Review: Huw the Bard by Connie J Jasperson

I have to say, this is one of the most unusual fantasy books I’ve read in a long time. Set in an alternate medieval dimension, it is chock full of adventure, treason, rape, murder, and magical creatures the like of which I’ve never before encountered.

HTB New Front Cover copy

The main strength of this book, apart from the wonderful storytelling, is the depth of characterisation given to Huw. He is an eighteen-year-old bard at the height of his craft when disaster strikes and he is forced to flee the city he has called home since before reaching double digits. With nothing but the clothes on his back, Huw, now a wanted man, must make his way to safety if he wants to survive.

As you take every step with Huw, you feel his pain, desolation, joy, and sorrow, and by the end of the book, he’s become a friend to treasure. Jasperson has crafted her main character richly; you see his transformation from a talented, spoilt, and somewhat vain young man who’s used to being fawned over and adored, to a humbled, desperate, penniless one who finds courage and a good heart.

At no time is the emotion overdone; it is layered with sufficient detail for the reader to empathise with each situation Huw finds himself in and, in my opinion, strikes just the right balance.

Each of the supporting cast is given definable personalities and, along with Huw, leap off the page.

The world-building is expertly designed and described in colourful detail. The magical creatures are, in some ways, the stuff from nightmares yet in the author’s skilled hands, they are believable and realistic.

The plot is adventurous and well outlined. There is never a point when a reader will not want to turn the page to see what’s going to happen next, yet it’s not a ‘fun and frolics’ type of adventure (although there are a few amusing bits). There’s plenty of sadness, guilt, anger, and revenge, to accompany the bravery, battles, romance and light-hearted banter.

Already a big fan of Jasperson’s work, Huw the Bard, took me in an unexpected direction, showing what a versatile fantasy author she is. I loved this book and it gets a solid 5 stars from me.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for an exclusive excerpt from this great book!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Connie 2014

Connie J Jasperson lives and writes in Olympia, Washington. A vegan, she and her husband share five children, eleven grandchildren and a love of good food and great music. She is active in local writing groups, and is the Olympia area municipal liaison for NaNoWriMo. Music and food dominate her waking moments and when not writing or blogging she can be found with her Kindle, reading avidly.

You can find her blogging at: Life in the Realm of Fantasy

http://conniejjasperson.wordpress.com

Tower of Bones Series – Book I, Tower of Bones takes the reader to the world of Neveyah, where the Gods are at war and one man holds the key to winning that battle. Book II, Forbidden Road is the follow-up, and picks up the story six years after the end of Book I, Tower of Bones.

Tales from the Dreamtime, a novella of new fairytales told in a traditional style, consisting of two short stories and one novella.

Billy’s Revenge Series Huw, the Bard takes you to the world of Waldeyn, and a medieval alternate reality. Fleeing a burning city, everything he ever loved in ashes behind him, penniless and hunted, Huw the Bard must somehow survive.

 

COVER REVEAL: Huw the Bard by Connie J Jasperson

Every now and then, a fantasy book comes along that’s really different and unique. As a principle editor at Eagle Eye Editors, I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with the editing of this novel, but I’m not allowing this to colour my judgement. If it wasn’t truly special, I wouldn’t be bringing it to your attention.

Huw the Bard, the first in the ‘A Tale of Billy’s Revenge’ trilogy, is being launched in a few days and I’m so pleased to be able to share this cover reveal with you. It’s a lovely piece of artwork – so eye-catching. So without further ado. Fanfare please . . .

Check out this blurb:

Huw Owyn is the last true bard in Waldeyn.

Fleeing a burning city,

Everything he ever loved in ashes behind him,

Penniless and hunted, no place is safe.

Abandoned and alone, eighteen-year old Huw the Bard must somehow survive

It’s two-hundred leagues to safety,

And then two-hundred more.

A lot can happen to a man on a journey like that.

Piqued your interest yet? On the launch day of this medieval fantasy, I’ll be featuring an exclusive excerpt so check back in about three days. Believe me, you won’t want to miss it!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Connie 2014

Connie J Jasperson lives and writes in Olympia, Washington. A vegan, she and her husband share five children, eleven grandchildren and a love of good food and great music. She is active in local writing groups, and is the Olympia area municipal liaison for NaNoWriMo. Music and food dominate her waking moments and when not writing or blogging she can be found with her Kindle, reading avidly.

You can find her blogging at: Life in the Realm of Fantasy

http://conniejjasperson.wordpress.com

Tower of Bones Series – Book I, Tower of Bones takes the reader to the world of Neveyah, where the Gods are at war and one man holds the key to winning that battle. Book II, Forbidden Road is the follow-up, and picks up the story six years after the end of Book I, Tower of Bones.

Tales from the Dreamtime, a novella of new fairytales told in a traditional style, consisting of two short stories and one novella.

Billy’s Revenge Series Huw, the Bard takes you to the world of Waldeyn, and a medieval alternate reality. Fleeing a burning city, everything he ever loved in ashes behind him, penniless and hunted, Huw the Bard must somehow survive.

 

 

Book Launch & Review – Burdens of a Saint by Joan Hazel

One of the coolest things about being with Myrddin Publishing Group (apart from the awesome writers, great friendship, and the support we give each other), is discovering when new books are going to be launched before everyone else. It’s exciting to find  some real gems and having the chance to review them, especially when they’re fantasy or paranormal romance. Such is the case here.

My good friend and Myrddin colleague, Joan Hazel, launched her latest book on Monday – Burdens of a Saint. Check out this fab cover:

Cover BOAS3

This is the blurb on the back:

Your life will change today…

When Janet Beesinger writes the words in red on her calendar, she has no idea what they mean. But, as a psychic, she knows when the Universe gifts you with personal information, you listen.  How was she to know the Universe meant an irritating and sexy shape-shifter who would challenge everything about her life?

Saint Wolfe can feel the gravity of his arrangement with the goddess Hel closing in around him, forcing him to confront his past and the betrayal of the woman he was to marry. Needing to make peace with his past, he returns to New Orleans in search of forgiveness, only to be confronted by his own immortality. His only hope for atonement lies in the hands of a woman claiming to be a psychic. Will she be able to help Saint find salvation before his debt to Hel comes due?

Intrigued yet? Well, if you want to know what I thought of it, read on. Here’s my review:

After reading, and enjoying, the first book in this series – The Last Guardian [What? You haven't read it yet? Get over to Amazon now and click that buy button! Yes, I'll wait for you to come back . . .] – I was looking forward to seeing how the story would develop. I was also a little concerned as to whether Burdens of a Saint would live up to my expectations. I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed.

I don’t like writing spoilers, although it’s going to be hard with this story running through my head, but I’ll try.

The characterisations in this book grew beautifully and organically from book one. I felt I got to know them in greater depth and found myself longing for Saint to achieve the happiness he’d been denied for so long. Ms Hazel created further nuances to the personalities of the characters which made them more fascinating, although with some, not always more likeable. Saint, the main character in this book, was like an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum – at times puzzling, occasionally a challenge, sometimes uncomplicated yet also with an endearing vulnerability. I love the way he was portrayed – the author did a great job of balancing the different facets of his personality while still making him relatable and believable.

The new cast interacted interestingly with the existing members. I particularly liked Janet and could empathise with her on many levels. I was intrigued by Eric; it was a tad exasperating not finding out from where his powers originated, but hopefully that will be covered in a future book. It was great to see how CJ (the Guardian) had grown into her role – I had to smirk a little when she exerted her authority – but I would have liked to see her do so a bit more often. However, maybe that’s yet to come; CJ wasn’t the main focus of this story.

The plot moved along at a steady pace and kept me turning the pages long after I should have stopped reading and switched off the light! The introduction of clairvoyance in this story was very realistic and the author obviously knows this subject well. The paranormal and magic aspects were believable and natural.

Thus far, this series has left enough cracks and lingering thoughts about what’ll happen to certain characters in the future for there to be more books about the Guardian and her wards. There are also some unanswered questions. There’s certainly plenty of scope for the author to do so, and I really hope she does.

Would I recommend Burdens of a Saint? ABSOLUTELY! I would advise you to read The Last Guardian first though, as it firmly establishes the relationships and hierarchy, and it would make reading Burdens of a Saint even more enjoyable.

My rating: 4.5 / 5

Now I’ve told you how good it is, click on one of these links and get yourself a copy:

Amazon US / Amazon UK

Oh, and check back next week for a character interview (and no, I’m not telling you which of the shapeshifters it is)!

About the author:

Joan Hazel Pic

Joan Hazel has written three novels that range from paranormal fantasy to contemporary to historical fiction. An accomplished actress and vocalist, she has performed with companies across the eastern United States. In her spare time, she plays with a colorful cast of characters who live in her head. She currently resides in DeLand, Fla., with her husband, Ricky, and their two fur kids.

Joan’s contact info:

Website: www.joanhazel.com

Blog: http://joan-hazel.blogspot.com/

Twitter: @guardianwriter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joan-Hazel/362411800440684?ref=hl

Book Launch – DESPRITE MEASURES by Deborah Jay

I know, I know! I promised you a series of reviews and nothing’s appeared. In my defence, I lost internet for two whole weeks (I was devastated!), went to World Fantasy Con 2013, came back and launched straight into NaNoWriMo (which I completed, thanks for asking)! I’m now trying to play catch up as well as continuing to write the final book in the Heart Search trilogy.

But now I want to tell you about a fabulous new book which is launching today – Desprite Measures by the lovely Deborah Jay. I was lucky enough to meet Deb at WFC in Brighton and she gave me an advance glimpse of the fantastic cover. Take a look at this beauty . . .

Desprite MeasuresEBOOK

Isn’t it gorgeous?

Here’s the blurb:

On the surface she’s a cute and feisty blonde, a slender pocket rocket fitness coach. But Cassiopeia Lake has a secret; she’s really a force of nature – an elemental.

Water sprite, Cassie, has lived undisturbed in her native Scottish loch for eons. Now, one encounter too many with modern plumbing has driven her to live in human guise along with her selkie boyfriend, Euan. It’s all going fine – until a nerdy magician captures Cassie to be an unwilling component in his crazy dangerous experiment.

Escape is only Cassie’s first challenge.

She’s smitten by her fellow prisoner, the scorching hot fire elemental, Gloria. But how do you love someone you can never touch?

And what do you do when your boyfriend starts to hero-worship your persecutor? Not to mention that tricky situation of being the prize in a power contest between two rival covens of witches.

So when Gloria’s temper erupts and she sets out to murder the magician, can Cassie keep her loved ones safe from the cross-fire, or will she be sucked into the maelstrom of deadly desires and sink without trace?

Sound intriguing? Well, let me whet your appetite a little more. Deborah has graciously allowed me to treat you all to a wee excerpt. Feast your eyes on this:

“Cassie, meet WynterRain,” said Gloria.

WynterRain. Yeah, right.

“Pleased to meet you, I’m sure,” said the witch. Despite its lyrical Irish lilt, her voice was as rough as the rest of her. “I believe we almost met earlier today.”

She’d noticed. I was under no illusion; she could see right through my human shape to the sprite beneath.

“Likewise.” I kept it short, not confirming her supposition. Gloria already looked too interested for my liking, and I had no intention of relating my earlier humiliation.

“Wynter is going to help us with our little problem,” said Gloria. “Aren’t you, Wynter?”

Wynter glanced nervously towards Alastair, and I wondered what hold the vamp had over her. 

Alastair maintained his silence. I stared at him in suspicion. He was quivering, the minute, rhythmic clenching of his fists visible in the firelight, and I wondered when he’d last fed.

Alarmed, I turned back to Wynter and found my answer. Even in the half light, the peculiar mixture of fear and desperate longing that twisted her face was unmistakeable.

Wynter was a vampire junkie.

“Oh, do get on with it,” snapped Gloria. “We’ll wait out here.”

Neither of them needed a second invitation. Wynter started to turn back into her van, but Alastair was on her before she completed the move. He buried one fist in her untidy thatch of hair and yanked her head back. She uttered a little scream as his fangs sank into her neck, but there was no real protest in the sound, or fear.

Wynter moaned and squirmed in Alastair’s arms. The vampire’s body jerked sporadically, and loud suckling noises interrupted the quiet of the forest. It felt obscenely like watching someone being raped, yet their enjoyment was all too apparent.

I wondered what it must be like, to be so desperate for something that you were willing to surrender your whole self, mind, body and purpose to another’s control. Was the pain worth the adrenalin rush and the aphrodisiac in the vamp saliva? Or was pain an integral part of the whole thing?

Wynter uttered a groan that rose to a shriek. Consumed by a bizarre envy for an experience I was never going to have, I averted my face.

To be stopped cold by the sight of Gloria, her eyes riveted to the unfolding performance. Flames reflected in glittering splendour across the surface of her eyes, and something even hotter writhed in their depths. Her perennial scorching scent over-rode even the smell of the burning logs.

It was my turn to gasp. This time in recognition of my utter blindness.

Alastair was Gloria’s lover. It was so plain I couldn’t believe I’d missed it before. Pain stabbed through me. It had never occurred to me that she might have a regular lover. How stupid was that?

Has this little taster piqued your curiosity? If so, click on one of the links below to pick up a copy:

Amazon US – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H6UKH5A

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Desprite-Measures-Caledonian-Sprite-Series-ebook/dp/B00H6UKH5A/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1386609997&sr=1-1&keywords=Desprite+Measures+%28The+Caledonian+Sprite+Series%29#_

Kobo – http://store.kobobooks.com/en-gb/Search/Query?query=1230000201660&fcmedia=Book

If you love a series, keep your eyes peeled for the next book in the Caledonian Sprite adventures.

And now to introduce you to the lovely lady who’s written this amazing story. Drumroll please . . . here’s Deborah Jay!

Debby

Deborah Jay writes fast-paced fantasy adventures featuring quirky characters and multi-layered plots – just what she likes to read.

Living mostly on the UK South coast, she has already invested in her ultimate retirement plan – a farmhouse in the majestic, mystery-filled Scottish Highlands where she retreats to write when she can find time. Her taste for the good things in life is kept in check by the expense of keeping too many dressage horses, and her complete inability to cook.

Her debut novel, epic fantasy THE PRINCE’S MAN, first in a trilogy and winner of a UK Arts Board award, was published in July 2013, with THE PRINCE’S SON due out summer 2014.

Urban fantasy, DESPRITE MEASURES, is the opening novel of the projected five book CALEDONIAN SPRITE SERIES.

She also has non-fiction equestrian titles published in her professional name of Debby Lush.

Find out more about Deborah at http://deborahjayauthor.com/ or follow Deborah on twitter https://twitter.com/DeborahJay2, facebook https://www.facebook.com/DeborahJay and Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7172608.Deborah_Jay

 

Book Review: War of the Flowers by Tad Williams / The Power of Reviews

As an author, I love seeing reviews written about my books. When a reader takes the time to write what they thought of my work, it’s very gratifying (especially if the review is good) to know my words have touched someone and made an impression on them. However, I did wonder how much of a part reviews played in promoting books and whether they actually had an impact on people other than the author.

I’ve come to the conclusion that reviews are very powerful. Some positive words written about a book CAN influence readers to buy and is one of an author’s most powerful marketing streams. Let me explain how I came to this conclusion:

I follow the Best in Fantasy blog written by Connie J Jasperson. She only reviews books she loves and will never allow herself to be coerced into writing anything but the truth. In April this year, she wrote a review about War of the Flowers by Tad Williams (click here to read her review). By the time I reached the end, I knew I had to buy it. There have been others by Connie that have influenced parting with my hard-earned cash as have some reviews written by Laura Thomas. Friends have also been persuaded to buy books based on reviews they’ve read.

So if it’s having this effect on me and my friends, it would be fairly safe to assume it’s doing the same to other book lovers. Something to think about the next time you read a good book (you don’t have to be an author to write one and it doesn’t have to be long either)!

* * *

Like I said above, I bought War of the Flowers, and here is what I thought of it:

WOTF2

Click on cover to go to Amazon

The Blurb (from Amazon)

In the great city, in the dimly lit office of an impossibly tall building, two creatures meet. Gold changes hands, and the master of the House of Hellebore gives an order: ‘War is coming. The child must die.’

 In our own world, a young man discovers a manuscript written by his great uncle. It seems to be a novel – a strange fairytale of fantastic creatures and magical realms. But it is written as a diary … as if the events were real … as if his uncle had journeyed to another world. For the young man, the fantasy is about to become reality.

My Review

When I first started reading this book, I had to wonder where it was taking me and what the significance of it was. There was nothing ‘fantasy’ related to it and it made me wonder. Then, as the author wove in the first threads of fantasy and the story progressed, I began to see the relevance.

The story is about a (sometimes naïve)  30-year-old man (Theo), a musician who never reached stardom but still dreams of getting his big break, who finds a manuscript written by his great-uncle. Theo reads it, believing it to be an unfinished fiction novel . . . until he finds himself thrust into the world his uncle described.

As the story unfolds, you see Theo struggle to accept this new world and its culture. He’s surrounded by fairies, goblins and other creatures and he’s really not sure who to trust – and with good reason. There’s a war brewing; Theo finds himself slap bang in the middle of it and certain parties want him dead – he just doesn’t know why.

Williams has created an interesting lead character with Theo. He’s not without his faults, and although at times you might want to give him a shake and tell him to grow up, I found he grew on me. As the story progressed I began rooting for him, wanting him to prevail against all the odds. Theo was given real depth, and his emotions and dialogue were realistic and relatable.

Other key characters were also superbly crafted. I loved Applecore – the tiny fairy who befriends Theo. She’s sassy, sarcastic and forthright to the nth degree yet you also see a softer side emerge. She’s also fiercely loyal and courageous. Cumber, a Ferisher, was also interesting to learn about, especially when he began to shake off his subservient mentality. Poppy, the spoilt ‘rich kid’ from one of the leading Flower families, became less of a brat and more humane as the book progressed, and Lord Hellebore was deliciously evil and tyrannical.

The plot was brilliantly conceived; forget about fantasy fiction you’ve read before – this is something unique and totally different. Whilst having some of the classic elements – like fairies, goblins etc, – the ‘alternative world’ of Faerie was far removed from the norm. The hierarchy of flower ‘houses’, who ruled the land since the death of the king and queen, was well thought out, as was the technology employed in Faerie. I particularly liked how Williams likened it to our world, with shops, houses, skyscraper-type buildings and even cars of sorts. If you think Faerie is going to be a sweet place, think again. It’s urban, dirty, shady, and sometimes corrupt.

This is a thick book, but very worth the time investment. The story had me gripped (once the fantasy portion really began) and I found myself losing hours when I thought it was mere minutes. This was the first book I’d read by Tad Williams and it definitely won’t be my last. A great fantasy tale – I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it! 5/5 STARS

Cover Reveal – The Prince’s Man

When I saw the blurb for this book, I knew I had to put it on my TBR list. I’m honoured to be able to share the cover reveal for this exciting new book by author, Deborah Jay.

So, drumroll please . . .

PM-EBOOK_FLAT

Cool, isn’t it?!

Here’s the blurb – fantasy lovers take note:

Award winning novel, THE PRINCE’S MAN, has been described as ‘James Bond meets Lord of the Rings’ – a sweeping tale of spies and deadly politics, inter-species mistrust and magic phobia, with an underlying thread of romance.

Rustam Chalice, hedonist, dance tutor and spy, loves his life, never better than when he’s bedding a gorgeous woman.

So when the kingdom he serves is threatened from within, he leaps into action. Only trouble is, the spy master, Prince Hal, teams him up with an untouchable aristocratic assassin who despises him.

And to make matters worse, she’s the most beautiful woman in the Five Kingdoms.

Plunged into a desperate journey over the mountains, the mismatched pair struggle to survive deadly wildlife, the machinations of a spiteful god – and each other.

They must also keep alive a sickly elf they need as a political pawn. But when the elf reveals that Rustam has magic of his own, he is forced to question his identity, his sanity and worst, his loyalty to his prince.

For in Tyr-en, all magic users are put to death.

This sounds amazing, doesn’t it?! I have a feeling Deborah is going to be an author to watch. Let me share a bit about her . . .

debby

Deborah Jay writes fast-paced fantasy adventures featuring quirky characters and multi-layered plots – just what she likes to read.

Living mostly on the UK South coast, she has already invested in her ultimate retirement plan – a farmhouse in the majestic, mystery-filled Scottish Highlands where she retreats to write when she can find time. Her taste for the good things in life is kept in check by the expense of keeping too many dressage horses, and her complete inability to cook.

THE PRINCE’S MAN, her debut novel, first in a trilogy and winner of a UK Arts Board award will be published on 29th July 2013. She also has non-fiction equestrian titles published under the name Debby Lush.

Find out more about Deborah at www.deborahjay.wordpress.com or follow Deborah on Twitter https://twitter.com/DeborahJay2 and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DeborahJay

So put this date (29th July) in your diary, folks and be one of the first to get your hands on this debut novel.

 

Book Reviews – Emeline & the Mutants / The Ring of Lost Souls

Well, I have a double whammy for you today – not one but two reviews!

I’ve recently read both of Rachel Tsoumbakos’s books back-to-back. Here’s what I thought of them:

Emeline And The Mutants

EATM

I’d heard some good things about this book and had wanted to read it for a while – I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed.

It did take me a few pages to really get into this; the meticulous world building at the beginning read like a bit of an info-dump yet the author managed to keep my interest. Once I read past this, I was engrossed.

Emeline is feisty, independent and doesn’t take crap from anyone. She’s also a crack shot with both gun and bow and has a very keen sense of smell. With the exception of her brother, Warwick, all her family are dead, so when he’s murdered in their kitchen her world turns upside down.

I loved Emeline’s character. She is very well crafted as a sort of urban warrior who’s in the Australian bush. Her hardened exterior makes her a little aloof from people around her yet it’s understandable with all she’s been through. It was nice to see her vulnerable side emerge as a result of Warwick’s murder and endearing the way she grows to really care about Gwennie (Warwick’s girlfriend). When she sets out to discover why her brother was killed, Emeline has to dig deep in an effort to piece everything together whilst coping with her grief. What she uncovers shakes her foundations, especially when someone she trusts turns out to be the biggest villain of them all.

The supporting cast are equally as well drawn. Gwennie grows on you as she becomes Emeline’s companion; she has a gritty determination which blends well with her softer and more caring side. This makes her a perfect sidekick for Emeline. Milosh, the charismatic, caring and handsome leader is not all he seems and as the author’s skilled hand reveals his ‘alter ego’, we see a deliciously cold, power-driven, murderous individual who doesn’t care how many lives are lost (including that of his own brother) as long as he can continue down his chosen path. Besnik (Milosh’s brother) is a little difficult to puzzle out at first – can he be trusted or not? It is a testament to Tsoumbakos’s characterisation that she keeps you guessing as to his true intentions for a while.

The plot is well thought out and scarily believable. Tsoumbakos portrays the mutants and how they came into being in a plausible manner and the story races along at quite a pace. At the end I had a few unanswered questions, leading me to wonder whether a second book was being considered. However, there was enough closure for this to be a standalone novel and a damn good one at that. One of the things I liked most was the originality; this book is a blend of genres which work really well.

My only criticism of this very enjoyable read was the number of mistakes I found which should have been noticed and corrected prior to publication. This didn’t really spoil my reading pleasure, but did lose it one star.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this!

The Ring of Lost Souls

TROLS

This second novel by Rachel Tsoumbakos is an exciting blend of fantasy, paranormal and suspense.

Isobel, the main character, is starting to get her life back together after a painful break-up with her boyfriend and losing her job. She takes up jogging, and what she finds in the grounds of an abandoned mental facility radically changes her life.

Isobel has been well-crafted. She’s strong and determined, but also vulnerable and to a degree, a little too trusting – at first. The way she deals with events are totally realistic and readers can share her burgeoning love, fear, distrust and puzzlement as things unfold. This woman could have done with a little more laughter in her life, but it wasn’t the path she was meant to tread, so you never feel that it’s missing from the story. That, to me, is the sign of a good writer.

The supporting characters were also well written, especially Lottie. She’s quite mysterious and it’s not until the end you find out who she really is and what’s on her agenda.

The setting, Larundel, actually exists. The former mental hospital, as it’s depicted in the book, is a broken down building covered in graffiti, which is slowly being reclaimed by the flora and fauna surrounding it. It’s been plundered for most of its valuable assets and now resembles a bomb site with rubble, abandoned furniture and general rubbish left around to trip up the unwary. As Tsoumbakos takes you through the halls, wards and various rooms, you get a real sense of how it looks. It’s so well depicted you can easily picture it in your mind.

I loved the blending of genres in this book and the author builds the suspense in an artful way. Many a night I read into the wee small hours, because I just had to find out what was coming next. The fantasy and paranormal side is believable and put together in an interesting concept – one that I really enjoyed.

If there was one thing I didn’t like about this book, it was the number of missing words. However, putting that aside, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this – it’s a fantastic read!

So there you have it. Rachel Tsoumbakos sure knows how to spin a tale and keep a reader entertained. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next! If you want to find out more, or better yet get a copy for yourself, click on the titles for links to Amazon.

Rachel

The lovely Rachel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#AprilPrompts Day 13 – Throne

Hmmm, another tricky one. Well, it would have been if I hadn’t had an LOTR-fest last week. It was just the inspiration I needed.

Throne

Day 13 - Throne

Day 13 – Throne

When you visit royal palaces around the world, or see photographs of them, the thrones are almost always elaborate, heavily padded and look to be reasonably comfortable. Yet, in fantasy books, TV series and films, they appear about as uncomfortable as it is possible to make them.

 

The throne of Gondor from LOTR

The throne of Gondor from LOTR

Gondor’s throne is carved from stone or marble and ne’er a cushion in sight.

The throne of Rohan - also from LOTR

The throne of Rohan – also from LOTR

Although the wood is elaborately carved, it still looks very basic.

Finally, the one from Game of Thrones.

Finally, the one from Game of Thrones.

Despite the unusual design, this looks about as uncomfortable as you can get, and I certainly wouldn’t want to sit on it for any length of time!

Now, I have a theory as to why fantasy thrones are depicted this way. In epic and high fantasy, the amount of world-building necessary sometimes precludes attention to detail on smaller items like thrones. Writers strive to make their worlds believable so readers can connect with them, and the choice between describing an enemy fortress and a piece of furniture is a no-brainer. Tolkien, of course, was an exception in this regard, as he tended to portray everything in great detail.

So was Tolkien’s method correct or did he over-describe? I think it’s a matter of taste.

Book launch: Forbidden Road by Connie J Jasperson

Every so often I come across a book that resonates deep in my soul – I’m sure that’s happened to you too! One of those books was Tower of Bones by Connie J Jasperson. Most of you know I love fantasy books more than any other genre and this book certainly didn’t disappoint!

I started getting to know Connie through a mutual friend and was delighted when she asked me to edit book two in the series, Forbidden Road. This was truly a labour of love for me; having enjoyed Tower of Bones so much I read it twice back-to-back, it gave me enormous joy to be able to read and work on the follow up. This has been the most comprehensive editing job I’ve had and it took a while to reach the finish line, but what made it all the more enjoyable was working with a consummate professional who I have come to respect and consider a dear friend.

Tomorrow this fabulous book is being launched and I can honestly say I’m almost as excited as Connie! Of course, being the editor has a few perks, one of which is being able to give you, my wonderful followers, an exclusive cover and trailer reveal PLUS an interview with the lovely lady! I’ve also managed to twist her arm to allow me to share an excerpt from Forbidden Road with you. So without further rambling from me . . . here is the amazing cover, which was designed by Ceri Clark.

FR Cover bigger

Now for the trailer:

Intrigued yet??? Here’s the blurb:

A ray of light shone on Edwin. Of its own volition the sword Leviathan raised itself aloft to the Goddess. A bell tolled deep and clear, ringing through Edwin’s bones, ringing to his heels and resonating to his very soul, sealing him, binding him. Fervently he swore to wield Leviathan in service to the Goddess and Neveyah.  He was alive with the sound of the bell. The beauty of it was almost unbearable.

As every fiber of his being resonated, a voice proclaimed “Now begins the quest in earnest. Send now the heroes four to the Shadowed Land. Beware! Beloved, the true task for which you were born begins.  The storm rages, the door opens upon the field of battle. In grief recall the Forbidden Road. The Beloved Hero will rise on the day of redemption. Mist and shadows shroud the truth, but the Hero Foretold shall one day set them free.”

Tears coursed down his cheeks and falling to his knees, Edwin’s eyes were blinded by the radiance of the bell’s tolling through his heart, mind and soul. The knowledge he was loved, overwhelming in its intensity, flooded his being.

Thus begins the Quest of a lifetime. Sorrow, peril and magic await in the Valley of Mal Evol.

I’m going to keep you waiting a bit for the excerpt and tease you with the interview – especially as it talks a little more about Forbidden Road!

Me: Hi and welcome, Connie. Congratulations on the launch of Forbidden Road – are you as excited as I am?

CJJ: Yes, it’s been a long time coming and I’m glad the day is finally here.

Me: So am I!! Can you tell us a little about your new book?

CJJ: Forbidden Road takes up six years after the end of Tower of Bones, and continues Edwin’s story. Many changes have occurred and many more loom on the horizon. They are all family men, and they have careers—things that are all affected by this quest. Joining Edwin, Friedr and Christoph on their quest to shield the heart of Neveyah and heal the land is Zan, Christoph’s adopted son.

Me:  Do you have a favourite character? If so, who and why?

CJJ: I’m in love with all four of them, especially now they are settled men.  They each have their own strengths and that is what makes this series so much fun to write.

Me: I know what you mean – I love all of them too! How many more books are you planning for this series?

CJJ: One more in the Tower of Bones Series, working title is ‘Valley of Sorrows’. There is a prequel in the works currently about 75% done. Once all of these are complete I will begin working on the ‘Hero’ series, of which the final book is outlined.

Me: Ooo, exciting! How did writing Forbidden Road compare with writing Tower of Bones, the first book in the series?

CJJ: Both books fell out of my head faster than I could write them down.  With Forbidden Road I had an editor as soon as the first draft was finished (gosh, you may know her!) and that made the whole process so much easier.

Me: I can’t think who you’re referring to, *tries to look innocent*. Are any of the characters based, however loosely, on anyone you know?

CJJ: I doubt it—so far as I know they are based on people I would LIKE to know, and began life as characters for a an old-school computer game that was planned to proceed along the lines of the early Final Fantasy games, and like the modern Aveyond games. That fell through, but I had fallen in love with the story and it became Tower of Bones.

Me: It’s a shame the game fell through, but think what we would have missed if the book had never been written . . .  Anyway, what are you working on at the moment?

CJJ: I am working on Mountains of the Moon. This is Edwin’s grandfather’s story and is a bit of a comedy; it’s being written as a stand-alone novel, as Tower of Bones was. I am trying to get that one finished, because John Farmer’s flashbacks in Valley of Sorrows concern events surrounding the fates of several characters from that book. I have the basic story of Valley of Sorrows all done, but in order to flesh it out I need to finish Mountains of the Moon.

Me: I can’t wait to get my hands on these two! I know you’re a big music lover; who are your favourite artists to have playing when you write?

CJJ: In truth, I am obsessed with Ritchie Blackmore in all his incarnations, such as Rainbow and Deep Purple.  I love his current band Blackmore’s Night. My other obsession is Robert Plant in all his various incarnations too! But besides Ritchie and Robert, my iPod has everything from Adele to the Zombies in it, and I have seventeen days’ worth of music, which if I began playing it end to end would never repeat itself.  My daughter, Meg Clear’s music is very high on my faves list!

Me: I love Meg’s music too! Is there any one author who has influenced your writing?

CJJ: I think the late Anne McCaffrey has had the greatest influence on me, but all the great fantasy and early sci-fi writers are alive and well in my subconscious mind.

Me: What made you pick fantasy as your genre to write?

CJJ: I’ve never been fond of reality, truthfully. I guess that since I live in the real world, I don’t need to vacation here!

Me: I can SO relate to that and what a great way to explain it! What is the most important thing you’ve learned in the last 12 months?

CJJ: You may laugh, but I finally figured out how to make the brushes rotate on my carpet shampooer, and that has helped me immensely!  I clean house when I hit the wall on my writing and need to organize my thoughts. I’ve always found cleaning to be conducive to daydreaming, and all my books begin as daydreams.  SO—having the shampooer that’s working properly has been awesome for my creative genius!

Me: May laugh? Only a huge amount of side-splitting guffaws echoing around the room right now! That’s certainly not what I was expecting, but I think it’s brilliant. Anything which helps the creative juices to flow is a good thing, right? Okay, a couple of fun ones to finish off . . .

You’re throwing a dinner party and can invite any three people, living, dead or fictional to join you and your guests. Who would they be and why?

CJJ: Roger Zelazney, L.E. Modesitt Jr. and Fritz Lieber.  Three great fantasy authors, all of whom have awesome male heroes. Only Modesitt is still alive, and of the three, only his characters are not misogynists. Nevertheless, I would love to hear them discuss the craft of writing from their viewpoints. Can you imagine the dinner conversation?

Me: OMG it would be awesome! Finally, if you could be a fictional character for a day, who would you be and why?

CJJ: I would be Uhura from the original Star Trek, because she got to play with the boys and she could talk to every species they met.

Me: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit me today. I’ve loved having you here! I wish you every success with your wonderful new book!

CJJ: Thank you for inviting me!

Okay, okay, I’ve teased you long enough and can’t hold it back any longer. Here is the EXCLUSIVE excerpt from Forbidden Road, just for you:

“Why does the land change so radically here?” Zan finally asked Edwin. “This is the worst road I’ve ever seen!”

“Tauron’s poison is nearly at the door,” replied Edwin, wondering what was bothering Zan. “It’s a mere fifty leagues away from the gap now. I thought you understood. We’ll be in Tauron’s Mal Evol in three days.”

“I knew it on one level, but I guess I didn’t understand what it meant,” replied Zan, feeling temporarily dismayed by the grim reality of the landscape. “I guess I was thinking of the adventure, not the reality. I was thinking it’d be like Aelfrid Firesword, all fun and adventure, with no worry.”

 “Actually, Aelfrid Firesword’s life must’ve been terribly difficult,” said Edwin, walking next to Zan. “Think about it. He was forced to kill his closest friend who’d become a rogue mage and gone over to Tauron. Can you imagine how you’d feel if, say, I went over to Tauron? How would you protect the people of Neveyah from me? What would you do?”

“I never thought about that aspect of the story,” Zan admitted. “Making those sorts of decisions, having to kill someone you love in order to protect others you love, I can’t imagine what that was like for Aelfrid.” He sighed. “But I’d do it, if I was forced to. I think it’d kill me, though.”

“I know.” Edwin clasped Zan’s shoulder. “Daryk was the most famous of the Dark-Mages, but most people don’t know he fought desperately against Tauron’s minions at Aelfrid’s side when the two of them first came into their powers. He worshipped Aeos, and loved Neveyah with all his heart. It never occurred to either Aelfrid or Daryk he would ever fall to Tauron, but there was no Temple, and no vows to protect him from Tauron’s blandishments. There was no college to teach young mages how to use their magic, so they had to learn how to control the build-up of chi and avoid the madness by gaining apprenticeships to older mages. Daryk was lured away from their kind master by a mindbender who was under Tauron’s spell. It was because of Aelfrid’s grief over the loss of the man who’d been closer than a brother, and his struggle to save the other mages still loyal to Aeos that Aeoven and the Temple exist today. Without Aelfrid we wouldn’t have the augmentations allowing us access to greater chi reserves, nor would we bind ourselves to the Goddess with the vows. It must’ve been a terribly hard time to live through.”

“I see what you mean,” admitted Zan. “As a kid I read all the stories, and just thought it was all good against evil, romance and happy endings. But maybe it’s just the way the bards tell it.”

Edwin laughed. “It wouldn’t be a good story if it was all dirt, bug bites and poor sanitary conditions now, would it?”

Forbidden Road will be available on Kindle from Amazon tomorrow (on both sides of the pond), with the paperback following soon.

Connie J JaspersonConnie J Jasperson lives and writes in Olympia, Washington.  Somewhat like the ‘Brady Bunch’, she and her husband share five children, eleven grandchildren and a love of good food and great music.

Tower of Bones Series – Planned for release in February 2013 is the second book in the series, Forbidden Road, the sequel to the best-selling epic-fantasy, Tower of Bones.

Billy’s Revenge SeriesBook 1 The Last Good Knight is a medieval fantasy. Book 2, Huw, the Bard is planned for release in 2013.

A collection of fairy tales and short-stories, Tales from the Dreamtime is also scheduled to be released in 2013.

Catch Connie on her blog at http://conniejjasperson.wordpress.com

 

 

Book Review: The Infinity Bridge by Ross M Kitson

When I come across a great novel, I love to share it with you and The Infinity Bridge is one of those books. It’s a great cross-over book which will appeal to adults and YA alike. I don’t like to write spoilers when I review, instead I prefer to concentrate on the writing, plot and characters, the elements which make the book come alive for me. So without further ado, here are my thoughts:

Infinity Bridge front coverWhat an adventure! With great characters and an amazingly action-packed plot, this steampunk adventure has all the elements for success. It combines modern day technology with that from the Victorian era with effortless aplomb, tackles issues of mental instability, and even has a modern-day Knights of the Round Table and Merlin.

The quirky characters are relatable and likeable, and you begin to care about their quest to save the Infinity Bridge from falling into the wrong hands and saving our world from destruction at the hands of The Hidden. Sam and Ben’s gifts are believable and well- constructed, and I liked the angst Sam feels at his brother’s so-called mental illness. Both of their characters are incredibly well thought out. I also enjoyed the interaction between Nick and his Mother, who is quite a colourful person.

The action scenes are descriptive and draw you in to the extent you could easily believe you were witnessing them first-hand. The technology is well thought out and expertly applied throughout the story. Kitson makes you believe in all the possibilities contained in the story as he transports you to alternative realities and explores how easy it would be for our world to be infiltrated without our knowledge.

This is a well written and captivating adventure for YA and adult and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

I strongly suggest you check out his Prism Series, book 3 of which has been released today – I have to say I’m hooked!

Ross M Kitson

Ross M Kitson

Ross M Kitson is a published author in the fantasy genre, with an ongoing series (The Prism Series), a number of short stories on Quantum Muse web-zine and several stories in Steampunk and fantasy anthologies. His debut series for Myrddin is due for release in October 2012, and is a sci-fi series set in modern day York. It is written for ages 12+, although its combination of killer androids, steam-powered airships, kick-ass heroines and action packed chases will appeal to all ages.

Ross works as a doctor in the UK specializing in critical care and anaesthesia. He is happily married with three awesome children, who nagged him incessantly to write something that they could read. His love of speculative fiction and comics began at a young age and shows no signs of fading.

Buy Links:

Amazon UK

Amazon US