Can’t resist the scorpion

Melissa Chan from Literary Book Gifts asked me if I wanted to do a blog on her t-shirts inspired by classic books. At that point, I didn’t want to do a review since I’d not had the chance to see one in person. I did ask her to contribute a blog. 

The Joseph Conrad shirt I ordered arrived and after a wash to soften the starching, it fit very comfortably. The picture is placed so it doesn’t disappear when tucked in. While not the heaviest shirt I own, it is a nice weight.

I like the designs for the shirts, but the scorpion called to me.

Compared to similar shirts with designs on them, they are a reasonable price. When you deduct the 20% off for using this: ALEXMCGILVERY20 they are an even better deal. I don’t make any money off the code.

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Cracks in the Tapestry

Cracks in the Tapestry

edited by Arthur David and Amanda Lane

Cracks in the Tapestry is an anthology of a wide range of styles and modes of story telling. Each author has their own voice, and style, but the collection as a whole also comes together as a work. I was pleased to have the chance to read the book as I have read Arthur’s work before. He is one of a very small group of authors who have re-written books to submit for a new review. That book was a quantum leap above the first submission and he’s continued his growth with the lead story in the anthology about a woman who is faced with her dead sister.


I recommend the book, all of the stories are well crafted and they are a nice size for reading in the cracks of life, whether riding the bus, or sitting in a doctor’s office, or even standing in line on a Friday to pay for groceries. As with many anthologies, this one is a doorway into new author’s worlds. Pick it up and you may find your next favourite author.


You can buy the book here.



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Migon by P.C. Keeler


P.C. Keeler

I can’t say I’ve read many books in which the protagonist dies in the first chapter, getting eaten by a dragon to be exact. Gyndri is an average boy living in Landing. He sets out on his run, a rite of passage where he has the above mentioned encounter.

Gyndri lives in a world of magic, mystery and wizards. When he hatches from a shell with partial memories of being Gyndri, he begins to learn the world is very different than he’d imagined. There are wizard and mystery, but the magic is not at all what he expected, especially now that he is part of it.

Migon is a fun read, with few predictable character tropes. Keeler takes the time to let us meet them, and more importantly see them begin to grow. The world is much more complicated than the beginning of the book suggests, but we learn about it as we need to.

Despite the dragon consumption, there is little direct violence in the book, though much is hinted at, this is a book any young person would enjoy reading. Gyndri is an engaging character, the decision to blend human and migon is what keeps him relatable, is also means he is learning as he goes, which is always more interesting than being handed knowledge on a platter.

You can buy Migon here.



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Seasons Within

Seasons Within

Lele Iturrioz

G is a high school student. She lives in an orphanage with her best friend, Priy. She’s seventeen and always been a bit odd, as she remembers nothing of where she came from or even her name. She’s called G because of the necklace she’s worn since she was found.

The oddness around G escalates to bizarre and scary, and she’s not sure if the new teacher Mr. Blau has anything to do with it. He doesn’t act like a normal teacher.

Lele avoids most of the common tropes with this book. Each of the main characters are decently well rounded, though I’d love Priy’s ethnic background to have more part in the book.

The plot is also handled well, and has some nice turns to it to keep it engaging.

Unfortunately, the book could have used quality content editing. There are technical issues around description and characterization, and point of view is variable without sufficient narrative voice to allow for showing thoughts of more than one character in a scene. I saw some minor issues with story structure. None of this makes Seasons Within a bad book, but it does keep it from being a great book.

If you are willing to overlook these issues, it is a fun read. It is YA fantasy.

Buy it at Amazon

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Between the Shade and the Shadow

Between the Shade and Shadow

Coleman Alexander

In a culture which immediately assume darkness means evil, Coleman Alexander’s book creates darkness as a place to live for a people who burn under light (even moonlight). This doesn’t mean that there is no evil afoot.

Ahraia is a shade. A dweller of the night who has bonded with a shadow, a wolf named Losna. No one in her home can recall a shade ever binding a wolf as a shadow, though it could be said Losna bound her. Her shadow is not the only thing to set her apart from the people around her. She can’t kill with her ability to bind. It makes her sick, so she depends on Losna or her bow.

Ahraia’s life as the most powerful shade in living memory would be hard enough, but there are other forces at work, within and outside the darkness she calls home.

The world Coleman creates is intriguing and very well thought out. It has a very strong internal consistency. The characters of Ahraia and Losna in particular, are well drawn with their strengths and weakness. The people around her are given levels of complexity needed for their role in the story.

There is a promise of much more to come in this book, so not every thread is neatly bound, which is something I like. Though the conclusion is satisfying and well constructed, we know there is more out there, and given the skill with which this story is crafted, that more is going to be very welcome.

I recommend the book for lovers of fantasy and epic fantasy. Though the story is self-contained, the world it is set in is broad and looks to be fascinating.


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The Nameless Soldier by Annie Douglas Lima

The Nameless Soldier

Annie Douglas Lima.

The Nameless Soldier is an upcoming book by Annie Douglas Lima in the Alasia world. It features Tarvic, a young soldier who survives a massacre more by luck than anything. He feels guilty for surviving while so many of his comrades didn’t. His feelings grow worse when he discovers the neighbouring country has taken over the capital killing the royal family.

Tarvic wanders into the wilderness, plagued by his head injury and guilt. He is only waiting to die. A little girl discovers him, calls him Sad Lonely Crazy Man and drags him home with her as if he were a lost puppy. Tarvic meets three sisters who are living on their own, waiting for their father, a soldier to return, or their less than reliable uncle.

He stays and helps them, but refuses to tell them his name, sure that he’s sullied the name of a great hero by being alive.

I loved this book. So many fantasy books are about big heroes who do great things. Here is a story of a hero of a different sort. He doesn’t do anything earth-shattering. His actions don’t change the course of history, but what he does is important. Even more is the exploration of his guilt of surviving and a slow awakening of a different understanding of what it means to be a soldier.

Though the story is written on a small canvass, there is still plenty of action and suspense.

I highly recommend the book to fantasy lovers.


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Scavenger Girl – Season of Atchem

Scavenger Girl – Season of Atchem

Jennifer Arnston

Una lives with her family outside the village. They are scabs, with no rights, no protection under the law. Not only are they supposed to be invisible as they dig through trash heaps for things they can use, but any citizen who speaks to them can lose their position and become scabs themselves. The Authority rules the people with law and religion.

Together with her mother, father and two brothers, Una ekes out a living. The only cloud on the horizon is when she may be sold as a slave to some citizen. She meets Blue, the grandson of the only citizen who is kind to them, and things start changing and shifting out of Una’s control. There are secrets which challenge everything she thinks she knows about herself, and that is only the beginning.

Scavenger Girl shows that dystopian books don’t need to be set in the future. Jennifer has created a dystopian as compelling and bleak as any other I’ve seen. Una is a compelling and flawed heroine, and we’ve only begun to see her development.  The supporting cast is varied and well drawn. The plot will keep you telling Una to stop being foolish and make the obvious right decision, yet aware of her frailty.

I recommend this book to lovers of dystopian fantasy, and fantasy lovers who like a bit of edge to their reading.

Look for it to be available Oct 21, 2017 through Amazon

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The Beast of Talesend

The Beast of Talesend

Kyle Robert Shultz

The Beast of Talesend is set in a world in which fairy tales are history. Distant history, and most of the people no longer believe in Magic. Nicholas Beasley made his living debunking magic, proving it was a fraud. Then Lord Whitlock a long time enemy of Nicholas’ hires him for a job. Things get strange as Lord Whitlock’s daughter has plans of her own. When those plans go sideways, Nick has to change his understanding of the world.

The plot is a great introduction to them as first in a series, though this a standalone book.

This is a fun read, the characters are unique and well developed. It reads a bit like Jim Butcher meets Snow White, but Kyle doesn’t make the mistake of pushing too many fairy tales into the one story. He leaves plenty for the rest of the series. What he does bring in he twists in wonderful ways.

I highly recommend the book for people who enjoy fantasy.

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Frankenstein Reborn

Frankenstein Reborn

Dean C. Moore

Soren fights a minotaur, paying attention to the women who watches him from the shadows. He follows her, discovering she is not nearly as impressed with him as he is with her. Events conspire to force her and her group of friends to cooperate with Soren to deal with evil beings being brought to Earth by Victor, a man who intends to rule the world.

This book is Dean’s usual mix of technology and spirituality, but he throws magic into the pot and stirs. What you get is a captivating tale of a possible near future where technology has split humans into different regions by interest, and where people can be, almost, anything they desire.

He explores the costs of those desires and the need, even for the most advanced humans, for relationships.

I recommend the book for those who are interested in transhumanism, but also people who want a different take on dystopia from the usual youth rebelling against an oppressive government. There is some strong language in the book.

You can buy the book here.

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White Wolf and the Ash Princess

White Wolf and the Ash Princess

Tammy Lash

I came to this book through an online book club. These days I have trouble reading a book in more than half hour bits, but this book grabbed me and pulled me into the story. Izzy lives in a cottage with Jonathan and Miss Margaret. She has a young friend name Tubs who plays an ongoing game with her as she tries to guess his name. Izzy has forgotten everything prior to arriving at the cottage, Jonathan is holding her past for her, but she wants to know what he knows about her.

Izzy is covered with burns and we gradually learn the cause, which is also the reason she spends most of her time in the library reading. Even Jonathan can’t convince her to go past the wall of the garden. One day when Jonathan is off on one of his trips, Izzy is convinced by Tubs to go fishing with him. To her amazement she is able to follow him past the wall, and thus begins the unravelling of her life.

The book took me by surprise several times. It is not what I originally imagined from the opening, then it goes on to keep morphing in new and unexpected directions. The pleasant thing is the story always make sense and comes together at the end in a powerful conclusion. Izzy is a fascinating character, she begins timid as a mouse, but makes a conscious choice to be brave and it changes both her and the people around her.

The people in the book are varied and well drawn, then change through circumstance as they learn and grow.

I recommend the book for people who like Native American stories and history.

You can buy the book here.

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