’s attending the scene peripherally rather than centre-focused. You gather this man wouldn’t be housed in this particular part of his realm if circumstances hadn’t exiled him. From his grandmother, you sense he should be thankful for what he has now and not bitter about what he has lost in the past. They have an interesting duality to them.

The beauty of the tale is one of finding the moral ground to walk in a life of duty and honour, where the fine line between what is right or wrong might not be as clearly visible. It’s a good story to read at the holidays because of the truthfulness in being humble and forgiving; to err your wrongs and to find ways to affect other people’s lives for the good. You get so caught up in this short piece of literature, the ending comes far too soon!

I’d love to find out if this was a one-off or a connected story to one of Ms Allen’s series. I’m thinking it’s a one-off addition as per each story in the anthology, there is a footmark of where to ‘read’ next if you wanted to continue your appreciation of the author’s collective works you’ve been treated to viewing. This is how I knew about the series attached to the other authors and why I think this might be a gem of an extra rather than an inclusive piece to a series. Knowing that – the other question that sparked to mind, is which series should I seek out first after having appreciated this short!?

-quoted from my review of Gifts of the Magi (anthology)

As you can see I felt immediately connected to this world and how crafty Ms Allen was with the fantastical bits which were so dearly stitched into the heart of the story! You almost felt this short was fuller in scope than its short delivery allowed it to feel as there was a lot of world-building happening in the background! As this short is included in Shifty I won’t be re-reviewing it but I will be re-reading it as I move through the collection! I happily wanted to re-share my thoughts as a precursor to explain why I was so dearly excited about receiving Shifty and why Ms Allen’s fantastical style appealed to me in the first place!

This is why I will always contend the best way to feel introduced to a new writer is to seek out anthologies as the shorts and novellas contained within them have a depth of joy awaiting you! I realise not everyone feels this way, as over the years of declaring this joy of my own, other readers have found this to be a bit hit/miss for their own reading tastes. All I can say is that you just never know when you’ll find an anthology which will speak to you and within it, there is a chance a writer will capture your heart and your imagination. I hope we all get to continue reading those writers who ignite a joy of happiness through their shorts with longer works of fiction as they are developed and released! I know I have a long #mustread list myself now as a fifth year book blogger!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Shifty
Subtitle: Tales from the world of Sage
by Marian Allen
Source: Direct from Author

Whether you've read Marian Allen's SAGE trilogy (The Fall of Onagros, Bargain with Fate, Silver and Iron) or not, you can dive right into these stories set in the same world. Some feature settings and characters from the trilogy, some explore lands and people only hinted at in the novels, but all are filled with strong characters and Fantasy.

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1942166207

Genres: Dark Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction


Published by Per Bastet Publications

on 25th November, 2016

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 131

Published by: Per Bastet Publications (@PerBastetBooks)

Converse via: #DarkFantasy, #Fantasy and #HighFantasy

About Marian Allen

Marian Allen

Marian Allen was born in Louisville, Kentucky and now lives in rural Indiana. For as long as she can remember, she has loved telling and being told stories. She writes science fiction, fantasy, mystery, humor, horror, mainstream, and anything else she can wrestle into fixed form.

Allen has had stories in on-line and print publications, including multiple appearances in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s SWORD AND SORCERESS anthologies. Her latest books are the SAGE fantasy trilogy, her science fiction comedy of bad manners SIDESHOW IN THE CENTER RING, her YA/NA paranormal suspense A DEAD GUY AT THE SUMMERHOUSE, her collection of science fiction stories OTHER EARTH, OTHER STARS, and SHIFTY, her collection of fantasy stories set in the world of SAGE, and LONNIE, ME, AND…. her collection of humor, all from Per Bastet Publications.

She is a member of the Southern Indiana Writers Group.

Allen is married, with three step/adopted daughters and one birth daughter.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #SpooktasticReads 2018
Divider

Posted Sunday, 21 October, 2018 by jorielov in Anthology Collection of Stories, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Dark Fantasy, Earthen Magic, Earthen Spirituality, Fantasy Fiction, Folklore, Folklore and Mythology, Good vs. Evil, Haunting & Ethereal, High Fantasy, Indie Author, Short Stories or Essays, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Sword & Scorcery

Blog Book Tour | “The Sky Throne” by Chris Ledbetter A new approach to the back-story of #Zeus with a #GuestPost by the author explaining the ‘Sky Throne’.

Posted Monday, 16 October, 2017 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I have been aware of the publisher Month9Books for quite a few years now, as I used to host their Reveals & other special tours – even interviewing a lovely batch of their authors as books released I felt I would appreciate reading. However, in truth – I have only read two releases by them (as of yet) and this one marked an interest as it is a gateway into Greek Mythology. I received a complimentary copy of “The Sky Throne” direct from the author Chris Ledbetter in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Ahead of my review, I asked a topic of interest for Mr Ledbetter:

How did you conceive of the ‘the Sky Throne’ and how did you best want to endeavour to describe the power of the Gods previously only generally known through Myth and Legends? How did you want your story to stand separate and together from the legacy of what has already been written?

Since I primarily write for the young adult audience, I ultimately wanted to tell an “origin” story that re-imagined the deities of ancient Hellas as teenagers. From that genesis point, I had to decide which myth to begin with. One of the most well known myths is that of Kronos eating his children to prevent a prophecy from coming true. This is a huge cornerstone of the Hellenic gods’ creation myth as told in Hesiod’s Theogony.

From there, I had to choose which deity I’d focus on as the main character. Even though the number of myths containing each deity varies widely, from a source material perspective, I love each of the Olympians. But I’ve always been drawn to Zeus strictly from the lightning and thunder aspect of things. And because he’s the king of the Gods. I realize the myths paint him as a bit of a sordid character… and I’m not excusing his colorful behavior in the myths, but I sought to create a more sympathetic version, while still remaining generally true to his essence. He is indeed one of the most dynamic figures in myths.

After I’d conceived the story concept, I tried to describe their otherworldly powers and abilities as if they were super heroes and heroines. In many ways, the Gods of pantheons past were our first super heroes and villains.

In the marketplace, there was a plethora of young adult titles in which the main character was a half blood, demigod child of an ancient god. I wanted to go to the source and tell the story of the deities themselves. That’s what separates The Sky Throne from its peers.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Notation on Cover Art: I personally love the image of Zeus which is not only gracing the cover but it is inclusive to every ‘chapter’ page within the novel! There is simply something quite striking about this representation of Zeus and it stays with you as you read the story!

Blog Book Tour | “The Sky Throne” by Chris Ledbetter A new approach to the back-story of #Zeus with a #GuestPost by the author explaining the ‘Sky Throne’.The Sky Throne
by Chris Ledbetter
Source: Author via iRead Book Tours

Duality dwells at every turn, and an adolescent Zeus will learn that all too well when Hyperion attacks his family on Crete.

When the dust settles, his mother is unconscious and his best friend left for dead.

Stacking epic insult upon fatal injury, Zeus discovers the woman who raised him is not his biological mother. But to ensure her safety while she recovers, a heavy-hearted Zeus leaves her behind to seek answers at Mount Olympus Preparatory Academia.

Zeus embarks on a quest to discover who ordered the attack on his home, avenge the death of his friend, and find his birth mother. When some of his new schoolmates vanish, Zeus's quest is turned upside down, and the only way to make things right is to access the power of The Sky Throne, confront a most dangerous enemy, and take his life back.

On his way to becoming king of the Greek gods, Zeus will learn to seize power, neutralize his enemies, and fall in love.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781945107870

Genres: Action & Adventure Fiction, After Canons, Alternative History, Astronomy & Astrophysics, Genre-bender, Greek Mythos | Legacies, Quantum Physics, Re-telling &/or Sequel, Sci-Fantasy, Science Fiction, Superhero Fiction, Upper YA Fiction, Young Adult Fiction


Published by Month9Books

on 18th April, 2017

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 311

Published by: Month9Books (@Month9Books)

Converse via: #Zeus, #GreekMythos + #CleanReads + #YALit

About Chris Ledbetter

Chris Ledbetter

Chris Ledbetter is an award-winning author of short fiction and novels for young adults. “Jason’s Quest,” a short story retelling of the Jason and Medea Greek myth was published in the anthology, Greek Myths Revisited. His first full-length novel, Drawn earned him two awards, Library of Clean Reads Best YA 2015 and Evernight Publishing Readers’ Choice Award Best YA 2015, as well as a USA​ ​
TODAY “Must Read” recommendation. His second novel, Inked, concludes that duology. The Sky Throne is his newest young adult novel. The second book in the series is set to release in 2018.

He's a proud member of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) and a strong supporter of the Need for Diverse Books. He now writes and lives in Wilmington, NC with his family, including three cats.

Read More

Divider

Posted Monday, 16 October, 2017 by jorielov in After the Canon, Alternative History, Ancient Civilisation, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Brothers and Sisters, Coming-Of Age, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Content Note, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Equality In Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, Folklore and Mythology, Gods & Goddesses, Good vs. Evil, Greece, Greek Mythology, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Heroic Fantasy, Indie Author, Inspired by Stories, iRead Book Tours, Literature for Boys, Mother-Son Relationships, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Mythological Societies, Parapsychological Gifts, Quantum | Mechanics Physics Theory, Re-Told Tales, School Life & Situations, Science, Science Fiction, Shapeshifters, Siblings, Speculative Fiction, Superhero Adventure, Superhero Fiction, Supernatural Fiction, Teacher & Student Relationships, Teenage Relationships & Friendships, Transfer Student at School, Upper YA Fiction, YA Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Blog Book Tour | “Flames of Nevyana” by Edward Willett

Posted Friday, 28 October, 2016 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Chapter by Chapter, where I receive opportunities to host Author Guest Features on behalf of the Indie Publisher Month9Books and review for Indie Publisher: Rebelight Publishing of whom I love the stories by their Middle Grade & YA authors! As 2016 started, I received more opportunities to read and review Canadian authors through Chapter by Chapter. I love being able to discover more #CanLit whilst appreciating the beauty of the stories I am discovering through this touring company.

I received a complimentary copy of “Flames of Nevyana” direct from the publisher Rebelight Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

On the joy of reading a new Rebelight Author:

I am wicked happy I can close out 2016 reading another new author by Rebelight Publishing – as this is the Canadian publisher I had the joy of discovering through Chapter by Chapter Blog Tours! Each selection I am making through them, are future books I will be giving to my children, as I am delighted to find such wonderful stories for young readers, that not only challenge them through thought-provoking literature, but their the type of stories that can instill confidence and curate empathy through the showcasing of life lessons that seek to inspire readers of all ages.

I love unique story-tellers and unique narrative cores of Science Fiction or Fantasy – realms that you can sense are not entirely opposite or differential of our own living sphere of existence but are altogether quite uniquely developed in their own right. They have their own laws of nature and of order – where there is a particular balance which bridges the world together – or draws them apart; it depends on where we enter the story-line per each writer’s vision for their story. What I love the most about seeking out stories within the umbrella of Speculative Fiction is the ability to continue to always seek out the plausible curiosities of what inspires the stories to alight in the pages of the books I’m reading. Writers who seek to tell a story in such a creative methodology – to reach past imagination and unite readers through the timelessness of their character’s journey.

As I’m on the fringes of celebrating Science Fiction throughout November, it is a joy of mine to bring a few Speculative Realms to my blog and readers ahead of the month-long celebration here on Jorie Loves A Story and throughout the book blogosphere as we all rally together through the collective gathering Rinn Reads puts on each year through #RRSciFiMonth! I must admit – the premise of this story combined with the cover art to help grant an early visual clue towards what I might find inside the novel was the combined motivation to read the novel. Although on a personal note, I was truly captured by ‘Voltpunk’ and was wondering if this was either a new sub-genre of Science Fiction, Fantasy or the hybrid I love myself: Sci-Fantasy!? OR was it merely the name of the series being developed and launched through Flames of Nevyana!? Whichever way it would become revealled one thing is certain: Rebelight authors continue to inspire me onwards and upwards into their creative worlds of literary exploration!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Notation on Cover Art: I truly loved how the cover art represents light and the synergy of how light can be reflected or sparked into motion – initially I thought this story might have a Nation American or First Nations thread of story-line, because the cover art looked so very familiar to me of Native Artisans and Craft patterns. There is  a repetitive pattern on the cover, both dissolving and expanding (inward and outward simultaneously) and I wondered if this was prove to be a clue towards understanding the light and energies on Nevyana. And why is the blue fire and the orange energies co-merging or intermixing with each other?! Almost is something being reborn, re-generated or created wholly anew by ‘something’ that caused this reaction!?

Blog Book Tour | “Flames of Nevyana” by Edward WillettFlames of Nevyana
by Edward Willett
Source: Direct from Publisher

Blue Fire is both blessing and curse. A gift from the gods, its mystical light and energy powers and protects the land of Nevyana, but it also divides her people into three distinct groups. In the wrong hands, it becomes a formidable weapon. When sacred objects for channelling Blue Fire are stolen, sworn enemies Petra, Amlinn, and Jin set out to find them, and their paths converge on a collision course with the truth. Can they bridge the centuries-old divide between their communities? Or will their search for the truth and the explosive power of Blue Fire signal the end of Nevyana?

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780994839961

Genres: Canadian Lit, Science Fiction, Upper YA Fiction


Published by Rebelight Publishing Inc.

on 1st August, 2016

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 316

Published By: Rebelight Publishing, Inc. (@RebelightBooks)

Available Formats: Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #FlamesOfNevyana, #Voltpunk, #YALit, #SciFantasy

About Edward Willett

Edward Willett

Edward Willett is the award-winning author of more than fifty books of fiction and non-fiction for children, young adults, and adults. He lives in Regina with his wife, Margaret Anne; their teenage daughter, Alice; and their Siberian cat, Shadowpaw.

Read More

Divider

Posted Friday, 28 October, 2016 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Canadian Literature, Chapter by Chapter Blog Tours, Coming-Of Age, Content Note, Earthen Magic, Earthen Spirituality, Fantasy Fiction, Folklore and Mythology, Indie Author, Science Fantasy, Speculative Fiction, Supernatural Fiction, Sword & Scorcery, Upper YA Fiction, YA Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Stories in the Spotlight | The “Imago Chronicle series” by Lorna Suzuki #Histfic translated into a world of #EpicFantasy (by #CanLit author!)

Posted Wednesday, 4 February, 2015 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

BookSpotlight_b4print

An unexpected encounter after #IndieChat with an Indie Novelist whose book series has been pitched and accepted into motion picture adaptation, led me on a bit of an unexpected foray into a series that is both challenging (as it is outside my comfort levels on one score) as it is empowering (as it is told from the point of view of a female warrior); thus I stumbled into the world of “Imago” by Lorna Suzuki.

Acquired Samplers By:

Chapter Samplers for her Imago Novels provided for free download by the author, Lorna Suzuki via her Smashwords Author’s Page. The samplers are complimentary of the author, Ms. Suzuki to encourage readers to become familiar with her writing style, character, and the breadth of where her fantasy novels will lead a reader to journey ahead of purchase. I was not obligated to post a review nor share my opinions of the chapter samplers I downloaded; as I elected to do this for my own edification. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. 

Why my curiosity was piqued: 

When I noted the series was referred to as being similar in style and voice as “Lord of the Rings” I knew it was quite the epic story; a High Fantasy with a compelling arc of narrative and driven by character. Character driven stories are my absolute delight to read, however, being that the lead protagonist is a warrior I was quite prepared to encounter a woman with an arduous past rife with potentially intense trauma and recovery; psychologically speaking, I knew most characters writ inside stories of this nature have an uphill climb to recover from what they were afflicted by in their lives.

Mind you the mash-up of saying this was a LOTR + 300 equates out to The Last Samurai; half of me wondered what honestly appealed to me personally as I would run in the complete opposite direction of the 300 film series even if I happily watched the first three Lord of the Rings per release month! (including a *midnight!* release!) There were sequences within the Trilogy (LOTR) films that were a bit mind-numbing (i.e. the battle scenes, for starters) but it was the overall journey of the characters that left me speechless and hungry for each new installment. My heart shattered at the conclusion, as despite knowing where Frodo and Gandalf would end their journey, it still uncorked my emotional heart’s ability to spilt out tears as the credits rolled.

No, what I think drew me to becoming curious about this series was the author’s approach to inspire a reader’s attention, which quite ironically has left her in a sea of controversial feedback! ?? I seriously do not understand the reading public at times. I am a firm believer in ‘more information upfront’ when it comes to stories and the contents of novels. A quick blurb or a shorter showcase (a traditional book review) isn’t going to sway me one way or another because the bones of the story are left to your imagination; that’s a dicey slope! How do you know if you are going to soak inside the story and/or appreciate the tone of the writer’s voice? What if the undertone is underlit too dark? What if there isn’t enough light to hold you into their vision?

I often lament IRL (and as the occasion arises virtually) the reason I was drawn to being a book blogger is because I wanted to blog my heart out about the stories that soak inside my imagination. I want to write down the bones and flesh out the pulse of what inspired me to ‘stay within’ the writer’s world. To cultivate an open conversation about what moved me, what staid with me, but most of all, how I was left impressed by the characters, the arc of the character’s journey, and what was left within me once the story was put down. (or you could read what I said on my Introduction Post!)

If something takes me ‘out of the story’ or if the pace and/or flow of the narrative itself is disrupted by an oppressively heavy amount of vulgarity (read my Review Policy) or there are choices where the level of (graphic) violence sickens me to my stomach rather than curates a plausible reason for inclusion (clarified: violence in moderation for sake of action/trauma/plot point/back-story etc; not explicit for explicitness sake!); then I will equally be as open about these ruminations as I am gushing about why the story left me with pieces of it’s essence firmly etched into my memory.

Like most readers, I have my own barometer — I have stumbled across stories that on the surface contradict what I wrote inside my Review Policy; as there are ‘exceptions’ to this rule of mine, as most will find they have their own exceptions to the general advisory of which stories they will accept whilst reading and which stories they cannot read, irregardless of the story’s best intentions to capture your interest. I attempt to keep an open-mind on which stories alight on my path, either due to the ‘timing’ of their discovery and/or the storyline itself; there are numerous inter-connections between one story to the next, to see the path of our reading lives intersecting with our path at a moment where a story was meant to be read or put down for another time. It is a mindfulness to become aware of stories giving us this tangible connection to the world’s creative conscience inasmuch as the art of the craft behind how the stories are written and revealed to us. Read More

Divider

Posted Wednesday, 4 February, 2015 by jorielov in Book Spotlight of E-Book (ahead of POD/print edition), Bookish Discussions, Bookish Films, Canadian Literature, Cliffhanger Ending, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Domestic Violence, Elves & the Elven, Equality In Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Folklore and Mythology, Heroic Fantasy, High Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Inspiring Video Related to Content, Light vs Dark, Lyrical Quotations, Martial Art History, Methodology of Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Psychological Abuse, Realistic Fiction, Sampler Chapters &/or Excerpt of Novel, Self-Published Author, Sudden Absence of Parent, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Supernatural Fiction, Suspense, The Deep South, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery, Writing Style & Voice

+Book Review+ The Dragon’s Pawn (sequel to “The Pact”) by Mitchell S. Karnes

Posted Tuesday, 17 June, 2014 by jorielov , , , 9 Comments

Parajunkee Designs

The Dragon’s Pawn by Mitchell S. Karnes

The Dragon's Pawn by Mitchell S. Karnes

Published By:  Black Rose Writing, 3 April 2014

Official Author Website: Site

Converse on Twitter: #CanaanshadeJourneys & #MitchellSKarnes

Available Formats: Softcover Page Count: 254

Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, YA Fantasy

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Acquired Book By:

I was originally selected to be a tour stop on the “The Dragon’s Pawn” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. However, when the tour was cancelled, I personally contacted the author through his website to let him know I would still be interested in reading his book if it were available off-tour. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the author, Mitchell S. Karnes, without obligation to post a review. I opted to review this book on my own accord as a way to tie together my observations between the two novels in the series. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

On my connection to the author, Mitchell S. Karnes:

I felt a bit let down when I learnt the blog tour for “The Dragon’s Pawn” was cancelled through TLC Book Tours. I decided to take it upon myself to contact the author Michell S. Karnes to request the book for review off-tour. I was not sure if it would be available for review as when a tour is cancelled odds are in favour of the book not being available at that time. I was thankful to receive a response from the author, in which I had disclosed the following in my note:

I had signed up for this tour specifically due to our exchange of conversation after my review of “The Pact” posted. I never knew if you had seen my reply, but I had included mentioning that perhaps after I had read the sequel I would understand the first book a bit better. Thus, when the tour was offered I opted to participate and give the series a second chance based on your reply.

I wanted to honour the request he had given me after I posted my review of “The Pact” as much as I will admit, I was curious where the sequel would lead the reader as the story evolved forward. We exchanged a conversation through email, to where I learnt a bit more about the back-story of how the Canaashade Journey series was originally conceived and written. When he agreed to send me the novel, “The Dragon’s Pawn” it was sent without obligation to post a review as he was simply thankful I wanted to read his story. He included an extra surprise for me, giving me the official bookmark for the book of which I used as I read the story itself!

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Karnes via our conversations ahead of my review. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comBook Synopsis:

Back in high school Scott, Paul, Chris, and Luke made two pacts: to stay friends forever and to play Warriors and Thieves as often as possible. Twenty-four years later neither pact remains. Each man has gone his own way. Only Chris still plays the game, and he is dying of cancer. Will his friends reunite for one last game? The way they always dreamed of playing?

As they come together they realise Chris stumbled upon a way for them to enter their fantasy world of Canaanshade and play the game for real… as their characters of old. There’s a catch: they must return to 1989 and the bodies of their middle and high school selves first. Otherwise, any damage they receive in the the game will be upon them as well. What could it hurt? Little do they know, a dark secret from their past is haunting them, threatening not only their game but their very lives.

As the four boys enter Canaanshade and the bodies of their favourite role-playing characters, a strange thing happens. Each begins to slowly slip into oblivion and fade into his player’s consciousness. Will they realise in time? Mitchell S. KarnesAnd if so, can they do anything to stop the process?

One of them has sold his friends out to the red and black dragon. Will the others discover the identity of the dragon’s pawn before it is too late? Getting into the game was the dream of a lifetime; getting out was the nightmare no one expected.

Author Biography:

Mitchell S. Karnes was born in Kansas and spent his childhood in Illinois. He lives in Franklin, TN with his wife, Natalie, and five of their seven children, where he serves as the Pastor of Walker Baptist Church. He holds a Bachelor’s degree and three Master’s degrees. Mitchell’s first novel, Crossing the Line, made the Southern Writer’s Guild’s “Must Read” list. His short stories include: “When Nothing Else Matters,” “A Family Portrait,” and “Grampa Charlie’s Ring.” He hopes to entertain, challenge, move and teach through each and every story. The Pact is just the beginning…the first book in a four-part series.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comSequel gives adequate precursor:

Prior to getting into the heart of the story, of where this installment lies inside the series of Canaanshade, we were graced with a review of the epic climax of events which had put me a bit past my edge of acceptance on behalf of the first novel, “The Pact”. I had a hard time struggling to come to terms with the inclusions of the heightened violence and the intense display of domestic disturbances within the adolescent years of the main characters. However, encouraged by the author himself to read the sequel in order to understand the series as a whole, I entered this story with a renewed optimism of spirit.

Although I knew the intensity of the subject at hand, the sequent deaths in the story came at quite a shock as did the level of rage. This is a cautionary tale of how sometimes the lines between fiction and reality can become blurred and the true lesson is knowing the signs of when someone can no longer separate the difference of the two. – quoted from my review of “The Pact”

The Prologue is a re-telling of the fated events where two teens lost their lives on the railroad tracks, as one boy survived being tossed into a river in the middle of a carpet roll. The boy who was paralyzed and unable to run down the tracks to help until he was needed to swim to save his drowning friend is the lead protagonist again in this installment: Scott Addison. The story originally was a tale of caution and of utmost urgency to realise how devastingly real role-playing games can become when those who are playing the games in earnest are not always aware of how serious the other players can take their roles. For me, the original beginning was both heart-wretching and difficult to read due to the depth of where the story led.

Luke might be a war-monger in Warriors & Thieves, but I was curious to seek out what was motivating him to push Chris and Paul out of their comfort zones of reality into the common bloodshed of warfare. There are many ways to accomplish self-confidence and self-advocacy without pushing the envelopes of violence, especially unrelented violence in a game which is usually grounded in skill, maneuvers, and obstacles. Chris on the other hand has a brilliant way of keeping the rules of the game intact by pushing the action of the game forward within the confines of the realm, but lacks the clarity of knowing how to enliven the story of which the world-building is meant to carve out of its niche. Paul is the innocent of the group, learning as he builds confidence through his friendships. Scott comes from playing the game through his father’s advice. Endeavouring to give a bit more of a back-story to each of the characters which gives you a lifeblood to the game eliminating the one dimensional interface. One of my favourite revelations is when Scott shows Paul his hand-drawn map of Canaanshade which he created with his father. The intricacy of the world arc is exactly what all of us hope for in our fantasy realms of reading adventures! Lit alive with creatures and characters you want to know more about. – quoted from my review of “The Pact”

The sequel on the other hand, gives a great precursor to where we find Addison now, as an established teacher and coach at a school. It allows us to re-enter his life at a point in time where he is struggling to resolve not only his past (where the “The Pact” is set) but to see if he can knit the pieces together from the present where he struggles to find logic, sense, and strength of faith where only fate felt guiding his path previously.

My Review of The Dragon’s Pawn:

Karnes begins the second book in the Canaashade Journeys series with the ability of taking a reader directly into the mindset of Scott Addison as though the person did not previously read “The Pact”. In doing so, he allows the series to stand not only on its own merits of validity, but he allows the reader to skip the first book altogether in order to read the sequel which in my opinion might be a better place to begin the saga. I appreciated the juxtaposition of Addison as a child verse Addison as an adult longing for semblance of normalcy and buoyancy in his life. I appreciated that nothing from the prior book was glossed over and righted by the time you enter the sequel, as there was such a heavy hearted ending to the original story, I was hoping for this to be found in its sequel. To find the characters are still on a journey towards finding themselves as much as they are shifting towards reconciliation of the past.

In this sequence, Addison is dealing with the devastating loss of his wife and childhood sweetheart Susan, compounded by the fact that although he has four beautiful children, his heart is shattered to accept the reality of what he is facing alone. His trial now is to find an anchor in the present to help guide him forward and continue towards the light he always had known with his wife. Meanwhile, Chris has grown up with an affinity of love for Warriors and Thieves, their childhood role-playing game where they all lived unique lives outside of the realm of reality. Chris is facing his most difficult obstacle yet, as he has terminal cancer. Luke on the other hand grew up to be a psychologist who has his own battle of will and mind to sort out before he can hope to help another in his practice. The three are uniquely tethered to their current paths to where they are living separate lives outside of the comfort of friendship.

The more interesting bit to The Dragon’s Pawn, is how reality is folding in on fantasy, and how the characters who live in the fantasy realm are breaching into the daylight of reality. Characters from the Canaanshade game are becoming flesh and bone realistic to their counterparts and there are aspects of illusion and delusion that are affecting the minds of Addison and Richards. Rooted in the prequel’s belief that there are times where the gameplay can supersede the realm in which one lives as much as the game itself can become dangerous to the mind of those who play it; if they are not able to separate the game from the life they are living.

Luke, Chris, Scott, and Paul are transformed into their younger halves whilst entering the game from a place they have never started before; a transparency of reality shared amongst their subconscious minds, where what they feel, taste, and experience on a sensory level affects them on an intellectual and emotional one. Canaanshade is vibrantly alive and real, a fully tangible experience for all to see and notice, because the world in which was once imagined now has its own unique lifeblood which allows it to evolve into an existence between the worlds. Karnes painted the realities inside Canaanshade with a deft hand for detail any fantasy reader would absorb into on sight.

In the middle of the action, I found myself wondering when the intensity was going to ease and the realm would be restored to peace. The level of intensity never let up, and each step and turn the characters took inside Canaanshade led to a greater challenge than the previous one they had fought. I think for me, the story is simply a bit too intense, but the continuity aspect of the series remains intact for a reader who likes well conceived worlds stitched together and held firm from one book to another. I would recommend this series to anyone who can handle the harder hitting passages, the visual nature of the action sequences, and the level of depth that the author has written into the chapters. The message from The Pact carries straight through The Dragon’s Pawn, and for that Karnes should be commended.

My favourite part of the The Dragon’s Pawn was the hyposensory experience of the conjoined dreamstate awareness of when the men returned as boys back to their childhood game. For me, the most creative aspect of the novel was how they physically did not leave their ordinary lives but they took a spiritual plane of existence and acted out the game on a new plane of perception completely. It was quite clever and awe inspiring to walk through the chapters where Karnes explored how they were able to transform their reality to one they could only previously imagine and hope to see.

Inspirational Messages underneath the drama:

One of the things that I find such a blessing to the way in which Karnes writes his novels, is that he always includes a measure of inspiration for his readers to find inside the books. His inspirational guidance is not strong or overhanded but rather graceful and practical to shine a light on what is right, wrong, and perhaps the middle of the two. He allows his readers to fully accept the situations he is presenting in the stories, and then, allowing them the freedom of choice to make up their own minds about the paths each character took and how their lives reflect on the choices that can be determined in real life.

I even found it inspiring that he showed an honest reaction to an incident at school, where Addison over reacted to save a teacher’s life by having his mind break from that chosen reality to the reality of how his wife died. Karnes brought the full horror of that incident out of Addison’s life to the forefront, where he transposed it against the intensity of the moment where a student was attacking a fellow teacher. In that slight moment of illogical reaction, we saw the full depth of Addison’s grief and the tipping stone of how far he needs to come back to the life he is nearly about to lose. The realism in that choice to bring one circumstance to a new height out of the depths of one man’s sorrow shows the level of strength Karnes has for his writing and for taking his characters to further depths than perhaps they were even willing to share themselves.

Fly in the Ointment:

There were piercing instances of fight sequences and scenes whilst they were inside the realm and world of Canaanshade, and I must confess, that I am a reader who prefers less excessive violence moreso than any other kind. Chilling scenes of intense drama or even moderate violent instances which are warranted for the sequence or scene in which they arise, as sometimes certain stories have a measure of intensity more than the others I typically read, but in this story, I must be honest as I was pushed a bit past my envelopes of tolerance. I am just not a reader who needs to read about what happens when you take a sword and for better or worse due extreme harm to your opponent without having anything left to the imagination. I believe the visuals on page 126 would have fared better for me if it had merely said Garrett mortally wounded the hill giant! For me, the scene was heightened to a level of ick because honestly, do I need to read in graphic detail what happens after the sword goes through a giant?! No!

My one consolation is the fact that the character inside of Garrett is Addison, and he like me, decided that bloodshed and violence was not the way in which he wanted to travel either. Although, like I said, the reader in me could do with less visuals and still have the effect of the moment which arrived in his section of Canaanshade experience.

Likewise, the blood bath in chapter twenty-four was skipped over, as I already knew what to expect when Bentheos would grow in power and master the sword of which he always sought to wield power over. I honestly had a feeling this might have been included because his master was Luke, the boy with the heart of war in his chest and the sight of bloodshed in his eyes. The boy never knew limits, and likewise, that rubbed off in effect on his character inside the game, except for one slight difference, the boy had remorse, his character was without the feeling for it.

On the writings of Mitchell S. Karnes:

Karnes fuses memory with fiction, as he takes elements of his own life’s experiences and places them into the context of a story which can serve to help teens and children who may not be as aware of the dangers that can lurk within the shadows of a game. He provides a blueprint of a reality in which the root cause of bullying is examined and the after effects of how that bullying can take a toll on those who have to deal with the onslaught of attack from their peers. The blessing is how he chooses to teach the lesson by giving his characters near complete freedom to tell the story in the manner in which applies to each of their personalities. For me, the prequel I felt was a bit too strong in how it was delving into the darker sides of the story’s heart, but perhaps, for this particular story it had to be painted dark because of how dark the mind was of the bully who was responsible for everything that occurred in the climax.

Having read The Dragon’s Pawn, I can now say that the scope of the series is far more apparent and the heart of what the story is attempting to share with its readership is simply one of warning. To be mindful of your actions and to be cautious of the friends you keep as much as the games you play in the realm of fantasy and fun. There are plenty of games that can turn deadly or harmful if they are played the wrong way or for the wrong reasons, but all games at their center can be celebrated for their common goal of companionship, friendship, and the joy of playing the game for what it is rather than turning it into something that it is not.

Previously I had the honour of hosting Mr. Karnes:

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

This book review is courtesy:

The Dragon's Pawn
by Mitchell S. Karnes
Source: Direct from Author

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

Also by this author: The Pact

Genres: Young Adult Fiction, YA Fantasy, YA Urban Fantasy


Published by Black Rose Writing

Format: Paperback Edition

Of the author Mitchell S. Karnes, who gave me the opportunity to read “The Dragon’s Pawn” even after the blog tour was cancelled. I cannot thank him enough for allowing me to see the fuller scope of the story in which he has conceived through the Canaanshade Journeys series. I appreciated the chance to continue the story as much as for giving me a new sense of the reality the characters faced not only in the prequel but the larger scope of depth through this second installment of a quartet series. The two work well together and are bookends of each other.

NOTE: Mr. Karnes is hosting a giveaway on his blog for both “The Pact” and “The Dragon’s Pawn” independent of my review of “The Dragon’s Pawn”. Please direct your attention to his website for the details. This giveaway is not connected to Jorie Loves A Story.

Be sure to scope out my Bookish Upcoming Events to mark your calendars!!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Reader Interactive Question:

After reading this review and clicking over to read my review of “The Pact”, what is your takeaway of the benefit of having young adults and middle school children read the series? What do you think their reaction would be realising how far bullying can lead you down the wrong path and how dangerous lives can hang in the balance when you choose to do harm?

{SOURCES:  Mitchell S. Karnes photograph and biography, The Dragon’s Pawn book cover and book synopsis were provided by Mitchell S. Karnes and used with permission. Book Review badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

Divider

Posted Tuesday, 17 June, 2014 by jorielov in Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), Bookish Discussions, Bullies and the Bullied, Children's Literature, Coming-Of Age, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Excessive Violence in Literature, Gaming, Good vs. Evil, Heroic Bloodshed, Heroic Fantasy, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Light vs Dark, Literature for Boys, Middle Grade Novel, Questioning Faith as a Teen, Realistic Fiction, Role Playing Games, Sports and Jocks, Teenage Relationships & Friendships, Wrestling, YA Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction