Book Review: ‘Sentinels of Oz’ by JB Trepagnier

‘Sentinels of Oz’ is Book 1 of the Emerald City Academy series, a reverse harem adventure set in the not-so-wonderful-anymore land of Oz.

Francesca and Saffron, daughters of the witches of the East and the West, embody the struggle of those who deal with notoriety in the family and trying to claim what is rightfully theirs, despite the prejudice and judgement of most of the populous. In this, the author gives the readers an intriguing perspective, from which Dorothy and her friends are not necessarily heroes they have been made out to be. 

The characters are quirky and highly individual, but also relatable to readers. Each has strengths and flaws, motivations and priorities. The central characters also share a mission and a desire for justice, which binds them together and positions the reader alongside them. I really enjoyed the snark and sarcasm of Francesca, and I appreciated the fact that even though the four central characters had known one another all their lives, they could still disordered other. 

The story is a highly engaging blend of fantasy and mystery which draws the reader in and keeps them guessing to the end.The ending balances the resolution of some questions with the development of others, making the reader both satisfied with the conclusion and keen for the next book in the series.

This book should not, however, be mistaken for a children’s story. The story contains adult and sexual content which is definitely not appropriate for younger readers. 

Overall, this is a fun and enjoyable read.

Book Review: ‘The Guilty Path : Versatile Layer Book 5’ by Thomas K Davis

The fifth book in the Versatile Layer science fiction series, this book has some great qualities. The story is interesting and exciting, with moments of intense action balanced by humour and character development to give the reader a feeling of being on the same side as the protagonist, the warrior Adeola. There are characters who are likeable, and others who are less so. Most intriguing, though, are those whose status as ally or antagonist remains unclear as the story progresses, maintaining the mystery of the story and it’s outcomes right to the end.

Sadly, though, the book doesn’t live up to its potential because it really needs editing. There are too many basic errors that compromise the quality of the writing and cause frequent and unnecessary frustration for readers. The author clearly knows how to write well, so this seems to be an issue of poor quality control that would easily be overcome with thorough proofreading and correction.

Book Review: ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern

The story of Le Cirque des Rêves is magical and fantastic, drawing the reader into a world of illusion, mystery, and wonder. It is a story full of contrasts: light and dark, reality and illusion, cold and heat,  truth and deceit, life and death. Richly imaginative and sensory, the story is absolutely captivating. Yet at its very heart is a secret so cold and dark that it doesn’t even seem to be compatible with such a wonderful tale.  

While the lines and boundaries are blurred, and morality is highly subjective, the reader is drawn strongly to certain characters: Celia and Marco, Poppet, Widget and Bailey, and becomes deeply invested in their stories. 

I loved the story concept, the settings and the characters. I very much enjoyed the clever Shakespearean references, some of which were very obvious while others were much more subtle and covert, possibly going undetected by readers less familiar with the works of the Bard. 

However, I was frustrated by two aspects of the book. Not only was the plot development very slow… and I do mean  s  l  o  w, I found the author’s regular forays into writing overtly in second person incredibly annoying and distracting, particularly in conjunction with present tense. Was this story set at a series of specific points in history,  as the dates at the beginning of chapters suggested, or was it happening right now? Either way, I’m perfectly certain I am not, nor was I ever, actually there. When I encountered this on the second page, it was so jarring that I almost put the book down for god, thinking the whole narrative might be like that. 

Never one to quit a book early, I kept going. The story was good enough for me to almost manage to forget while reading that the writing is in present tense, but the second person perspective interrupted the flow of the narrative and broke my concentration every single time.  I understand that the intent was to immerse the reader into the story, but it actually had the opposite effect on me, and it happened far too often for me to easily forgive. 

As a result, the book left me with mixed feelings and wondering if I was being petty because I didn’t like it as much as I wanted to. I know it’s very much a matter of personal taste, and I’m glad I persisted with it, but I can’t deny that I am disappointed. As a lover of fantasy, magical stories, and dark fiction, this should have been everything I wanted in a book, but it wasn’t. 

As the old saying goes, it’s a fine line between love and hate. I find myself standing on that very line, still unsure of which way to fall. 

Book Review: ‘Dark Little Wonders and Other Stories’ by Amy Cross

A collection of well-crafted and varied short stories, ‘Dark Little Wonders’ definitely lives up to its title.

The stories are all quite different, invariably dark, and full of twists and surprises. Taken one by one, each story challenges the reader to see life – and death – from a different perspective. In combination, this collection of dark fiction reminds the reader that one can be haunted by many more things than just ghosts. 

The writing is very good and the characters are realistic, each having burdens, flaws, and motivations to which the reader can easily relate. This adds punch to every twist sand makes the message of each story more powerful. 

‘Dark Little Wonders and Other Stories’ is an excellent read. 

New Release: ‘When The Paint Dries’ by C.A. King

The Four Horsemen series by C.A. King is a paranormal suspense series that pitches good against evil in a ‘winner takes all’ struggle that culminates in ‘When The Paint Dries’, the fourth and final book in the series.

Meet the four horsemen: Michael, Gabrielle, Uriel and Raphael.

For centuries their sole purpose has been guarding the sealed gates to hell. Without keys, there was never any real threat. That was about to change…

Blond hair and leadership skills go hand in hand, at least for demigods. That sort of fame and glory, however, comes with a hefty price tag. Raphael is living proof of that. The straight and narrow is his destined path, and in all his years, he never once veered, allowing his personal life to fall by the wayside in the name of duty.

He isn’t buying into the madness his siblings are spewing about true love and the keys—in fact—he’s positive it’s all an elaborate scheme. Whoever is masquerading as Dante picked the wrong family to mess with and Raphael will do anything to prove it.

It’s winner takes all in this final instalment of the Four Horsemen Series. When the paint dries, someone has to come out on top, but can they live with themselves when they do?

Two Exciting New Release Anthologies

There are two great new anthologies that readers should definitely check out.

Mischief Night is a brand new Halloween anthology.

All Hallow’s Eve, a frightening night
When ghouls and witches promise a horrific fright
As the lights go out and you’re home all alone.
You reach for the phone but your heart stops at the sound of the dial tone.
You jump in bed, grab a flashlight, and pull the covers over your head, Trying not to scream as visions of the undead
Cloud your brain and make you question the reality in sight
Just open the book and turn the pages of Mischief Night

In this thrilling Halloween collection by some of today’s hottest authors, you’ll find stories that will make you shiver and shake.

So grab a cup of hot cocoa and cuddle up in front of the fireplace while you read this brand new set just for Halloween!

Mischief Night is available on Amazon and in other digital/online stores.

Featured Authors: Alyssa Drake | Amy Cecil | Angie Martin | Ashlee Shades | Bella Emy | C.A. King, | Carol Cassada | Erin Lee | Jade Royal | Jeremy Simons | Leah Negron | Lorah Jaiyn | Natalia Schellhaas | Niki Livingston | Olivia Marie| Riley Bryant| Roux Cantrell | Virginia Johnson

***

Unknown Realms is a new fantasy/science fiction anthology.

Discover new and uncharted worlds as the authors of Unknown Realms weave tales of time travel, mystic portals, alternate dimensions, and undiscovered landscapes. 


Available on Amazon and other digital/online stores.

Book Review: ‘Creep’ by William Cook

Find your copy here.

This is an intensely suspenseful story that strikes dread into the heart of the reader right from the first moment of foreboding. As the tension and desperation of the story builds, so does the reader’s sense of hopelessness for the protagonist, whose innocence reinforces the positioning of readers against The Creep. 

The story is well-written and developed. The characterisation is effective and the detailed descriptions add depth and power to the the chilling effect of the story. 

While the story certainly has its macabre moments, the story is centred more on the psychology of fear and revulsion. The Creep is a very real and twisted monster in his own right, and the author subtly plays on the reader’s sensibilities to unsettle and repulse them.