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.
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Book Review: Children of the Origin Project

Jake, Alex, and Sarah are foster kids out on a joyride one night in a “borrowed” truck belonging to their group home. When they witness the crash of a UFO, they approach the scene and find a wrecked spaceship with a dying giant inside. The giant transfers his knowledge and memories to them before he dies, and the three lifelong foster kids suddenly find themselves part of a war between worlds.

This well-written middle grade to young adult sci-fi adventure will take readers to the stars. Jake, Alex, and Sarah find themselves being guided by the knowledge of the giant, Sawan, who has left them his memories, and they eventually realize that they are needed to go on a mission to save Sawan’s world, and maybe their own.

This is a captivating, literally out of this world story with vivid characters and thoughtful, purposeful world-building. Using a clever combination of technology and philosophy, Asa S. Rubin creates a story that is both exciting and thought-provoking. Jake, Sarah, and Alex suddenly find themselves with the growing ability to understand the language, thoughts, writings, and very nature of an alien race of people, the Kenali. The Kenali are divided into two opposing factions who are basically forced to work together in order to fight takeover from the evil Anatrus and their powerful super-soldiers. Jake often uses his experience as a foster kid to try and understand the situation in which the Kenali find themselves. Underneath all of this are deep philosophical questions about the origin and meaning of the existence of the Kenali, the Anatrus, and other peoples and worlds.

I have only a bit of constructive criticism, and it is regarding the dialogue. The character Alex has a speech impediment, and the way in which the author has chosen to add this to the dialogue is hard to understand and interrupts the flow of the book.

Fans of young adult/middle grade science fiction, philosophy, and friendship reads will enjoy this story.

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Asa S. Rubin

(In his own words)

I grew up reading classic adventure authors like Jules Verne, sci-fi/action novelists like Clive Cussler, and more literary story-tellers like Richard Russo. As a kid, I tried my own hand at writing and quickly discovered that I couldn’t help but combine all my favorite genres together, so that any of my stories had plenty of action, extensive sci-fi, and a healthy dose of psychological or philosophical musings to go along with them. That trend I’ve never been able to stop, but now I’m finally ready to put my stories out there for the world to see. 

In between writing, I’ve gotten degrees in physics, aerospace engineering, and medicine, practiced as a physician, and even done some work for the government. It’s been an interesting ride, and all of these experiences I’ve sunken back into my stories to make them more realistic and authentic. I’ve also climbed a few mountains, gotten hardcore into ultralight backpacking, and most importantly, married my beautiful wife. 

I hope you enjoy my stories. If you’d like to reach me, please email me at nephillim.cotop@gmail.com. And if you’re into hiking, maybe I’ll see you out there on the trail.

BUY CHILDREN OF THE ORIGIN PROJECT

AMAZON

*Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read this for free, or the ebook is just 2.99 to buy outright.

BARNES AND NOBLE

MY AMAZON REVIEW (“HELPFUL VOTES APPRECIATED“)

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)

#Book Review: Peacemaker

Peacemaker is set in North America at some point prior to the arrival of European colonists, possibly in the early 1500s. Okwaho is a young Onondagan boy who left his village of Onontaka with his parents and fourteen other families. They turned their backs on the war-fighting life of Onontaka and wanted to live in peace. This earned the rage of their former chief, Atatarho, who wore snakes in his hair and routinely ordered murderous raids against other villages. But now Okwaho’s best friend has been captured by a raiding party, and the villagers wonder if they ever can truly escape wars. Then a stranger named Carries visits Okwaho’s village. Carries brings news of an amazing man, The Peacemaker, who will soon visit their territory. The village is excited at the prospect of peace, but Okwaho still harbors anger at the loss of his friend. Is peace possible?

I truly enjoyed this book and the many Iroquois legends it shares. The stories are fascinating, and I was captivated by the Peacemaker. The idea of a man called the Peacemaker, who cannot be destroyed, convincing five tribes, the Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, and Onondaga, to turn to peace and unite as the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) is inspiring. The author uses a fictional character, the young Okwaho, and intersperses his story with Iroquois legends to bring a true message of peace for all to this time. The story of Hiawatha is also part of this tale. I especially enjoyed the legend of the Twins and the story of the snake and the frog. This book is recommended for everyone, as the message of peace is universal.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Historical Novels Review Magazine. My review is voluntary.

BUY PEACEMAKER ON AMAZON

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joseph Bruchac

Joseph Bruchac is a highly acclaimed Abenaki children’s book author, poet, novelist and storyteller, as well as a scholar of Native American culture. Coauthor with Michael Caduto of the bestselling Keepers of the Earth series, Bruchac’s poems, articles and stories have appeared in over 500 publications, from Akwesasne Notes and American Poetry Review to National Geographic and Parabola. He has authored more than 50 books for adults and children.

The Seeing Scroll

Here is a book description and links to buy of a thrilling Middle Grade fantasy/mystery adventure. It is also available to borrow on Kindle Unlimited for free. I have updated this post to include my review at the bottom of the page.

“Stray too long where you don’t belong and the world you’re from could be forever gone.”
A children’s mystery adventure with a little bit of magic.

When police exhume the body in her grandfather’s coffin, 12-year-old Gia Lance already knows that it isn’t him. And given that her dad won’t believe her, what choice does she have but to enlist the help of her drama-king best friend? Their daring, behind the scenes search for her grandfather leads to the discovery of a secret riddle, a hidden plateau and an enchanted scroll steeped in mystery. It lures them by exposing visions – fragments of well-kept secrets.

Gia soon grapples with an eerie tale of a dungeon, an ill-fated ship, a missing child, and the legendary curse of the Seeing Scroll. But whose secrets are they? How does the scroll decide what she sees? Who can she trust? More importantly, what does it any of it have to do with her grandfather?

Time is running out. For Gia to connect the dots, she must confront the idea of her grandfather not being who she thought he was and acknowledge the possibility of him being cursed. But there are people after the scroll. Dangerous people! Clearly, they’ll do anything to ensure their secrets remain buried. Maybe even their crimes. Can Gia evade them on her quest to solve the riddle and figure out how to save her grandfather without being duped by the scroll’s delicious secrets, or will he be forever lost?

BUY ON AMAZON (OR BORROW ON KINDLE UNLIMITED)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

.T. GROBLER lives with her husband and daughter. She shares her space with two formidable Staffordshire terriers. Her dog of choice, but honestly, anything four-legged that lets her hug it surely has a kind soul. 

When she isn’t writing, she’s probably strolling with her furry friends through the local farmer’s vineyards or dawdling along the beach. She adores boat rides, watching an active slipway and the wind on her face. 

She also has a pair of African Grey parrots who love to jabber about what she said yesterday. 

Her first writing job came from a third-grade teacher – 100 lines of “I must not eat in class”.

Thank you for reading!

You can visit her at this link

REVIEW–BONNIE READS AND WRITES

This is a middle grade fantasy thriller/adventure set in South Africa that takes you right into the action from the first page. Gia knows with all her heart that her grandfather is alive. Along with her best friend Vuyo, she follows a sometimes treacherous path of clues to a mysterious scroll. The scroll may help her find her grandfather, but it comes with a high price, and dangerous people are trying to possess it. The story can get a little complicated and sad at times, but it is an intriguing tale full of magic, adventure, danger, love, and loss. The importance of family and friendship, and the sacrifice of those who love us, are underscored in this thrilling tale. I would recommend to young adults and above, as well as middle graders with parental supervision.

The Ring of Truth

The Ring of Truth by Robert B. Sloan is the third book in the Hamelin Stoop Series. This is not a standalone. The books must be read in order or you will be lost when you read Book 3. Book 1 is The Eagle, The Cave, and the Footbridge and Book 2 is The Lost Princess and the Jewel of Periluna.

In Book 3, Hamelin has come back to the orphanage in order to return a lost princess back to her land. He has a definite idea of who this princess might be. There are a lot of delays and betrayals, and the people in his life continue to hide information from him, but Hamelin is determined to finish his mission and ultimately find his parents. 

This is a great young adult series with memorable characters that people of all ages will love. There are definite nods to Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, as well as the Bible, in this series. I continue to enjoy the adventures of these characters, especially the trio of Hamlin, Lars, and Eraina. Each of our heroes are aided by their special magical objects as they travel the Land of Gloaming on an important mission to stop the evil Chimera and his sons. They continue to receive guidance and help from SueSue and The Talking Eagle. Hamelin’s Earth friends, Bryan and Layla, also figure prominently in this story. 

I gave this five stars because of how much I love the overall series, but this one did move too slowly for about the first 25% of the book. There was too much time at the orphanage before attempting to return to the Land of Gloaming and not much happened during this time. At the orphanage, the core characters’ continual refusal to share information with each other started getting ridiculous. However, the last two thirds of this 580 page book were much more action filled. But again, even in the Land of Gloaming, there was the constant problem of people keeping secrets from each other. I feel this book would have been even better if it had been cut down to about 400 pages.

That being said, I continue to love these characters and look forward to their next adventures. There are six books planned in this series and I cannot wait until the next one.

I received a copy of this book from the publishers via BookSirens. My review is voluntary. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Robert B. Sloan is president of Houston Baptist University in Houston, Texas. Dr. Sloan and his wife Sue have seven adult children and more than 20 young grandchildren. He is an author, communicator, educator, and leader—all hats he has worn many times for a variety of reasons. These four areas represent life experiences that have provided him and his family with many memories. It is in the experiences of life that memories are made and lives are shaped.

Robert Sloan has a passion for Christian higher education and the spiritual formation of young people for the glory of God, which can be seen in both his professional and personal life.

Robert B. Sloan’s Website

Buy Book 1: The Eagle, The Cave, and The Footbridge

Buy Book 2: The Lost Princess and the Jewel of Periluna

Buy Book 3: The Ring of Truth

Link to My Amazon Review (Helpful Votes Appreciated)

Link to My Goodreads Review

Lottie’s Locket

It’s Lottie’s 11th birthday, but her parents have to go out of town to help her much older sister, who is having a crisis. Lottie is not thrilled about going to stay in her Aunt’s cold house on her birthday while her parents are gone, but is slightly cheered by the birthday present her mother has left behind. Inside the package is a locket, which takes Lottie on an amazing adventure to another world, Orovand. But Orovand, like Earth, has problems too, and soon Lottie’s locket is missing, a man is dead, and her chance to return home is in jeopardy.

This was a good middle grade fantasy with a murder mystery thrown in. I think the mystery was engaging and there were some twists and turns. The world-building was not interesting enough in my opinion. It appeared to be a very colorful world set up like an ancient kingdom, where the King rules all. Although I feel it was an interesting story, I was not drawn in enough to want to return to Orovand for any further adventures. There are some intriguing aspects of Orovand, but I won’t reveal them as to avoid spoilers. 

I downloaded a copy of this book on Kindle Unlimited at the request of the author. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own. Fans of middle grade fantasy and mystery novels may enjoy this one.

Link to Lottie’s Locket on Amazon

Link to Maria Johnson’s Amazon Page

Link to My Goodreads Review