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Archive for the ‘4 Star Books’ Category

The Last Swordmage

The Last Swordmage
Magic of Solendrea Book 1
by Martin F. Hengst
Genre: Epic Fantasy
After being sold into slavery by her father and accused of a murder she
didn’t commit, Tiadaria finds herself facing the executioner’s axe.
The only thing standing in the way is the village Constable.

After thirty years of loyal service to the Imperium, Royce retired to
King’s Reach as the village’s Constable. He thought it would be
the perfect place to rest, relax, and die in peace. He was wrong. In
an unexpected complication, the slave with her neck on the block
seems to possess the same magic Royce has hidden all his life.
Paying off Tiadaria’s bond, Royce takes possession the slave. Now he must
teach her to trust him, teach her to fight, and teach her about her
unique abilities before they both run out of time. An ancient menace,
the Xarundi, have returned. They are the most dangerous enemy
humanity has ever faced, and they have a thousand years of
bloodthirsty vengeance to exact.

My Review

4 stars

Tiadaria is sold into slavery by her father, abused by the other slaves, and involved in a murder. She is in King’s Reach and finds herself facing a chopping block. But it will be up to Royce, the Constable to decide her fate. Royce notices that Tiadaria has the same abilities he has. Royce can’t let her be killed and purchases her. Royce then has the task of trying to gain Tiadaria’s trust then train her to use her abilities. But the Xarundi, enemies of the land, have gathered and are planning on an attack. It will be up to Royce and Tiadaria to stop them.This is a short start to a trilogy. Tiadaria does not have a happy home life and quickly finds herself being solve into slavery before she can even register what is happening. There the other slaves beat her, which I have to say confused me since I’m sure a slaver would not let such things happen to the merchandise.

The story flowed well from there with a couple other hiccups in it but I didn’t have a hard time reading it. At the half way point the action picks up and we start the fight scenes. I have to say that the ending did feel a little rushed. I do think that this story could be fleshed out a little more and it would be a lot better. Over all, I did enjoy it and I would be happy to read the next book in the series.

I received the Last Swordmage from Silver Bullet Book Tours for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

The Darkest Hour
Magic of Solendrea Book 2
When an agent from the Imperium Intelligence Service shows up on
Tiadaria’s doorstep, he leaves her with unwelcome news. Recovering
from their brutal defeat at Dragonfell, the Xarundi are seeking out
an ancient and incredibly powerful relic buried in the snow and ice
of the Frozen Frontier.
Tiadaria travels to the city of Ethergate to seek out an apprentice skilled in
magical research. Even with his reluctant help, unearthing
information on the relic proves to be almost impossible until a
savage turn of events puts them on the right path.
Now it’s a race against time through some of the most unforgiving
territory on Solendrea to beat the Xarundi to the relic and stop them
from unleashing its devastating power on the unsuspecting masses.
The Pegasus’s Lament
Magic of Solendrea Book 3
A desecrated tomb, a missing relic, and cold-blooded murder. The
streets of Dragonfell are awash in blood and the King has called on
Tiadaria, the last swordmage, and Wynn, her quintessentialist
companion, to uncover the nature of the darkness.
What they find is more dangerous than they could ever imagine and from a
source they’d have never expected. Now Tiadaria must defeat an
enemy that knows her almost as well as she knows herself.
The survival of the Human Imperium is on the line and time is running out
for the last swordmage and everyone she holds dear.
Volinette’s Song
Magic of Solendrea Book 4
Volinette Terris has everything most girls could want: a famous family, plenty
of money, and a career as a talented musician. No one would expect
her to risk losing it all to try and become a mage, but when the
School of Sorcery opens for the Trial of Admission, that’s exactly
what she does.
If only she’d known that winning a place in the Academy of Arcane Arts
and Sciences would be the least of her problems. Now she finds
herself accused of murder, tormented by her fellow students, and
implicated in the theft of a mystical artifact that could bring about
the end of the world.
And that’s just the first semester!
Quintessential Tales
Magic of Solendrea Book 5
Four Quintessential Novelettes Featuring the Heroes and Villains of Solendrea
Quintessential Tales, a Magic of Solendrea Anthology, brings together four new
novelettes featuring the heroes and villains of Solendrea. Also
included is the Adventurer’s Guide to Solendrea, which includes
background information on famous faces and places, as well as some
mythology and folklore.

Included in Quintessential Tales:

  • Warhorse – Being shipwrecked on a strange island is just the start of the
    dangers facing Royce and Torus.
  • If Wishes Were Horses – Twins stumble across an ancient temple in the
    middle of the wildlands that may not be what it seems.
  • Troubled Waters – Faxon and Gunter face off against new enemies and a
    treacherous old foe.
  • All Souls – Tiadaria and Adamon travel to Havenhedge to investigate a
    mysterious occurrence.
  • Adventurer’s Guide to Solendrea (Bonus) – Background information on famous faces
    and interesting places.


Note from the Author

Please be aware that All Souls contains spoilers if you haven’t read the
Swordmage Trilogy, particularly The Pegasus’s Lament. If you
haven’t, I highly recommend that you read the original trilogy
before reading All Souls.
Pirates of the Siren’s Sea
Magic of Solendrea Book 6
 

What do you do when the people you trust the most betray you?

Tiadaria, the last Swordmage, was once one of the King’s most trusted advisers.
Now she’s fallen out of favour and has been cast out of the realm she
helped save from demons and dragons. When pirates start sinking ships
off the coast of Dragonfell, Tiadaria offers her services to the
realm, but the pride of Kings is not easily put aside.
Unwilling to let the Imperium fall, Tiadaria approaches the King’s only
daughter, a reclusive Princess unseen by the people for almost two
decades. What happens next is a race against time as Tiadaria and her
allies commit an act of treason to stop a corrupt sorceress from
endangering the fate of the world.
Only a Swordmage can turn an act of sedition into salvation for the
Imperium in this rousing fantasy tale of swords and sorcery.
Martin F. Hengst is an American science-fiction and fantasy author. His
bestselling Magic of Solendrea series has delighted more than a
quarter of a million readers worldwide.
He writes the same type of books he loves to read: tales of science
fiction and fantasy where anything can, and frequently does, happen.
There’s nothing better than a rollicking good adventure and his
number one priority as a writer is to be an amazing travelling
companion for those intrepid explorers who pick up any of his books.
He lives in South Central Pennsylvania with his wife and two children.
When he’s not working on the next book or story, he enjoys music,
reading, and playing games.
He really like hearing from people who have enjoyed his books. Please
don’t hesitate to connect with him on
Twitter or Facebook.
For the latest news and information about Martin and his books,
check out his website at:
http://martinfhengst.com.
 
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Transfixion

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Transfixion by J. Giambrone

A mysterious weapon invades every screen, and society is instantly thrown into chaos. Kaylee Colton’s life is devastated when her brother is infected by the mind weapon and he attempts to kill her, after stabbing their mother.

Kaylee flees from her house but finds that she too has been damaged by the mind weapon. She can no longer speak. Her once peaceful neighborhood explodes into total war.

Escaping the bloodshed, Kaylee slowly loses her mind as she hides out in an abandoned home. She then learns that a resistance has formed at a local high school, and she accompanies a strange boy to join in the fight.

Transfixion tells the struggle between militarism and pacifism, war and peace, as Kaylee Colton becomes the key to unlocking the secret of the hypnosis weapon.

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 J. Giambrone

Author’s Bio

American author, freelance writer and filmmaker

  • Author of Wrecking Balls, a tale of friendship and its discontents.
  • His science fiction thriller Transfixion is published through Solstice.
  • Hell of a Deal: A Supernatural Satire is up at Amazon, B&N & Smashwords.
  • His 2011 short film The Container won the one-minute juried prize at the Sundial Film Festival.
  • In 2016, he again won in the one-minute category with The Real Reason You Should Recycle.
  • Journalism appears at International Policy Digest, WhoWhatWhy, Counterpunch, Globalresearch, Foreign Policy Journal, High Times, OpedNews and other outlets.

He writes, films and adapts works across media.

Website     Blog     Facebook     Twitter

My Review

4 stars

After watching a television broadcast people are turning into killing machines. Kaylee Colton narrowly escapes after her brothers kills their mother then comes after her. But Kaylee did not escape the broadcast, she manages to escape and finds Dustin who takes her to local high school with other survivors. There they train to defend themselves as the ‘dupes’ start changing their murderous tactics.

Kaylee seems like a younger teen, it’s never mentioned, and all she wants to do is finish her ghost hunter story. But she is forced to participate in the real world if she doesn’t want to be another person killed by the dupes. I liked watching her grow and thought the idea of her unable to talk an interesting twist. It was interesting watching her grow through the story but I don’t know what to feel at the very end.

You don’t learn much about what caused the broadcast although I loved the concept of the television turning people into crazed, zombie like killers. You don’t have a lot of closure on this but you can take that one of two ways. Most people I see are disappointed but in real life it’s not like you would get much closure either.

I liked this story and think it’s a fresh take on YA stories. I like how it focused on reality instead of forcing a teen romance. I can’t wait to read more books from J. Giambrone.

I received Transfixion from the author for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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Machine Learning

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Machine Learning: New and Collected Stories by Hugh Howey

Hugh Howey is known for crafting riveting and immersive page-turners of boundless imagination, spawning millions of fans worldwide, first with his best-selling novel Wool, and then with other enthralling works such as Sand and Beacon 23.

Now comes Machine Learning, an impressive collection of Howey’s science fiction and fantasy short fiction, including three stories set in the world of Wool, two never-before-published tales written exclusively for this volume, and fifteen additional stories collected here for the first time. These stories explore everything from artificial intelligence to parallel universes to video games, and each story is accompanied by an author’s note exploring the background and genesis of each story.

Howey’s incisive mind makes Machine Learning: New and Collected Stories a compulsively readable and thought-provoking selection of short works—from a modern master at the top of his game.

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 Hugh Howey

Author’s Bio

I’m the author of WOOL, a top 5 science fiction book on Amazon. I also wrote the Molly Fyde saga, a tale of a teenager from the 25th century who is repeatedly told that girls can’t do certain things — and then does them anyway.

A theme in my books is the celebration of overcoming odds and of not allowing the cruelty of the universe to change who you are in the process. Most of them are classified as science fiction, since they often take place in the future, but if you love great stories and memorable characters, you’ll dig what you find here. I promise.

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My Review

4 stars

Hugh Howey is the author of the Silo series. I have wanted to read that series and have even downloaded it but I have not gotten to it yet. Having said that, I was really excited to review Machine Learning. This is a great collection of short stories written by Hugh. Three do revolve around the Silo series. I’m sure I read many of the spoilers of the story but that has not stopped me, now I really want to dive into those books.

The other stories about aliens, robots, and such. I loved how Hugh takes an apocalypse and makes you feel for both sides that just want to exist. But the thing I really enjoyed was the little commentaries at the end of each story. That added so much and made them just that much better. To understand why Hugh wrote this or that part gave more life to the story and showed you more about Hugh himself.

I admit that I am not a short story collection fan. I have a bad habit of not reading them because I like sticking to one story per book. It always seems just when you get into the story it’s done. But I really liked this collection. It was a great introduction to Hugh Howey. It has really encouraged me to read the Silo series.

I received Machine Learning from the publisher for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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Song Breaker

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Song Breaker by Annette Lyon

To Aino, the idea of spending her life warming the bed of a wrinkled old wizard—especially when it means life without her secretly betrothed love—is horrifying. When her brother Jouko foolishly duels Vane, the greatest wizard ever known, he finds himself on the verge of death and saves himself only by promising his sister as the old man’s trophy.

Furious, Aino refuses to be forced into marrying anyone. But with only two days until the wizard comes for her, she must find a way to break the curse, or she’ll end up his prisoner. She uncovers a possible solution, but while it may technically free her from the old man, her escape may mean exchanging one kind of prison for another.

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Author’s Bio

Annette Lyon is a USA Today bestselling author, a 4-time recipient of Utah’s Best in State medal for fiction (twice for novel-length works and twice for short fiction), and a Whitney Award winner for BAND OF SISTERS. She’s the author of over a dozen novels, at least that many novellas, a cookbook, a popular grammar guide, and over a hundred magazine articles.

She’s a founder and regular contributor of the Timeless Romance Anthologies line of sweet romance stories, which she served as editor for its first three years. She’s also one of the four co-authors of The Newport Ladies Book Club series. She graduated cum laude from BYU with a degree in English.

Annette is represented by Heather Karpas at ICM Partners.

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My Review

4 stars

This story is based on Finnish mythology. Singers are essentially wizards that use song for healing and such. Vane is an old, powerful singer. He comes to town looking for a tool and is smitten with Aion but Aion is not about to be stuck with this old man when she has a young man of her own that loves her dearly and plans on marrying her the next year.

Jouko, Aion’s brother, is a singer too but is young and hot headed. Jouko decides to duel Vane and quickly finds himself in trouble. To dodge the bullet he offers Aion’s hand in marriage. Of course Aion is going to do whatever it takes to avoid being married to Vane no matter what the consequences are.

This was an interesting story. I would really like to see how it compares to the original myth. I liked Aion and how she was going to follow her heart no matter what. I would have loved to strangle Jouko but he did learn his lesson from the whole situation and ended up becoming a better person.

This is an enjoyable story and one that I think most will like. This is my first book of Annette Lyon’s and I will be keeping my eye out for other books from her.

I received Song Breaker from eBooks for Review for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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A Day in the Life

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A Day in the Life by Theodore Ficklestein

A Day In The Life is Theodore Ficklestein’s debut novel about Nickolas Cripp, a college student finding his way in the world. Although Nick won’t admit it, he is the main focus to a young adult book that follows him from his home to college to the city, where he wants to attend an open mic.

Along his path, he encounters a teacher who asks about the apocalypse, a drunk on the train and two friends who feel writing isn’t Nick’s strong point, among others. Nick soon finds out that the funniest things in life aren’t that funny at all, and the greatest comedians never go up on stage.

As he goes through his day, one oddball character at a time, Nick starts to question if the comedy club he dreams of being in, is really for him. Should he be who he wants to be? Or who the world thinks he should be? Neither of which, he is entirely sure about.

A personal journey of self-discovery through the eyes of a youth yearning for meaning in a meaningless world; Nick learns that in life, the joke is on you.

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 Author’s Bio

Theodore Ficklestein is an author, blogger and poet. His books include This Book Needs A Title Volumes 1 and 2 and I Killed the Man Who Wrote This Book. His first novel Day In The Life will be published by Gen Z Publishing in 2017. His multiple blogs include This Blog Needs Sports, This Blog Needs Poetry and This Blog Needs Movies.

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My Review

4 stars

Nickolas Cripp is a college student that has a lot of ideas but no motivation to actually do them. He has decided that he wants to be a standup comedian. This story is about Nick at home, school, home again, and in the city. We follow him as he comes across several people with different out looks on life and questions that make him think. In the end he learns that the things he tough was funny really are not and comes to have a different outlook on life.

This book is simplicity at its best. You follow a college kid around in his day as he snarks about things that happen around him and to him. But he does learn and gets a different perspective and grows in his own life.

This is a pretty cut and dry story that had me laughing, agreeing with him, and cringing at the same time. I really enjoyed the story but I can easily see how this book might not be for everyone. But I think it is definitely worth checking out.

I received A Day in the Life from Sami at Roger Charlie for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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Grace 1943

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Grace 1943 (The Grace Family Chronicles – 1) by Courtney Williamson Milford

Welcome to Gracestone, the Grace family’s luxury estate in Miami Beach, Florida.

The year is 1943, and the Grace family members and their friends are enmeshed in World War II. The have special skills, called “Graces,” that they use to solve problems.

Some Graces are simple. A Navigator never gets lost or needs a map.

Others are more remarkable. A Waterwitch, also known as a Frog, can stay under water indefinitely.

Graced people gravitate towards one another, and Graces run in families. People who are Graced attract wealth, which is fortunate, because they also attract trouble.

The story begins with Annelisa Grace-Betterman, 25, sneaking out of the hospital, where she was recovering from rheumatic fever, to rescue her infant son from kidnappers. She is Graced as Locator, and can find people by listening for their heartbeats.

It continues on with no shortage of adventure. The Grace family members want to mind their own business, but they attract trouble in the forms of a serial arsonist, ill-intentioned Time Gypsies, and a race of people called Atherlings who have no consciences and threaten the family’s well-being.

They also are magnets for those seeking to exploit others. The Grace family produces Midasian Multiplyers, who can Multiply wealth. Any business venture they touch performs beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. This makes their family vulnerable to all sorts of crooks, and even politicians seeking to fatten the U. S. federal government’s treasury.

The presence of Midasian Multiplyers, particularly when the Grace appears in a small child, is dangerous for everyone associated with Gracestone, as the greedy will use loved ones to get to the person who can produce the wealth. Annelisa and her mother realize they must find a way to protect the family when villains present themselves.

Throughout the book, they work on this project. The family owns an uncharted private island off the coast of Miami called Cinq Terras. The two women call upon Graced relatives and friends, and a few who know how to use Seminole magic and Louisiana voodoo, to secure Cinq Terras and make it impermeable to intruders.

Of course, with the war going on, there are rescue missions galore all over the world: Lima, Leningrad, Berlin.

Closer to home, there is heartache. Characters suffer from the aftermath of adultery, the misery of knowing a loved one is lost forever, and the horror of finding out about a child’s most painful secret.

Still, there are good times. The Grace family loves to celebrate, although they try to keep it low-key, of course, due to the war. The book ends with a Christmas Ball, and the characters learn that when Seers and Russian Protectors advise against having hundreds of people over due to security risks, it might not hurt to listen.

Of course, it does not really end there. Graced 1943 is the first book in a series, and it has a cliffhanger ending. The story spills right over into the second book, The Atherlings 1944, due out shortly.

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My Review

4 stars

So the summary of the book pretty much tells you what you are going to get. The Grace family lives on a special island off of Florida that has been protected to keep people away. The key is that most of the people in this family are graced or have special abilities. They help where they can but always face a fear of being kidnapped and having their abilities abused.

This is a great story of an extended family with special abilities. They look out for each other and help out the rest of the world when they can. Because this is a big family you will be following along with several people. I admit that I had to break out a cheat sheet to remember who was who and what they were doing.

It was easy to get into this story and I was excited to see what trouble the Graces were going to find themselves in next. The ending is a definite cliff hanger but a great set up for book two. I can’t wait to get my hands on The Atherlings 1944.

I received Grace 1943 from Author Marketing Experts for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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Olivia MacAllister, Who Are You?

Olivia MacAllister, Who are you? by Celine Rose Mariotti

Bobby MacAllister and Noel Simpson are cousins, who visit their Uncle Eb in Maine for the summer. There they embark on an adventure to discover the story of their ancestors and the secrets of the ghost, Olivia, who stays in the house. Together, with family friends and partners from the town, they uncover the truth of a long lost love story. Olivia MacAllister, Who Are You? is a fun fiction chapter book for children aged 7 to 10. Will you be inspired to learn about your ancestors’ past like Bobby and Noel?

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My Review

4 stars

Bobby MacAllister and Noel Simpson are cousins that have had their share of trouble at home. So, when their Uncle Eb asks them to spend the spring in Maine in the family house they jump at the chance. While exploring the house, they learn of their relative Olivia MacAllister that loved a man that got in a duel with a man her father wanted her to marry and died. Olivia killed herself and has been haunting the house since. The children meet her twice and she asks them to get her back to her love. The kids go on an adventure to learn several family secrets in their quest.

This is a good story of cousins being close to each other after a death and a divorce. They love exploring and have gotten themselves in trouble in the past and start out the same way when they sneak out of the house to the library. I like how everyone worked together to help out Olivia and find out what really happened on the day of her death.

This is a good chapter book that parents could read to kids and vice versa. I really enjoyed the illustrations, they really added to the story. The story did leave the possibilities of other books and I would be happy to check those out too.

I received Olivia MacAllister, Who are you? from Dreaming Big Publications for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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