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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An Echo of the Ascended Series Continues with Broken Banners

imageBroken Banners
(A Reaper of Stone Book 2)
Author: Mark Gelineau & Joe King
Publisher: Gelineau & King (Feb. 2015)
Pages: 90
Genre: Fantasy
Twitter: @GELINEAUandKING
Facebook: GELINEAUandKING
Website: GelineauandKing.com

I told you I had more to say about the astonishing An Echo of the Ascended Series by Mark Gelineau and Joe King, so here I am again this week reviewing the second novella in their A Reaper of Stone series. As you may recall I was completely broadsided by how much I enjoyed the first novella, A Reaper of Stone, so much so that I immediately went out and not only downloaded this story, but two more. In my first review (which you can revisit here) I gave the authors praise for creating a wonderful, rich, addicting world filled with strong, captivating characters. Not to rehash much of what I’ve already written, but the Ascended series is centered around 5 characters, each having their own set of novellas that are set in the larger fantasy realm of Aedaron. Gelineau and King have an ambitious plan to release a new novella in the overall Ascended arc every month.

While I received a free copy of A Reaper of Stone in exchange for a fair and honest review, this novella was purchased by yours truly. That’s how much I enjoyed the first story. Hoping that Broken Banners would continue the excellence of the first, I made my way to the nearest wifi hotspot while on vacation and set about getting the next installment.

Mark Gelineau

Mark Gelineau

Broken Banners leaves off where Reaper of Stone ended. We are thrown into the next adventure of Elinor, a Reaper who is assigned the task of coordinating the dismantling and handover of marches and keeps in a kingdom going through a lot of change. While on her current assignment she realizes that the transfer of the most current keep may not be on the up and up and proceeds to investigate. What she finds, like in the first novel, is a disturbing trend of cronyism and evil.

Joe King

Joe King

There is an undercurrent of the supernatural that permeates through this series. Unlike other fantasy series that focus a bit much on magical swords, wizards or dragons, The Ascended series is more character driven and expertly dishes out just enough of the backstory and magic to keep the reader wanting to read more.

Gelineau and King weave an intricate story with just the right number of characters so as not to be confusing. The tension is appropriate and is never lost in cumbersome dialogue. The pacing is quick, so much so that I kept looking at the “time left in book” feature on my Kindle to see how much longer I had to enjoy reading. (You can probably finish the story in about 1 – 1/2 hours or a nice trip to the beach)

I’ve quickly become a vocal and textual advocate for this series, telling all of my fantasy-genre-loving-geek friends to read the series. The novellas are $2.99 each and well worth the purchase. I plan on buying physical copies for a young nephew of mine who will very much enjoy them.

At the risk of my blog becoming “The Ascended Blog”, I’m going to hold off a few weeks on further reviews of Gelineau and King’s stories. I’m knee deep in the remaining available novellas and will try to bundle future reviews. Regardless, expect to hear more.

Another 5 stars out of 5, this time for Broken Banners.

Click here to start reading An Echo of the Ascended Series by Gelineau and King.

A Short Review for The Grownup

The Grownup

imageAuthor: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Crown (November 2015)
Pages 64
Website: Gillian-flynn.com
Twitter: gillianflynn

This will not be a very long review. The Grownup is actually not a very long novel.

64 Pages. Give or take. I think the actual story started on page 6, (9% through the novel) so…that happened.

I could attempt to give you a rundown on this mini-thriller’s plot, setting, themes and characters. However, if I did, it would spoil about 1/3 of the length of the actual novel. A common rule I have: reviews should not be longer than the actual novel. To avoid actually giving away too much of this very short story that you’ll probably pay anywhere between $12 for the hard cover and $2.99 for the Kindle version for, I will just say the following:

Do you like ghost stories?

Did you like reading any of the other novels Gillian Flynn wrote, including the hugely famous, suspenseful and successful Gone Girl?

Do you like Flynn’s first person writing style, her fast paced storytelling and how she keeps readers guessing and second-guessing with twists and red herrings?

Do you like George R. R. Martin…you know, the guy who’s famous for the extremely long winded, 1,000 page tomes that make up the Fire and Ice (Game of Thrones) series? (He asked Flynn to write him a story. This is that story.)

Do you like reading a full novel (or more appropriately a Novella) in about an hour and a half (leaving time to stop, grab a pop, go let the dog out and check Facebook for any messages)?

Are you trying to finish up a Goodreads Reading Challenge and need just one more book?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then read The Grownup by Gillian Flynn. It’s a fun, thrilling tale. My only complaint is that it could have been longer. There was enough good material here for a full length novel. The ending felt rushed and vague. Ok, that’s actually a couple of complaints.

Addendum #1: If you are planning to read this novel on a three or four hour flight across the country, you’d better bring another book.

Addendum #2: I received a free copy of this book from BloggingForBooks.com in exchange for a fair and honest review. That said, I’m glad I didn’t pay $12 for the mini-book format of this novella.

As short stories or novellas go, The Grownup is a good 4 out of 5 stars.

To purchase a copy of The Grownup by Gillian Flynn, CLICK HERE.