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Search tags: fantasy-sci-fi
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text 2019-01-15 03:52
Reading progress update: I've read 86%.
Bound Gods: The Chimera - Adrienne Wilder

“As with anyone you serve, there will be times you will hate me, but you will learn to understand me, my wants, my needs, anticipate what I desire. You will want my pain because my desire will give you the greatest pleasure, and wanting to please me will be your greatest desire.”

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review 2019-01-15 03:32
Death and Taxes by J. Zachary Pike
Death and Taxes: An Urban Fantasy Mystery - J. Zachary Pike
J. Zachary Pike's small Kindle novella is hard to describe.  It's about a happy go lucky guy named Arther C. Torr that gets out of college and does whatever he wants.  Until his college loan needs to be paid off. He's practically unhirable but he finds a job working at a doughnut shop.  Not any doughnut shop, but a shop that is run by a former police detective that is now a private detective.  The detective is also familiar with the paranormal.
 
This is a short, 34 pages and free.  I got hooked on J. Zachary Pike after reading one of the best fantasy series I've read in a long time, the Dark Profit Saga. Pike is a self-published writer and while his 2 novellas were a little above mediocre, his series is fun and hilarious to read.  I can see where if he wanted to do a complete book about Arthur.    I'll try to get a couple of reviews on them out to see if they pique any interest in any of you.
Death and Taxes by J. Zachary Pike
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text 2019-01-15 03:02
Reading progress update: I've read 82 out of 624 pages.
The Traders' War: A Merchant Princes Omnibus - Charles Stross

Machinations. Opaque ones.

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review 2019-01-14 22:55
THE QUEST FOR THE TRUTH BEGINS - epic fantasy

 

 

THE QUEST: Book two of Illusional Reality 
Karina Kantas
Series: Illusional Reality (Book 2)
Paperback: 239 pages
Publisher: Asteri Press (December 31, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1912996049
ISBN-13: 978-1912996049
 
 
Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton

While it first appeared in 2016, it was only last fall when I read Illusional Reality, volume one of Karina Kantas’s then in progress “duology.” Now, volume two, The Quest, is here and I’m more on target in terms of timing.

First, I freely admit I liked The Quest much more than its predecessor. It carries on the story of Princess Thya of the magical land called Tsinia. Like book one, the story opens with the princess living on our earth using the name Haty. This time around, she knows prophecy says her people will reach out for her again, asking her to return to their realm as their defender and protector.  Now, Thya thinks her main sacrifice may be leaving Alex, her son back on earth and taking the reluctant throne of her people without him.

After this setup, the story is very different from the plot of Illusional Reality. Thya remains a stubborn, willful, strong-minded—often to the extreme—heroine who sets out with a small company of companions to take on the dark forces of evil. Sound a bit like Tolkein’s Ring series? Part of their journey takes the party through a harsh desert populated by sandworms. Sound a bit like Frank Herbert’s Arrakis? Well, only for a few passages. 

Thya and her companions encounter a series of vividly described obstacles, monsters, alien species, and Thya’s strange, double-edged powers that seem to wax and wane as she tries to control a dark side to them. In short, there’s a lot going on in the journey to save Thya’s people, a populace currently living in caves after being chased from their homes while their Princess lived peacefully in England.

Fortunately, readers don’t need to have read Illusional Reality to jump into and fully understand what’s going on in The Quest. In the first chapters of the fast-paced yarn, Kantas fully lays out what happened in her first book for new readers. More fantasy than sci-fi—by miles—The Quest should appeal to readers who like their settings and characters vividly described with well-developed flaws and motivations. 

Readers who like strong female protagonist should especially like meeting the complex and often conflicted Princess Thya. In addition, The Quest seems a perfect YA novel as I often found myself thinking back to the L. Sprague De Camp and Andre Norton adventures I enjoyed when I was YA myself.
Nothing profound here, nothing preachy. Lots of the fantasy tropes young readers enjoy these days with a nice layer of romance to boot.


This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Jan. 12, 2019:
https://waa.ai/ox0X


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review 2019-01-14 22:52
Chinese Whispers...
MIAO-SHAN 'The Awakening' (Miao Shan) - Gary Morris

Ahead of the publishing of “Mia Shan, The Awakening” (15/1/19), I was given the opportunity for early access, in return for an honest review. The book is not easy to pigeonhole, bearing traits of various fantasy subgenres – historical, dark, paranormal and urban. However, I suspect the prominence of Chinese martial arts and the attendant violence is likely to have a greater bearing on the readership, than some notional category. I am not a fantasy buff by any means, but neither does the reader need to be, to engage with this interesting saga, which opens in Hong Kong at the end of the nineteenth century.


The narrative follows the development and exploits of Chow Lei, aged ten at the outset, who is orphaned and raised by her grandmother (PoPo), above the family’s thriving noodle shop. The family matriarch worships Guan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion and mercy and is relying on the venerated idol to keep her granddaughter safe, but though Lei discovers an exceptional ability to master martial arts, compassion is not one of her strengths. Still, in spite of her PoPo’s reticence, Lei is sent to the Shaolin Temple at Seng Shan to be admitted as a novice nun, to continue her training.


For those of us brought up on David Carradine playing Kwai Chang Caine in the seventies TV series ‘Kung Fu’ and more recently the critically-acclaimed movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, there are familiar archetypes, which unless handled carefully run the risk of appearing a little tired. The superhuman qualities typically conferred on the protagonist are also expected, but need to be plausible. The author neatly avoids these traps by suggesting Lei might be the prophesied Bodhisattva of Justice. Certainly to master the eighteen fighting styles in two years is unique, but Lei’s ongoing absence of compassion for her adversaries, alongside a very definite view of right and wrong, continues to worry her Shaolin Master (Shi Suxi). Indeed, in a very Star Wars-esque moment, he exhorts Lei, “You must know the void and be one with the void. You must know how to avoid the dark ways and follow the path of enlightenment….”


Now re-named Miao Shan and equipped to address injustice head-on, Lei returns to her city, a mighty sword-carrying bulwark against powerful criminal evil-doers.
It’s a familiar formula, but on the whole, the author has created an entertaining novel, which has scope for sequels. What it lacks in characterization, it certainly makes up for in the action department and for fans of kung fu that doubtless helps the readers’ appreciation.

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