PRINCE EWALD THE BRAVE BY DYLAN MADELEY
REVIEW DATE: MAY 18TH, 2021
Meet the Kenderleys, the wealthiest and most powerful family in the world.
The youngest, Prince Bonifaz, takes his lessons and trusts no one. The middle child, Princess Isabel, sneaks away to a secret regency of her own making. Their mother, Queen Dulcibella, watches out for her children just as readily as she watches over them. Their father, King Jonnecht, is a capricious tyrant who hopes to control his family as strictly as he does the largest empire, and his violent rage threatens all under his rule.
Then there’s Prince Ewald, eldest and heir to the throne. No one is more aware of what threat his father poses to everyone. No one has better legal standing to do anything about it. How can he save everyone he loves while upholding his mother’s kind values? He must learn the lessons required to be the best regent, choose allies wisely and earn their trust, and enact a thoughtful and detailed plan.
And even if he succeeds in all that, can one who draws the line and conducts a plan with honour defeat one whose rage, selfishness, and deceit know no bounds?
Can Prince Ewald stop his own father?
Prince Ewald the Brave is a book within the Gift-Knight Trilogy written by Dylan Madeley. This epic fantasy story centers on Ewald Kenderley of the renown Kenderleys. Ewald is next in line for the throne. Throughout this story Ewald learns what it takes to be a prominent leader. As the story progresses, Eward is at odds with his father, King Jonnecht. Prince Ewald must look deep inside himself and ask himself if he truly has what it takes to lead.
What I enjoyed.
Madeley does a superb job at adding those little details to the story from describing the minor details from the characters to clothing to different settings throughout this adventure. One can tell that Madeley spent a lot of time crafting every inch of this world and it shows. Another positive with Madeleys attention to detail is that of his characters. This story has characters that one can invest in. You want to turn the page to see what happens next. Every word, scene, chapter, etc has a purpose and not just filler. Another credit to Madeleys attention to detail is the sibling relationship amongst the Kenderley children. I really enjoyed that dynamic throughout the book.
What I didn’t enjoy
The story’s main protagonist is Prince Ewald and is told from his POV, but this is overshadowed by switching to another character’s POV. Ewald is a very interesting character, and it shows. The story would have been more interesting if we could look more through Ewald's eyes.
Prince Ewald the Brave is a great epic fantasy novel. One can tell that Madeley takes the time to handcraft this epic fantasy. From the attention to detail on such things like surroundings, clothes, the relationship between characters and everything else in between. This attention to detail makes this a great read. My only complaint is that it would have been nice there wasn’t the switching of POVs between characters. Eward is a unique and I would have love to have seen things more from his POV. Madeley has a strong eye for detail and it shows in this work. I look forward to seeing what else he produces in the future.
4 out 5 stars.
A BEAST SO BEAUTIFUL BY CARLYLE LABUSCHANGE
REVIEW DATE: JUNE 10, 2021
A darkness falls over the land when the Queen of Rurith dies.
Consumed with grief, King Ivar blames their son, Prince Leif, for her demise, and locks him away in the castle.
The Prince is left in total despair, until a girl, with hair the colour of a red sunset and green eyes shows him mercy.
For six years she visits him in secret, giving him hope where none existed before.
But Ruith hides many treacherous things that threaten to bring the Kingdom to its knees.
Until the Prince and his beastly curse are released.
A Beast so Beautiful is a fantasy novel written by USA Today best selling author, Carlyle LaBuschange. The story focuses on Prince Leif who is blamed for the death of is his mother by his father. Locked away in a tower by his evil father. Prince Leif's only source of happiness and hope, a girl who visits him.
What I enjoyed.
At the very start of the book LaBuschange just jumped into it. She hit the ground running with this book, which is a pleasant change of pace in this genre. It’s always refreshing to see authors change things up when it comes to the start of their works of art. To compliment not only the opening of this book, but the book in its entirety is LaBuschange imagery. Her unparalleled, grim, and bewitching use of words breathes life into this work of art.
The tale in my opinion is a refreshing take on the classic story, Beauty and the Beast. Am I a fan of that story, not in the slightest. However, I can respect and acknowledge a work of art and that’s what the story is. Full of intrigue that will keep you turning pages if you are a fan of this type of genre. An example of this would be the ending. The ending itself was very interesting. Not what I expected, but that is a good thing.
What I didn't enjoy.
There were some parts that just didn't really flow. It was more telling than showing. The story is written in third person. Nothing wrong with that but it can be overwhelming. With the jump back and forth between the characters. I didn’t really get that strongly invested in the characters. The characters weren’t bad by any means, but they weren’t outstanding either. They were decent.
LaBuschanges art hooks you from the start. Hear alluring use of words brings out the joyous moments of this art and simultaneously captures the grim darkness. This art is full of in intrigue and twist. I wouldn’t call her characters forgettable, but they were just okay.
I am not a fan of this type of genre, but I know great art when I see it. LaBuschanges novel is an exceptional work of art regardless of my opinion on this genre. I look forward to see where her renowned award winning talents take her.
3.5 out of 5
THE VIOLINS PLAYED BEFORE JUNSTAN BY LOU KEMP
GENRE: HISTORICAL FANTASY
REVIEW DATE: AUGUST 30, 2021
This is the prequel to the Celwyn series
San Francisco, 1865.
At first, the immortal peyote-eating magician Celwyn is hired to deliver an automat, Professor Kang, to a priest called Talos. Everything Talos told Celwyn was a lie, and by the time their ship, the Zelda, encounters a terrific storm in the Arctic Circle, Celwyn finds he must reconsider his allegiance. He chooses Kang, and they travel to Singapore, preparing to journey west. In order to deflect the attention of the city’s police, they allow an American heiress to go with them as she escapes matrimony to seek adventure. Her crazy aunt hops another train, and the pursuit is on. The third member of their friendship is from Juba in the Sudan; a widower, scholar, and brave but superstitious man. Their deep friendship grows as they battle several malevolent forces at the same time, and rescue two orphans along the way. Celwyn has avoided caring about anyone for hundreds of years, and now must learn the cost of friendship, and loss. Eventually they reach Prague. The culmination of their battles with evil occurs on the Vltava River under the shadow of the Prague Opera House. As always, it is accompanied by the ethereal music of the magician.
The Violins Played before Junstan, written by Lou Kemp, is an exciting story that is part fantasy, part historical fiction, part mystery, all rolled up into one. The story centers on the very gifted magician, Celwyn. Celwyen is tasked with a mission. His mission, hunt down the powerful criminal known as, Xiau Kang.
What I enjoyed
Kemp does a marvelous job of bringing the 1800s to life. With great attention to detail, the locations that are within the book are like characters themselves. I could truly picture this colorful world in my head. The characters in the book are full of life, making it to where there is never a dull moment in this book. Each character brings something vital to the table. The great group dynamic really makes the book come together.
The best way I can explain the group dynamic is like so: Picture you and three of your best friends going on a supernatural road trip. Having great times along with way all while trying to fight supernatural creatures. Of course, you would stop for snacks along the way. What’s a good road trip without snacks.
There is a lot in this book. From characters, locations, a mixture of supernatural creatures like vampires and witches trying to cut Celwyns adventures short, the story is very well paced.
What I didn't enjoy
Nothing comes to mind. It’s an enjoyable read.
The Violins Played before Junstan is a great read. Mystery, fantasy and historical fiction all rolled up into one. The great and well flushed out characters make it to where there is never a boring moment in this work out art. This story takes place in several countries and Kemp does a great job of bringing those countries to life and making it easier for the reader to picture what is going on in the story at that moment in time. Kemp has an amazing style that keeps the story compelling. I look forward to seeing what comes out next.
4 out of 5
THE HANGMAN: VENGEANCE
GENRE: URBAN FANTASY
REVIEW DATE: SEPTEMBER 23, 2021
Jericho sighed as he pointed the Sword of Caine at the Hangman. “You made this personal when you killed…There’s no coming back from that.”
The Hangman has returned from the unknown dimension he was sent to at the end of The Death Brothers: A Supernatural Awakening. Now, he only has vengeance on his mind for the people, who tricked him that he once considered friends and allies. They include the heroes; The Grand Librarian, Alexander Merryweather, the demon hunter, Father Tom Padilla, Susan Taki, and reluctantly, the vampire slayer, Jericho Caine.
Leechadon the Soul Eater, a powerful demon and the new leader of the underworld, uses the opportunity to attack the Earth by bringing together four allies of his own. They are; the vampire lord Dracool, a witch named Alina, a zombie leader, Deadric, and a demon lord, Gregor. If they can work together, they represent the greatest threat to humanity that has ever been assembled.
Leechadon strikes a deal with Hangman to help get his revenge in exchange for the Hangman agreeing not to interfere with Leechadon’s plans for the Earth. The past, present, and future play relevant parts in this adventure. Allegiances are tested as both, humans and supernatural forces, clash in this epic finale to the Hangman series.
The Hangman: Vengeance, written by Dee Rose is an exciting urban fantasy read. It is the final installment of the Hangman Universe series. After escaping an alternate universe, The Hangman has one thing on his mind, vengeance. While The Hangman goes up against band of unified individuals consisting of a librarian, the guardian of Purgatory, and many more unique characters, there is a greater threat lurking in the shadows. Lord Leechadon, a powerful demon from the underworld. His goal, conquering earth. Who will win in this three way dance of death?
Even through this is the final book in the Hangman series, you won’t get lost. Rose provides a great introduction at the beginning of the book setting the scene for what has happen and things possibly to come. Rose talents makes it to where this story can act as standalone story and does an amazing job at adding flashbacks throughout the book to fill in any blanks so that reader is able to better understand The Hangmans motivations along with the universe as a whole that this book takes place in.
This great urban fantasy tale has exciting action scenes that reads like a Hollywood block buster action movie. I will say, there is a lot keep track of. This creation has it all. Vampires, demons, witches, even something for the zombie lovers out there. Rose even throws in supernatural artifacts. However, even though it’s a lot to keep track of he does a renowned job at not confusing and overwhelming the reader. It all has a clear purposes and it shows in the exceptional narration.
If I had to compare this work of urban fantasy to something that people are a fan of when it comes to this genre, it would be the television show Supernatural. It puts me in the mind of a darker and gritty version of the television show. Being a huge fan of urban fantasy I highly recommend this book to anyone that is looking to grow their urban fantasy library.
4 out of 5
KILLING THE REAPERS
GENRE: URBAN FANTASY
REVIEW DATE: OCTOBER 13, 2021
Ross is a young paramedic whose world takes a sudden tragic turn on what should be the best day of his life. Just before he can propose to his girlfriend, he suffers a massive heart attack and dies. He awakens in the afterlife and learns that the Grim Reaper actually does exist. But not as the skeletal creature of mythology, instead it’s an organization of non-living individuals who look and act like ordinary people. Essentially undead civil servants, they walk among the living, unnoticed, as they perform their grim work of reaping the souls of people when they are destined to die. He is shocked to learn that he died decades before he was supposed to, due to a tragic mishap. As Ross and the reapers seek a solution for his premature demise, fatal accidents suddenly begin to plague the reapers. Ross discovers that though the reapers aren’t truly alive, they can be killed. When the growing number of mysterious reaper fatalities prevents Ross from getting his life back, he suspects they may not actually be accidents. He realizes that to have any chance to return to the life he was destined to live, he’ll first have to discover and stop whatever is killing the reapers.
Killing the Reapers, by Jeff Debing is quick, and enjoyable urban fantasy read. The story centers on Ross. On his way to start the next chapter in his life and marry the girl of his dreams, an unexpected heart attack cuts his life short. The only problem, he wasn’t meant to die. He was meant to die later, DECADES later. There is also a bigger problem at hand. Along with his death, reapers are also being killed. To get back to the land of the living, he needs to find out who or what are killing reapers and if his death and theirs are related.
I want to start off by saying that this book has an interesting POV. I don’t mean POV in the traditional sense of 1st person, 2nd person etc, but I mean being told from the reapers’ point of view. Death talking about death. It was very interesting, and I enjoyed that aspect of the book.
The book takes a while to really get going, but when it gets going, it gets going. The world building for this book is straightforward and to the point. Which isn’t bad. It gets the point across, but I would have enjoyed it more if there was more lore.
The reapers are not your everyday skeletal figures that we see in horror settings, but they look like you and I and are civil servants, as Debing explained in the book blurb. So how does all this work? There is a scene in the book that explains it all. It was my favorite part of the entire book. It was simple, yet effective. Ross, our protagonist, is speaking with a reaper about how everything works. Humans can’t see the reapers, but they just know on a subconscious level that the reapers are around and to get out of the way. For example, Ross and the reaper are walking down a busy sidewalk. While they walk, a man is walking his dog. On a subconscious level, both the man and the dog knew to just avoid them. The scene reminds of a scene from The Matrix. Neo and Morpheus are walking down the street and Morpheus is explaining to Neo what The Matrix is. To me the two had that same intensity and emotion. Debing does a great job with this scene with setting up the world and what the readers are in for. It was a simple, yet a powerful scene.
The investigation of trying to find out who is killing the reapers is very well written. Leaving clues here and there to make the reader ponder who did it and why.
There are a lot of characters in this book. They are well written, but there are just a lot of them. It gets a bit confusing sometimes and you might lose track of who is who.
Overall, this is a quick fun urban fantasy read. Would I recommend this book to non urban fantasy fans? Definitely not, this is more for a niche audience. Would I recommend it to urban fantasy fans? Yes, I would. If you are looking for a quick read to scratch your urban fantasy inch, then go for it and pick this up. Debing appears to have a brilliant talent for urban fantasy. I look forward to seeing what he produces next.
LEGACY: A SCION QUEST
GENRE: ACTION ADVENTURE FANTASY
REVIEW DATE: DECEMBER 8, 2021
Xolani and Raine fled their homeland years ago in search of peace and a place to start a family. Now, with their two children, Xolani and Raine live simple lives out in the country. But all that begins to change when Xolani has a disturbing vision that comes with an unexpected message. Legacy is Jay Reace’s debut novel. It’s an adventure fantasy page turner that will be sure to keep you reading from start to finish.
Jay Reace is the author of the fantasy adventure, Legacy: A Scion Quest Series. Set on earth after the last world war, this story focuses around Xolani, his wife Raine and their two kids. Xolani has disturbing visions. While being plagued by haunting visions, Xolani’s past enters his life once more. Now what was a threat to just him, threatens the wellbeing of his family as well.
The world of Legacy is interesting. Set in our world after the last world war, people retreated to bunkers for safety. During that time, the earth healed and mother nature blossomed. After leaving the bunkers, some people had this harmonious relationship where nature and technology coexisted. Others felt they would be better off without technology and stick to their old ways. I really enjoyed this balancing act of to two very clashing trains of thoughts. This aspect really kept me interested. Reace does a great job at exploring this.
When a story has a large amount of characters, some get lost in the shuffle, till the author needs to move the plot along. Reace makes sure each character has a role to play and isn’t there to just take up space. His outstanding writing brings the world and the obstacles characters face to life with his high regard for detail.
I want to shine a light on Reace’s over all writing talent. He’s writing makes it easy for you to visualize what is going on in the story. The pacing of the story was great. An obvious example of that would be the power structuring. Without giving too much away, the characters have powers. You are not starting off with world ending powers. We see the characters do low powered stuff, but things get fun as the story continues. It’s a great build it to the more exciting stuff. Not only with this but with the overall story, Reace does a superb at building tension and excitement.
This book is a great addition to anyone’s library. It has great humorous moments sprinkled throughout the book to make you laugh. High-impact action to make you root for the good guy, or bad guy if that’s your thing. A relationship between a family and how they come together. This story is rich in amazing fantasy elements. Not only would I recommend this story to lovers of fantasy. I would also recommend this book for individuals that are looking to get into fantasy. I look forward to seeing what is next in this book series.
4 out 5
GENRE: DARK FANTASY
REVIEW DATE: FEBRUARY 23, 2022
One night Ezra Adkins is brutally murdered in her own home. As she was dying, she expects to wake up in the afterworld.
She was wrong.
She loses consciousness and awakens into a horrific game of kill or be killed. Players can be killed an infinite number of times, but the only permanent way out of the game is their actual death by suicide.
Players in the game ruthlessly hunt each other for points, while others kill for fun. Most players have given up on finding an escape from the game and spiral into insanity, killing without reason.
Ezra soon learns who to trust and who to hunt down. But as she falls deeper into the game, she starts to lose herself as the bodies pile up. The line blurs between what she’s always known to be right and wrong.
Metal will clash. Blood will spill. Minds will break. And before it’s too late, Ezra must find an escape from the game before she becomes the real enemy.
Madness is written by Paityn E Parque. This is a very riveting dark fantasy adventure. Trapped in a dark game of survival full of killers, psychopaths, and other twisted individuals, Erza must band together with others to escape this sadistic game of death. Who created this game? An unknown entity that goes by Engine. Who is Engine? Why have they created this game? That’s Erza goal to find out who they are and why she is there. However, she has to make it out alive first to get those answers.
This book hits the ground running with a great prologue. Well written and very well paced. This prologue really sets the tone for the rest of the book going forward. The following is just a small bit from the prologue.
“As Shadow fixed her mask, she felt a dangerous smirk dance across her lips. She knew her eyes gleamed in anticipation of the kill. “Leave no one alive,” she barked. Throwing open the door, she charged into danger, and it welcomed her with open arms.”
When an author writes a fight scene, they can either be hit or miss. With a book full of fight scenes, Parque does a great job at crafting these scenes. One can tell that she did her research for this. They are very well written and fast-paced that keep you on the edge of your seat wanting more. One element that I really enjoyed with these fight scenes is the powers that the characters can learn as the story progresses. No one's power is overpowered and each one can be countered with another, keeping things balanced and lets the reader really wonder who will come out on top.
Erza progression as character is great. You see her come into this wicked game of death and reckless abandon as a frightened young girl. As she learns the rules of the game, she becomes, for lack of a better term, a natural born killer. You really learn about who was, who she is and what she will become, albeit for the better or the worse, depending on how you look at things. This is one of the best acts of character progression I have seen.
If I was to sum up Madness in simple terms, I would say it is a darker, twisted and more brutal Hunger Games. I look forward to see what’s next for Erza.
4 out of 5
GENRE: DARK FANTASY
REVIEW DATE: JUNE 24, 2023
Waking up in the heart of Engine, Shadow only has one goal in mind: destroy the place that made her life hell. Easier said than done. Put in a horrifying position as Engine’s assassin, she has no other choice but to follow their twisted ways.
Stripped of everything she’s grown to rely on, Shadow must keep her team safe and come up with a plan. But nothing was ever as it seemed. Her sanity starts to slip as answers are discovered. Escape soon becomes a dire thirst—her team is jeopardized—and time is running out.
Jack never wanted to end everything. But he had to die; someone needed to save her. Fixated on keeping his team alive, Jack realizes that there’s no going back. Or escaping. She wants to get revenge—but that would cost their lives.
Severely injured and divided on different sides, Jack must find the foundation that started it all to heal him. Otherwise, they were all going to die.
With Engine picking them off one by one, the team must find a way to escape—all with one life.
Havoc by Paityn Parque is a thrilling and intense sequel that takes readers on a dark and gripping journey through the Engine's Game series. Picking up immediately after the events of Madness, the story plunges us into a world where the consequences of suicide and the brutal nature of the game are front and center. The story picks up right where the first book left off. Shadow wakes up at Engine’s HQ, setting the stage for even more madness and despair.
Just like the first book, Madness, Havoc's characters are full of detail and are anything but one-dimensional. Alliances and friendships are formed and pushed to their limits and beyond. Characters in this book undergo major developments, adding great detail to the story and making this sequel a gripping page-turner, just like its predecessor.
Parque ups the grim and vicious nature of this world, taking us on a dark and brutal journey. Even though this is a sequel, Parque provides a generous amount of information to catch readers up and hook new readers, although I highly recommend reading the first book. Not only is the first book a great read, but it also fills in the tiny little details that give the second book that extra spark of life and enjoyment. More details about this world are displayed in this book, adding more intrigue and interest to not only Engine but the overall world itself.
Parque's writing style is sharp and to the point. Without adding any extra filler, she is able to develop a world filled with elements of horror, suspense, and bloodshed. Her writing pulls readers deep into this world and keeps them interested with every page turn of this dark adventure.
Havoc is a dark, fast-paced adventure with a great plot and an even greater, albeit dark, world. It keeps the reader on edge, wanting more. Fans who liked the first book of this series will fall in love with this gripping, dark, and grim sequel.
4 out of 5
THE RISE OF RUNES AND SHIELDS BY J.M. STEPHEN
REVIEW DATE: SEPTEMBER 9, 2023
Twins Freyja and Bjorn live in a time when Viking magic, called the Seidr, is deemed witchcraft and forbidden. When their home is attacked by men sent from the tyrannical local earl, who accuses their mother of a murder she did not commit, the twins are forced to flee into the night and onto an adventure to not only prove their mother’s innocence but also set to rights the ills created by the misuse of the Seidr.
Along the way, they both make new friends, reunite with lost allies, visit hidden worlds, and learn the true ways of the Seidr, until they find themselves caught in the middle of the never ending war of the Fire and Frost Giants. Bjorn must learn the ways of magic and Freyja the life of the shield maidens if they are to survive.
Within the world of "The Rise of Runes and Shields" by J.M. Stephen, we are transported to the world of ancient Norse legends and Viking warriors. We follow our main character, Freyja, as she embarks on her challenging journey. Her goal: unlock the power of ancient Viking magic, Seidr, and rescue her brother from the clutches of otherworldly forces that threaten everyone and everything they hold dear. Up against overwhelming odds and powerful enemies, will Freyja alone be enough to save everyone?
The first thing that I really enjoyed was the overall setting of the story. Elements of Norse mythology vivid descriptions of the Viking Lands really take center stage. Stephens great attention to detail made you feel like you are there along side the characters.
Another thing that also caught my eye was the magic known as Seidr. Channeling the natural elements of Earth using tools like runes and rituals, users of Seidr can perform tasks like healing and manipulating the elements, among other abilities. Magic systems in books can be overly complex, leading to confusion, or overly simple, leaving readers wondering, "how?" The magic system in the book falls right in the middle. It's neither overly simple nor overly complex. There are structured rules, and readers understand exactly how it works.
The book's cast is exceptionally memorable, enriching the story with depth and complexity. Take Freyja, for instance, who evolves from a curious young woman into an unstoppable warrior. Her transformation from a youthful, inquisitive soul to a formidable warrior is a testament to her growth through enduring challenges. Stephens makes Freya earn her newfound strength and knowledge through hard work, making her accomplishments feel more impactful.
"The Rise of Runes and Shields" has many elements within this book that make it a great page-turner. With great visualizations that transport the reader to this Viking-inspired world, a creative magic system that is easy to understand, and characters with layers, this makes for a nice addition for those looking for a Viking-inspired journey. I look forward to the next addition to this world.
3 out of 5