Heart of the Curiosity

Heart of the Curiosity

H.L. Burke

Heart of the Curiosity introduces Leo and Muse, sisters who have run away from the Carnival. Muse has a knack for levitation which helps her as a dancer, but Leo’s is to manipulate people’s emotions, which she hates to do.

The bulk of the action takes place four years after they join the Curiosity Theatre, life is looking up for the sisters. Muse has her first solo dance in a show, and Leo has settled in using her knack to promote the show and sway the audience. Unfortunately, there are people who want the theatre to use its power source, the Heart, and things start going wrong.

This is a rollicking story with an animatronic wolf and a snail circus. People have knacks, small limited magical abilities which may be helpful or sinister. The idea of knacks is an interesting one, and the notion isn’t completely uncovered, but there is enough information to make us comfortable with the world.

The main characters are exceptionally well drawn with their own fears and flaws and goals, the villain’s motivation is well set up. The plot is not complicated by a lot of subplots, but it works well for the length of the book.

I highly recommend it for those who like young adult fiction, especially with what I guess I would call electro-punk feel to it.

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Lexi

Lexi

Heidi J. Hewett

Lexi begins in a garage in an outlaw town in the desert. It is a promising start, action, danger, regret.

Then we go back to fill in how the narrator got to that place. This is a common enough trick. Show the character at a point of desperation, then use that knowledge to build tension in the reader. How will our hero get from here to there? Unfortunately, it can also backfire by lowering the immediate tension of the story’s progression. Like a kid wanting to skip the meal to get to dessert, the reader wants to get to the good stuff.

In Lexi’s case the otherwise engaging story of the events which result in the hero being on the run with a billion dollar prototype android were, for me, overshadowed by the opening. It’s a pity, because I wonder if we had started in the lab instead of the desert, my attention would have been held by the more subtle plot needed to set up the first chapter.

The narrator is an engineer at the lab where his father’s people have been working on the human-like AI to run their prototype. John is in an irregular position, not being quite a student, nor an employee. When that status is resolved and he’s made a full employee, things look like they are going to fall into place for him.

That’s when Lexi escapes her box, both literally and figuratively. It’s all interesting, but I kept thinking it dragged. I don’t think it does, it is just it can’t live up to the first chapter fast enough. Once the dominoes start falling it takes off, but that’s a substantial way into the book.

So, I’m going to recommend the book, but I’m also going to recommend the reader start at chapter two, not in the first chapter.

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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

Migon

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. More you can find on xnxx. You won’t regret it.

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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