Books, Fantasy, New Releases, novel

Review of Priest Hunter by Jeff Messick

Priesthunter Front Cover

The Magehunters are no more, pulled down by the efforts of Jace and his Disciples of Arn. However, there is little time to get used to the new order of things, as Jace learns his father has been forcibly taken by the Church of Arn to serve out the remainder of his life as a warrior priest.

As a young mage, Jace needed to learn to control his magical might. Now he will learn power comes in many forms. To free his father, Jace must learn priest magic, the pitfalls of faith, and the downside of leadership. He must learn, then master these ideas, to even stand a chance against the leader of the church.

Morvane doesn’t want Jace’s father, he wants Jace’s power. Jace is all that stands between Morvane and a world that worships only those that hold power over others. Worse yet, when Jace uses his vaunted magical might against Morvane, his magic has no effect.

My Take:

Where Magehunter, the first book of the series, is an extended coming of age story overlaid upon the makings of a good epic fantasy tale set in a world where those who wield magic are more common than not, Priesthunter rapidly evolves from a quest to find Jace’s father into a classic battle of magic between good and evil. Our hero, Jace Kendrick, returns with full command of his gifts, which have often seemed more of a curse to him, along with Amicus, his companion and former enemy. They set out for Elorien, the seat of the Church of Arn where they believe Angus, Jace’s father, has been pressed to return into the service of a Warrior Priest. The stakes quickly escalate as Jace discovers that Morvane, the head of the Church, has imprisoned Angus to serve as bait to lure Jace into a battle in expectation of stipping the young Mage’s powers.

Messick expands his magical world with layers of complexity added to the characters’ conflicts, both internals and external. It is a story of rival and seemingly mutually exclusive forms of magic derived from the gifts of a pantheon of gods that the characters are only beginning to realize exists. Previously they have believed that all magic was sourced in Arn. But as we learn from a witch who Jace and Amicus encounter, things are not quite as they may appear.

The romance between Jace and Lianna that blossomed in Magehunter strengthens as their relationship is tested under the threat of a powerful antagonist bent on destroying everything Jace holds dear. The compelling fantasy tale that results offers much for lovers or the genre and we’re told there’s more to come in the series with Roguehunter, book three of the series, already drafted and books four and five envisioned for the near future.

About the Author:

Author, Jeff Messick

Jeff Messick is father, husband and author who lives in south Texas. Although he writes across almost every genre, excluding romance, he enjoys a splash of paranormal in his stories as evidenced by his first novel, Knights of the Shield, a mash-up of a police procedural detective murder mystery and a ghost story.

Most recently, he has penned the first two installments in the Magehunter Series, beginning with the series namesake, followed by Priesthunter. Yet to come are Roguehunter, Kinghunter, and Godhunter. He is also working on Lifeblood, a paranormal drama, and Aftermath, a sci-fi thriller.

Books, Fantasy, Magical Realism, Mystery, New Releases, novel, Publishing, Urban Fantasy

Review: SNOW IN SUMMER by Laura Kemp

Description:

Front Cover

It’s been a year since Justine Cook defeated an immortal enemy that had hunted her family for generations. Settling into a peaceful life with her boyfriend in the small town of Lantern Creek, Michigan, she hopes to escape the events of the summer before. But the past won’t let go so easily.

When a woman named Amanda Bennett survives a fall from a cliff on Mackinac Island, it triggers a series of events that reawakens the past. Soon Justine and her brother Adam are pulled into a mystery that threatens to destroy the new life they have worked so hard to create. As people begin to die- people only Amanda Bennett can see- Justine must race against time to destroy a dark power she thought she had buried the summer before.

My Take:

SNOW IN SUMMER is Book 2 in the Yellow Wood Series and is scheduled for publication on 11.18.20. It is highly recommended that you read Book 1 in the series prior to reading Book 2 as many of the events from the first book have direct bearing on the characters and their many challenges in Book 2. Although the author does a good job of refreshing the reader’s memories where relevant, there is not a detailed summary of the previous work included. Having said that, the book stands alone fairly well as a compelling read with a solid plot and fast pace once the rationale for the extension of the previous story arc is established.

Justine and Dylan return from book one and the story is set in the summer following the events of Book 1 in the series. A new character, Amanda, is introduced early in the prologue, and her difficulties draw in the series’ returning characters. A portion of the story is set on picturesque Mackinac Island, a favorite vacation spot off the Lake Huron coast of northern Michigan, as Troy, Amanda’s lumberjack/horse trainer boyfriend has an apartment above the Calhoun stable near the Grand Hotel on the island. The strong romantic elements of the story present complicated triangles among the characters that challenge the stability of relationships, while the villain uses their human weaknesses to torment them and force a confrontation. Kemp does this extremely well while bending and twisting the paranormal elements of the backstory around the realism of the everyday struggles of the characters, like working their jobs, paying for school, and trying very hard to resist being drawn into the unsettled issues that remain from Book 1. The result is a mind-blowing, breathless, rollercoaster ride of life-threatening obstacles requiring tough choices and ingenuity to negotiate, while seeming plausible at an extraordinary level for a magical realism mash-up with a mystery/suspense/thriller.

Author Bio:

Laura signing books outside the Island Bookstore on Mackinac Island

Laura is a teacher who loves to write about her home state of Michigan. She has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University where she studied under Stuart Dybek, and has had her short fiction and poetry published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Word Riot, Tonopalah Review, SaLit and SLAB: Sound and Literary Art Book. “The Pursuit of Happiness,” – a short story she wrote while at WMU, was chosen as a finalist in the Trial Balloon Fiction Contest.

When not writing, Laura enjoys musical theatre, hiking, swimming, reading and performing with her Celtic band- Si Bhaeg Si Mohr. She also enjoys spending time with her husband and children as well as her dog, two hamsters, two gerbils, ten chickens, two horses and eight (and counting) cats.


Connect with Laura: Sea Legs on Land, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and Woody’s Book Tour.

Get Laura’s Books at Pandamoon Publishing and Amazon.

Books, funny, humor, New Releases, novel, Publishing

Review of Matt Coleman’s A ROCKY DIVORCE

Simply brilliant and seriously funny!

Matt Coleman’s Raquel “Rocky” Champagnolle is a magnificent creation – not only a protagonist but also a highly effective anti-heroine with a sharp tongue and a rare gift of being able to judge people (fairly accurately) at first glance. Often she is surprised when she first hears someone’s name, but that does not deter her from calling them by the name she prefers, the name their parents probably should have given them. The thing with names, though, is something Coleman uses with great effect throughout the story. It offsets Rocky’s otherwise uncanny perception. She is a natural problem solver, a born detective even if she is somewhat reluctant to take on the complicated mystery underlying this story. In fact, the only reason she dives into the convoluted mess is that the town’s richest old lady calls her fat.

Rocky is a likable friend, the sort you love hanging out with even if you now you’ll probably regret some, if not a lot, of what she eggs you on to do. At one point, Coleman discusses the gravity some people have, drawing other people so close that they have no other option but to settle into orbit. Rocky is just such a star. Following her as she meanders through this absurd corner of a farcical universe is an adventure that will compel you to turn the page expectantly, wondering what snark will next erupt.

Having just finished Matt Coleman’s latest novel and regretting that there isn’t another chapter left to read, I’m glad there will be more Rocky stories forthcoming. And who knows? Maybe at some point, she might team up with Ellis or The Drew from Juggling Kittens. I mean – they do live in the same general area.

I am grateful for the privilege of receiving an advance copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest appraisal. I have to tell you, each one of Coleman’s now three novels is strikingly different. And yet, they bear similarities beyond sharing an author. Each rests comfortably within the Grit Lit subgenre of mysteries. Each hosts a cast of memorable, quirky but relatable characters whose lives manage to spiral around at the fringes of sanity, skirting legality at times, while they try really hard to do what they feel is necessary whether anyone else feels it’s right or not. Reading one of Coleman’s books is an event I look forward to because of his amazing sense of irony and unwavering wit. I guarantee you’ll love this book every time you read it.

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Review: Nola Nash’s Debut – Crescent City Moon

Crescent City Moon by debut novelist Nola Nash has a creepy vibe throughout that establishes it as a great Halloween read…or a perfect book for anyone who loves supernatural mystery, suspense, thrillers. It is set in 1820’s New Orleans and captures the essence of the French Quarter, tapping into what residents know is the special nature of their beloved city – that things happening there are taken in stride that might not be accepted anywhere else.

Like many young people in the city, Zoelie Cheval has a curiosity about the occult. She plays with Tarot cards, dabbling in fortune-telling without completely understanding all the implications, or knowing the extent and peculiar nuances of her gifts. On her 21st birthday, when her father mysteriously dies her world is shattered. Then, while the police are investigating with officers everywhere throughout her house, a priest who was called upon to give last rights is also killed, and the stage is set for the kind of mystery you know is going to hold your attention for as long as it takes to reach the conclusion.

Nash seasons her realistic dialogue with well-placed French expressions and colorful descriptions of the settings. Always there is ample attention given to the arcane aspects of the plot, which straddle a line between real and surreal. Magic, though doubted at first, becomes increasingly real, and its limitations play a part in the resolution of the story, as well as its underpinnings in the balance of natural forces.

There is also a compelling love story developing in the background as Zoelie is attracted to the handsome and gallant Louis who labors to resolve the growing series of murders while protecting the young lady who is constantly in peril. I wholeheartedly recommend this book and look forward to the next in the series.

Amazon, Books, Fantasy, New Releases, novel

Quick Review of The Lost War: Eidyn Book One by Justin Lee Anderson

The Lost War is well-written and engaging with solid, interesting, well-developed characters. Even the lesser characters feel real for their moments in the spotlight. For those of us who have experienced Carpet Diem, this one is different but in a good way. This is an epic fantasy brushed onto a much larger canvas, a world where magic isn’t exactly accepted but whenever it shows up it isn’t a surprise. Where Carpet Diem was an urban fantasy told with a sense of irony and wit, Lost War is an evolution in Anderson’s storytelling with great attention to detail that allows the reader to become completely immersed and escape our own weird, warped world for several hours.

Recommended for lovers of Epic Fantasy teen and above

Rating – Five Stars

Print Length: 572 pages

Publisher: King Lot Publishing

Publication Date: August 30, 2019

Available in US on Amazon and in UK on Amazon

Authors Life, Publishing, Writing

Holding onto a Dream

I suppose waxing philosophical is natural when a milestone is reached, but I tend to be a quiet observer. If you’re expecting a boisterous blowhard pontificating pompous bombast or boring people with flowery fluff, that’s not me. I write a bit, though. Fortunately, I have editors to ground me and help make sense of my ramblings that eventually make it onto a printed page.

There is nothing else like this feeling.

My love of writing compels me in a way that no previous endeavor in life ever has. The physical execution of the process consumes a portion of each day, but truth be known, I am writing all the time, even when I rest, and always when I dream. In fact, a writer is never not writing. Even while suffering from writer’s block, a writer is still engaged in the creative process, whether it is realized or not.

Yesterday, I received a physical copy of the third book I’ve published since signing with Pandamoon Publishing. I published a few others before becoming a Panda, a couple of self-published things, and a pair of works released through another, now defunct, small publisher. Personally, I don’t consider those in my totals anymore. There will come a time when I revisit them as newly minted manuscripts, heavily revised and reborn, because the stories within are important and tie into the overall creative universe that has spawned Fried Windows and The Thuperman Trilogy. But I never recommend them, despite that there are copies of them floating around. You see, publishing is a thing that cannot be undone, especially once an ISBN number is assigned. But One Over X served a developmental purpose for me as an author. It granted me insight into the publishing business and book marketing. And it established a foundation that produced an ambitious project that occupied my time for better than seven years. That series has yet to be published, but I learned many necessary lessons from creating The Wolfcat Chronicles.

I was a different kind of writer twenty years ago when I was working on my first manuscript. My processes and the quality of what I produce has changed, for the better, I think. My stories ramble less. They have coherent structure. The dialog is more realistic, which is always a challenge when you write fantasy. The characters have lives to which readers can relate. All of that was acquired through the processes of learning to write, something that one must teach to self.

A friend and fellow author told me that anyone can dream only to have it evaporate into the mist of morning wakefulness, but an author can capture a dream and give it physical substance. There is a lot of truth in that. And I’m reminded of it each time I hold one of my books. It takes weeks, months and sometimes years to compose a manuscript. It takes courage to send it in raw form to beta readers to test the viability of its story. More months pass in revisions based on feedback received and then several more months pass while the manuscript is edited. Dressing it up into a pretty cover and testing the nearly finished version of the story with advance readers who will hopefully offer some reviews is the next step in the publishing process. And then the book arrives, launched upon a largely unsuspecting world that, for the most part, does not read books anymore.

On the surface, writing professionally does not make sense. For nearly all of us who do it, it will never pay the bills. But there is satisfaction at the conclusion of each journey when you hold one of your dreams in your hands.         

Amazon, Books, Fantasy, New Releases, novel, Publishing, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy

Two Weeks from Today

The launch of Homer Underby, Book 2 of The Thuperman Trilogy, is set for August 14. It continues the story of Will and Sandra, two precocious 8-year-old kids with active imaginations and budding superpowers. The story picks up where Becoming Thuperman, Book 1 of the series, left off. Sandra is grounded. Although Will is not, having his best friend unavailable is like being grounded. All they can do is wait until Saturday. If they win the first Little League game of the season Sandra’s grounding is over. But a new adventure is just beginning as the kids learn about a 20-year-old unsolved mystery involving the deserted old house down the street from where they live.

Homer Underby is a Pandamoon Publishing release available for pre-order at Amazon.

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Another Update On The Wolfcat Chronicles

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(Drawing by Amanda Williams, my daughter, depicting the Wolfcat Ela’na from The Wolfcat Chronicles)

Revisions of manuscripts may start out with lofty ambitions, reducing word count, removing redundancies, and identifying any substantive errors prior to sending it to a publisher. Results vary.

Twenty chapters, roughly 60% of the way  into the current revision of book one of The Wolfcat Chronicles I can promise I have deleted a lot of stuff that wasn’t necessary to the story but I’ve also added in just as much to clarify or enhance what was already there. Overall it is an improvement. The story reads better and the pacing is quicker. I’ve also managed to bring out more details about the principal characters. I’m calling the effort a success…so far.

For the dozens or so people who have read early drafts, the essence of the story line is in tact. Most of what I have removed was material added in to remind me as I wrote about other things. It’s a quirky thing I do in telling a story. You see, since it always takes longer to write something than it does to read it a writer has to put in little mnemonic cues or use some system to refresh details about characters and previous events told in the course of the story. Remember I wrote this with using a word processor program, which honestly is not the best way to compose anything of novel length. Also, since the book begins a series what happens affects everything that follows. So, somehow I had to keep all those little things in mind while I wrote the various manuscripts. There are programs available now that didn’t exist ten to fifteen years ago when I was first drafting this story. It’s easier for a writer to use something like Scrivener to keep things organized as he or she writes.

My present plan is to revise each of the books in the series in order and present them to my publisher so they can be added to the overall production plan that, of course, includes the works of other authors. So I can’t say for certain when the books will appear. I’m hoping that the first couple of books will be out by Summer or Fall of next year. The following year I’d like to see the next five books with the final three coming out in 2017. The last three need more revision than the first seven. For one thing I have to rewrite the last several chapters of the last book. I want to make it clearer what happens and how it connects into the rest of the universe I’ve created in my fiction, including Fried Windows and One Over X.

I expect to finish writing the sequels to Fried Windows and my next book, Becoming Thuperman (due out in January 2015) during the next year. So those books should also appear in the 2015 or 2016 production calendar. That’s up to my publisher and whenever I finish the manuscripts and submit them. Once my books are under contract and through the substantive editing process I should be able to give a better idea of a release date for them.

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#writing #authors #NewReleaseBooks #revisions #ProductionCalendar #TheWolfcatChronicles

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About an ARC I Just Read – Then Back to Revision

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The past day or so I’ve been juggling a couple of things. First I upgraded to OS X Yosemite (which is Mac OS 10.10 for those geeks wanting to keep track). That proved to be an adventure on my old clunker of a MacBook Pro, vintage late-2007. Amazingly it runs the latest software and isn’t much slower than it was running Mavericks (the previous OS X version). I still need more memory but largely I think everything is working properly now after a day of testing and troubleshooting and downloading some updates for this and that. One that that impressed me immediately was that the install takes up considerably less space on my hard drive than Mavericks or its predecessor Mountain Lion.

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Somewhere in all that process I received an email from my editor asking if I wanted to proof read the ARC of Jeff Messick’s debut novel, Knights Of The Shield. Of course I did. Actually I’ve been waiting to read it. I started in on it immediately, using my iPad because at the time I was still installing Yosemite. Late Thursday night when the install was completed I switch to my computer so I could make notes and comments on the book. I pretty much read it straight through with only Thursday night’s nap and a brief nap last night as interruptions. It took slightly longer for the read as I was looking for any mistakes – there were few which is always a good sign. So, yes, it was a quick read.

The story is kind of a quirky paranormal police drama about a hard boiled homicide detective who survives a new partner who is, by the way, a computer geek, but nearly dies in the process. He makes a deal with the All Mighty to spare his life and winds up with yet a second new partner. This one happens to be one of his distant cousins, a thousand or so years removed, and a knight at that.

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The book is about honor and perceptions of the world. It’s also about politics, corruption, deception and how love pretty much trumps everything. I liked it a lot. I’ll be writing a review on it in the next few days. But be on the look out for it. It launches on November 11, 2014. Like me, Jeff is a veteran, so releasing his book on Veterans Day is somewhat fitting.

Today I work my day job. Tonight I’ll jump back into the revision of The Spectre’s Warning, book one of The Wolfcat Chronicles. I paused at Chapter 10.

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A Tree Born Crooked by Steph Post – Coming September 30

One week from today A Tree Born Crooked by Steph Post will be available from Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. You can still pre-order so that you will automatically receive your Kindle download the moment it is released.

Front Cover

A little over a year ago I met Steph at and online get together for Pandamoon Publishing. We are both part of a select group, what I’m sure will someday be referred to as the ‘First Gen’ Pandas. In the past few months I’ve gotten the chance to get to know her and work with her on a few projects as well as interact with her in conference calls and meetings. We have interviewed one another and and shared ideas on a number of topics related to writing. She has to be one of the nicest people I know. Having read A Tree Born Crooked a couple of times, now, I’m in awe of her skill as a writer.

Steph Post 2Steph

She is one of the rare one-third of Floridians who are native, born in St. Augustine and raised in the land of contrast: beaches and swamps, pine trees and palms, sunbathers and sunburn, alligators and ‘crackers’…well, you get the idea. Currently she teaches at a high school for the performing arts in the west central portion of the state, is married and plays mom to a couple of very cute dogs. She is obsessed with the TV show Justified and is extremely supportive of other authors and their work.

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Her book is about the side of Florida that people may not see all that often but that doesn’t mean it’s not here. She writes in a style that is authentic to her roots developing memorable characters.

“James Hart, with a tough-as-nails exterior and an aching emptiness inside, does not want to go home. Yet when James receives a postcard from his mother, Birdie Mae, informing him of his father’s death, he bites the bullet and returns to the rural and stagnant town of Crystal Springs, Florida, a place where dreams are born to die. James is too late for Orville’s funeral, but just in time to become ensnared in the deadly repercussions of his younger brother Rabbit’s life of petty crime. When Rabbit is double crossed by his cousin in a robbery-turned-murder, James and a local bartender, the unsettling and alluring Marlena Bell, must come up with a plan to save Rabbit’s skin. A whirlwind road trip across the desolate Florida panhandle ensues as James tries to stay one step ahead of the vengeful Alligator Mafia and keep his brother alive. With bullets in the air and the ghosts of heartache, betrayal and unspeakable rage haunting him at every turn, James must decide just how much he is willing to risk to protect his family and find a way home.”

A Tree Born Crooked Promo copy 10494540_731133296933295_2942649078238852206_n

#StephPost #ATreeBornCrooked #NewReleaseBooks #Florida #GritLit