Category: Gaming

Blog Book Tour | “Blue Spirit: A Tipsy #fairytale” by E. Chris Garrison The author I happily chatted with on #blogtalkradio and cheer for on #JLASblog!

Posted Saturday, 29 August, 2015 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a stop on the “Blue Spirit” genre-bending fairy-tale fantasy release tour from Seventh Star Press. The tour is hosted by Tomorrow Comes Media who does the publicity and blog tours for Seventh Star Press and other Indie and/or Self Published authors. I am a regular blog tour host with Tomorrow Comes Media, however, the author and I have continued our friendship since we first interacted via The Star Chamber Show (which I’ll expand on in a moment). Ms Chris asked if I would be keen on being involved in her blog tour for “Blue Spirit” after I had happily read about Skye & Minnie’s adventure in the anthology release “A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court” wherein I positively expressed my joy in reading “Seelie Goose”. I was happy to be notified in time to participate as I love her quirky style of comedic fantasy!

I received a complimentary copy of “Blue Spirit” direct from the publisher Seventh Star Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

On my connection to E. Chris Garrison:

I first discovered Garrison’s style of story-telling when we both appeared on the Star Chamber Show, which is a weekly podcast on BlogTalkRadio sponsored by the publisher Seventh Star Press. Since our first encounter with each other, we’ve developed a friendship I am blessed to have and I appreciate getting to know a bit more about an author whose not only developing a unique style in the world of Fantasy but is receptive to the thoughts readers have as they gain impression by reading the stories themselves.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Garrison through our respective blogs, the twitterverse, the podcast world, and privately. 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. For more information, I disclosed a bit more on my first 10 Bookish, Not Bookish Thoughts (read No.7!).

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Why I love Skye MacLeod | whilst finding her writ two different ways:

I am familiar with Garrison’s character Skye from my previous reading of Virtual Blue, however, at that particular point in time I had not realised the full scope of Skye’s character! You see, Skye was ‘lent on loan’ to Sullivan in order to create the Urban Fantasy story in which I reviewed on a previous blog tour! I remember reading about the ‘Seelie Goose’, as regular readers of Jorie Loves A Story will recognise that I also hosted a Cover Reveal for Garrison and around that point in time or thereabouts I became familiar with the short story I now have happily read! For one thing, the comic brilliance of the anarchy of the fairy-tale world spun into reckless flight of an attempt to stop a wedding was most keen indeed! – quoted from my review of A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court

Going into reading Seelie Goose was a bit unique because I had this strong impression about Skye from Virtual Blue and coincidentally, it’s that original impression that led to my further curiosity in wanting to read Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy wherein the connections continue! (especially in regards to Rebecca Burton!) You could say, two authors have bewitched me with one character whose attributes and mannerisms switch-up a bit per each writerly voice whose narrating her individual stories! It’s quite the journey for me as a reader and a happy challenge as a book blogger – as each time Skye appears in a story, she’s not quite as she was from one installment to the next! Two sides of a coin and individualistically unique!

Let’s recap the particulars, shall we? Skye was a supporting character in Virtual Blue whereas she takes the lead in Garrison’s stories; on the other hand, Garrison is borrowing Phil and Rebecca Burton for the sequel to Blue Spirit! (further tidbit: the Transit King (he’s with Skye on the bus!) was spotlighted as a cameo in Haunting Obsession!) Meanwhile, I get the pleasure of reading more of Burton myself when I pick up Whimsy! Except it doesn’t stop there – no! Skye was originally introduced in Sinking Down where Garrison found a way to merge her between the Road Ghosts + Tipsy Fairy Tale series by offering to cross-over the characters/story-lines. *whew!*

A short note from Ms Chris:

TK also appears in 3 stories in a self published Christmas anthology of speculative fiction that RJ, John F. Allen, and I put together last year called Gifts of the Magi. He’s in my own Christmas Special, RJ’s Blue Christmas, and John’s An Ivory Christmas. I guess the little fairy godfather just lends himself to stories about giving gifts! :)

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Note on Cover Art Design:

This is my first cover attached to a SSP release by the works of Ms Rosario, and I must say, what I loved the most about it is the EPIC way in which the neon bits remind me of black light art designs! I love how the whole of this piece truly *pops!* on a blog post, and how in person, it translates differently altogether! I love cover art that leaves an impression inasmuch as represents characters and stories. This one brings a bit of the forest and the fairy to the center of who Skye is and why Minnie is important to her whilst giving you a bit of a whimsy touch of ‘ah so that’s why it’s tipsy’!
Biography of the Illustrator:
Anne is a self-taught Filipino visual artist specializing in both digital and traditional mediums. Her style is a unique mix of the naturalistic and the whimsical, combining the elegance of fine art with the edgy grit of contemporary Manga. She has worked as a 2D artist in the game development industry since 2006, and has recently branched into creating illustrations and exhibiting her traditional artworks in group exhibits.
The little creature hugged by the E in BLUE and SP in SPIRIT held my eye!
It’s like he’s trying to tell you something!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Blog Book Tour | “Blue Spirit: A Tipsy #fairytale” by E. Chris Garrison The author I happily chatted with on #blogtalkradio and cheer for on #JLASblog!Blue Spirit
Subtitle: A Tipsy Fairy Tale
by Ms Chris (E. Chris Garrison)
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Anne Rosario
Source: Publisher via Tomorrow Comes Media

Gamer girl Skye MacLeod can see fairies, but only when she's tipsy. More Grimm than enchanting, some of these fairies are out to ruin her life, wreaking havoc with her job, her home, and her relationships.

With the help of her tiny fairy friend Minnie, Skye has to protect her vampire wannabe gamer friends from all-too-real supernatural threats only she can see. Can she keep it together and hold fast against a wicked fairy Queen's plot?

Blue Spirit is the first book of A Tipsy Fairy Tale series!

+ For a preview of Skye and Minnie,
be sure to scope out Jorie's review for A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court!

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781941706824

Also by this author: Guest Post (Restless Spirit), Restless Spirit, Gifts of the Magi, Road Ghosts : Omnibus Edition, Road Ghosts : Omnibus Edition

Series: Tipsy Fairy Tale


Also in this series: Restless Spirit


Genres: Fairy-Tale Re-Telling, Fantasy Fiction, Genre-bender


Published by Seventh Star Press

on 12th May 2015

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 238

Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Published By: Seventh Star Press (@7thStarPress)
Available Formats: Softcover and Ebook

(Illustrator) Anne Rosario | Facebook | Portfolio | Tumblr | Instagram

Converse on Twitter: #TipsyFairyTaleSeries & #7thStar

About Ms Chris (E. Chris Garrison)

Ms Chris Garrison

E. Chris Garrison writes Fantasy and Science Fiction novels and short stories. She used to publish as Eric Garrison, but has since upgraded.

Her latest series is Trans-Continental, a Steampunk adventure with a transgender woman as its protagonist. The series is set in one of the worlds in Chris’s dimension-hopping science fiction adventure, Reality Check, both of these series are published through Silly Hat Books. Silly Hat Books released Alien Beer and Other Stories, a collection of her short stories, in 2017.

Chris’s supernatural fantasy stories include the Road Ghosts trilogy and it's companion series the Tipsy Fairy Tales are published by Seventh Star Press. These Urban Fantasy novels are humorous supernatural fantasies, dealing with ghosts, demonic possession, and sinister fairy folk delivered with a “lightly dark” side of humor.

Her novel, Reality Check, is a Science Fiction adventure released by Hydra Publications. Reality Check reached #1 in Science Fiction on Amazon.com during a promotion in July 2013. Chris lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her wife, step-daughter and cats. She also enjoys gaming, home brewing beer, and finding innovative uses for duct tape.

*Biography updated: March, 2018

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Posted Saturday, 29 August, 2015 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, BlogTalkRadio, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Book Cover | Original Illustration & Design, Book Trailer, Bookish Discussions, Bookish Films, Dating & Humour Therein, Doctor Who, Dreams & Dreamscapes, Earthen Magic, Earthen Spirituality, Faeries & the Fey, Fairy Tale Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Fantasy Romance, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Folklore and Mythology, Gaming, Genre-bender, Good vs. Evil, Horror-Lite, Illustration for Books & Publishing, Indie Author, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Kidnapping or Unexplained Disappearances, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Murdoch Mysteriers, Parapsychological Gifts, Parapsychological Suspense, Premonition-Precognitive Visions, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Shapeshifters, Singletons & Commitment, Speculative Fiction, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Supernatural Fiction, The Star Chamber Show, Time Shift, Tomorrow Comes Media, Urban Fantasy, Urban Life, Vampires, Virtual Reality, Vulgarity in Literature, Werewolves

Blog Book Tour | “The Lazarus Game” by Stephen J. Valentine

Posted Tuesday, 17 February, 2015 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Cedar Fort whereupon I am thankful to have such a diverse amount of novels and non-fiction titles to choose amongst to host. I received a complimentary copy of “The Lazarus Game” direct from the publisher Sweetwater Books (imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Interested in Reading:

I love to share what excites me within the inertia first moments of a ‘new book’ discovery, which is why I have spoken about my attachment to ‘techno-thrillers’ on my review for Eruption and my desire to sort out Dystopian Lit on my review for An Uncommon Blue. Except to say, The Lazarus Game is a bit like picking up a genre from point of exit from Virtual Blue! The similarities between the two are quite impressive as both are bonefide fictional stories writ inside the world of virtual reality (unsure if the curiosity behind VR is due to being bourne at the latter half of the ’70s but my generation appears to love exploring these worlds & seeking to sort out what you can achieve whilst your within them) and both make a valid point about what is right, wrong, and hidden within the walls of gray. Those little nudges of where the human condition seeks to point a compass point on a lesson of both morality and justice.

Blog Book Tour | “The Lazarus Game” by Stephen J. ValentineThe Lazarus Game
by Stephen J. Valentine
Source: Direct from Publisher

"You've got to go in after him."

"Go in?"

"Inside the game. Carter, you have to play the game to save him."

It was created to change the world. With the power to resurrect the minds of history's brightest stars, the Lazarus Game promises to pool mankind's generations of geniuses and merge them in a modern utopia.

But teenage genius Carter Chance has discovered the deadly secret behind this popular virtual reality, and now he's the only one who can stop his generation from destroying themselves for a computer-generated fantasy.

This action-packed sci-fi thriller delves deeper into your perceptions of reality, life, and the value of a soul.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Genres: Action & Adventure Fiction, Techno-Thriller, YA Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction


Published by Sweetwater Books

on 10th February, 2015

Format: Paperback

Pages: 320

Published By: Sweetwater Books (@SweetwaterBooks),

an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc (@CedarFortBooks)
Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Converse on Twitter via: #TheLazarusGame

My Review of The Lazarus Game:

Valentine gives his quirky character of Carter Chance a bolt of cheeky humour fused with teenage self-indulgent confidence that gives you a happy pace to begin the story upon! He’s upfront (Carter) on his situations and honest about how he feels about his life, but it’s the manner in which he deposits this information to the reader that is cheekily crafty! He pulls back the layers of his mathematicai brain in order to remain relatable to the masses, but in so doing, he makes you wonder about the more technical bits behind the back-story!

Fly in the Ointment : Content Note (of Warning)

This is a bit awkward to admit, but I stopped reading this novel on page 5. Yes, page 5! Because the author made a fatal flaw in what he chose to include in the story itself — you see, I rescue cats. I have adopted animals through rescue organisations my entire life, and every animal lover knows that when you rescue dogs, cats, and other animals who may or may not have had the best start in life can come home with baggage. They have emotional and psychological trauma and stress to overcome, as much as the issues they have with adapting to living indoors and being around humans again to the point of being able to trust without innate fear. Read More

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Posted Tuesday, 17 February, 2015 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, Children's Literature, Content Note, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Dystopian, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, Gaming, Indie Author, Literature for Boys, Reader Submitted Guest Post (Topic) for Author, Science Fantasy, Science Fiction, Virtual Reality, Young Adult Fiction

+Blog Book Tour+ The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

Posted Wednesday, 6 August, 2014 by jorielov , , , , 8 Comments

Parajunkee Designs

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

Published By: William Morrow (@WmMorrowBks),
5 August, 2014 (reprint – paperback edition)
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins)
Official Author Websites: Site | @yangszechoo  | Facebook
Available Formats: Hardback, Paperback, Ebook Page Count: 384

Converse via: #TheGhostBride

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on the “The Ghost Bride” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the publisher William Morrow, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

The reason I wanted to be on the tour:

I am always amazed at the journey we take as readers towards reading a particular book or becoming entranced by the words an author leaves behind for us to find. We (here refers to the collectively diverse readership of the world) all strive towards reading books when that leap of ignited joy and mirth of the discovery catalysts inside our mind and jumps out through our excited speech whilst we’re sharing the bits and bobbles of what we’ve just been blessed to discover with another bookish soul. Those wickedly delightful moments where you stumble across quite an extraordinary story during a more than ordinary hour of your life, and within that moment, you’re on the precipice of taking a journey to a place quite different from where you live and occupy your own murmurings on life; a place that will feel as though it bewitched you as it spoke to you to be read, to be devoured, and consumed.

When I first started reading a heap of recollections and ruminations on behalf of The Ghost Bride during the Autumn on 2013, I was a very new book blogger growing my wings and entering into the book blogosphere myself. I was sorting things out as I went along, and getting my feet wet with blog tours, reviewing books in a style that felt right for me, and gaining a bit of ground within the network of book bloggers in general who are as diverse as the four winds. I appreciate the fact that each of us who blogs about our reading lives takes on a different angle of insight as we read and review the books we want to share with the dear hearts who find us. It was during this particular exploration I came across a review where the blogger had not found the story was able to resonate with her but she had hoped others who appreciated everything that she felt did not work for her might work for someone else instead. Coincidently, I attempted to re-find the book blogger and my own comments therein, but it is lost out in the blogosphere at this point in time. She encouraged me in a way that other reviewers and bloggers hadn’t at that time to seek out the novel. I knew after reading her thoughts I could soak into The Ghost Bride.

I had not thought much about this at the time, but over the course of months since I have found that to read a negative or neutral review is quite an extraordinary thing; especially if you were like me, and took out such a positive take-away! I mused about that for a moment, and thought, but isn’t that why we blog?! Isn’t that why we read book blogs? To garnish a wider net of opinion, commentary, and muse filled thoughts of the readers behind the blogs themselves? To help us better articulate an idea of which novel might whet our palette of interest and encourage our own spirit to read the works of an author we’ve not yet become acquainted with?

In September of 2013, I also had the joy of contacting the author whilst she was hosting a bookaway through Shelf Awareness; I did not win the book, as my reply was received after the book was given away, however, these were my original thoughts on why the book captivated me in such a keen way:

Whilst I was participating in a bookish community event [Bout of Books], I was led to a variety of lovely blogs, whereupon I stumbled across a review of this book! Ironically, the reader wasn’t as enlightened by it as I would be, as they were not a keen fan of literary fiction, but its that review that earmarked this book in my mind to read! :) Isn’t that interesting!? It simply proves that there are as many diverse readers as there are books!!

Ever since then, I’ve had it in the back of my mind to make sure to see if my local library is going to be getting a copy of this lovely book, as I am a proud supporter of libraries!! I do love to buy books as much as the next person, but only when budget affords! What I wanted to say about your lovely book, is how heart-wretching and heart-aching the story sounds from afar! Talk about a character who has to undertake a journey that is not quite easy to understand, much less explain! I have watched documentaries on tv that showcase different traditions, not only for marriage but for a person’s life, as one draws to mind where in one country they select young girls who have the essence of the reincarnated deity and that that girl must live in confinement without the ability to communicate or speak, until she’s around 16!! She ‘ages out’ of the life, and is allowed to resume living, only to find that the available men are afraid that if they are with her in life and marriage that she would be a curse not a blessing! I wish I could draw to mind the exact details of the country & of this ritual, you’ll have to forgive me on this short-coming! However, the reason I drew it to mind, is because your character Li Lan is being placed into a situation that she didn’t choose and yet its a situation which custom and tradition demands!

Ms. Choo kindly replied back to me, and helped me remember that the documentary I had watched was about the “living goddesses” of Nepal! I am not certain why I had not had the proper chance to borrow this book from my local library, but as I have oft mentioned before, there are moments where we are meant to read certain books, and perhaps the time in which I was meant to read The Ghost Bride simply had not yet arrived! I am always very mindful of how coincidental certain moments are in life have turnt out to be quite serendipitous instead. It all depends on your perception of how life unfolds along your path.

Today is my blog’s official 1st birthday and it is an honour that I am celebrating it with a novel that quite bewitched me whilst it originally toured the book blogosphere! Today let’s celebrate the diversity of readers and the joy of selecting books that challenge us and dare us to always be willing to step outside our comfort zones and engage inside a narrative that is wholly different from our own cultural background yet grounded in a connective thread we can all relate too.

*a blog birthday is the day in which a blog goes live to the public whereas a blogoversary is the celebration of the day you created your blog 

Note: The curious bit for me is that I travelled through the original blog book tour for “The Ghost Bride” last year (also hosted by TLC Book Tours), within the first months I was a book blogger with a newly launched blog! To look back on my reflections of wanting to read the novel whilst visiting other book bloggers who were reviewing it and now, a full year forward to where I have the opportunity to read the novel myself and post my own ruminations on my own book blog is quite wicked karma! I have felt as though I have travelled with the book before it reached my own heart and hands to read!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Book Synopsis:

Yangsze Choo

A wondrous coming-of-age story infused with Chinese folklore, romantic intrigue, adventure, and fascinating, dreamlike twists

Malaya, 1893 Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt Chinese family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives a proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family’s only son, who died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, ghost marriages are often meant to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a comfortable home for the rest of her days, but at what cost?

As she reluctantly considers the offer, Li Lan is unwillingly drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities and vengeful spirits. There Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family—before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.

Author Biography:

Yangsze Choo is a fourth-generation Malaysian of Chinese descent. She lives in California with her husband and their two children, and loves to eat and read (often at the same time).

The author had the honour of being selected to read her novel aloud for the audiobook version of The Ghost Bride, and after listening to Chapter 1, I can see why they selected her as she has a captivating speaking voice which brings the words off the page to life in such a lovely manner! Click to read the full story on her blog!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Yangsze Choo’s Introduction to “The Ghost Bride” via Yangsze Choo

Inspired to Share: I am always fascinated by the back-story revelations of an author’s work, as to me, to hear about the process of their inspiration towards writing a novel quite literally heightens the joy for me as a reader. I realise there are other readers who would disagree with me on that score, but I have always found something quite remarkable in how stories are written and the methodology of each writer who chooses to pen a story to give back to the world in the form of a book. I was struck by the joy of how a bit of knowledge and research into one particular vein of thought led Ms. Choo to not only expand on a seedling of an idea but gave it such a measure of a breath to illuminate it fully by the scope she took the story!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

An Eastern Ghost Story and how it differs from the West:

The first main difference I found is an Eastern Ghost story is rooted within the relationship and interpersonal connection to the dead rather than focusing on the psychological thrill of having a ghost crossing into your lifepath. Western stories tend to focus on the shock and intensity of finding an ethereal presence in your life, an interruption of your hours, and a mindful sea of curious unknown questions and ramifications that are difficult to process and work through. There tends to be a lot of factors pulling the ties together for a Western ghost story, which parellel the leftover work of the deceased and a willingly earnest desire to see the work completed by a second or third party who was not particularly connected to the events or the deceased in life. From what I am gathering in The Ghost Bride the main concern is not unfinished business but rather a continuance of a life cut short of being lived. A way of progressing the life of the deceased to a fulfilling present; merely without their flesh and bone presence.

Elements of the story had me thinking back to my love of the South American and Latin American cultural celebration known as Day of the Dead in which family surround their loved ones’ graves and celebrate the life they lived whilst they were alive. It is a ritual influenced celebration and joyous one at that! Traditionally this has been a holiday centered around Halloween (All Hallow’s Eve) and All Saint’s Day (All Soul’s Day) in Mexico, and there lies the connection for me, as I was able to explore my love of the cultural heritage of Mexico whilst I travelled there as a teen. My furlough was in Summer, not Autumn, which was the only disappointment in regards to not seeing the festivities live in person.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Ghost Bride: Western vs Chinese Ghost Stories via James Cham

To extend into this a bit more I felt it best to allow the author

to speak on behalf of her own body of work.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

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Posted Wednesday, 6 August, 2014 by jorielov in 19th Century, A Father's Heart, All Hallow's Eve, All Saint's Day, All Soul's Day, Astral Projection, Audiobook, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book | Novel Excerpt, Bookish Discussions, Bookish Films, Bout of Books, Buddhism, Cemeteries & Graveyards, Chinese Literature, Christianity, Clever Turns of Phrase, Clockmakers & Watchmakers, Clockwork & Mechanisations, Clogs & Gears, Confucianism, Cultural & Religious Traditions, Day of the Dead, Death & Burial Rites, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Dreams & Dreamscapes, Earthen Magic, Equality In Literature, Family Life, Father-Daughter Relationships, Folklore and Mythology, Gaming, Ghost Marriage Ritual, Ghost Story, Ghosts & the Supernatural, Gothic Literature, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Haunting & Ethereal, Historical Fiction, Interviews Related to Content of Novel, Life Shift, Light vs Dark, Literary Fiction, Magical Realism, Mahjong, Malacca, Malaya, Marriage Rituals, Parapsychological Suspense, Passionate Researcher, Psychological Suspense, Qing Ming Festival, Reincarnation, Rituals for the Afterlife, Scribd, Soundcloud, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Supernatural Fiction, Superstitions & Old World Beliefs, Taboo Relationships & Romance, TLC Book Tours, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage

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

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

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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:

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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!!

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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.

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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