Anne Reviews: Kings of Lore and Legend by Andrew Q. Gordon

Title: Champion of Gods, Book 3: Kings of Lore and Legend

Author: Andrew Q. Gordon

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages: 380

Characters: Farrell, Miceral

POV: 3rd

Sub-Genre: Series, Fantasy

Kisses: 5

Blurb: 

Dumbarten should have been the end of Farrell’s efforts to find his distant ancestor Kel, but the Six have other plans. Farrell is told to continue his search for answers in Agloth, the temple city to Seritia. Forced by the Goddess to ride across the vast continent of Lourdria, Farrell and his companion learn that Meglar’s reach extends well beyond the borders of Ardus. And Agloth, despite being dedicated to the Goddess of Love, is also home to a millennia-old curse that Farrell must end if he wants to complete his task.

Answers don’t come easily, and Farrell determines he must travel to the Dwarf Kingdom of Colograd to continue his quest. When an ally of Meglar’s threatens Agloth, Farrell cuts short his time in Colograd and rushes back to defend Seritia’s home. The attack seems doomed to fail, but the death of one of his companions distracts Farrell at a critical moment. Battling against his crushing grief, Farrell struggles to save Agloth, his friends, and himself. And even if he survives, he still hasn’t found Kel or his answers.

Review:

I’m a huge fan of this series already, and Kings of Lore and Legend doesn’t disappoint.  One of the things I love about this series—apart from the characters—is the world building.  While reading each book I always feel as though I’m stepping into a fully formed world with a rich history.  I really like the way in which the gods in this world turn up and directly influence what happens, rather than just being entities that might or might not be real.  They are characters in their own right.

Each part of the world has its own peoples with their beliefs and cultures, and this installment takes the characters to the dwarf kingdom with a few surprises in store for them.  The descriptions of the dwarves and their kingdom were detailed, and I felt as though I was in a different world than I had been before, which very much impressed me.  I also liked that Farrell and Miceral need to earn the dwarves’ respect rather than them being welcomed in their new roles with open arms.

Politics form quite a bit of this story, and I liked that not everyone agreed with Farrell’s plan and that his cousin Marcus isn’t the easiest to get along with, without making him into a villain because of it.  Farrell still takes risks he shouldn’t, and I like that there are consequences for his actions. Although he’s a powerful wizard, he still needs to recharge, which makes him vulnerable at times.  One of my favorite parts of this series is Farrell and Miceral’s relationship. Although Farrell is a powerful wizard, their relationship is always equal, and I like the way Miceral points out Farrell’s mistakes when they practice helping him learn, and that he also tells Farrell when he’s angry about the risks he takes.  A new character is introduced in this story, and I loved his different approach and attitude to everything, and I’m looking forward to reading more about him.

The action scenes are exciting and I was on the edge of my seat turning pages to find out what happens next. Going into battle the characters are well aware that not everyone will survive, and I appreciated the fact that the author followed through on that.  Having consequences is realistic, as is the effect it has on those who survive, although I must admit I’m now worried as to who survives this series, and who does not.

I enjoyed this story as much as the others in the series, loved the surprise ending, and am wondering how that will impact what is to come next. I’m enjoying the way in which the story is advancing—and the characters growing—with each new installment. It’s a series I will be sad to say goodbye to when it ends.

I’d recommend Kings of Lore and Legend to readers who enjoy high fantasy with rich world building, an interesting storyline, likable three-dimensional characters, and plenty of action/drama.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed By: Anne

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Anne Reviews: The Stark Divide by J. Scott Coatsworth

TITLE: The Stark Divide
Author: J. Scott Coatsworth
Publisher: DSP Publications
Pages: 269
Characters: various LGBTQ/straight. Although there are relationships, the focus of this story isn’t a romance.
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Series, Science Fiction
Kisses: 5

Blurb:
Some stories are epic.

The Earth is in a state of collapse, with wars breaking out over resources and an environment pushed to the edge by human greed.

Three living generation ships have been built with a combination of genetic mastery, artificial intelligence, technology, and raw materials harvested from the asteroid belt. This is the story of one of them—43 Ariadne, or Forever, as her inhabitants call her—a living world that carries the remaining hopes of humanity, and the three generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers working to colonize her.

From her humble beginnings as a seedling saved from disaster to the start of her journey across the void of space toward a new home for the human race, The Stark Divide tells the tales of the world, the people who made her, and the few who will become something altogether beyond human.

Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.

Review:
When I read a book by J. Scott Coatsworth I know I’m going to be treated to a story with fabulous world building, and interesting characters. The Stark Divide has all of that and more. One thing I really loved about this story is that although there are romances, they don’t drive it. Also it is populated by diverse characters with differing sexualities IE gay, straight, bi, and trans, which is accepted by this society in the future. The issues here aren’t that, but how mankind has ruined the Earth, both ecologically and because of war. The author has done a great job in taking current concerns and extrapolating where they might lead the future human race if we continue on our current course. The tent city for refugees in one part of the story echoed current news stories scarily well.

I loved the nods to other SF authors, such as Asimov and McCaffrey. Some were direct mentions, others more subtle.

The world building is interesting, and different to anything I’ve read before. Although the ship-mind has echoes of Anne McCaffrey’s ship series, Coatsworth uses it as a springboard, and flies. The ship-mind, world-mind, and station-mind are interesting, developed characters, as are the humans who take centre stage in this story. The idea of growing a planet using biological technology is brilliant, and it was obvious the more I read that it is very well thought out. I also liked how the author split the book into three different time periods, each one jumping forward from the previous. It gives the story an epic feel, which is perfect for what it is—the rebirth of the human race on another world told through the perspective of not only those who are key players in that journey but of the world itself, and the generation ship it becomes. The linking of time periods through both older versions of already familiar characters, and the introduction of the next generation was nicely done, as was the expansion of the planet-mind.

I liked too, that the characters are very human, and take the time to cry, whether in relief or grief. I felt as though I was reading about real people. Not all of them have the greatest of intentions, they make mistakes, and are often driven by emotions that are a mix of good and not so good.

The descriptive of space is wonderfully emotive—“the stars poking brilliant holes in the firmament above.” The descriptions of Forever—the name given to the world by the colonists—are not overdone as to bog down the story, yet make the setting very easy to visualise. I spent several evenings getting lost in the story and staying up far too late in order to read just one more chapter.

I’d recommend The Stark Divide to readers who enjoy science fiction with detailed world building, interesting characters, and an epic story. Highly recommended.

Reviewed By: Anne

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Anne Reviews: The Eye and the Arm by Andrew Q. Gordon


TITLE: The Eye and the Arm (Champion of the Gods, Book 2)
Author: Andrew Q. Gordon
Publisher: DSP Publications
Pages: 296
Characters: Farrell/Miceral
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Fantasy
Kisses: 5

Blurb:

Champion of the Gods, Book 2

After defeating Meglar at Belsport, Farrell returns to Haven to recover from his injuries, but Khron, the god of war, has other ideas. He gives Farrell a new mission: free the survivors of the ancient dwarf realm of Trellham from their three-thousand-year banishment. To fulfill Khron’s near impossible task, Farrell will need the help of his distance ancestor, the legendary wizard Kel. But Kel has been dead for a thousand years.

Farrell finds information hinting that Kel is alive, so he moves his search to Dumbarten, Kel’s birthplace. To reach Dumbarten unannounced, Farrell and Miceral disguise themselves as mercenaries on board a merchant vessel. Their journey is disrupted when pirates attack their ship. While attempting to subdue the attack, Farrell is struck down by one of Meglar’s minions.

Unconscious and trapped in his own mind, Farrell’s only chance for survival rests with Miceral and the peregrine king Rothdin entering his thoughts and helping him sort fact from illusion. To reach Farrell, they will need to rely on an untested spell from one of Kel’s spellbooks. If they succeed, Miceral can guide Farrell home safely. If not, Farrell will destroy not only himself, but Miceral, Rothdin, and everyone around him.

Review:

I really enjoyed the first book in this series The Last Grand Master, and my initial reaction to finishing The Eye and The Arm was ‘wow.’ I think Andrew Q. Gordon has surpassed himself with this instalment of Farrell’s journey. I was on the edge of my seat—and stayed up far too late reading—when I got to the part where Miceral has to enter Farrell’s thoughts to save him, and everyone around him.

This series reminds of why I enjoy well written fantasy. The world building is great—there is a real sense of a world with a rich history, and the descriptions make it very easy to visualise the settings. I loved the glimpse into another interesting culture with The Eye and Arm, as Farrell experiences a new place and culture very different to his own. I love the cultures represented by the various characters in this series, and how their different approaches to life because of their different beliefs. As with most cultures, there is also a good sized amount of politics going on, some in the background, some less than subtle. There is also a fair amount of history which is very important to the story but, it is seeded through the narrative so it remains pertinent and interesting.

The emotional scenes are realistic and gripping—I could feel Miceral’s concern, and fear, for Farrell. I love these guys together, the banter is great, their relationship feels very real, and equal, and while Farrell takes magic for granted and uses it for even little things, Miceral’s reaction to it is very different. He’s learning to accept it more readily because of Farrell but I doubt he’ll ever be truly comfortable with it.

It’s not just Miceral and Farrell who are fully formed characters. The supporting cast are very three dimensional and have also grown since The Last Grand Master. Although Farrell and Miceral are the main characters their romance and story is weaved seamlessly through the plot rather than being the plot. Everyone in the story has their own motivations, gods are real, and there are a few curveballs.

I’d highly recommend The Eye And The Arm to readers who enjoy high fantasy with rich characters and world building, and lots of action and drama

Reviewed By: Anne

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Anne Reviews: The Last Grand Master by Andrew Q. Gordon


TITLE: The Last Grand Master
Author: Andrew Q. Gordon
Publisher: DSP Publications
Pages: 370
Characters: Farrell/Miceral
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Fantasy
Kisses: 5

Blurb:

Champion of the Gods, Book 1

In a war that shook the earth, the six gods of Nendor defeated their brother Neldin, god of evil. For three thousand years, Nendor and the Seven Kingdoms have known peace and prosperity and Neldin’s evil was nearly forgotten.

But then Meglar, wizard king of Zargon, unleashes the dark magic of the underworld and creates an army of creatures to carry out his master’s will. One by one, the sovereign realms fall as a new war between the gods threatens to engulf Nendor.

Leading the opposition to Meglar is Grand Master Farrell. Young and untried, Farrell carries a secret that could hold the key to defeating Meglar—or it could destroy the world.

Farrell is joined by Nerti, queen of the unicorns and Miceral, an immortal muchari warrior the Six have chosen as Farrell’s mate. As Farrell and his new allies make plans to counter Neldin’s evil, Meglar forces their hand when he invades a neighboring kingdom. Rushing to help their ally, Farrell and Miceral find themselves in the middle of the battle. Cut off from help, Farrell attempts an untried spell that will either turn the tide or cost he and Miceral their lives.

1st Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, February 2013.
2nd Edition published by DSP Publications, February 2015.

Review:

The Last Grand Master by Andrew Q. Gordon reminds me of why I love reading fantasy series. This book, which is book 1 in the Champion of the Gods series takes the time to set up a realistic world populated by intriguing characters, but doesn’t slow the story down in doing so. It’s not just the two leads—Farrell and Miceral—who are three dimensional but the supporting characters who are interesting in their own right. I loved the unicorns, and their society and relationships with other characters. Very imaginative.

I really liked the fact that there were strong female characters and that not all relationships ended well. People also die, which makes sense, given their enemy and the stakes for which they’re fighting. Having all the characters survive wouldn’t be realistic.

I also liked the contrast between Farrell and Miceral. Farrell is a wizard and for him magic is something he does without thinking about it. Miceral isn’t as comfortable with the idea of using magic for everything, and their differing reactions and perspectives complement each other. They both have something to teach the other. Farrell is much younger than Miceral who comes from a long-lived race, and while he is very confident with using magic, it was fun watching him fumble with the relationship stuff. However, there are consequences for using magic in this world, which limits Farrell, which I very much appreciated. He doesn’t walk away unscathed, and takes time to heal and recover his energy.

There is also a strong theme of family within the story. Farrell has lost his at an early age, but there’s a nice twist to that part of his past, and as his and Miceral’s relationship grows, so does his relationship with others. There’s a lovely subtle scene with a member of Miceral’s family later in the story which I really enjoyed.

I got sucked into the story very quickly, and became invested in the characters within a few pages. I’m glad their story isn’t over yet, because it means I have more to look to.

I’d highly recommend this story to readers who enjoy three dimensional characters, a good fantasy plot, and great world building.

Reviewed By: Anne

Click HERE to purchase The Last Grand Master by Andrew Q. Gordon

Lydia Reviews: Code Name: Jack Rabbit by Elizabeth Noble


Title: Code Name: Jack Rabbit
Publisher: DSP Publications
Author: Elizabeth Noble
Pages: 200
Kisses: 4.5

Blurb:

Meet the newest members of the Vampire Guard, where legend and myth meet science and technology.
Jonas Forge, vampire. Once a spy and soldier, now a cop, Forge enjoys the life he’s built with his friends in Flint, Ohio.

Blair Turner, PhD. Blair, a vampire and computer hacker with exceptional skills, shares a powerful empathic bond with Forge, his soul mate.

Declan, vampire, ex-pirate, ex-fur trapper, thief, and con man. Declan is Forge’s former lover and soul mate to Lucas Coate.

Lucas Coate, MD, Flint’s medical examiner. A werewolf living among vampires, Lucas is also one of Forge’s best friends.

Their lives become complicated when an impending presidential visit throws them headlong into a world of high-tech vampire spies and espionage. Recruited into the Vampire Guard by the secret society of the Akhkharu Nasaru, they uncover a werewolf terrorist organization known as the Qiguan.

Together they must thwart a murder attempt on the open waters of Lake Superior while tracking a previously unknown biological weapon controlled by the Qiquan—a weapon which may very well mean death for one of them.

Review:

Code Name: Jack Rabbit is the first book in the new series, The Vampire Guard, by Elizabeth Noble. Fans of this author will remember the main characters of this new series as they were part of the, The Sleepless City series published by Dreamspinner Press. While it is not necessary to read the previous books to enjoy this new one, I would highly recommend it, as they were good stories and should not be missed.

When this book opens, it becomes known that someone has been watching Forge and Declan for some time. It soon becomes clear who that is and what they want. It also becomes clear to our main characters when Forge, Blair, Lucas and Declan are asked to attend an event in which the President is supposed to appear. From there the author grabs your attention and you will find yourself flipping the pages to see what will happen next.

I liked the way the author introduces our guys to the Akhkharu Nasaru. I could totally understand the distrust the guys felt in the beginning, and this distrust comes across realistically. After hearing about the Akhkharu Nasaru the men are asked to join. I liked that it was something the four main characters had to think about rather than agreeing right away.

The first case the men finding themselves involved in was very interesting as it is the type that left you wondering what was going on, due to the little twists and turns. Those committing the crimes, and the reason for them, was not one I was expecting which I liked.

The author also uses Code Name: Jack Rabbit to allow the main characters, and of course the readers, to continue to learn more about each other. Not everything is taken well and some minor conflicts do arise. There are also a few tense moments that leave all involved biting at their nails.

Fans of Ms. Noble are sure to love this first book in her new series. It is one to be read again.

Reviewer: Lydia

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Jerry Reviews: Chrysalis Corporation by TA Venedicktov


Title: Chrysalis Corporation
Author: T.A Venedicktov
Publisher: DSP Publications
Pages: 351
Characters: Damion Hawk and Core 47
Sub-Genre: Science Fiction
Kisses: 4

Blurb:

When Damion Hawk is offered an opportunity to escape the destitute life of a miner on Mars and become an elite Alpha Fighter pilot, he jumps at the chance. Within the Chrysalis Corporation, Damion must learn to work with his Core—a man with computerized implants, no human emotions—and no rights. But unlike other Fighters, Damion can’t treat Core 47 as a tool. He sees 47 as more than a machine, and he’ll take deadly risks to help 47 find the humanity inside him.

Fighters and Cores are designed to work together and enhance each other’s strengths in defense of their employer. Damion and 47 will need each other’s support as suspicions about the all-powerful Chrysalis Corporation arise. Someone wants Damion and 47 gone, and they need to find out who and why while hiding 47’s growing emotions and the love forming between them. If they can succeed, they might save not only themselves, but all Cores enslaved by the Corporation.

Review:

Chrysalis Corporation by TA Venedicktov is a story set in a futuristic universe with genetically enhanced men. These men can interface with a ships computer and make the pilot stronger, faster and more efficient.

Damion Hawk has always wanted to be a pilot. Growing up on Mars and working in the mines maybe good for his family, but he has always been drawn to the stars. When he is “chosen” by Core 47 to be his pilot, it is unexpected and he plans to make the most of it and hopefully make his dream of becoming a pilot come true. However. he cannot seem to treat 47 like the “tool” the rest of the pilots do, because he sees the man inside of 47.

Damion knows he is breaking one of the main rules against the corporation, but if they work together, maybe they can be something really great together.

Chrysalis Corporation by TA Venedicktov is just fun to read. I was immediately able to lose myself in the story of these two characters and get caught up within the relationship between them. The author did a good job at creating these interesting characters and the intriguing world they live in. I’m definitely interested in reading what TA Venedicktov has in store for us next.

Recommended!

Reviewed By: Jerry

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Lydia Reviews: Closing Ranks- by Ethan Stone and gives it a big 4.5 kiss!

Title: Closing Ranks

Publisher: DSP Publications

Author: Ethan Stone

Pages: 244

Kisses: 4.5

 

 

 

 

 

Blurb:

Internal Affairs investigator Jeremy Ranklin is looking into corruption within the Reno Police Department when he’s ordered to examine the suspicious death of the Chief of Police. The assignment partners Jeremy with Detective Cristian Flesh. Though they spar at first, Jeremy earns Cristian’s trust, and they work well together.

Deeply closeted, Jeremy fights an attraction to fellow cop Kipp Mosely. The investigation brings Jeremy and Kipp together, but lies and secrets prevent things from going any further. Jeremy will need both Kipp’s and Cristian’s help to discover how deep the corruption runs—and to stay alive when the danger hits close to home.

 

Review:

Closing Ranks is the fourth book in the Flesh series by author Ethan Stone. This is a mystery series that revolves around Christian Stone and those close to him. While the first two books centered on Christian, books three and four center on associates of the Detective. In Closing Ranks a new character is introduced that shakes things up just a little.

Jeremy Ranklin is IAB and new to the department. His first introduction to everyone is not a good, as he has taken down one of the departments own. While most want nothing to do with him, Christian and Kipp have no problem befriending the new officer. Jeremy finds himself drawn to both men and while he is envious of Christian and the fact that he is openly gay, he is hot for Kipp and has a hard time remembering to play it straight. While the relationship between Jeremy and Kipp is important, the story is primarily a mystery.

The author really out did himself with this story. I was shocked by the death that Jeremy, Christian, and Kipp find themselves investigating. The fact that the men end up having to do most of the investigating ‘off book’ does not bode will. There are many twists and turns and it is easy to see everyone as the bad guy at one point or the other. This truly is a mystery that will have you guessing; unfortunately it is also one that is hard to review without giving anything away. The author does a wonderful job wrapping everything up in a way that is believable. He also leaves you wanting more.

This is a series that really should be read in order so that you get the full knowledge of those important to the series. If you are a mystery fan and have not yet read any of the books in this series, I strongly suggest that you give them a try.

 

Reviewed by: Lydia

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