The Immortals Is An “Instance” Where The Tale Comes Out On Top

imageThe Immortals, Part One
Shadows and Starstone
Author: Cheryl S. Mackey
Publisher: Amazon Digital (Dec. 2014)
Pages: 85 (Novella)
Genre: Fantasy
Twitter:  @Writezalot
Facebook:  Writezalot
Website: Writezalot.com

A thousand years ago the gods known as The Four created the Immortals to protect and defend their world against an invader known as the Dro-Aconi—and then vanished. Left to fend for themselves, the three races of Ein-Aral and the Immortals banded together to save the world.

Ivo, Jaeger, Jadeth, and Emaranthe must protect a desert village and its hoard of Starstone. Can the companions battle inner demons long enough to defeat legions of enemies and keep the enemy from stealing the Starstone, or is this merely the beginning of an even greater quest?

I’m not going to bury the lede here: I’m giving Shadows & Starstone – Part One of The Immortals –  3 out of 5 stars. Cheryl Mackey has written an enjoyable tale set in a world filled with mystery, magic and intrigue. There is an amazing story here and the reader will definitely want to keep reading more stories set in the world of her novel, The Unknown Sun.

Mackey does a great job of world building, setting the tone and pace for her future stories. There is a lot of action and the story and character development move along quite nicely.

As a former World of Warcraft player (Level 80 Dwarf Hunter – “For the Alliance!”) the story and our heroic class-based band of warriors  felt very much like a raiding scenario, or what we geeks refer to as “an Instance”:  a mage with AOE, a druid-like healer, and two DPS Warrior Brothers battling progressively harder mobs or enemies till the fight culminates in an intense Boss Battle.

I very much enjoyed this story, however, it fails in some places, which is why I started the review with praise. I don’t want deter you from reading this series, but it did have a few issues.

The battle scenes are overly described.  The final half of the novella is essentially a slow motion fight scene where we see every drop of sweat fall slowly to the ground, every look and gaze made by our heroes, every furrowed brow slowly furrowing and weapons being slowly drawn, dropped, and picked up again. It’s like one of those slow motion fight scenes in a movie where the bad guy fires a gun and for what seems like ten minutes all you see is the flash from the gun, the bullet slowly leaving the barrel, the casing being slowly discharged and falling slowly to the ground as the bullet moves across space, (again slowly) towards the intended victim. It’s a cool scene, but sometimes it’s over used.

There is a certin obsessiveness with the description of the physical movements of eyes, other facial movements or responses. (furrowed brows, gazing eyes, upturned mouths, smirks, braids and hair movement, gasp, hisses, etc.)  Used occasionally, these physical movements tell their own story.  Used repetitively it becomes, well, repetitive.

In the end, Mackey’s story shines and THAT is the magic of the novella. The characters are richly drawn, the world is vast and mysterious, and the hints of dangers and evils to come kept me engrossed till the end.  I look forward to further exploring this world.

I was provided a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review. I hope you take a chance on this amazing author and give The Immortals, Part One a chance. Again, I give this 3 out of 5 stars.

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to interview Cheryl Mackey, (You can read the full interview BY CLICKING HERE)

Now get going and download your copy of The Immortals today by CLICKING HERE! 

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A Few Astonishing Moments With… Cheryl Mackey

imageWelcome back. We are once again sitting in The Last Cafe at the End of the Internet, having a cup of coffee, and getting ready to bring you another great interview with an amazing author. This week we are spending a few astonishing moments with author Cheryl Mackey.

Cheryl lives in Southern California with her husband and 2 sons. Her books The Unknown Sun and The Immortals parts 1 and 2 are both young adult fantasy and available at Amazon.  She currently has a flash fiction story published online at The Prompt Magazine.  She has a MFA in Creative Writing and enjoys games, reading and, of course, writing. Her favorite genres to write and read are Fantasy closely followed by Space Opera and Dystopian.

imageAstounding Books (AB): Welcome Cheryl and thank you for joining us today. We are seated here in the Last Cafe at the End of the Internet. What can we get you to drink?

Cheryl Mackey (CM): Tea drinker here! Mostly iced tea. I prefer plain, boring black tea but I’ve tried various flavors.

AB:  What drew you to write fantasy novels over other genres? 

CM:   I was drawn to fantasy because it is 100% imagination. As a child I could escape into a world of my own making or one made by great fantasy authors. Anything is possible and I revel in the unique, odd, or magical. Without fantasy our world would be a whole lot more boring.

AB:   You’ve been very busy with publishing three novels. What’s up next for you?

CM:   Currently I am about a ¼ of the way through the third book in The Immortals series. I hope to have it out sometime this fall. I’m really excited about this book because it’s the book that answers the questions asked in the previous two. A fourth book will follow to bring the ultimate conclusion.

imageAB:   Growing up, who were the authors that left the biggest impression on you or later influenced you as a writer? 

CM:  I was influenced by a range of authors and genres as a child/teen. Isaac Asimov, JRR Tolkien, LM Montgomery, Madeleine L’Engle, Judy Blume, and more. Asimove and Tolkien taught me that the world is limitless in your imagination and Montgomery, L’Engle, and Blume taught me that girls can do and be anything too.

AB:   What was that first thing you wrote that you were either most proud of or vividly remember as being that one piece that will always stay with you as a young writer? 

CM:   In my 20’s, when I was too cowed by my family to ever believe I could follow my dreams, I wrote a modern version of the Beauty and the Beast fable. It sucked. It really was bad, but I had zero knowledge of how to even be an author then. When I went back to college for my MFA in Creative Writing in my 30’s I dragged that terrible manuscript with me and made it the focus. I used what I learned to make it better. I am still proud of it and it will always be special to me, but I’m not sure it will ever be published either. It’s…too personal, a gauge of my life as a writer, a stepping stone to my current success.

AB:   You brought along a photo. Tell us about it.

imageCM:   Family vacation in Las Vegas approx 1983. I’m the pig-tailed girl in the middle behind the toys. We were set loose in Circus Circus while our parents gambled (several cousins and my brother and I) and essentially cleaned out the place. That’s maybe a fifth of our haul. One of our many crazy family vacations we went on up until I was 18 or so.

AB:   What are you reading right now? 

CM:  I am a weird reader. I have 2 quirks that always freak people out. I reread favorites religiously and I don’t have a to be read pile. I read what I buy, one thing at a time, and I’ve just finished a great fantasy series by Landon Porter called Rune Breaker. I really really suggest fans of classic adventure type fantasy read the series.

AB:  I’m going to take a quick break to get more coffee. Go ahead and Interview yourself till I get back…

CM:  Cheryl, Why did you waste your 20’s worrying that your family wouldn’t approve of you being a writer?

CM:   Good question Cheryl…Because I was not convinced I could ever be one. I gained confidence in my 30’s and became an author. And I was right. They don’t approve… but I don’t care.

AB:   Ok, I’m back. It was a short line. Now some fun questions: Star Wars, Star Trek or Doctor Who?

CM:   That’s not fair! I’m a big geeky fan of all 3! Literally. I fangirl.

AB:   Who Shot First (Han or Greedo)?

CM:   Come on! Everyone knows Han shot first!

AB:   That will do it. Thank you again for joining us Cheryl in The Last Cafe at the End of the Internet and good luck on your next projects.

I hope our readers will check out Cheryl’s works. Her books The Unknown Sun and The Immortals parts 1 and 2 are available at Amazon (Click on the Links). You can follow Cheryl Mackey on Twitter: @Writezalot, Facebook:  Writezalot, Instagram: csmackey_author and on her webpage: www.writezalot.com

Gelineau and King’s A Reaper of Stone Is The Start of Something Astonishing.

imageA Reaper of Stone
(Echoes of the Ascended Series)
Authors Mark Gelineau and Joe King
Publisher: Gelineau & King (September 2015)
Pages: 106
Twitter: @GELINEAUandKING
Facebook: Gelineau&King
Website: GelineauandKing.com

Warning: A Reaper of Stone is highly addictive.  Make room on your calendars, cancel appointments, find a dog sitter because, once you realize there are more novellas by Gelineau and King, you will not be able to physically stop yourself from reading them.

To say I’m very selective of my fantasy reading is a bit of an understatement.  As is often the case nowadays, fantasy series are frequently sweeping epics with publication dates spanning years, if not decades (I’m looking squarely at you George R. R. Martin). With a cast of thousands and story arcs that are more intricate than a trigonometry class book written in Klingon, these epics demand my full attention so much so that I often forsake all other series in the hopes of not confusing plot-lines or characters.  Then there are those epics that begin wonderfully, but after many years the writing declines and you merely stay along for the ride just to get a sense of fulfillment only to have the author pass away before the tale is finished. True story.

I received a request a few moths back from Mark Gelineau and Joe King  to review their novella Best Left in the Shadows. At the time I was still wary of attempting to start another fantasy series (being currently embedded in a popular one) that I promised to promote their novel in my Astounding Authors feature and call it a day.

Later, while looking for a short novel to review while on vacation, I came across the novella A Reaper of Stone by Gelineau and King on the Net Galley site. (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this novella in exchange for a fair and honest review.)  The first thing I noticed was that it’s part of the Echoes of the Ascended world, as was Best Left in the Shadows.  But it wasn’t until I read that the authors had a plan to publish a new novella each month set in the world of Aedaron that I came to realize the utter brilliance of these stories.

In the authors’ own words: “Echoes of the Ascended is a series of series. Each follows the lives of five orphans. Each features a different orphan. Each is a different kind of tale.”

A Reaper of Stone, centered around  Elinor – strong, confident heroine who is a Reaper in the land of Aedaron – is mesmerizing. The old world has passed and the inhabitants of Aedaron have decided that the world must move on – all keeps of the old world must fall. But in doing so, they’ve lost their connection to the old gods, the old heroes.  The world Gelineau and King created is deep and rich.  They seem to draw from the best of fantasy: a dash of magic, a pinch of politics, and a whole lot of just waiting to be revealed history. Very much like a dealer, Gelineau and King are giving us just enough of this world to keep us hooked for the near future.  No five year waits for the next novel. No complicated plot lines that require a wikipedia page. Just five stories published in a (for now) timely fashion. Just what I needed to keep my fantasy fix going strong.

A Reaper of Stone is  suitable for young adult readers of fantasy and adults that are looking for an inventive, engrossing plot lines and captivating characters.

Next week I’ll continue the review with #2 in this particular series: Broken Banners. I definitely have more to say.  Till then, I highly recommend CLICKING HERE and downloading A Reaper of Stone. Then, after reading it, forward this review to family and friends and get THEM to read Gelineau and King.

But when you find yourself skipping your favorite TV show, avoiding sleep or not walking the dog just to keep reading the next story, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Five Astounding Stars Out of Five Stars

Spotlight on Astounding Authors

Welcome to a new year of Astounding Authors. Check out this week’s offerings from exciting and new independent writers. Don’t forget to come back later and tell us how you enjoyed it. Please tell your family and friends about us. Now to this week’s Astounding Authors!

imageMoore Hollow
Author: J.D. Byrne
Publisher: CreateSpace (October 2015)
Pages: 253
Genre: Paranormal/fantasy
Website:  JDByrne.net
Twitter: @JDBAuthor

Ben Potter’s life is a shambles. As a journalist he’s hit rock bottom, writing dreck about monsters and ghouls to make ends meet after a big story blew up in his face. As a son he’s a disappointment, unwilling to follow his father, grandfather, and great grandfather into the family business. As a father, he’s mostly just not there.

Now a new assignment could change all that. All he has to do is go from London to the hills of West Virginia to investigate the strangest of stories his great grandfather told. Did a sleazy politician really raise the dead to try and win an election? And if he did, what happened to the zombies? Could they still exist? Ben needs to find out, to solve the mystery and find a way to get his life back on track.

But finding the answer only presents Ben with a whole new batch of problems. Does he use what he learns to put his life back on track? Or will he be compelled to do the right thing, even if it leaves his life a mess?

The hardest part of a mystery is deciding what to do once you’ve solved it.

Click here to learn more about Moore Hollow.

 

imageBasquiat Bounce
Author: Chris Murphy
Publisher: CJM Publishing 2015
Pages: 227

Acclaimed Abstract artist Sun Yat Pill has just had his most successful Gallery opening. After the exhibition, he goes home and retrieves the painting he has been working on for the last 2 years, his masterpiece, ‘The St. Matthew’. With painting in hand, he takes the subway to the South Bronx. On a deserted ghetto block, he leaves ‘The St. Matthew’ in the backseat of an abandoned, rusted Volkswagen Bug. With his mission accomplished, he returns home and promptly hangs himself, committing suicide.

Where is ‘The St. Matthew’ and why did Pill take his own life? As these questions grow in the media, a Basquiat Bounce begins to creep into play.

The Basquiat Bounce is a novel that highlights the talent and absurdities of the contemporary art world. A business where Terence Koh’s ‘Dialectic’ (A dried turd wrapped in gold foil) or Mark Kostabi (Who has his assistants paint for him) can command hundreds of thousands of dollars and have solo exhibitions around the globe. Through its cast of eccentric characters, The Basquiat Bounce tries to make sense of this industry in an often hilarious and always entertaining fashion.

Click here to purchase Basquiat Bounce by Chris Murphy.

 

imageAlawahea: The Azellian Affairs, Book One
By Sara L. Daigle
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fiction, Fantasy
Book Publisher: Merry Dissonance Press
Pages: 478
Web: SaraDaigle.com
Twitter: @SaraLDaigle
GoodReads:SaraDaigle

Tamara Carrington always felt different. One event in high school left her wondering if maybe she really was a freak, although she’d managed to leave that experience in the past—buried deep in her psyche. With the arrival of the exchange students from the planet of Azelle to her college, Tamara’s long buried memories threaten to erupt. As Tamara’s emotions build and her friendship with the Azellians grows, so does the knowledge of secrets within her own family.

With the deterioration of her mother’s health, Tamara doesn’t know where to turn for answers or solace. What has her family been hiding? Why does she feel inexplicably drawn to the Azellians? What will happen if she unleashes her long-suppressed passion? Will she survive or even recognize herself afterwards? Wanting answers, yet being afraid of what she might find, Tamara wonders if it would be better to remain asleep.

Click here to read.Alawahea: The Azellian Affairs, Book One by Sara Daigle.

That will do it for this week. Be sure to Like the Astounding Books Facebook page so you won’t miss any updates.