The Reckoners by Doranna Durgin

“Once upon a time, Rhonda Rose had opened the door to her power… and taken away her innocence, all in one fell swoop. Once upon a time.”

This book is about ghost hunters and aliens; and that is not a spoiler really. I don’t intend to spoil the story for anyone.

Garrie is bored of her job and is looking for something else for a change of routine. Then a stranger turns up at one of her jobs (with a cat) and not only messes things up, that she has to go back to finish next day, but books her and her team for a job in San Jose.

That job is not defined and, really, Garrie has no idea what she and her team are employed for.

Her client [Trevarr] has a companion; it looks like a cat, but it isn’t. Trevarr and Sklayne are from another world and have a job to do that specifically needs the help of Garrie to complete. They just aren’t telling her what.

Durgin tells the story from the point of view of Nevahn (Trevarr’s foster father), alongside Garrie’s point of view, Trevarr’s and even Sklayne’s.

Sklayne’s way of thinking and communicating is completely different than that of this world and Durgin manages to put this across very well with the use of :: double colon marks either side of Sklayne’s comments, to indicate his non-verbal communications.

Once the reader gets used to this, it is a fun read. I really liked Sklayne, even though he wasn’t one of the two main characters, and hope he continues to appear in subsequent books. He is very self centred and yet still would like to be able to look out for Trevarr.

If you like paranormal, ghost hunter, alien planet -style books, then I’m sure that you will find this book engaging.

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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The Reckoners (Author’s Cut): A powerful ghostbuster raised by a spirit, her brilliantly eccentric backup team, a cat who isn’t a cat at all…and a fiercely driven bounty hunter from a different dimension who brings them together when worlds collide.

Skilled ghosthunter Lisa “Garrie” McGarrity not only sees dead people, she wrangles them into submission. But her beloved ghostly mentor moved on years ago, and the Southwest has gone quiet under Garrie’s hand. Garrie and her team have grown restless and…well, face it. Maybe willing to take a risk or two.

So when the relentlessly mysterious and fiercely driven Trevarr (and his not-cat!) shows up asking for help, Garrie is inclined to listen. And when he describes big trouble at the San Jose Winchester Mystery House, she’s inclined to go with him, even if it splits her team along the way.

But she doesn’t expect a mansion crammed with spirits on the brink of madness, and she doesn’t expect to face off against the powerful and unfamiliar energies of semi-ethereal beings from another dimension. She definitely doesn’t expect the fabric of her own world to unravel around her–with no one but her to stop it.

And truly, she has no idea how deep Trevarr’s secrets run.

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Defective by Autumn Kalquist

“As she fixed her cuff, she touched her wrist where her Protected ID tag was embedded. The slim silicone disc shifted back and forth beneath her light brown skin, a dead giveaway that she was genetically modified.”

I have read this story before, but it has been reworked since i first read the initial draft, and is better for it. But don’t think that it wasn’t a good story to start with, it was superb.
Selene is special and so is her brother Eli. They live with their Nan, off-grid, so that no-one can find them. They scratch out an existence, growing their own food and keeping to themselves.
Then Selene decides to sell some spare food at the road-side, the buyers take her entire offering and pay with (unknown to Selene) marked bits. That means that when Selene tries to spend the bits, they are flagged in the store. She gets away and runs on home with Eli.
Meanwhile, the resistance against the mega corporations are fighting a tough battle in the quarantine zone, not knowing if they will survive the conflict.
Anders is conflicted with his father and sneaks off to his uncle’s when he can. But no-one seems to want to treat him like an adult. All he wants to do is make life difficult for the corporations who control everything. 

I really like Autumn’s creation. It seems a likely world and there are all the human conflicts that you would expect in a realistic construct. I have read some of her other books and found them to be equally enjoyable. A thoroughly recommended series to read.

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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What if you could be immune to any disease?
Genetic modification. Global warming. Pandemics. Famine. Economic collapse. In the early twenty-first century, governments failed worldwide, and humanity entered a dark age. From the wreckage, the Corporate Coalition rose with new hope for humanity and lofty promises to create a better world for all. 

One of their first experiments: Protecteds. Genetically modified children, immune to the diseases that wiped out billions. But something went wrong, and the defective Protecteds have been hunted and imprisoned for eight long years.

Bas is a Protected fighting the Coalition in an underground rebellion. When their top agent goes missing in a mysterious quarantine zone in Georgia, Bas and his team must rescue him… or ensure his secrets die with him.

Selene and her little brother Eli are Protecteds hiding out in Telmont, Georgia, and the quarantine has brought soldiers to their doorstep. Selene will do anything necessary to protect her family… but she’d rather die than give up her freedom. 

Anders hates the Coalition more than anyone else in Telmont, and he’s willing to break the law to fight back. One problem: his dad’s the local Coalition sheriff.

Katherine Raines runs the Coalition and knows what’s really in the quarantine zone… and she’s willing to sacrifice anyone and anything to ensure it never gets out.

Defective is book one of the Fractured Era series.

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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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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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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 One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

“I am going to do my best to be normal, all day. That is my challenge to myself. I do not want anybody to guess the truth about me. I look down at my left hand. I have written BE NORMAL on it. I see Agi looking at it too. ‘I should also remind myself of this sometimes,’ she says, with a nod.”

I thought this book would be a bit childish seeing as the main character has been kept at the age of 10, despite her being 17 physically.

However, Flora is not what I expected her to be. She is not afraid to explore her world, despite her memory being restricted to what she has written down (on her hand, her arm or in her notebook & sometimes on one of many post-it’s)!

Flora kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend. Drake then leaves to the Arctic to embark on a new course, which is being taught in English.

When Flora’s parents leave on a trip, Flora decides to go in search of Drake to find out what else she can remember.

The adventure starts before she leaves, when her parents go on their trip, but I don’t want to spoil the book for you. It continues in the Arctic up until she ends up back at home.

This is an engaging tale, written as Flora sees it. It isn’t boring, though you might think it would be, seeing as Flora cannot remember anything. I think that hearing the story from Flora’s viewpoint adds depth to the storytelling and I found it very engaging. I read most of it in one sitting, then finished the small remaining portion of the book in a second sitting a couple of days later. I would probably have read it in one go if I hadn’t started reading it so late in the day! I heartily recommend this book to you.

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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You always remember your first kiss.
Flora remembers nothing else…
“I look at my hands. One of them says ‘Flora, be brave’. I am Flora.”
Flora has anterograde amnesia. She can’t remember anything day-to-day: the joke her friend made, the instructions her parents gave her, how old she is.

Then she kisses someone she shouldn’t have kissed – and the next day she remembers it. The first time she’s remembered anything since she was ten.

But the boy is gone.

Desperate to hold onto the memory, she sets off to the Arctic to find him.

Why can she remember Drake? Could he be the key to everything else she’s forgotten?

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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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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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The Legends of Camber of Culdi Trilogy (Camber of Culdi, Saint Camber, and Camber the Heretic) by Katherine Kurtz

“Now, these are the Names of the Eleven Kingdoms, sung rightly well of old: Howicce, and Llannedd, and fierce Connait; mountainous Meara, the Land Beyond the River; and Kheldour, the windswept; and pastoral Eastmarch; Tolan, and Torenth, and myth ridden Mooryn; and lost Caeriesse, which sank beneath the sea; and far-reaching Gwynedd, seat of the Haldane Kings.”

I was expecting a series of books set in tougher times of fiefdoms and cruel over masters. Particularly as there is suggestion of an arcane race in the fly leaf description.

Book one has the reader following the goings on of the MacRorie’s, a tribe of Deryni, and also of their King, Imre.
Camber of Culdi is the head of the MacRorie estate and is well thought of by Deryni and humans alike. Following a great loss, he is persuaded that things must change and he and his family embark on a project that is fraught with danger to all around them.
Book 1 is complete with ‘5’ appendices!

Book two continues Cinhil’s life as King of Gwynedd, supported by his troop of key protagonists to the point of a battle against Princess Ariella, who wishes to regain her brothers lost kingdom for herself and her son.
The outcome of the battle of Iomaire changes many things for everyone in the book, but especially for Camber of Culdi who dies during the battle. Alister Cullen features prominently in this second book in the series, as he takes more of a role in helping King Cinhill build his realm of Gwynedd.

Book 3 tells of life after Cinhill’s sudden death, under the grip of human regents. But not before Cinhill has held a midnight service with his Deryni advisors and his sons. Rhys, the Kings healer, finds himself capable of a new skill which he is keen to teach to other Deryni, though it seems many are unable to adopt the new skill. The lives of all subjects in the country changes under the new ‘rulers’, some to be expected, but with some surprising alliances.

Strong monastic and religious material is a large part of these books, and some may find it not to their taste. However it it a core part of the structure of the story. Murder plays a large role in the lives of those in the three tales, which is reminiscent of the ‘times’ the tales are set in. The books also include Magic of a kind, though if you were Deryni you would not think of it as magic!

I enjoyed reading this set of books, I had one extremely late night when I couldn’t put my kindle down, until the point when I had to let my head rest on my pillow. It reminded me somewhat of the world of “Game of Thrones”, with the barbaric treatment of the lower classes.

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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Three fantasy novels of intrigue, betrayal, and magic in medieval Gwynedd by the New York Times–bestselling author of the Deryni series—bonus story also included.

Camber of Culdi: Long before Camber was revered as a saint, he was a Deryni noble, one of the most respected of the magical race whose arcane skills set them apart from ordinary humans in the kingdom of Gwynedd. Now, the land suffers under the tyranny of King Imre, whose savage oppression of the human population weighs heavily on Camber’s heart—a heart that is about to be shattered by a tragic loss that will lead him to confront the usurpers whose dark magic haunts the realm.

Saint Camber: The yoke of tyranny has finally been lifted in Gwynedd, but Camber’s job remains unfinished. The dangerous remnants of a conquered enemy still mass at the borders, and the new ruler is desperately unhappy wearing the crown. With the stability of a fragile kingdom at stake, its greatest champion must make the ultimate sacrifice: Camber of Culdi must cease to exist.

Camber the Heretic: The king’s heir is a mere boy of twelve, and the malevolent regents who will rule until young Alroy comes of age are determined to eliminate all Deryni. Suddenly, the future of Gwynedd hangs in the balance, and Camber—once adored as a saint, but now reviled as a heretic—must find a way to protect his people before everything and everyone he loves is destroyed in the all-consuming flames of intolerance and hate.

Filled with mysticism and magic, these sagas reminds us that “Kurtz’s love of history lets her do things with her characters and their world that no non-historian could hope to do” (Chicago Sun-Times).

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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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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.

The Reader by MK Harkins

“This looks like a normal neighborhood,” I said. “We’re back,” Devon shouted to the gatehouse guard. Dressed in a blue military uniform, the stocky male sentry wore a rifle slung over his shoulder. “I take it back. This is not normal.” “The guard is here for us. It’s important we have privacy.” Archer unrolled his window and flashed some sort of badge.”

I anticipated a futurist tale, though not too far in the future as it wasn’t based off world. Perhaps some telepathy and telekinesis, that sort of thing.

It started with Ann waking up on a beach, but thinking she was dead, or almost dead; until some kids come across her and shriek as she moves. Maybe she is a zombie? She comes around a bit more and realises that she needs to find somewhere safe. It is as she is planning a safe route off the beach that she is found by two young men who set about trying to help her.

Ann is uncertain about her entire situation and to compound things, she has completely lost her memory. Though when they ask her if she is a reader, she remembers a room of books and agrees that she likes to read.
From here Ann is taken by the two young men to a gated community and from there into safe haven where she is introduced to ‘family and friends’ and encouraged to feel at home, while she recovers her memory.

Once settled, the strange behaviour of those nearest to her within the community puzzles her, as they either seem to compete for her attention or warn her to stay away from certain individuals for her own safety. Other events put her in direct danger and she and others must fight for their lives.

I enjoyed the story. It reminded me of a couple of other ‘series’ that I have read and enjoyed: The Aliomenti Saga by Alex Albrinck and The girl in the box series by Robert J Crane. If you read and enjoyed either (or both) of these series, then I am sure that you will enjoy this one. If you haven’t, try them after reading this!

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:
Hunted, shot, and without her memory, eighteen-year-old Ann Baker wakes in shallow water on a deserted Pacific Northwest island. She is soon approached by two young men claiming to be her friends. Something isn’t right, but when gunshots sound, Ann is left with little choice but to allow Devon and Archer to help her escape. Soon she finds herself in their North Bend mountain compound, where the higher evolved humans claim to be mind-readers. While Ann heals, she realizes they believe her to be one of the last and most powerful of all – The Lost One. She’s welcomed by most with opened arms, but not everyone is happy about her arrival. A jealous adversary has plans for Ann, which spirals the entire Reader community into chaos. As lies, murder, and betrayal threaten to rip apart the once harmonious mountain dwellers, Ann is thrust into making a decision that could save or devastate not only The Readers, but all of mankind. But there’s just one glitch: by doing so it may require her to make the ultimate sacrifice.

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