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review 2018-04-07 22:32
Audio/Book Review of The Dragons of Dorcastle (The Pillars of Reality, Book 1) By Jack Campbell
The Dragons of Dorcastle - Jack Campbell

The first book in a thrilling new epic fantasy saga by Jack Campbell, the New York Times best-selling author of The Lost Fleet series!

 

For centuries, the two Great Guilds have controlled the world of Dematr. The Mechanics and the Mages have been bitter rivals, agreeing only on the need to keep the world they rule from changing. But now a Storm approaches, one that could sweep away everything that humans have built. Only one person has any chance of uniting enough of the world behind her to stop the Storm, but the Great Guilds and many others will stop at nothing to defeat her.

 

Mari is a brilliant young Mechanic, just out of the Guild Halls, where she has spent most of her life learning how to run the steam locomotives and other devices of her Guild. Alain is the youngest Mage ever to learn how to change the world he sees with the power of his mind. Each has been taught that the works of the other's Guild are frauds. But when their caravan is destroyed, they begin to discover how much has been kept from them.

 

As they survive danger after danger, Alain discovers what Mari doesn’t know – that she was long ago prophesized as the only one who can save their world. When Mari reawakens emotions he had been taught to deny, Alain realizes he must sacrifice everything to save her. Mari, fighting her own feelings, discovers that only together can she and Alain hope to stay alive and overcome the Dragons of Dorcastle.

 

Review 5*

 

This is the first book in a fantastic epic fantasy series called The Pillars of Reality. I absolutely loved it!

 

Mari is a fantastic character. I love her determination to do the right thing, even at the cost of her own life. She is an eighteen year-old mechanic... Sorry, Lady Master Mechanic as she loves to correct all her Guild elders who insist on dropping the honorific, even though she has attained it by qualifying as the youngest Lady Master Mechanic since the Guild was first formed. When the caravan/convoy she is travelling in is attacked, she finds herself travelling with a mage who was hired by the caravan to protect it as it travelled to Ringmon where she has a Guild contract to repair a mechanical device. As danger threatens, Mari finds herself torn between doing what is right, and her growing feelings for Mage Alain.

 

Mage Alain is also a fantastic character. I liked him a lot. He is seventeen years-old and one of the youngest Acolytes to achieve Mage status. He has been taught from a young age not to show or feel any emotions and that the world he lives in is an illusion, where nothing is real. When the caravan he's been contracted to protect comes under attack, he finds himself drawn to Mari, feelings long forbidden returning to the surface. As he begins to see through the illusion to the truth that had been kept from them, he realises that Mari is the woman prophesized to unite the people of Dematr. Can he protect her long enough to fulfil it?

 

I purchased this book in audio format in 2015 when it was recommended to me on Audible due to my listening and browsing history. I am kicking myself for not listening to it sooner. I kept putting it off for some reason unknown to me. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it at the time. Who knows? Anyway, now I'm seriously annoyed with myself for missing out on listening to this story, which is narrated by MacLeod Andrews. He does a fantastic job in bringing the story to life. Even Alain, who's voice is meant to be flat and emotionless comes across with subtle hints. You would think that Alain's voice would be monotonous, but it's not so. I love the way he brings all the characters to life with different accents, inflections and tones. He even makes the women's voices sound perfect for each character. As for his narration, he read the story clearly and concisely, and his pacing was perfect. I would definitely listen to more books read by this narrator.

 

This story introduces us to the world of Dematr. It is a mass of contradictions. There are two great Guilds who hold all the power over the common folk - The Mechanics and The Mages. These Guilds have held power for centuries and refuse to relinquish their hold and reject change of any kind. However, this is slowly strangling the world, making it harder and harder for the Mechanics especially as their technology is regressing. This story has a steampunk feel to it, with machinery being steam driven at times - trains for instance. Though there are some more modern items such as far-talkers (walkie-talkies to you and me), torches using batteries, and rifles and pistols that are decidedly more modern-day. Mages use energy from the land around them and some of their own energy to make spells. These spells can be used in various ways - from hiding oneself to creating a dragon.

 

This book is told through the eyes of both Mari and Alain and I found myself completely hooked from beginning to end. I was fascinated by how different the Guilds were, but also struck by how similar they were too. I loved getting to know the two main protagonists and watching (in my minds eye) the story unfold as I listened. I have no idea why, but as I listened to Mage Alain talking and thinking, I had a sudden picture of Richard Dean Anderson as he played Colonel Jack O'Neill in SG1 - with a dry wit and deadpan face. If they ever decide to make this book into a movie or TV series, I would hope they could find someone like that to do Alain justice. Anyway, back to the book. I found myself an emotional wreck near the end. I think my heart broke, it definitely felt heavy at any rate. However, the audiobook version (I can't speak for the book version) has a preview of the second book in the series and I am now looking forward to reading/listening to The Hidden Masters of Marandur as soon as I can.

 

Jack Campbell is a new author to me. I've never read or listened to any of his other books. However, I may have to add him to my favourite authors list, as he's found a fan in me. I love his writing style, which is fast paced and descriptive, and the flow of the story is good too.

 

Although there is no mention of any scenes of a sexual nature, I do not recommend this book to younger readers under the age of 15 due to some violence. I do, however, highly recommend this book if you love dark or epic fantasy, steampunk or action/adventure and supernatural/paranormal romance genres. - Lynn Worton

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-03-08 01:15
Hidden by Benedict Jacka
Hidden - Benedict Jacka

Hidden by Benedict Jacka
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Whilst rumours of his master's return circulates throughout the mage community, Alex Verus, Diviner and known "outsider", chooses to ignore the gossip and focus on something else entirely, such as rebuilding damaged friendships. An interruption comes in the form of abduction when Anne, his once housemate and valued companion, disappears in her home. Taking it upon himself, Alex doesn't hesitate to stage a rescue mission, which just so happens to lead to a shadow realm, belonging to the one and only Dark mage, Sagash.

(WARNING: This reviews contains spoilers.)

I started reading this series (Alex Verus is nine instalments long), in 2014, as it was one of the few in the genre that had a male protagonist. Being largely into Urban Fantasy at that time, it didn't take a genius to notice the staggering amount of females that dominated. Alex's trouble-making was thus refreshing, yet always struck me as having some issues that I just couldn't ignore. For one, the plot-lines primarily consisted of Alex saving women - not that I have a problem with the odd damsel in distress; I'm not a fragile flower that gets offended by a man coming to the rescue of a lady, but with the amount it happened it got repetitive pretty quickly. The fourth book, Chosen, turned the tables, and Alex was the one in need of saving by the strong females he surrounds himself with. I appreciated that instalment considerably more than the rest, hence my rating of four stars. This one, however, seems to have returned to its roots - the rinse and repeat of Alex being good at everything in full force.

The events that transpired in this one, whilst interesting to an extent, were very clearly filler. However I admit, I actually liked the concept of a shadow realm; the very personal domain of a Dark mage, where their deepest, most sinister creations can take form. In general, I find the darker side of mage society to be far more interesting in comparison to the lighter side. This isn't to say Light mages are dull - on the contrary, there's a lot of shady stuff going on there, but they strike me as far, far too political, at least for my tastes.

There's a part of me wishes the overall tone of the series was more adult, for the simple reason as to allow the malevolence of the Dark to shine through on a much more heinous level. As it was, I felt a little underwhelmed by Anne's recollection of her past - which consisted of her being forced to kill others in an arena. Yes, murder is ugly, but it just didn't shock me as much as I'd like, especially when it's been stated that Sagash was twisted and, most definitely, bad on all counts.

It's at this point that readers are very much aware of Richard, and his impending and much anticipated return. Richard's been a very prominent character from the beginning - Alex has never missed an opportunity to ramble on about his past trauma as his unwilling apprentice. I was hoping there would finally be some sort of reunion or confrontation, and whilst it did happen, it certainly wasn't as explosive as I wanted it to be. Despite being all together anticlimactic, it nevertheless set the foundation for what I assume to be the next book.

As for the characters themselves; Alex still had his obvious faults, but he remained likeable in personality. I'd most assuredly have him as a friend if I could, even if he'd probably get me killed. I've always been fond of Anne, though I considered her a little bit over-dramatic here. Arachne wasn't in it as much as I'd like, but I was thankful for Luna being absent for a large portion. The character I disliked the most was Sonder - he was the definition of annoying, clearly stealing Luna's spotlight in that regard. The introduction of the blink fox was, of course, the most memorable aspect - I hope it returns as a permanent ally! Goodness knows Alex will need it.

Veiled is the next instalment of this series and it was first published in 2015. It's currently on my reading list.

In conclusion - Yet another addition which I considered average, at best, and more than definitely filler. Hopefully the next will be more relevant and include dear ol' Richard!

Notable Scene:

It didn't make me any happier. My crude ability to see the future didn't make me any friends - the opposite, if anything. I had knowledge, but there wasn't anything I could do with it. I was left just as isolated, hating the people who'd ostracised me. Until one cold autumn day when Richard had stepped onto the schoolyard where I was standing, promising me everything I'd secretly wanted if I'd follow him and call him master. And I'd said yes.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/03/08/hidden-by-benedict-jacka
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review 2018-03-01 10:00
Release Day Review! Dangerous Dreams (Obsidian Flame #1) J.C. McKenzie
Dangerous Dreams (Obsidian Flame Book 1) - J. C. McKenzie

 

 

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED IN THE MOON, MIST & MAGIC ANTHOLOGY 

As a dragon shifter in hiding, Lara Stone wants nothing to do with others of her kind or finding a mate. No way, no how. She's perfectly content to work for a security company, masquerading as a simple mage. When the leader of all the dragon clans personally requests her as a bodyguard, Lara fears her secret is blown, or worse. What danger could possibly make Rafael Dragoi, the powerful Astarot, seek protection?

 

 

Dangerous Dreams is a fantastic start to J.C. McKenzie’s new urban fantasy series Obsidian Flame.

 

The characters are fascinating and full of life and the chemistry between Lara and Rafael is electrifying and there are plenty of sparks flying in every direction from every page of this story. Suspense builds throughout as Lara hides her secret while trying to handle being a bodyguard for the hot Rafael which she finds quite difficult.

 

I loved J.C. McKenzie’s Carus series so I was looking forward to starting this new series and I have to say that so far the only thing I find disappointing is that it was too short. This new world promises to be an adventurous one full of snark, passion, thrills, romance, danger and wonderful characters and I can’t wait to read the next one.

 

 

Dangerous Dreams is the 1st book in the Obsidian Flame series.

 

The story will continue in Dangerous Liaisons will be released in a box set on May 22, 2018.

 

Dangerous Dreams is available in ebook at:

Amazon

 

J.C. McKenzie can be found at:

Website   Goodreads    Twitter    G+   BookBub  

Amazon

 

 

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review 2018-01-22 01:49
A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson
A Taste of Honey - Kai Ashante Wilson

4.5 stars.

Recommended.

While the book was stunning, even without true romance, I can't give it five stars.

The last chapter ruined it for me. Not because how it ended but the way it ended. While I cheered for the MCs, I could not connect with that reality.

Don't want to say anything else for the fear of spoilers, I already gave away too much.

@Monica - thank you, my friend, for the amazing rec and gift :) *hugs*

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review 2018-01-19 01:26
Pib's Dragon (Twisted Fairy Tales) by Beany Sparks
Pib's Dragon (Twisted Fairy Tales) - Beany Sparks

The first half was OK, I was thinking 3-3.5 stars, but second part was full of info dumps and unnecessary details.
Uber convenient magical abilities and handy magical artifacts popping up at the times of need don't add stars either.

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