4.20.2021

The Sword of Otrim - #epicfantasy #bookreview

 


The Sword of Otrim by Lyndon Perry

I enjoyed The Sword of Otrim very much: it’s a Conan-esque adventure yarn that focuses on Otrim, a powerful fighter with a strong moral purpose and a keen sense of right and wrong. His world is a familiar-enough quasi-medieval version of Europe (in my imagination at least), and Otrim’s adventures are set against a background of wars and conflicts between empires.

It’s the characters that set this apart from any number of such books – this is where Perry is at his best. The people he populates his story with are believable and three-dimensional, flawed and brave and foolish by turns. Otrim displays admirable wisdom and forbearance as he struggles with the enemies placed before him and the roles people assign him, and there always seems to be an amused grin on his face, despite all that happens to him.

It’s fair to say that the majority of the active characters are men, but there are also strong and resourceful females in the book, who play vital roles in the unfolding events. It’s good to see.

The story is somewhat episodic in nature: Perry describes how he created the novel by piecing together five novellas. In truth, it barely shows; the story flows along nicely and reads like a novel. I devoured it very quickly. It’s labelled as “epic fantasy”, but that was actually something I wasn’t so sure about: it’s a fantasy world, for sure, but there is little or no magic in it. That said, there are plenty of hints and suggestions that such wonders do exist in the world, and I look forward to future instalments where, perhaps, Otrim comes up against more fantastical foes.

Some reviewers have labelled this “Christian fiction”. I make no particular comment on that, except to say that I’m not Christian (or any sort of religious) in any way – and that this didn’t get in the way of my enjoyment of the book at all. I never once felt like I was being beaten over the head with some real-word religious text. There is a lot of talk of “The Master” and his teachings – analogous to the teachings of Jesus, perhaps, to a Christian reader – but to this godless reviewer it all seemed like an enjoyable moral/spiritual dimension to give to an otherwise ruthlessly-efficient swordsman.

Epic battles, swordfights, intrigue and mystery – it’s all here. A recommended read.


Find the book on Amazon.


3.15.2021

#BookReview #CRANE #UntetheredRealms @UnRealms #CathrinaConstantine

CRANE

by

Stacey Rourke



The Horseman is unending,
his presence shan’t lessen.
If you break the curse,
you become the legend.

Washington Irving and Rip Van Winkle had no choice but to cover up the deadly truth behind Ichabod Crane’s disappearance. Centuries later, a Crane returns to Sleepy Hollow awakening macabre secrets once believed to be buried deep.

What if the monster that spawned the legend lived within you?

Now, Ireland Crane, reeling from a break-up and seeking a fresh start, must rely on the newly awakened Rip Van Winkle to discover the key to channeling the darkness swirling within her. Bodies are piling high and Ireland is the only one that can save Sleepy Hollow by embracing her own damning curse.

But is anyone truly safe when the Horseman rides?



Cathrina's Review

Oh Wow!!

I'll say right at the beginning, Crane by Stacey Rourke is a fabulous adaption in regards to Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod Crane, and the Headless Horseman.

The Author, Stacey Rourke has an absolutely brilliant writing style that blew me away. Each descriptive page had me hungering for more, that I found it difficult to put the book down.

I like humor, especially sarcastic humor, and Crane did not disappoint. And to enlist Rip Van Winkle into the storyline was over-the-top enjoyment! I loved the main character, Ireland and her strength to persevere in her battle with conquering the Horseman. I never leave spoils~~~Oh Boy!! You will be amazed!!!

Whether I'd been so caught up in the story or it wasn't mentioned to lure the reader into book 2, I can't remember if it was explained how Ireland Crane was related to Ichabod.

I highly recommend this phenomenal book.

3.02.2021

Mermaids, Magic and Glamoured Beach Towns


I love writing books set in beach towns and characters with complex relationships to the ocean. In my novel Witch of the Cards, I wrote about a woman learning that she hailed from a sea witch dynasty. In Pictures of Dorianna, I wrote about a girl who, unbeknownst to her, makes a deal with the Prince of Darkness. This happens when his supernatural video of her on a Coney Island beach goes viral, spinning her life out of control. 

In this new urban fantasy, Secrets of the Mermaid, I got to study mermaid lore and deep-sea creatures, and create mysterious merfolk characters. My heroine, Indigo Rain moves to a glamoured gothic beach town called Pyreshore and becomes a Keeper of the merfolk’s secret history. Indigo is a mermaid with a private slide from her basement into the Atlantic Ocean, and her own deep, dark secrets.

Her eventual love interest, Bay Finley, is of Royal merman stock, while Indigo, is of common stock. So the added “special sauce” is the Harry and Meghan royal versus commoner element.

Who wouldn’t love to suddenly be able to transform from human to mermaid? I give readers the experience through Indigo. “Out of sheer exuberance, she performed somersaults, twirls, and grand swoops up and over the seabed ravines and ridges.” Or even better, her first dive with Bay, her fellow merfolk researcher and secret crush:

“They plunged in. Indigo felt the transformative rush as her legs changed to a single tailfin, and her hips and below became a sheen of golden scales. She breathed in water and wriggled her way downward. As she did, she stole peeks at Bay. His merman patterns, like ruddy tribal tattoos, emerged along his jawline, down his muscled arms and on both sides of his lean torso. His scales, a rusty gold, matched the patterns on his skin, and glittered brightly against the darker waters like the sea glass she so loved. His chest and abs seemed to swell and flex at the same time with the strength of a Poseidon, the grace of a marathon swimmer, the glory of a merman Royal in his prime. She forced herself to look away, and to concentrate on seeking out the tablets, whether they were the nano-synth ones, more of the type in that hidden burial chamber, or another type of artifact altogether.”

I discovered deep-sea fish like the ghost shark with an extra set of jaws inside its maw that can suddenly extend like a slingshot to gobble prey, and the dragon fish that produce their own glowing light. They protect Indigo when a dangerous phantom attacks her and their light guides her back home. Mermaid lore is also endlessly fascinating, and disturbing! One element I used was that mermaid were known to lure sailors undersea and drown them, in order to use them to fertilize their ova to make wee little merbabies. Rather gruesome, and one shameful thing in Indigo’s past she feels compelled to atone for. You have to read the book to find out how! No spoilers here. If you love the ocean and its magical creatures, why not spend time with Indigo, Bay and the quirky cast of characters on Pyreshore and under its coastal waters?

See the book on Amazon (free on KU!)

Backworlds Box Collection Books 4, 5, and 6 Now Available! #99c for a Limited Time. #scifi


 The Backworlds Box Collection Books 4, 5, and 6 is now available for preorder. The box set releases March 12, 2021, and its 99 cents for a limited time. Grab your copy!


Available at all ebook retailers: Amazon, B&N, Kobo, GooglePlay, Apple, Smashwords, and more. Just click the link below.

BACKWORLDS BOX SET 4, 5, 6

The galaxy beyond the Backworlds is rife with trouble. The desperate search to save a friend ends in the discovery of an unstoppable enemy. This boxed set contains books 4, 5, and 6 in the Backworld series: Beyond the Edge, Worlds on Edge, and Precipice.


Beyond the Edge

Some truths are better left unfound. For two years, Lepsi has been missing. A haunted spaceship has a message from him. Maybe Lepsi isn’t dead. Craze and Captain Talos travel to uncharted worlds, searching a region of the galaxy beyond the Backworlds. Out there, they stumble upon a terrible truth.

 

Worlds on Edge

Home is worth the fight. War is coming. A horde of merciless aliens poise just beyond the Edge. Racing ahead of the apocalypse, Craze rushes to warn his people and plan a defense. Only, he can’t go home. Banned from Pardeep Station, he must wage another war to save his home.

 

Precipice

Salvation comes at a price. A new enemy wants to destroy the galaxy. The Fo’wo’s want another war. Annihilation is coming to the Backworlds, and Craze’s option to prevent the genocide of his people is a nightmare. The best chance for survival is to overcome a century of hate and forge an alliance with the Fo’wo’s. If he succeeds, Craze will be the most hated man in the galaxy.        



2.19.2021

Speculative Fiction Worth Reading - Powers of Darkness: The Lost Version of Dracula

 


Blurb: Powers of Darkness is an incredible literary discovery: In 1900, Icelandic publisher and writer Valdimar Ásmundsson set out to translate Bram Stoker’s world-famous 1897 novel Dracula. Called Makt Myrkranna (literally, “Powers of Darkness”), this Icelandic edition included an original preface written by Stoker himself. Makt Myrkranna was published in Iceland in 1901 but remained undiscovered outside of the country until 1986, when Dracula scholarship was astonished by the discovery of Stoker’s preface to the book. However, no one looked beyond the preface and deeper into Ásmundsson’s story.

In 2014, literary researcher Hans de Roos dove into the full text of Makt Myrkranna, only to discover that Ásmundsson hadn’t merely translated Dracula but had penned an entirely new version of the story, with all new characters and a totally re-worked plot. The resulting narrative is one that is shorter, punchier, more erotic, and perhaps even more suspenseful than Stoker’s Dracula. Incredibly, Makt Myrkranna has never been translated or even read outside of Iceland until now.

Powers of Darkness presents the first ever translation into English of Stoker and Ásmundsson’s Makt Myrkranna. With marginal annotations by de Roos providing readers with fascinating historical, cultural, and literary context; a foreword by Dacre Stoker, Bram Stoker’s great-grandnephew and bestselling author; and an afterword by Dracula scholar John Edgar Browning, Powers of Darkness will amaze and entertain legions of fans of Gothic literature, horror, and vampire fiction.

Christine's review: This is an Icelandic rewrite of Dracula, or shall we say, fanfiction. It's been some years since I've actually read the original, so I can't speak on a lot of differences. Definitely there is more focus on Harker and the blonde bride in the castle, and a lot more description of the castle itself. It's not at all erotic or romantic. The Count is portrayed as more evil, but the last third is more of a synopsis than anything else. What I found I enjoyed a lot more than I expected was the introduction and the notes in the margins of the story itself with all the history, interesting Stoker and Asmundsson facts, and translation reasons. So while the rewrite wasn't all I had hoped for, the book as a whole is well put together.

2.02.2021

The Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn #astronomy #Science #

I'm sharing a video I took of a rare event.




The great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn was at its pinnacle on Monday night (12/21/2020). I was able to get out my trusty telescope, Orson Bradbury, and do some stargazing. The forecast had us cloudy, but it turned out to be a beautiful day. It was almost 60 and the sky was clear. 60 isn't normal for these parts in December. However, the wind was roaring. You can probably hear it whistle through the telescope in the video.

This was a once in 400 years event, so I was glad to see it. The video was taken through my 11mm Nagler. That translates into high magnification for those of you not well versed in telescope-speak. To see both in that eyepiece was stunning and something that will never happen again. At least, not while I'm alive. So, I hope you enjoy the video. It's not the best, but you get to see something really special.            

1.19.2021

Speculative Fiction Worth Reading - 3 reviews for fantastic reads from the Untethered Realms authors

 What better way to start off the year with my reviews of three books by my fellow Untethered Realms authors!


Wayland LeBlanc can only think of avenging the deaths of his family, new mate, and unborn child. Revenge consumes him as he travels back to the Canadian Wilderness to kill the Tundra pack that had destroyed his. There is also the weight of needing to find a mate and have a child before a year is done or else he'll lose his royal status. Returning to the wilds where he grew up brings back a lot of memories, but meeting his childhood crush now a full grown beauty named Stormy, revenge starts to take a backseat to his feelings for her. With the help of some coyote shifters and local witches, Wayland hopes to bring justice to his lost pack but yet can he win over Stormy when she's the sister of the Tundra pack's Alpha?

What an incredibly fun and thrilling paranormal romance read! Wayland starts in New Orleans with thoughts of his family's deaths already haunting him, and then the Royal Alpha Wolves Club gives him the added stress of having to find a mate within a year or else he'll no longer be a royal. I was immediately sympathetic. This shifter has a huge heart, and I love that he has a soft spot for witches. Stormy is a strong and smart wolf herself. The perfect complement for Wayland. Yet my favorite characters are the coyote shifters and the mysterious witch locked in a metal box. The coyotes are wild and hilarious. The plot is fast-paced and the tension between Wayland and Stormy sizzles. If you love paranormal romances, you don't want to miss Alpha's Revenge.

*~*~*~*~*~*



Selene Ada dies several times after her home world is destroyed by the evil rule of Concordance. When she finally regains herself, she is half herself while the other half is remade by a strange scientist, Ondo Lagan. Following tiny bits of ruined history, they try to figure out where Concordance came from and what life was like before them. Except Concordance doesn't want anyone to discover the truth.

An excellently written first book in the science fiction series, The Triple Stars. The reader is immediately pulled into the story with the destruction of Selene's home planet, and also the ruins of Selene herself and how she is remade. The characterization is fantastic not just for her but for the whole cast. I was thoroughly wrapped up in the mystery of the paradise planet, Coronade, and the once great peaceful galaxy. Of course Concordance was in every way despicable, but they're so big and powerful, it's hard to see anything from within their seemingly endless shadow. We're taken on twists and turns, shown wonders and horrors, and never knowing what's around the next star. This is science fiction at its best.

*~*~*~*~*~*


Indigo Eady is desperate for a job. Finding a ghost thief can't be that difficult, right? A spirit is lurking around the Sabrina Shores Theatre, and things are getting dangerous. Her friends are there to help, but all her secretive investigating are putting the handsome inspector's suspicions on her. Can Indigo solve the mystery before she ends up as a ghost in the theatre too?

A wonderfully written cozy mystery that I ate up with a grin. I've read the Afterlife series, and so I'm familiar with Indigo and her friends, but this book can stand alone. I admire Indigo's heart and determination. I loved seeing how she's grown and eager for what's to come. I'm a huge fan of Franny, her ghost friend, especially with her trying to pick up on the modern slang and her methods of investigating! There are some clever twists to the plot and I was on the edge of my seat at the end.

1.07.2021

Happy New Year 2021!

 


Coming into 2021, we still haven't recovered from last year. We stand braced for what is to come. And we aren't going to pretend we know what that might be.

Yet what if we could know? Here are some predictions from Nostradamus about this year.

1. A comet will come very close to hitting Earth. Some say that the Mayans got it wrong when they said that the end of the world was in 2012, and that it's really 2021, but we've got eyes in many directions. No one has seen a comet barreling out way.

2. Devastating solar flares. There has already been a couple this year, although not devastating ones. They can disrupt the power grid and pipelines which we are greatly reliant upon. At least we will be freed from being beholden to social media during that time!

3. Global famine. With the pandemic, this isn't a surprise. Check out a recent article from the UN.

4. Robots launch a revolution and cyborg soldiers. Could these be linked? Skynet came online years ago, right?

5. The zombie apocalypse. Now here's the one many of us have been waiting for! Whether it comes from a virus or the "cure" for it, we'll have to see. Fingers crossed they're slow zombies!

Whatever this year brings, please go forth with love, peace, and compassion. We will survive whatever comes our way if we stand together.