Book Review: A Matter of Death and Life

I greatly enjoyed this second trip to the unusual and action-packed lives of “Gideon Sable,” Annie Anybody, and their gang. Having met these characters before, I was ready for more dangerous, quirky, and magical adventures. This one does not disappoint, as they are constantly thrown in a new pickle right after getting out of the last one.

Most of the old gang is back, including Gideon, who may not be the actual GIdeon Sable, Annie Anybody, who changes her identity at will, Lex (The Damned), who wears the halos of angels on his wrists, and Johnny Wilde, the Wild Card who has no limits. They are joined by Gideon’s ex, Switch it Sally, a master thief. As a group, they are a powerful force. Hired by Judi Rifkin to steal the Mask of Ra, they head to Vegas, with many adventures along the way.

I enjoyed the quirky first book, and this second installment is just as satisfying. The characters are fascinating and the schemes they come up with are clever and enjoyable. There were a couple of times when it seemed to go too far over the top, even for a book that is written to be over the top. The fight on the train comes to mind. But overall, this is a criminal heist adventure steeped in magical realism that will captivate the reader.

I received a free copy of this book from Severn House via Netgalley. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

My review of Book 1, The Best Thing You Can Steal is here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Simon R. Green is a British science fiction and fantasy author. Green was born in Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire. He holds a degree in Modern English and American Literature from the University of Leicester. He is the author of the best-selling Nightside series and many other works.

BUY LINKS

Amazon
Amazon UK
B&N

MY AMAZON REVIEW (HELPFUL VOTES APPRECIATED)

Self-Published Spotlight: Desperate Tides, Desperate Measures by Brett Salter

Self-published spotlight is my effort to highlight indie authors and share their work with you. Next, Brett Salter is in the Spotlight. He has just released the fifth book in his Talisman series entitled Desperate Tides, Desperate Measures. The Talisman Series is a young adult contemporary fantasy series with dragons! Dragons walk amongst us, though you might not be able to tell. See the description and links to buy below.

Looks like our heroes can finally put an end to the nightmare that was Scarabadon, The Juggernaut. And it seems everyone’s favorite Synergist Knight and Master Dragon have fixed their Talisman issue too. Having thwarted every attack The Tyrant King has thrown at them to this point, The Alliance believes that they can endure any challenge as long as they remain together. Now, having the upper hand seems like the perfect opportunity to seek out more allies and even more of the realm’s mystical Talismans. Could this be a “happily ever after” for our ensemble of motley heroes? Or is this peace just a fool’s hope and just as temporary as the changing tides?

BUY LINKS

Below is the link to all five books. Kindle Unlimited subscribers can also read them for free. Just click on the cover art.

2022 Short Story Challenge #2022ShortStoryChallenge

Below is my first entry in the 2022 Short Story Challenge, started by A Virginia Writer’s Diary. See the original post here. The theme this year is folklore, and I’m very excited about that! I have decided to concentrate on the folklore of the Appalachian Mountains. My husband Doug then agreed to co-write with me, so this is a great project for us this year. We’ve decided to combine our names when we write together, so our pen name will be Bonnie Douglas. Below is a tale called “Will O’ The Wisps,” which combines Irish and Scottish folklore with Smoky Mountain legends from the U.S. Even though it’s Feb 1st, this is my January entry. I think that’s close enough.

WILL O’ THE WISPS

by Bonnie Douglas

I flipped through the notebook, fascinated.  When I came to Granny’s Smoky Mountain cabin to pack up her possessions, I had hoped to find some history, and I did.  I went through boxes of family pictures, newspapers dating back to the 1930s, and letters between Granny and Gramps when he was in World War II.  But this notebook—simply laying in a drawer on her night table—was the most fascinating of all.  Every inch of this old composition book was filled with notes, memories, recipes, and sketches.

I was interested in some of the remedies, using plants that grew right here on the land.  Granny had sketched the plants in detail, and I knew I would go out looking for them.  One page particularly fascinated me.  She had used color—the only page in the book to do so.  Bright fuzzy creatures—or were they lights—dotted the sky.  Were they lightning bugs?  At first I thought so, but the lettering underneath seemed to contradict that.  In bold capitalization were the words DON’T FOLLOW THE WILL O’ WISPS!

Scoffing slightly, I chucked the notebook onto the “keep” pile. Granny had always been a bit “loopy,” and it got a lot worse after Gramps failed to come home from a day hike in the National Park just down the road. He was never found despite many searches by loved ones and the police. 

Granny kept going, and would always tell me tales as we sat on the porch snapping beans for supper and for canning later.  She definitely had the gift of gab. Her tales of the Wampus Cat and Mothman were usually enough to keep me out of the woods at night when I was a child, camping out in the yard. Even as a teenager I was hesitant to get too far out of sight of the house at night.  I just chalked it up to my “city” upbringing, giving no credit to Granny’s stories or the chills that chased up and down my back at the sight of the bobbing lights in the thickly wooded hills.

Walking out of the bedroom, I called my fat little dachshund Daisy from her snuffling around the empty canning closet.  “There’s nothing in there, you goofball!  Come on we’ll go outside for a walk!” 

Daisy knew that walks equaled treats, and charged out of the dusty closet, heading out the rickety doggie door and bounding down the old ramp that Gramps and I had built as fast her short legs could carry her.  Gramps had always kept dogs, and while they had the run of the land all day, he was always careful to make sure they were safe at home well before nightfall in their pen up against the edge of the woods.

  “You never know what them fool dogs will chase up, especially at night,” He always told me.

  I knew he had had a soft spot for his pack of rowdy hounds, and I felt the same for my little city-dwelling dachshund.  I knew she would be poorly suited to roaming these hills and hollers, as would I after so much time away.  I had spent every summer here with my grandparents, my folks insisting it would be good for me to be here with all the relatives we never saw outside of this little mountain enclave. Summers were full of hunting bugs, lizards, turtles, and snakes, and chasing around the small garden plots with my cousins and whatever pack of strays Gramps had collected from the side of the road or other farmers.

The only time I ever saw Gramps lose his temper is when, on a “triple dog dare” from one of my cousins, I snuck out of the tent where we were “camping” in the front yard.  I smiled as I thought back to that night.   I had headed up to the small waterfall on the spring-fed branch that trickled by the house to fill up our canteen with “moon water” for some secret my cousins were giggling about.

“Bunch of crap, if you ask me.”   My ten-year-old self had thrilled at the illicit, forbidden profanity, although I heard Granny use it a hundred times a day.  I crept stealthily up the hill and had barely reached Gramps’ dog pen when the dogs, woken by my not as stealthy as I thought approach, raised a chorus of barks, yips, and howls that I knew would bring Gramps running.  He investigated every creak, bark, or unexpected noise regardless of how deep into the night it was. 

  “Shush, you stupid mutts!” I had hissed as I hurried past the pen onto the well-worn path up to the waterfall.  My little pocket flashlight flickered dimly, but the water of the branch seemed to glow in the moonlight as I stumbled across roots and rocks with the canteen clanking by my side.

I was less than ten yards onto the path when my light flickered and died.  Sucking in a shivering breath, I pounded the cheap plastic flashlight against my leg, willing it to flicker back to life without success. Standing in the dark with chills chasing up and down my spine, I gave myself a little pep talk.  “C’mon Carl, don’t be a baby!  You know Granny just tells you those stories to keep you out of trouble.”  

With my spine a little firmer,  I had pressed on slowly up the suddenly unfamiliar path.   “Everything sure looks different in the dark,” I muttered as I stumbled, tripping over another root.  The trees seemed to edge in closer to the path.  As my eyes adjusted,  I could see what looked like big fireflies skimming around the trees, all through the woods.  “Man, I’d sure like to catch one of those!” I thought as I turned off from beside the dimly glimmering branch and began to head up the steep hillside.

  Faintly behind me, I heard my name called “Carl!”

Ignoring it I pressed forward, grabbing handfuls of roots to pull myself up the hillside.

  “Carl!” echoed again up the hills, faintly as if something were smothering the sound.

  Looking back over my shoulder I could see a bright stream of light shooting back and forth over the path I had abandoned.

  “CARL!” This time the sound of my name shook me as if from a dream.  I had heard my Gramps yell my name a million different ways but never with a sound like the fear I heard resonate in his call up the dark holler. Slithering down the muddy bank, I tried to shout back.

“Gramps” came out, barely a whisper.  As I slid further down the bank, the trees seemed to move to hide me from the beam of light Gramps was swinging wildly around.

  “CARL!” I heard more clearly as I struggled to stand up against a ropy mass of sticker thorns wrapped around my legs.  Where had that come from? I didn’t remember passing through them on the way up. The thorns bit deeply into my flesh, and even through my blue jeans.  They dug deep enough to draw a stream of blood and stain deeply into the tops of my white socks. Wrestling my way free, I finally managed to draw a breath and shout, “GRAMPS!”

  Gramps’ flashlight picked me out of the shadowing trees, like a spotlight finding an escaped convict. Rushing through the woods, Gramps charged towards me, his bright light never leaving me.  “Carl, don’t move! Stay still until I get there!” 

After Gramps reached me, he had clucked softly as he carefully pulled the thorns from my legs.  I gasped after each one but refused to cry.  As soon as he was sure I was okay, he gave me an earful and a couple of wallops as he led me down the trail and back towards the house, my camping adventure over.  “Moon water!” he scoffed.  “Whoever heard of such a thing?  Your cousins have been pulling your leg.  Remember when they told you to go pet that hen that was walking with her chicks?  What happened then?”  They like a good joke, your cousins.” 

Back in the present, I grinned as I remembered that old hen flying at my face. My cousins knew I wasn’t used to the country and never could resist poking fun.   There may not have been such a thing as moon water, but it made a good memory.  My mind flew back to the giant lightning bugs.  I had never seen them such a size before or since.  Were they lightning bugs?  I didn’t ponder long before deciding to head in the same direction again.  Why not head towards the “moon water?”  Maybe I would see the lights again. 

It was growing darker, but I had my flashlight with me.  I also had Daisy, though, so I knew her short legs would only take her so far.  I headed towards the waterfall, making sure to pay attention and look for thorns.  I walked as carefully as I could while scanning the sky. There was no more dog pen and, sadly, no more Gramps.  The night was deathly quiet save the chirping of crickets and the occasional tree frog.  I remembered the lights I had seen that day and was more and more convinced that they were not lightning bugs. The colors had ranged from yellow to pink to green and blue, and they were larger, much larger, than the normal firefly.  As I plodded along, I could hear the waterfall in the distance, but could see nothing unusual. The path was growing fainter, Daisy was slowing down, and I considered turning back.  Whatever the lights had been, they probably didn’t exist anymore. 

My tiny dachshund began to growl softly.  She was a couch potato whose belly sometimes dragged the ground, but now she was on alert, woofing softly.  “What do you hear, girl?”  I asked, bending down to pet her.  Instead of settling down, she darted forward, and with a speed I didn’t know she possessed, began to run up the hill.  “Daisy!” I yelled, frantically trying to catch up with her.  She would be no match for a coyote if there was one about.  Her stout little body disappeared in the woods, but I ran after her, calling her name. 

Suddenly a light appeared by the corner of my eye.  Green in color, it was about ten times the size of a firefly.  It flitted away and up the hill.  Another light, pink this time, came from the opposite direction, zig-zagging through the sky before it disappeared.  Several blue lights followed.  Although I was fascinated, I was determined to find Daisy before I investigated this further.  To my horror, I began to hear yelping at the top of the hill.  Armed with only a walking stick, I rushed towards the sound, determined to fight off any predators who had hurt my dog.

The yelping stilled.  I reached the top of the hill, sick at what I might find.  I saw nothing at first, then a glowing light in the distance.  Were there people up here?  I ran towards the light, calling Daisy’s name.

I pulled up short when I saw her, tail wagging, but standing in the middle of what looked like a circle of mushrooms.  They were no ordinary mushrooms, as they were all glowing brightly white.  Darting back and forth over Daisy and the mushrooms were the mysterious, brilliantly colored lights.  As I walked forward, I could see they were definitely not bugs.  Their little faces were surrounded by waves of hair, and their thin bodies were held up by gossamer wings.  They looked like beautiful little angels.  I stood, transfixed, amazed at what I was seeing. 

I found my voice, and croaked out “Daisy..”  She turned towards me, tail still wagging, but didn’t move.  Then I heard a tiny musical voice in my ear.  One of the creatures—was it a fairy, a sprite, or something else—was speaking to me!

“Daisy has entered our fairy circle,” the voice said.  The tiny form flew around my head. She had an abundance of red hair and green eyes in a pixie face.  “She cannot leave without answering our riddle.” 

“Riddle…” I stammered. “Who..what..who are you…?” 

“Some might call us fairies, or sprites.  The old woman who lived in the house below called us Will O’ Wisps,” she almost sang in her high, musical voice. 

“That was my Granny,” I whispered. 

“You are kin to Dorothy?” the tiny creature sang.  “She is a noble woman.”

“She was,” I sighed, “But she’s gone now.  Passed away.”

A tiny laugh sounded from the creature, somehow a blend of soft music and rushing water. “Nobody is ever really gone.”

  Eyes narrowed against the sudden brightness of the wildly flickering creatures, I started towards Daisy, intending to grab her and run as far and as fast as I could back to the safety of the house.  Before I could take more than half a step, the creature zoomed into my face, her gentle demeanor gone.

“Naughty, naughty,” she chirped, shaking a tiny finger in my face.  “None may leave our circle without answering our riddle.”

  Resisting the urge to swat the creature out of the air, I looked around the circle.  There didn’t appear to be an opening anywhere, although I knew I had just walked into it.  “Well, you can’t really expect a little dog to know the answer to any riddles.  She’s just a dog after all.”

  With a tinkling chuckle ,the creature zoomed in a loop, winding up right back in my face. “You’d be surprised what a little dog knows, although you may be correct.  This  one has a head full of fluff and speaks only of treats and warm beds.”

  Zooming off to hover over my Daisy like a light bulb, the creature continued, “Of course we may be able to make a deal for the both of you.  If you can answer three of our riddles we will allow you and your small friend to leave our circle unharmed.”

  Pulling myself up straight with shock, I sputtered, “Well, that’s hardly fair! Three riddles in exchange for the two of us!”   Laughing derisively, the fairy zoomed back into my face.

“Fair or not, that’s the bargain!  It’s always been known to all who dwell here that man or beast, flower or tree, all that enter may not leave, unless we cede.”

  Looking down at my happily wagging dachshund, I began to question not only my sanity but my commitment to Daisy. Sinking to the ground that was softly carpeted with springy moss, I sat cross-legged, put my head in my hands, and sighed, closing my eyes.  My mind was whirling.  I knew it had to be real, but what in the world had I stumbled into?

  I muttered to myself, “I should have listened to Granny.” I suddenly felt a warm breeze and a scent I hadn’t smelled in too long.  It was that smell of cut grass, wood smoke, and peppermint that seemed to follow Gramps wherever he went. Looking around I couldn’t see anything remotely human, but I swore I could almost feel his presence.

 “Gramps? Are you here? How can you be here?  You disappeared!” I croaked, scrambling awkwardly to my feet.

  Whirling around wildly, the lights of the wisps pulsated, almost strobing in their intensity.

  “Quiet you be! No help from thee!” shrieked the pixie. “We caught you fair!”

From the corner of my eye, I caught a faint glimmer and saw the shape of a man.  Turning slowly so as not to lose sight of the faint image, my heart thudding, I whispered “Gramps?”

  The shadow glimmered and strengthened slowly and I could hear his voice, barely a whisper.   “It’s me, Boy.  Trapped by those damned pixies.”

The flickering shadow approached and I could feel Gramps’ presence, and smell that scent I missed so badly.  “Don’t trust them, Boy, they cheat,” he said, his voice harsh and hopeless. “Granny tried for years to bargain and riddle for me but never could wheedle me out of their clutches. The best she could do was get me here, close to home.”

  Tears sprang to my eyes as I pictured my Granny, crouching outside this portal to who knows where, trying to free her beloved.  “Gramps, I’m trapped now too! I’ve got no choice but to try.”

  “Do your best Boy, I’ll do what I can to help but I’m almost gone now that Granny isn’t around to lend me her strength. 

  I squared my shoulders and puffed out a shuddering sigh.  “Alright pixies, it’s a deal.  Three riddles for me and mine.”

  The lights whirled wilder and brighter, and a shriek filled the air, loud enough to make me cringe, and drawing a wild “Ark!” from a trembling Daisy.

  “The bargain is made!” the fiery sprite danced in front of me. “Prepare yourself and let us see if you are smart as your Granny be!”

  Smiling to myself, I knew I had this won. I had sat at the knee of some of the greatest riddlers and storytellers that the mountains ever made.  Granny and all her kin had a way with words that made me wonder sometimes, and while I didn’t have that gift I did have a good memory.  I could recall every riddle or story Granny and all my aunts and uncles had ever shared.

  “Let’s do this then, pixie!  I need to get home.”

  The pixie flittered into my face again, causing me to flinch slightly “Proud you are and humbled you’ll be if can’t answer our riddles three.”

  Rolling my eyes slightly at her penchant for rhyming, I sighed, “Let’s begin.”

The pixie swarm whirled faster and shot straight up into the air, and with a flash shining words appeared in the night sky.  Squinting slightly against the brightness, I read,

Very thin, she grows each night
Many sailors seek her light
She lures them in with glowing face
But then is gone without a trace

A smile spread across my face as I answered, “The moon, of course.”

  Again there was a whirl of fire and a shriek, and a spear of fire struck out and hit a nearby toadstool, instantly igniting it.

I heard a whisper from Gramps’ slowly wavering form, “Well done, Boy!”

  “Thanks, Gramps!” I whispered back.  Not wanting to draw this contest out any further than was necessary I drew another breath and, addressing the Pixie leader, said “Let’s go.”

  The pixies swarmed and whirled again and with a brighter flash another riddle appeared in glowing letters hovering in the middle of the circle,

I come out every night without being fetched
I show you the way without a map
I am in motion without even moving
By day I am lost without being stolen

I smiled again, as this was almost too easy. “The Stars,” I said, a note of triumph evident in my voice.

  The whirl of fire, a shriek, and another burning toadstool lit the ring around me with its glittering light.

  “One more riddle and we’re done here, pixies! Let’s finish this!” I said, trembling despite myself.

  Gramps’ shade drew closer, and I heard his thin whisper in my ear “Careful Boy, they are as proud as they are tricky. They’ll do their best to find a way to keep you here, don’t doubt.”

“Mind your manners, man child!” the pixie leader shouted, flitting into my face again. “We’ve kept your elder here, and not even your noble Dorothy could wheedle him free. One last riddle for you and yours, and then we shall see!”

The Pixies whirled even faster and higher than before, the flash of light an intense red so bright I was almost blinded.  Spots swam in front of my eyes.  I could feel Daisy huddled against my ankle, trembling. Reaching down, I grabbed her firmly, in anticipation of our walk to freedom. Blinking my eyes to clear the spots, I could see a fiery scrawl shimmering in the center of the circle,

My heart opens the door to a tree
When I reach the ground the answer you’ll see
Though it sounds absurd
I can fly like a bird

I could feel the answer tickling my brain, but it seemed just out of reach.  Sweat breaking on my brow, I wracked my brain.  I couldn’t recall ever hearing anything about doors or trees.

The Pixie leader swooped in close again, eying me angrily. “The answer and be quick!  Time grows short.”

Sputtering and clutching Daisy even tighter, I closed my eyes. Suddenly I felt a calm wash over me, and like in a movie, I saw the maple seeds floating down from the tree that Granny had planted in front of the house when I was a child.  That tree shaded the house and played host to many a squirrel and woodpecker, not to mention kids climbing into the waving branches.

Opening my eyes and looking around the circle I could see Gramps’ wavering shadow glimmering a bit brighter.

With a smile, I knew the answer and who had provided it.  “A key!” I said, “A maple seed!”

The pixies swarmed around me angrily, plucking at my clothes and skin, and raising welts along my face and arms.  “Wrong, wrong, wrong!” they chanted gleefully. “There is only one answer, not two!  You belong to us now, all three!”

I swatted them away and glared at the leader.  “It was one answer and you know it.  A maple seed is called a key!  Let us go!” 

She crossed her arms, fluttering in the air and not responding. 

“If there are rules for this circle, let us go!” I demanded.  “We broke the rules by entering the circle.  You are breaking the rules by ignoring my correct answer.  If there are consequences for breaking rules, then you must have to pay them too!”

She shook her tiny red mane, sparks flying off of her.  “You offered two answers, not one. Your answer be wrong.”

“You lie,” I shouted.  “If you don’t need to follow the rules, neither do I.”  I grabbed Daisy and tried to move, but to no avail. 

“The spell should be broken,” whispered Gramps.  “You answered correctly.  She’s doing something else to keep you here. I believe you broke the magic of the circle, at least for yourself.” 

A whoosh sounded overhead, and a dark shadow swept by me. I looked around, confused.

“Let him GOOOO…”, a ghostly voice sounded. The voice was across from me now, and above.  I looked slightly up and saw a brown owl, illuminated in the moonlight, with glowing eyes fixed on the pixie.  I have no idea how I could understand him and figured it came from the magic of the fairy circle.

“Away with ye!,” she snapped, flying into his face.

  “Release him now,” the owl ordered. 

“Why should I?” 

“You told a lie, Darenda, and insulted the Great Maple.  This man’s answer was correct.  The Maple knows her children are called by many names, and one of them is “key.”  As you know, I live in her branches and do her bidding.  She sent me to warn you.” 

I wondered what a maple tree could do to this magical being, but I saw fear flash in the leader’s eyes.  Apparently, she was called Darenda.  

The owl hopped a bit on the branch.  “Let him go or she will not release her elixir to you.”

The other pixies started flying about in alarm, their lights flashing.   I did not know why this was such a threat.  Was maple sap their main source of food, or of their magic? 

I looked directly at the owl.  “I had no idea the trees were listening.”

“The trees were here before us and will be here after we are gone.  They know and hear many things.   And the Great Maple feeds and shelters the creatures of the forest.”  Again the owl directed his gaze at Darenda.  “You know the penalty you must pay now.  What is your decision?”

Darenda sulked, and sparks of green light began to sputter out of her thin form. She glared at me. “You and Daisy may go, but don’t come into our circle again.”  A flash of red light burst forth, and a third mushroom ignited.

If owls could nod, this one did, and he flew away, presumably back to his leafy home.

I stepped out of the circle and turned back to Darenda.  “What about Gramps!” I demanded.

Her green eyes blazed.  “He owes a debt much greater than a riddle.  He owes me a life.”

I turned to my grandfather’s shadowy figure.  “A life?”  What does she mean?” I asked. 

If his gray form could turn grayer, it did.  He slumped toward the ground, and I felt his sadness.  He whimpered softly, and began his story.

  “Many years ago, before you were born, I was walking in these woods.  Granny and I had lived here a long time, and I knew these mountains well.  I had no fears here, and no trouble walking around at night.  As I was walking, I saw a light.  It was green and dancing around in the air.  It was much too big to be an insect.  As I watched it, another one, blue, came in and hovered in the air above me.  I did not know what could cause such a light.  I’d heard stories of unexplained lights at Brown Mountain, but that’s over two hours away.  I saw no cars or machinery that could cause these lights.” 

“So it was them,” I said, gesturing at the horde of listening fairies.

Gramps nodded and continued.  “Wanting to explore further, I picked up a branch and took a soft swing at it.  I felt it catch something.  It was then I realized it wasn’t just a light.  The blue light flew into a bank, fell to the ground, and went out. I ran to it and found the form of a tiny woman, beautiful as can be.  And she wasn’t moving.  The air started to fill with brilliant colors, and then this one—he pointed at Darenda—started screaming that I killed her sister. 

“That you did!” Darenda responded in a sob.

Gramps was sobbing too, but kept speaking.   “I ran.  There was no circle to keep me there. I didn’t know of fairy circles then.  But they followed me, and that’s how Gran met them.  She learned of my crime.  I had killed a living thing—one of their sisters—Sapphire.  They wanted justice and demanded my life.

“That is a fair return,” hissed Darenda, before Gramps continued.  

  “Gran insisted it was an accident, but they wanted payment.  She bargained for years, with berries and concoctions she made from plants that grew all around.  She battled them with riddles, too.  Riddles that she taught you.  All those years you visited us in the summer, she was bargaining for me.  That’s why I kept a close eye on where you and your cousins went at night.  But one day they trapped me in their circle.  They can create them anywhere, and they tricked me into it.  Gran eventually found me, answered their riddles, and bought me time, but they wanted a life.  And mine was fading.”

Gramps gestured his skeletal arms.  “Eventually Gran had to say I disappeared because so little remained.   She came to this circle every day, begging for my freedom.  But it was never granted.” When she stopped coming I knew she had passed.   He sighed as only a shadow can, and I felt his gloom. “I won’t let you spend your life trying to get me released. Take Daisy and go.”

I hesitated, then picked Daisy up.  “I’m going to take Daisy to the house, and then I’m coming back.”  He nodded sadly, and I wondered why he didn’t object.  “Will the circle still be here when I return?” 

Darenda laughed. “The circle is wherever we want it to be.” 

“Well, then I can’t leave.  I can’t let my Gramps die.” 

“Nobody’s ever really gone,” a soft and very familiar voice sounded behind me.  I whirled around, startled, and began to tear up.  I would never forget that voice. 

“Gran!”  She was younger than I ever knew her, and she glowed with a light that I could feel as well as see.  I felt an immense peace pass over me.  I knew she had died, but this was no ghost.  She was more alive than ever.

“Dorothy!” Gramps’ voice was stronger than ever before, but he remained a shadow.  “Oh how I’ve missed you, but why are you here? Nobody can save me.”

“Ah, but you’re wrong.  It’s time for you to come home.”

Darenda flew forward, emitting red sparks of rage.  “He can’t go anywhere!  He owes us a life.” 

“His life on earth is over.”  Gran did not appear angry as she looked at the furious sprite.  “ Your debt is paid.” 

Gran reached out a hand, and a thin, shadowy limb grasped hers.  As she pulled him out of the circle, he transformed slowly, and the skeletal figure gradually became a much younger version of the Gramps I knew.  Soon he was glowing, radiating happiness.

I looked at Darenda.  Emerald tears were running down her face.  “What about my sister!” 

“She flies happily in a place with more magic than you can ever dream, and she is at a peace you don’t yet understand. Now you go.”  Gran pointed at her.  “Your power over my family is at an end.”

Darenda shot up into the air, followed by her brilliantly colored horde of sisters.  She hovered there for a moment, and then called out, “The debt is paid!”  They gathered above me in a circle of glorious color, then flew off like a flock of vibrant birds.

“They’re gone!”

“Always be on the lookout for them, Carl.  They could come back at any time.”  And don’t let your dog or children run free during the night.”

“My children?”

Gran and Gramps smiled.  “Have a beautiful life, Carl.  We will see you soon, and will never be far away.”

As they walked away, I heard Gran’s voice softly in my ear  “Tell them the story of the Will O’ Wisps,”

As I bid them farewell, I knew I was never leaving this place.  I watched their lights fade into the mist, my heart bursting with happiness.

With Daisy beside me, I headed back to the cabin to unpack.

AUTHORS’ NOTE

We combined fairies, pixies, will ‘o wisps, and sprites into one creature. We also added in the North Carolina legend of the Brown Mountain Lights. You can read more about the Brown Mountain Lights here. My uncle told us many stories of the wampus cat, so he is mentioned here as well. While researching, we found a legend that said the “owl guards the maple tree,” so the owl made an appearance here.

© Bonnie DeMoss

Self-Published Saturday: Blog Tour and Book Review/Butterfly Assassins

Normally I don’t do blog tours on a Saturday, but since this is for an Independently Published book, I can post this on Self-Published Saturday. Self-Published Saturday is solely devoted to Self-Published/Indie authors, and is my attempt to help them with the marketing side of things a little bit. As you know, self-published authors have to do it all, from cover design to editing to marketing. I am happy to give any help I can in that effort.

Butterfly Assassins is the second book in the Wifi of Dreams series, and I put up a review of the first book Wilson Indeed, earlier today. I have reviewed Wilson Indeed before, and I thought today was a great day to post them together. Butterfly Assassins is part of a Blog Tour by Zooloo’s Book Tours. Please see the book description and review below. ,

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Sally Bennett was an orphan and an only child. Incomprehensibly, at the age of ten, both her parents died in quick succession. Proof that fate deals our cards blind. One can be dealt three buses in a row, a run of traffic lights on red, or a pair of deaths; it all depends on the shuffle. Destiny was playing its hand and having led with a heart, the face card of her mother, Sally had no other option but to follow suit. 

When Wilson and Daisy play with the Tetris blocks of the future, problems soon stack up. Butterfly Assassins is the sequel to Wilson Indeed and takes us back to Sally Bennett, the car accident, shared dreams, and a divine intervention outside Davenport train station. This is Book Two is the WiFi of Dreams Trilogy.

In a recent survey, 85% of people said yes to the question: “Do you believe there are things out there that science can’t explain?”

If you’re one of those 85%, you’ll love The WiFi of Dreams series.

BOOK REVIEW

Book 2 in Steve Walsh’s Wifi of Dreams series is possibly even more creative and imaginative than the first book. It cannot be read as a standalone. In order to understand the intriguing world of dreams, you must enter the Marketplace through Book 1, Wilson Indeed. The Marketplace is a Town Square of sorts for the world of dreams. In Book 2, we revisit Sally Bennett, to whom we were introduced in Book 1, and we follow her to the Marketplace. We are also brought back into Wilson’s life and see the complications that manipulating the future can cause. The characters are so well done, and the story is clever and captivating, with many twists and turns. The fantastical Marketplace, its many inhabitants, and their complex schemes will keep you turning the page. The omniscient narrator is fascinating themselves, as they appear to be the ones pulling, or trying to pull, the strings. The way that dreams interact with the real world is captivating.

Butterfly Assassins shows us how the world can turn on a whim or the flutter of a wing. It is a creative adventure that should not be missed.

I received a free copy of this book via Zooloo’s Book Tours. I also obtained a copy on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can read it for free. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Walsh

For twenty years Steve Walsh honed his skills in prose as an advertising copywriter; the ‘ideas’ man in a Manchester based marketing agency that carried his name.

In the late 1990’s he stumbled into the world of the dotcom entrepreneur and his claim to fame is as the creator of the hotel booking service, laterooms.com and the first car insurance comparison site, easycover.com. So, the birth of Meerkats, a Welsh opera singer and being confused.com might be considered as down to him, for which he apologises. 

He now uses his vivid imagination and gentle Mancunian wit to write visionary fantasy novels with bold concepts. Wilson indeed, the first book in his trilogy The WiFi of Dreams takes the reader on a richly imagined, fact meets fiction adventure story to which we can relate and feel we can touch. A whimsical interrogation of the inexplicable and fundamental tenets of our lives – the role and meaning of dreams, the nature of the hereafter, hard and soft science, a love story – what more can you want? 

Butterfly Assassins is the second book in the trilogy.

Born and bred in the north west of England, Steve Walsh has three children and likes to fly fish in his spare time.

BUY BUTTERFLY ASSASSINS ON AMAZON

  1. If you read the book, please leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads, and wherever you post about books. Reviews are needed and are extremely important. Some people are intimidated by the thought of leaving a review. Don’t be. The review doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. A couple of lines about how the book made you feel will make the author’s day and help the author in a big way.
  2. Please press the Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress buttons below and share this book with your friends and social media followers. Even if a book is not your cup of tea, it might be theirs, and this gives them a look at it too!

Self-Published Saturday/Wilson Indeed

It’s Self-Published Saturday! This is the day dedicated solely to reviews and promotion of self-published authors. Self-published/Independent Authors have to do it all, from editing to cover design to marketing. SPS is my effort to help those authors in the area of marketing. Today we have Wilson Indeed, the first book in the Wifi of Dreams Series by Steve Walsh. This is an extremely clever and creative novel about the merging of the real world with the world of dreams. See my review below.

BOOK DESCRIPTION & REVIEW

BOOK DESCRIPTION

In The Market Square, the fantastical setting for all his dream activities, Wilson Armitage is able to take night classes on any subject and absorb a wealth of knowledge from just a few hours of sleep.  As though logging into a wifi of dreams to download information.  As his childhood passes, both wary of and reticent to acknowledge his extraordinary ability, Wilson attempts to lead a normal life and stay beneath the radar of family and friends.At the age of seventeen however, his cover is blown by Daisy Meadowcroft.  During a chance encounter in The Market Square, they agree to meet the next day and are propelled from a dream world into the reality of a coffee shop in the centre of Manchester.  Enthralled by their shared gift, they strike up a close friendship and encourage each other to seek a rational, scientific explanation for their unique talents.

Butterfly Assassins, the second book in the trilogy, is available on Amazon.

In a recent survey, 85% of people said yes to the question: “Do you believe there are things out there that science can’t explain?”

If you’re one of those 85%, you’ll love The WiFi of Dreams series.

BOOK REVIEW

I was captivated by this imaginative novel that immediately throws you straight into the action on the first page. At first, this book seems to be going a certain direction, but suddenly you realize you are reading something extraordinary and going on an amazing adventure with the intriguing young Wilson. Going to school in his dreams, Wilson can speak several languages, restore classic vehicles, perform life-saving medical procedures, and more, and he is still a kid. 

When he meets Daisy in the dream state and they decide to meet in the real world, that’s when the fun really begins, and when danger starts to lurk ever closer. From the dream world to the real world, Wilson’s abilities soon become known to the “powers that be.” When Wilson and Daisy investigate the disappearance of Vanessa, the mother of Wilson’s best friend, they truly begin to shake things up. 

Wilson Indeed is a captivating mix of fantasy, science and mystery that will take you on a fascinating ride into the world of dreams. Through Wilson and Daisy, we can explore the possibilities of what can happen when the fantastical world we visit when we sleep crosses into real life. This is the first book in the Wifi of Dreams series. I highly recommend this to fans of Fantasy, Young Adult, Mystery, and Science Fiction, as well as those who love genre mashups.

Thank you to Zooloo’s Book Tours for a copy of this book. I also purchased one on Amazon. My opinions are voluntary and are my own.

COVER RATING

When I first reviewed this book on this blog, it had a different cover, which I thought could have been a lot more noticeable. Since then, it appears to have been updated, and I prefer this cover, which I think “pops” a lot more. My only criticism is that the author’s name should be a lot larger and more prominent so people will see it and remember it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

For twenty years Steve Walsh honed his skills in prose as an advertising copywriter; the ‘ideas’ man in a Manchester based marketing agency that carried his name.

In the late 1990’s he stumbled into the world of the dotcom entrepreneur and his claim to fame is as the creator of the hotel booking service, laterooms.com and the first car insurance comparison site, easycover.com. So, the birth of Meerkats, a Welsh opera singer, and being confused.com might be considered as down to him, for which he apologizes. 

He now uses his vivid imagination and gentle Mancunian wit to write visionary fantasy novels with bold concepts. Wilson indeed, the first book in his trilogy The WiFi of Dreams takes the reader on a richly imagined, fact meets fiction adventure story to which we can relate and feel we can touch. A whimsical interrogation of the inexplicable and fundamental tenets of our lives – the role and meaning of dreams, the nature of the hereafter, hard and soft science, a love story – what more can you want? 

BUY WILSON INDEED ON AMAZON

BEFORE YOU GO

  1. If you read the book, please leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads, and wherever you post about books. Reviews are needed and are extremely important. Some people are intimidated by the thought of leaving a review. Don’t be. The review doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. A couple of lines about how the book made you feel will make the author’s day and help with book sales in a big way.
  2. Please press the Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress buttons below and share this book with your friends and social media followers. Even if a book is not your cup of tea, it might be theirs, and this gives them a look at it too!

Blog Tour and Book Review: Wilson Indeed

*Book Review near the bottom of the page

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Book Blurb :- In The Market Square, the fantastical setting for all his dream activities, Wilson Armitage is able to take night classes on any subject and absorb a wealth of knowledge from just a few hours of sleep.  As though logging into a wifi of dreams to download information.  As his childhood passes, both wary of and reticent to acknowledge his extraordinary ability, Wilson attempts to lead a normal life and stay beneath the radar of family and friends.At the age of seventeen however, his cover is blown by Daisy Meadowcroft.  During a chance encounter in The Market Square, they agree to meet the next day and are propelled from a dream world into the reality of a coffee shop in the centre of Manchester.  Enthralled by their shared gift, they strike up a close friendship and encourage each other to seek a rational, scientific explanation for their unique talents.

Butterfly Assassins, the second book in the trilogy, is available on Amazon.

In a recent survey, 85% of people said yes to the question: “Do you believe there are things out there that science can’t explain?”

If you’re one of those 85%, you’ll love The WiFi of Dreams series.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Walsh

For twenty years Steve Walsh honed his skills in prose as an advertising copywriter; the ‘ideas’ man in a Manchester based marketing agency that carried his name.

In the late 1990’s he stumbled into the world of the dotcom entrepreneur and his claim to fame is as the creator of the hotel booking service, laterooms.com and the first car insurance comparison site, easycover.com. So, the birth of Meerkats, a Welsh opera singer, and being confused.com might be considered as down to him, for which he apologizes. 

He now uses his vivid imagination and gentle Mancunian wit to write visionary fantasy novels with bold concepts. Wilson indeed, the first book in his trilogy The WiFi of Dreams takes the reader on a richly imagined, fact meets fiction adventure story to which we can relate and feel we can touch. A whimsical interrogation of the inexplicable and fundamental tenets of our lives – the role and meaning of dreams, the nature of the hereafter, hard and soft science, a love story – what more can you want? 

BOOK REVIEW

I was captivated by this imaginative novel that immediately throws you straight into the action on the first page. At first, this book seems to be going a certain direction, but suddenly you realize you are reading something extraordinary and going on an amazing adventure with the intriguing young Wilson. Going to school in his dreams, Wilson can speak several languages, restore classic vehicles, perform life-saving medical procedures, and more, and he is still a kid.

When he meets Daisy in the dream state and they decide to meet in the real world, that’s when the fun really begins, and when danger starts to lurk ever closer. From the dream world to the real world, Wilson’s abilities soon become known to the “powers that be.” When Wilson and Daisy investigate the disappearance of Vanessa, the mother of Wilson’s best friend, they truly begin to shake things up.

Wilson Indeed is a captivating mix of fantasy, science and mystery that will take you on a fascinating ride into the world of dreams. Through Wilson and Daisy, we can explore the possibilities of what can happen when the fantastical world we visit when we sleep crosses into real life. This is the first book in the Wifi of Dreams series. I highly recommend this to fans of Fantasy, Young Adult, Mystery, and Science Fiction, as well as those who love genre mashups.

Thank you to Zooloo’s Book Tours for a copy of this book. I also purchased one on Amazon. My opinions are voluntary and are my own.

This is a 5-star read for me. I will note, however, that the book needs a better cover. The cover should be as fantastical and imaginative as the story.

BUY LINKS

BUY WILSON INDEED (BOOK ONE)

BUY BUTTERFLY ASSASSINS (BOOK TWO)

Self-Published Saturday, July 31, 2021

This is the newest edition of Self-Published Saturday, where I highlight self-published books and their authors. As you know, self-published authors have to do their own marketing, and I hope with this feature to help spread the word about their books. This week’s feature includes two books, both by Brett Salter. They are books 3 and 4 of his Talisman Series. I reviewed Books 1 and 2 already, and I have provided links below. The Talisman Series is a young adult/middle grade fantasy adventure–with dragons! As always, if you buy the book, please remember to leave a review. This is so important for self-published authors.

Book Review: Windy City Ruins (Book 3)

In Book 3 of the Talisman series, Rome, Julian, and Mrs. Case head to New York to meet with a contact and learn more about the talismans and their mission. Circumstances land them in the “Windy City” of Chicago, and they meet new friends and face new challenges. With targets on their backs and evil drawing ever closer, they continue to search for information on how to defeat the Tyrant King and his armies. I continue to enjoy this series, as Rome and Julian learn even more about talismans and their mission, and they meet fascinating new friends along the way. Rome continues to grow and learn. While I was still frustrated with Julian’s rudeness early in the book, he begins to show some growth as well. The group meets even more players in this game and we are introduced to another type of dragon. There is a shocking surprise that will provide more challenges than ever. I continue to be fascinated by the dragons in this series and the good vs. evil battle as a whole. Brett Salter has given us a fascinating world to explore in the Talisman series.

Book Review: The Battle for Verdana (Book 4)

Rome and Julian’s search for true synergy takes them to the forests of the Pacific Northwest where they search for answers and deal with the ever-pursuing enemy. More surprises and new friends await them in the latest book in the Talisman series.

Wow! Five stars for this one as Rome and Julian continue to grow in strength and humility. There are ups and downs, and a fantastic surprise at the end that will not disappoint. As always, epic battles abound, and I really enjoyed the character growth I saw in this book. This book teaches kids important lessons in integrity, humility, and team building. A team is made up of those with different strengths and talents, and I am glad to see this lesson shown so well in these books. I am looking forward to Book 5 and the adventures that await.

LINK TO MY REVIEW OF BOOK 1: THE SEARCH FOR SYNERGY

LINK TO MY REVIEW OF BOOK 2: RIDERS OF FIRE AND ICE

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brett Salter

Brett Salter’s background in writing stems mostly from the inspiration he found as a kid in Fantasy and Sci-Fi books. These include The Chronicles of Narnia, The Xanth Novels, The Time Quintet, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and everything from Shakespeare to Dr. Seuss.  In his formative years, he joined several punk rock bands and wrote songs, poetry, and short stories aplenty.  As an adult he took on a dare and wrote The Talisman Series.  He has published four books in this series so far:  The Search for Synergy, Riders of Fire and Ice, Windy City Ruins, and The Battle for Verdana.

BUY THE TALISMAN SERIES

You will find links buy all four books of the Talisman Series by clicking on the photo above.. Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read them for free.

Q&A With Brett Salter

Brett Salter was kind enough to answer some questions for me, and I thank him again for taking the time out to do that. Here is the Q&A below:

What inspired you to write the Talisman Series?  I’ve told this story a bunch of times.  And it’s completely true.  My mother dared me to write a book off a premise we came up with together, and I just went with it.  Before I knew it, I had the first book done and since it ended on a cliffhanger, we were like, “What next?”.  I realized that I liked writing so much that I just kept on going.  Now, I’m sitting on 4 self-published books and 7 more waiting in the wings (get it?)

What is the main message you want readers to take away from this series?  I think the main thing I want to impart on young readers is to always take that first step into adventure.  It could be a situation in real life or cracking open a book and following along with characters.  Preaching creativity is really what I strive for with my life and my kids’ lives.  I want them to be passionate about their interests and always be creative because this world need creativity now more than ever.  

How is Book 5 coming along?  Can you share the title yet, and how many books do you have planned for this series?  I plan on releasing the 5th book of my proposed 12 by winter of this year! It needs an edit or two….or three or four. And it needs some cover art, but it should be out early 2022. Book four ends with a pretty big cliffhanger regarding our heroes and their powers.  Well, that DOES get resolved, but the 5th book opens so much more trouble for our heroes in the form Darkbrand threats. Plus, we get a ton of reveals regarding the “big bad’s” plans, more Talismans, and we maybe, possibly, definitely get to visit a new dragon den???  I have several titles in the mix, but I have not settled on one yet.  This book is going to be a little darker than the previous 4, so I need title reflective of the darker turn in the series.  I’m open to suggestions

In your bio you mention being inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia and the Lord of the Rings, among others.  Both series feature scenes with dragons, of course, and Eustace from the Chronicles of Narnia even turns into a dragon at one point.  Obviously Eustace was a boy who was turned into a dragon and Rome finds out he is a dragon disguised as a boy.  However, is Eustace an inspiration of sorts for Rome?  That’s an interesting question.  I think the idea of Rome transforming into a dragon may have unintentionally been inspired by Eustace Scrubb or perhaps a similar character from another work of fiction.  But I will say this.  The main difference between Euastace and Rome is that Eustace’s transformation furthers his character development by forcing him to look at his attitude and behavior and change the way he treats people for the better.  Whereas Rome’s transformation is meant to be more in keeping with his destiny.  Confirming he is a dragon DOES change him for the better, but It’s more of realizing his future than trying to make up for past indifferences.  I do see the similarities though.  

What other authors are you reading now?  I read everything E.C. Meyers puts out because most of his books are cannon side projects to my favorite show RWBY.  I’m reading “The Breadwinner” by Deborah Ellis alongside my son for a school assignment.  I just finished “Sirens of Titan” by Kurt Vonnegut.  And, I intend to start “War for the Oaks” by Emma Bull on a friend’s recommendation.

Do you have any other series planned for the future?  Abso-lutely!  I do have the humblest beginnings of a second series in the works.  I have the plot of the first book and the “Legendarium” already put to paper (or hardrive).  That series will be a work of portal fiction mixed with destiny fiction and entail more adult themes as compared to The Talisman Series.  I came up with the idea in between writing books 8 and 9, and I WILL eventually get around to writing that series.  Maybe after I put out book five of The Talisman Series this winter.

Thanks again to Brett Salter for his great responses to our questions!

Two Reminders before you go:

  1. If you buy the book(s), please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books. This is very important to self-published authors.
  2. Please click on the “share” buttons below and share these books with your Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress followers. A little bit of help from all of us will help self-published authors go a long way!

Blog Tour and Book Review: The Abdication.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

The town of Unity sits perched on the edge of a yawning ravine where, long ago, a charisma of angels provided spiritual succour to a fledgeling human race. Then mankind was granted the gift of free will and had to find its own way, albeit with the guidance of the angels. The people’s first conscious act was to make an exodus from Unity. They built a rope bridge across the ravine and founded the town of Topeth. For a time, the union between the people of Topeth and the angels of Unity was one of mutual benefit. After that early spring advance, there had been a torrid decline in which mankind’s development resembled a crumpled, fading autumnal leaf.

Following the promptings of an inner voice, Tula, a young woman from the city, trudges into Topeth. Her quest is to abide with the angels and thereby discover the right and proper exercise of free will. To do that, she has to cross the bridge – and overcome her vertigo. Topeth is in upheaval; the townsfolk blame the death of a child on dust from the nearby copper mines. The priests have convinced them that a horde of devils have thrown the angels out of Unity and now occupy the bridge, possessing anyone who trespasses on it. Then there’s the heinous Temple of Moloch!

The Abdication is the story of Tula’s endeavour to step upon the path of a destiny far greater than she could ever have imagined.

BOOK REVIEW: THE ABDICATION:

I would best describe The Abdication as a fantasy thriller with elements of historical fiction, the supernatural, and biblical imagery. I might even add alternate history, as biblical characters appear, but in a different way. Angels, Devils and Moloch play heavily in this story and are, of course, also found in the Bible. Some characters, such as Ruth, Sarah, and Enoch, share names and certain traits with Biblical characters. In this novel, mankind decided to leave Unity after being granted the gift of free will, similar to the Bible story of Adam and Eve, who were forced to leave Eden after gaining the knowledge of good and evil. I see Unity as Eden, and Tula as the representation of mankind trying to return to Eden, or mankind trying to seek out God. Child sacrifice to Moloch is an element of history that is brought into this book and is one of the consequences of man receiving free will. To me, the rope bridge between Topeth and Unity is a symbol of man’s separation from God, and Tula as a symbol of those who try to cross that breach.

The very name of the town Topeth provokes thought, as it is a slightly different spelling than tophet, which comes from the Hebrew toph “a drum,” because the cries of children sacrificed by the priests of Moloch were drowned by the noise of drums, or from taph or toph, meaning “to burn.” The Middle English definition of tophet from Merriam Webster literally refers to the shrine used to sacrifice children to Molech or Moloch in the book of Jeremiah. The author has put a great deal of thought and meaning into every detail of this book.

This novel is entertaining, but will also make you pause and reflect, especially about the consequences of free will and man’s relationship with God. This is a thought-provoking read that will make you consider the results of actions and how evil comes about.

I received a free copy of this book via Zooloo’s Book Tours. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Justin Newland is an author of historical fantasy and secret history thrillers – that’s history with a supernatural twist. His stories feature known events and real people from history which are re-told and examined through the lens of the supernatural. He gives author talks and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio Bristol’s Thought for the Day. He lives with his partner in plain sight of the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England.

OTHER BOOKS BY JUSTIN NEWLAND

The Genes of Isis is a tale of love, destruction and ephemeral power set under the skies of Ancient Egypt. A re-telling of the Biblical story of the flood, it reveals the mystery of the genes of Isis – or genesis – of mankind. 

The Old Dragon’s Head is a historical fantasy and supernatural thriller set during the Ming Dynasty and played out in the shadows the Great Wall of China. It explores the secret history of the influences that shaped the beginnings of modern times. 

Set during the Great Enlightenment, The Coronation reveals the secret history of the Industrial Revolution. 

BUY THE ABDICATION

AMAZON

BARNES AND NOBLE

APPLE BOOKS

ZOOLOO’S BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE

Self-Published Saturday: July 17th, 2021

Here is the newest edition of Self-Published Saturday, where I highlight great self-published authors and introduce you to their books. As you know, self-published authors have to do it all, from editing to cover design to marketing. My hope for this feature is that it helps authors in their marketing efforts. This week I am featuring Riders of Fire and Ice by Brett Salter. This is the second book in the Talisman series, a middle grade/young adult fantasy series with dragons! See my review below.

As always, if you decide to buy the book, make sure and leave a review. Reviews are very important for self-published authors, and really all authors, as it helps spread that so important word-of-mouth that can make your book a success. Please also share this post on social media by using the Twitter and Facebook buttons below. Feel free to reblog this as well. We need our self-published authors to get as much attention as possible.

BOOK REVIEW: RIDERS OF FIRE AND ICE

Rome is a boy, but has learned he is really a dragon who can take human form. Julian is from a family of well-established knights. Together they are a brotherhood, and they are descendants of dragon/knight alliances of old. They have been searching for complete Synergy, and although they have found a shadow of it, full Synergy is still not in their grasp. Full Synergy will give them the use of all of their powers. They head off in search of answers in order to fight the evil that is coming.

Rome and Julian head to London on a school trip, chaperoned by a principal who is giving Rome suspicious vibes. Although they do plan to educate themselves on this trip, it has nothing to do with school. They want to find out more about Camelot and its connection to Synergy. Along the way, they meet new friends and new enemies, get the answers to more questions, and develop more mysteries to explore.

Although this is the second book in a series, it can be read as a standalone because there is a synopsis of Book 1 in the prologue. If you want to avoid spoilers, read Book 1 before looking at the prologue. Rome is really growing as a character, learning about his abilities, and questioning his background. Julian still has a lot of character flaws and his treatment of others sometimes annoys me, but the author begins showing us the reasons behind his behavior. The battles in this book, as always, are fierce and entertaining, as Rome grows in strength and wisdom and faces even fiercer enemies. Julian’s character development is much slower, but there are hints of maturity to come. More clues are provided in the mystery of the talismans, and Rome gains some much-needed allies.

This is an engaging and creative YA/MG fantasy that continues to ask the question: What if you found out you were a dragon? The answers take Rome on the adventure of a lifetime.

Four and a half stars, rounded up to five on sites with no half star option.

I downloaded this book on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can read the whole series, which currently consists of four books, for free.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brett Salter

Brett Salter’s background in writing stems mostly from the inspiration he found as a kid in Fantasy and Sci-Fi books. These include The Chronicles of Narnia, The Xanth Novels, The Time Quintet, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and everything from Shakespeare to Dr. Seuss.  In his formative years, he joined several punk rock bands and wrote songs, poetry, and short stories aplenty.  As an adult he took on a dare and wrote The Talisman Series.  He has published four books in this series so far:  The Search for Synergy, Riders of Fire and Ice, Windy City Ruins, and The Battle for Verdana.

BUY THE ENTIRE TALISMAN SERIES ON AMAZON (Kindle Unlimited Subscribers Can Read It For Free)

THE TALISMAN SERIES WIKI FAN PAGE (SPOILERS!)

*REMINDER: AS ALWAYS, IF YOU DECIDE TO READ THE BOOK, PLEASE LEAVE A REVIEW. THE AUTHORS APPRECIATE THIS SO MUCH!

MY AMAZON REVIEW (“HELPFUL” VOTES APPRECIATED)

Self-Published Saturday: June 19, 2021

Today’s Self-Published Saturday feature is The Search for Synergy, the first book in The Talisman Series by Brett Salter. As always with self-published books, be sure to leave a review if you decide to read it. Reviews are extremely important for self-published authors who have to do all of their own marketing.

#BOOK REVIEW: The Search For Synergy

Rome is a 14 year old boy who suddenly finds himself seeking out fire and danger.  When he accidentally sets the neighbor’s tree on fire in an unusual way,  he catches the eye of a schoolmate, Julian.  Julian begins watching Rome closely and soon discovers what he suspects is true.  Rome is a dragon, and Julian will be his knight counterpart, once they achieve Synergy and get their full power.  They are descendants of dragon and knight families of old.  Together, they can save the world from dark forces that are coming.  Rome soon meets Mr. Jones, who has been training Julian for this moment since he was seven years old, and they begin to try to unlock the secrets of Synergy.

The whole concept of hidden dragon and knight families with special bonds and powers from the time of King Arthur is exciting and interesting.  The beginning 30 percent or so of the book is spent on Rome learning about who and what he truly is.  Then the first epic battle between good and evil happens, and it is awesome.  I enjoyed this hidden world where dragons are real and live among us, knights are still training to save the world, and evil creatures keep trying to break through into Earth from the void.  

The friendship and bond between Rome and Julian is believable and fun.  The evil creatures we’ve seen so far, the Garms, are powerfully described.  Rome’s fantastical transformation is a joy to read and experience along with him. This start to The Talisman Series reminds me a little bit of Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and The Chronicles of Narnia.    I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series, Riders of Fire and Ice. 

Although I have seen this book described as middle grade fiction, which would be roughly ages 8 – 12, I think kids under the age of 13 should read it only with parental supervision, and I would categorize it as young adult instead of middle grade.  The battles with evil creatures could be scary for young kids, and the fact that Julian has been trained by Mr. Jones since he was seven and the two of them keep a lot of secrets from his parents set off some alarms for me. 

Even as someone who is in her 50’s, I truly enjoyed the start to this young adult series.  After all, as C.S. Lewis said, “No book is really worth reading at the age of 10 which is not equally—and often far more—worth reading at the age of 50 and beyond.”

I have rated this gem of a book four and half stars, rounded up to five on sites without a half star option.

I downloaded a copy of this book on Kindle Unlimited where subscribers can read it for free.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brett Salter

Brett Salter’s background in writing stems mostly from the inspiration he found as a kid in Fantasy and Sci-Fi books. These include The Chronicles of Narnia, The Xanth Novels, The Time Quintet, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and everything from Shakespeare to Dr. Seuss.  In his formative years, he joined several punk rock bands and wrote songs, poetry, and short stories aplenty.  As an adult he took on a dare and wrote The Talisman Series.  He has published four books in this series so far:  The Search for Synergy, Riders of Fire and Ice, Windy City Ruins, and The Battle for Verdana.

BUY THE ENTIRE TALISMAN SERIES ON AMAZON (Kindle Unlimited Subscribers Can Read It For Free)

THE TALISMAN SERIES WIKI FAN PAGE (SPOILERS!)

*REMINDER: AS ALWAYS, IF YOU DECIDE TO READ THE BOOK, PLEASE LEAVE A REVIEW. THE AUTHORS APPRECIATE THIS SO MUCH!