The Last Librarian (Book One of the Justar Journal) by Brandt Legg

““I am not running, I am seeking. I am not hiding, I am finding.” “Where do you go? What do you do?” “I’m just dancing with time, and occasionally wrestling with it. Like my daddy used to say, ‘Time’s a funny thing.’ But I’m not laughing.” He sat next to Deuce again. “It’s almost over.””

This is a story set in the future, when all the books except those in the last library have been destroyed. Books are only available digitally now and the government agencies have decided that the last paper books are no longer necessary. The library is scheduled to be destroyed. The Last Librarian is Runit Happerman and he wants to save as many books as he can before ‘they’ come in 10 days to destroy his world, he just needs a little help with that.
His best friend Nelson is an author, he offers to help and gets his sister Chelle Andreas involved too. Runit is concerned about his son Grandyn becoming embroiled in the rebellious act, but is unable to prevent him joining the growing team and also bringing his girlfriend Vida along, as well as his Treerunner colleagues. Surely all those would be enough to achieve the saving of 100,000 books.
There are of course other factors involved, but to write them here would be to spoil the story for the next reader, so trust me when I say that it is a massive task, made difficult by shifting parameters and personal interactions.
The story could be considered a prophetic tale, with the prevalence of digital books, many people nowadays don’t need the paper books anymore. But who keeps the records of what the author intended to be read?
This was an interesting and involving read and I did enjoy my time with it.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
USA Today Bestseller “Never let them catch you reading!”
In the year 2098, there is no more war, no more hunger and no more pollution. The world is secure and Earth’s 2.9 billion people are healthy and happy. There is also only one remaining library that still houses physical books. In addition to the dusty volumes, the library holds many secrets. But the government has decided to shut it down and burn the contents. Unless an unlikely trio can save the books, humanity will lose more than just what is printed on those antique pages.

With a single government ruling the entire planet, one currency, one language and no religion, the population is unified and enjoying the prosperity that comes with more than seven decades of peace. Free healthcare for all and guaranteed employment make the future a dream. But this future may only be safe if they can hide the past. The books must be saved . . . the impossible task is up to an angry author, a brazen revolutionary and the last librarian. When everything is perfect, the only thing left to fear is the truth.

The Lost TreeRunner (Justar Journal #2) available now – The Lost TreeRunner (The Justar Journal Book 2)
The List Keepers (Justar Journal #3) available now – The List Keepers (The Justar Journal Book 3)

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Blood and Stars (Legend of Rhyme Series Volume 1 Book 5 ) by Jaime Lee Mann

“Sibley sucks in her breath as the statue disappears. And Elora— in the flesh, in a long black gown— blinks her eyes, stretches her arms, and smiles. “Mother.””

Once again I read Jaime Lee Mann in one day, in one sitting. The stories she writes are so engaging!
This one covers the continuing adventures of the Caine children.
It is usual with this series to flick back and forth between the main characters to keep the time line development in sync for the reader, as this book is no exception.
I liked that the story of Teagan continues in an undersea world of mer folk, that Asher is still susceptible to the Darkness in the world. There are some new characters introduced to give depth to the story and these have back story to describe how they fit in.
Jaime Lee Mann manages to write such good stories, they are enjoyable for adults and children alike. Do give her Legend of Rhyme stories a read and then share them with your friends and family.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
Thirteen-year-old Ariana Caine has woken in Coraira, and is torn between finding her brother Asher and learning how to rule the magic realm while Calla is under a protection spell.
Beneath the sea, Starla the mer-queen is bringing her apprentice, Teagan, to the Chamber of Memories to learn more about her parents. But when Starla is beckoned by one of the Ancients, Teagan is approached by a stranger, who promises to lead her to her mother and father. Meanwhile, the sea witch and her sisters are poised and ready to usurp the queen’s reign, and will stop at nothing to gain her powers.
On top of it all, Elora, the infamous witch who has caused so much heartache, is now asking for trust one last time.
Will Ariana choose Coraira over her brother?
Will the sea witch have her wish?
What are Elora’s true intentions?

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Assassin’s Fate (Book III of the Fitz and the Fool trilogy) by Robin Hobb

“Beware! Wolf-Father warned me. Spring away! But I was a cub and I did not see the danger.”

Robin Hobb writes detailed stories with characters that are realistic and full of history. She then places them in a world that is complete, that contains danger and delight.

This particular story focuses on Bee and her father FitzChivalry Farseer who hail from Buck in the Six Duchies. Bee has been taken and is being dragged across countryside and ocean as a prize for a group of cruel rulers.

FitzChivalry believes Bee dead at the hands of those who attacked them. He is intent on vengeance, recruiting others to his cause as he travels to Clerres with the Fool (also known as Beloved).

This book takes some reading, it is not a short tale. And, it is book three of a complete set (the first two being Fool’s Assassin and Fool’s Quest), so if you read it first, you really are missing out!

I have enjoyed continuing the stories of the Fool and FitzChivalry and have found it hard, waiting to read them. Now this book is published, it is a signal to all to start immersing in this tale.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

5/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
The much-anticipated final conclusion to the Fitz and the Fool trilogy. 

Prince FitzChivalry Farseer’s daughter Bee was violently abducted from Withywoods by Servants of the Four in their search for the Unexpected Son, foretold to wield great power. With Fitz in pursuit, the Servants fled through a Skill-pillar, leaving no trace. It seems certain that they and their young hostage have perished in the Skill-river. 

Clerres, where White Prophets were trained by the Servants to set the world on a better path, has been corrupted by greed. Fitz is determined to reach the city and take vengeance on the Four, not only for the loss of Bee but also for their torture of the Fool. Accompanied by FitzVigilant, son of the assassin Chade, Chade’s protege Spark and the stableboy Perseverance, Bee’s only friend, their journey will take them from the Elderling city of Kelsingra, down the perilous Rain Wild River, and on to the Pirate Isles. Their mission for revenge will become a voyage of discovery, as well as of reunions, transformations and heartrending shocks. 

Startling answers to old mysteries are revealed. What became of the liveships Paragon and Vivacia and their crews? What is the origin of the Others and their eerie beach? How are liveships and dragons connected? But Fitz and his followers are not the only ones with a deadly grudge against the Four. An ancient wrong will bring them unlikely and dangerous allies in their quest. And if the corrupt society of Clerres is to be brought down, Fitz and the Fool will have to make a series of profound and fateful sacrifices. 

ASSASSIN’S FATE is a magnificent tour de force and with it Robin Hobb demonstrates yet again that she is the reigning queen of epic fantasy.

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Samhain Heartsong by Doranna Durgin

““I had not intended to intrude. Your song—” “Yes, let’s talk about that,” she said. “I’ve been doing it since forever. No one ever emerged from elsewhere into my arroyo before.””

Doranna Durgin wrote this short story as part of a featured read on a publisher website and she very kindly sent me a link to advance read it.

I read it straight away way back in March and didn’t get round to writing a review, so I have just re-read it to make sure I remember it true. I think I pretty much did, except for the names.

The outline of the story is that of Arlie, who likes to sit by a tree-lined gully on her land and create music with her voice. It is as she does so that a pair of fighters cross into her gully from nowhere.

The scenario repeats over time, with one of the individuals against other opponents. Arlie starts to look forward to the occurrences with anticipation and is badly affected when they stop.

The rest of the story takes an even more paranormal turn and builds what I think would be a really good basis for a series; if Durgin ever considers it. I would like to read more of this and whatever happens next.

On my first read I originally gave a 5/5 stars, however, on re-reading I have reduced that – in order to comply with my own rules of ‘5-stars applied’.

I received a preview of this short story from the author  in exchange for a fair and honest review.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Visit the author’s site:

http://changespell.com/index.html

Official introduction from the Author:
While I was finishing work on my final Sentinels book, I was invited to write this daily Featured Read for the Harlequin site–a paranormal stand-alone, relationship-oriented as all the Nocturnes are. It had to be under a certain number of words, divided into equal chapters, and complete unto itself. Also, because it ran the entire month of October, culminating on Halloween, it needed to touch on the season. In the end (to maintain my own sanity) I wrote the story to the targeted word count, divided it, and created transitions as necessary. The story itself was as magical in the writing as I could have hoped for–it had its own character and epic fantasy tone, and flowed readily from my brain. It’s one of my favorites now, and I won’t be surprised if it always is. ~Doranna

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Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

“She fluttered briefly as her ghost shook loose, and then her hands relaxed, shedding fistfuls of freshly picked torch ginger buds.”

Warning: this book may make you weep. There is a lot of emotion wrung out of the characters and Laini crafts her story well. I still feel it now, even though I’ve finished the book and I’m telling you about it, it’s like a feeling of loss, almost.

Lazlo Strange is the main character in the book. We join him as a child at the monastery where he has been placed as an orphan. His play is beaten out of him, but his love of stories and dreams is not. As he grows up he is sent on an errand to a library and so instead of becoming a monk he becomes a librarian, feeding his love of stories.

It is that love of stories that helps to set him on the biggest adventure of his life. The one about Strange the Dreamer.

I suggest you read the book to find out about Weep and its inhabitants, about Lazlo Strange and about the blue skinned goddesses and god who live in a mesarthium citadel, abiding by The Rule that they set for themselves.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

5/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around – and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries – including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?
In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

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The Hand in Shadow by JD Lovil

“”I see that you are the Hand in Shadow in this world. Know that what you must do is necessary, lest the Night-Wolf and the World Serpent descend upon your world, and bring about the Twilight, which is Ragnarok.”

This book is a bit sci-fi, a bit mythology; there are snippets from many different theologies introduced in some of the minor characters, but I don’t think it would detract from the story if you were bothered by that.
Essentially, John lost his wife and child to a demon and since then has learned to meditate to help him through the pain. As a consequence of his meditation he has opened himself to releasing his innate skills as a shadow walker and has been recruited by the resistance to help save humanity.
His companion throughout the tale is Barney, who is only one of two who are able to enter John’s Mind Palace, a safe place in his imagination. The other is ‘Monk’, a blind guy, who doesn’t give John his real name, so John calls him Monk in deference to his appearance and style of clothing..
Monk is John’s contact with the resistance and gives him the ‘contracts’ or tasks that the resistance need John to undertake.
The resistance is up scaling it’s efforts against the enemy and John is one of the key players in their plans. As one of the godlike beings tells John, he is the ‘hand in shadow’ and essential in protecting our world and restoring safety to humanity.
The story is generally well written, with only the occasion repetitive or oddly worded section, but these are minor and do not detract from the story. It is not a short read, so you will get your money’s worth with this book. You should hopefully also find it as engaging as I did. I enjoyed this book, it helped me as I was working through a different time in my life, by giving me an escape from the real world.

I received an e-ARC of this novel from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
What are you, after everything you ever loved is taken away?

John Nomad once was a normal man, with a good job, loving wife, and beautiful daughter. A demonic creature took their lives, and destroyed everything that John cared about.

In the depths of his depression, a blind monk introduced him to a hidden world of power, of men and gods who use exotic powers to change the world around them. He showed John that a powerful group was behind his family’s death, and were the real power behind every government and political power on earth.

John’s depression turned to rage, and a determination to oppose the Unseen Masters, and to avenge his family. He became a part of the Resistance, and he discovered an ability to manipulate Shadow within himself. He became an important and versatile part of the Resistance, called by gods and men The Hand of the World.

Now John must stay ahead of the assassins sent to kill him, and avoid both physical and psychic attacks, and the darker things that lurk in the darkness. He strikes back at the enemy wherever he can. Each time he kills an enemy operative, he gets closer to the Anunnaki Slavers, and Humanity’s ultimate survival.

The enemy has been hiding behind the Kings of the world for thousands of years. We all sense this, and we feel powerless to stop them. Now they are preparing to come into the light, and enslave humanity until the end of time.

Will John and his fellow Resistance members be able to stop the Unseen Masters? Find out. Buy a copy of The Hand in Shadow.

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Dragonsong by Michael Forester

“Hail, Oberon –defend me now! For thou art my dear chosen one this evil must thou not allow! Thy silence doth thy father now amaze!”

A tale of dragons and ancient times, with elves and humans in strife.

Oberon, Captain-King of Elves, covets a maiden in Albion, but she (is protected and ) only wants to take up and fulfil her inherited duties. In his rage at his rejection Oberon determines to revenge himself on her and Albion.

Later in the book, on taking up her duties Rebekah finds her true love, which is when Oberon unleashes his revenge, twisting her against her father Merlin, in the process.

It then falls to Merlin to try and help redeem his daughter and save all of Albion from dragonsong in the process.

This book is not written in prose, it is all rhyming couplets. It takes some getting used to. The first time I started to read, I put it aside in frustration. However, on re-starting the tale I persevered and found it engaging to read. In fact I managed to get three quarters of the way through in one sitting.

Those who like ancient style tales will enjoy this book. But like many bardish tales, you could expect tears!

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
A bardic epic fantasy in rhyming Old English, an allegorical masque of good and evil in an Authurian tradition. Rebekah, daughter of Merlin and noblewoman of Albion has been driven to madness by the murder of her lover Vidar. In her torment she bargains with the Prince of Demons to turn her into a dragon. Once transformed, she seeks to take revenge upon her father, Merlin, whom she is fooled into believing is responsible for Vidar’s death.

Behind the subterfuge stands Oberon, Captain-King of Elves, who cannot foresee the devastation his jealousy and unrequited love for Rebekah will unleash upon the world of Gaia. Its salvation depends upon Merlin travelling back in time to find a pure hearted warrior, Lady Attie, who, together with Michael, seer of Albion, must take the Sleep Stone from the gates of Hell to persuade the dragon to sleep. But if they are unable to return the Stone to the mouth of Hell in time, the demon army will awaken and ransack Gaia in a war that will destroy its existence. Time is the solution to Gaia’s destiny – but only if the gods of Asgard can find a way to stop it.

Dragonsong is a unique epic fantasy that explores fundamental themes of good and evil, jealously and revenge. Woven together with a gripping and powerful plot, the pattern of the language, the musicality of the form and the profound emotions invoked carry the reader to extremes of human experience and capability at both its best and worst.

A Note From the Publisher
Michael Forester was born with a pen in his hand. His first published creative work, If It Wasn’t For That Dog, about his first year with his beloved hearing dog Matt was published in 2005. He is an Oxford University graduate, a Winchester Writer’s Festival prize winner and has been long/shortlisted three time in the Fish Writing Contest. His first novel Vicious was showcased by The Literary Consultancy.

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The Forgotten Tale (The Accidental Turn Series, Book 2) by J M Frey

“The Sigil is there, and yes, there is a Star-stone that Fell from the Sky, the Scale from the Siren’s Lover, and the Compass that Never Points Home, all speckled with the Blood of He Who Calls. And all on a Hearth that Warms the Shadow.”

I understand that Forsyth and Lucy will go back to Hain and set out on a further adventure in order to prevent books disappearing from existence completely. I wonder what the journey will involve and whether it will engage me.

Forsyth has made a life in the world of his new wife. He has a daughter and a job that he enjoys. Though there is one person who spoils things for him, Elgar Reed.

But then Forsyth doesn’t have to worry about the Writer, because books have started to ‘pop’ out of existence and he and his family have ‘popped’ back to Hain!

Now they have to ‘quest’ to save both worlds and solve the riddle of why all the stars are disappearing.

Forsyth’s nephew , Wyndham, doesn’t seem overjoyed to see his uncle and remains mute throughout any attempts to engage him in conversation. Perhaps he resents Forsyth being around?

And Beval he just seems to bellow at Wyndham, why? Poor Wyndham!

Families are such difficult things to understand, especially when you don’t get to see them for a while. And then of course if that whole family gets thrown into an adventure, well it just makes sorting it out a bit more difficult, or easier!

Basically, it’s a good story, with twists and turns and introduced characters who are the ones like in Star Trek that you know are going to die! But overall it is a good story and I enjoyed it. I know that the post script has left an opening for a further story, but if it doesn’t happen, I won’t mind as I felt that this book wrapped things up nicely.

I preferred the writing style of this book over that of the first one. So the author is obviously getting settled in to their style. Well done and I toast your world building. The book is definitely worth reading, but I feel that you, the reader, may need to read the first book to get the full benefit of the tale. So read that first and tolerate any excesses you find there.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
Forsyth Turn has finally become a hero—however reluctantly. But now that Lucy Piper has married him and they’ve started a family in her world, his adventuring days are behind him. Yet not all is as it should be. Beloved novels are disappearing at an alarming rate, not just from the minds of readers like Pip, but from bookshelves as well. Almost as if they had never been. Almost like magic.

Forsyth fears that it is his fault—that Pip’s childhood tales are vanishing because he, a book character, has escaped his pages. But when he and Pip are sucked back into The Tales of Kintyre Turn against their will, they realize that something much more deadly and dire is happening. The stories are vanishing from Forsyth’s world too. So Forsyth sets out on a desperate journey across Hain to discover how, and why, the stories are disappearing… before their own world vanishes forever.

In this clever follow-up to The Untold Tale, The Forgotten Tale questions what it means to create a legacy, and what we owe to those who come after us.

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The Untold Tale (The Accidental Turn Series, Book 1) by J M Frey

“Bootknife has flayed her very prettily. Artistic tendrils of bloody ivy are torn into the vellum of the young woman’s flesh.”

This was going to be a nice ‘other world’ tale full of interesting characters and amazing creature. With a twist somewhere to entice and intrigue me.

It actually wasn’t far off what I expected and I was enjoying the read. It follows the sedate and comfortable life of Forsyth Turn who is a lording in a small part of the country under a benevolent King. He enjoys taking care of his estate and the population in his care.

Then a young woman is brought to him, one who has been rescued and is in a ‘bad way’. He ensures that his healer takes care of her and takes the young woman into his home. As she heals Forsyth gets to know Lucy and finds that he likes having female company around in the Hall, and begins to think that it would be good to hear female laughter echoing through the rooms again. The populace start to talk of a betrothal, to his embarrassment!

There is a section almost halfway through the book that I found so off-putting that I nearly put the book to one side and didn’t finish it. So for that I was only going to give the book one star. However, I overcame my distaste for the unnecessary and overly explicit descriptions and managed to continue reading.

I was trepidatious about whether further scenes may be introduced but thankfully all further such scenes were tempered and I was content to read on and finish the book.

On the matter of ‘the end’, it seemed that I had reached it and then, really nicely it continued on, in a different vein. A nice pleasant twist at the end too. So, taking into account the bit in the middle, I am happy to award this book the star rating below.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

3/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Forsyth Turn is not a hero. Lordling of Turn Hall and Lysse Chipping, yes. Spymaster for the king, certainly. But hero? That’s his older brother’s job, and Kintyre Turn is nothing if not legendary. However, when a raid on the kingdom’s worst criminal results in the rescue of a bafflingly blunt woman, oddly named and even more oddly mannered, Forsyth finds his quaint, sedentary life is turned on its head.

Dragged reluctantly into a quest he never expected, and fighting villains that even his brother has never managed to best, Forsyth is forced to confront his own self-shame and the demons that come with always being second-best. And, more than that, when he finally realizes where Lucy came from and why she’s here, he’ll be forced to question not only his place in the world, but the very meaning of his own existence.

Smartly crafted, The Untold Tale gives agency to the unlikeliest of heroes: the silenced, the marginalized, and the overlooked. It asks what it really means to be a fan when the worlds you love don’t resemble the world you live in, celebrates the power of the written word, challenges tropes, and shows us what happens when someone stands up and refuses to remain a secondary character in their own life.

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Immortal Writers Immortal Writers Series Book 1 by Jill Bowers

“Liz looked at the clothes laid out for her in absolute horror. Leather? Wasn’t it bad enough that these nut jobs had kidnapped her and that they wanted her to kill someone? Now they wanted her to wear skin-tight leather?”

I think that this book was more likely to have been a thriller fantasy in my imagination, before I read it, that is.

Really it was a much softer story than I expected. It seemed to be aimed at younger readers (Young Adults) than the likes of me.

Liz has been on a promotional tour for her new book when she is kidnapped and whisked away to a place of amazement. Her kidnapper wants her to believe that her books have come to life and that her own world is at risk from the villain of her book. Why would she believe such a ridiculous story, even if some of the people where she is being held look exactly like the characters from her book! That’s just clever acting and expensive plastic surgery after all.

Then a fire breathing dragon comes after her and everything goes up in the air, literally. Liz meets more than just the characters in her books when she is invited to join the Immortal Writers, proper.

From that point on Liz fights her way to the end of her own story, with much loss of bodily fluids along the way (blood, sweat and tears)!

I do think that the author may have been feeling her way along in some places, as the writing became less well crafted and I could see the ‘writers’ hand’ in the storyline. Each step, breath, thought and action was laid out to be read, for example “Curtis nodded, straightened his shoulders, and hid his grief. Liz thought he was brave to be able to focus on his duty rather than the loss of his friend. Liz wondered why she wasn’t a wreck right now. She supposed it wasn’t real to her yet…”

And yet I found the whole concept of the story very compelling and engaging. I have read other novelists ‘first in a series’ books which have been of similar standard and they have GROWN so much in their writing as the series progressed. I fully expect Jill to do exactly the same. She ‘feels’ to be a great writer in the offing, to me. I am eagerly awaiting her next book in the series to see what happens next with The Immortal Writers.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

3/5 Stars [Really this warrants a 3.5, but the scoring system is either 3 or 4, so I have to give a 3] (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
Young up-and-coming author Liz McKinnen has no idea that her life is about to change forever when she comes home from her first book tour. When she’s kidnapped and told by her captors that she has to kill her fantasy book’s antagonist, she thinks that she’s fallen into the hands of crazy, dangerous fans… until her antagonist sends a real, fire-breathing dragon after her.

Liz is quickly initiated into the Immortal Writers, a group of authors from throughout time whose words have given them eternal life, and whose prose is so powerful that it’s brought stories over from the Imagination Field into the Reality Field. As Liz meets authors such as William Shakespeare, JRR Tolkien, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jane Austen, she has to learn how to control magic, fight dragons, and face her own troubled past before her power-hungry villain takes over the world. Will she survive the ultimate battle against the dragon lord whom she created?

A Note From the Publisher
Jill Bowers is a fantasy author and handbell composer. She attended Utah State University for their creative writing program. She loves all things nerdy and lives in Utah with her beloved dachshund, Jasmine.