Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Top Ten Extraordinary Book Titles

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where we showcase books. It is hosted by http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com
This week is Top Ten  Extraordinary Book Titles

I went with book titles I found unique and beautiful

Monday, October 7, 2019

Greedfall Game Review


Explore uncharted new lands as you set foot on a remote island seeping with magic, and filled with riches, lost secrets, and fantastic creatures. Forge this new world's destiny, as you befriend or betray companions and entire factions. With diplomacy, deception and force, become part of a living, evolving world - influence its course and shape your story.
* Engage in a core roleplaying experience achieve quests and complete objectives in a multitude of different ways through combat, diplomacy, deception, or stealth.
* Complete freedom in character progression play as a male or female, customize your appearance, and freely choose your abilities, spells and skills.
* Delve into a mysterious world of magic begin a grand journey and uncover ancient secrets protected by supernatural beings, manifestations of the island's earthly magic.

I love BioWare, mass effect and dragon age are the loves of my life. So I was really happy to read the first reviews of Greedfall by Spider Studio. I read it felts more like a Bioware game than the last two Bioware games- and they were right!

I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED. The world-building, graphics, and plot were great. The combat was amazing, especially the ability to use 12 short cuts, and that you can have a gun AND magic!! The quests are not the standard fetch quests and there are many options for your character to make choices that affect the game and outcome. The choices you made and dialogue you pick also affect how the different factions and companions view you.

The map system within cities left a little to be desired- it is really hard to get around and I got lost a lot. Some cut scenes had a tendency toward the uncanny valley and sometimes during quests it was hard to figure out what to do next.

There are romance options in this game and they were decent. Not a ton of cut scenes between De Saret and your lover of choice, but still a good start. Not a lot of cut scenes with you and your companions either. Also, the companions are not bad, some are very interesting, but no one that inspires loyalty like a Bioware character. However, I feel that with some tweaking this studio could provide that.

I finished the game in under 50 hours and still missed some items and will be replaying. This game feels like Dragon Wage Origins with better graphics. There's inventory management (you pick up a lot of junk) crafting, potion making and trap making. Be warned- you will get quests early on that if you haven't leveled up right you will have to come back to later. This was annoying, but you can reset all your talents and attributes with a memory crystal if you need to. I am hopeful Spider will release some DLC's because this has easily made its rotation into the games I play. Highly recommend.

Friday, October 4, 2019

ARC Review- The City of Locked Doors by Keegan and Tristen Kozinski

Four hundred years ago a plague befell the world. It warped the bodies of all organic things and drove both man and beast rabid during the night. Law and order vanished in a matter of days, along with most of the human race.
Years passed and from this madness rose the Tyrants, a brutal god-like sect of individuals who could enforce their will on the surviving dregs of humanity. With their tyranny, they brought order back into the world and established settlements. A convoluted semblance of civilization began aided by the magic of Necromancy, to raise those butchered in the night, and Hemomancy, to heal their injuries.
In Umbras, domain of the Tyrant Lock-And-Key, all humans are imprisoned at night where they cannot harm others or the city. Beyond that however, Lock-And-Key does little to interfere with the lives of her subjects. They live and bide with a tentative happiness in the enforced peace her presence brings, until, in the dark of one night, a stranger comes to Umbras

First off let me say this book was refreshing as the main character was an anti-hero villain sort. I love a bad guy.

This book can come across as a little intimidating as the first thing the reader see’s is a page with the definition of terms that will be used in the book. I admit I had to keep going back to it to remind myself what things were, which was a little annoying. It is also creative.

This is a revenge story with a lot going on. It is dark and thrilling while also being very descriptive, in parts too much, and quite refreshing.
Overall a unique tale, complex and I found the characters fairly developed. Noir is an unsympathetic character who is hard to relate to and I really like that. I think it’s a myth that in every novel you will find a character you relate to. One must know how to enjoy a book without this.

The story takes a little to get going, but once it does it really moves.

This book felt like the start of a good RPG video game- this is a compliment.

Within the pages of The City of Locked Doors, I found wit, darkness, and sophistication. I will admit that the prose threw me at times, and I am a little tired of the standoffish ominous male archetype.

Overall a solid 3 stars and I would recommend it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Spot Light Post- Dead Remnants by Armarna Forbes

Welcome to the afterlife of Denver—where phantom buffalo roam and ghost factions wage war.
Seventeen-year-old Ashen Deming is dead, but she can’t move on. Not with the soul of her best friend on the line. He is stuck in a horrific curse—a curse no spirit knows how to break.
Ashen is determined to find a cure, but at every turn opposing factions try to snatch her for themselves. As the menacing specters close in, a new threat is exposed—one that looms over the dead and the living—and Ashen and her posse of ghosts have one brief chance to stop them. If they fail, the entire world will be lost to darkness forever.
But Ashen’s time is running out. If she doesn’t cross over soon, she will be damned to roam the haunted city for eternity.
Dead Remnants is a YA urban fantasy, filled with dark humor and spliced with historical flashback stories, revealing real ghosts of America’s ugly past. Perfect for older teens and fans of JOSS WHEDON, NEIL GAIMAN, STEPHEN KING, and GUILLERMO DEL TORO.

Excerpt from Dead Remnants, Chapter 5 :

“But why am I dead? Why am I on fire? What did you do to me, cowboy?”

He raised his hand defensively. “Hold your dang horses a minute. First off, let’s get your circumstances square. I didn’t do a thing to you. I didn’t kill you. Heck, that’s just an unfortunate event that occurs on the daily. And you ain’t special `cause you’re dead, Little Missy. Everybody dies. You’re like all the other bags of bones on this rotating ball of mud.”

Macajah tugged down on the brim of his Stetson and continued. “Secondly, I’m none too fond of being referred to as ‘cowboy.’ It’s disrespectful. Tends to vex me something terrible. Granted, when you modern folks lay eyes on me, I reckon that’s what you see. But back in my day, most Easterners confused that with being a rustler, which meant a man was a horse thief. As I’m a gentleman and no horse thief, I would be much obliged if you’d call me Cage or Macajah. Or even the formal Mister Sloan.”

Ashen scowled. She crossed her arms in dramatic indignation, spun around, and stomped back to the curb. The cowboy followed, punctuating the tongue-lashing he had given her by roughly smoothing imaginary wrinkles from his duster. Ashen’s thoughts flitted to her short life. How she’d never go to college, get married, and have children. How she’d never have the chance to become a better mother than her own. How she would never know what it felt like to fall in love.

She hung her head, blinking fast to fight back the tears. In the end, the tears won, spilling out to form fat splatters on the concrete. Macajah looked up from his preening to catch her quickly dab at her eyes. His gaze met hers and the hard edges of his face softened.

“I know this whole affair of dying makes you all-overish and downright afraid,” he said. “I can assure you, it’ll pass.”

The cowboy’s words punched her in the gut. Hot tears streamed down her cheeks and she crumpled to her knees in the gutter. A group of the living walked through her as she sobbed. With each passing polychromatic soul, she could see her own body flutter, the tiny fragments of herself folding into uncoordinated loops.

“I can’t be dead.”

Groaning, Macajah sat on the curb next to her. “I wish that were true, Missy. I really do.”

Why did I write this?:

Primarily, I wrote this to teach teens about pieces of American history without them realizing they were learning about American history. I wanted to explore certain events that aren't often discussed or taught in public schools, and I found weaving these stories into an immersive dark fantasy setting worked incredibly well. Each of these ghost characters have a story to tell. Each want to be heard. Each want to be remembered, and I want others to remember them as well.

Also, it was just a lot of fun to write. The world-building, the mythos, the characters, the different dialects, the kind of campy dark humor--there's a lot of "me" in those pages.

Where did the idea come from?:

I've always had a love for history and particularly, extraordinary people in history. Folks who, against all odds, achieved the extraordinary.

About 12 or so years ago, the cowboy character, Macajah, started talking to me. At first, it was a line here and there until eventually, he just wouldn't shut up until I started to write things down. I wrote a few chapters, but never felt ready to actually write the entire thing. A year or so after I moved from Colorado to Scotland, I finally felt ready, and after a lot of research and interviews and documentaries, the story was written.

What inspired me?:

There is an old tabletop role-playing game called, "Deadlands" that definitely inspired some of the mood throughout the book. Also, one of my all-time favorite shows, Dead Like Me.

Beyond that, writers like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and movie/show directors like Guillermo del Toro and Joss Whedon were hugely influential--pretty much anything edging the dark side with an ensemble cast.

Author website: armarnaforbes.com

Amazon: mybook.to/DeadRemnants

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46751025-dead-remnants?from_search=true

Twitter: @armarnaforbes

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Spotlight: The God Queen by M.L Tishner

The return of the God Queen is not what everyone hoped…
Humans have long since spread their numbers among the stars. Now far, far into the future, war has torn the Tyre Star Cluster into two major political factions. The militant Dominion have gained the upper hand in the last decade with the murder of Niklaryn Ettowa, the progressive Federation’s champion. Some considered the war to be almost won.
Yet there are those who claim the war will not be ended by mortals…but by the rebirth of the gods.
Rei lived most of her life bartending on one Earth’s backwater towns. She daydreams of something more, traveling the stars, and destroying the man who murdered her brother Niklaryn. Her dream is within her grasp only if she accepts her fate as the God Queen.
Bronx is disillusioned with being a reincarnated god, let alone a reaper. He pays his penance by isolating himself and taking up the mantle of a combat medic. When the sister of his old mentor Niklaryn storms in to join the cause will he find something worth fighting for?
Together with others, they must help the Federation tip the scales in their favor, but clashing plans for the gods threatens to tear it all apart.
Jupiter Ascending meets X-Men in this epic New Adult space opera bursting with star-crossed romance, elemental magic, and an adventure across the star cluster, perfect for fans of A Spark of White Fire.

Rei yawned as she surveyed her handy work. She, Hotara, and Sagitan stayed up most of the night ripping up boards from around the temple windows and doors before piling them in front of the basilica of the One True God on the other side of the square. Rei continued on her own later, sweeping the temple, lighting the incense, and laying flowers at each of the twelve statues inside.

The temple matched the buildings around it with its low walls and aluminum roof, but the stained-glass windows made it unique. Its large weathered wooden doors were open. One image portrayed the God King Manden with a war hammer held high, while the other portrayed the God Queen Mica with her bladed staff. The soft smoke of incense spilled out down the steps and around several locals already gathered around the entrance. Most of them fervently wiped their faces of the dirt that permeated every inch of the town before entering. It didn’t help.

Ballarat was cradled at the base of the Panamint Mountains, just at the outskirts of Death Valley. There were a few plants that managed to thrive in the heat, but they all had a perpetual layer of dust that allowed the vegetation to blend in with the dry earth around it—just like Ballarat’s residents.

Rei picked the petals off a Golden Evening Primrose from her perch at the dead fountain as she continued to observe. The crowd had grown steadily since she arrived after breakfast. A few were even the recent “converts” to the One True God. She smiled. One stone at a time. Niklaryn would have been proud. Even from this distance, the smell of Princesplums and incense from the temple tickled her nose.

“Rei, darling.” Virga, Sagitan’s wife, appeared at her side. She planted a soft kiss on Rei’s cheek. She wore a bright scarf with pink and purple flowers, and her light blue eyes twinkled when she smiled. She had a round face made more prominent by the scarf. “How are you?”

Rei stifled another yawn. “Tired from doing the gods’ work, but good. Yourself?”

“I’m well, thank you.” Virga gave her a knowing smile.

Rei glimpsed another familiar face towering over the older woman. His attention fixated on the touch screen in his hands.

“Hello, Arram.”

Virga’s grandson was a head taller than she was, yet a few years younger. He slouched as though he didn’t want to draw attention to himself. Like a shadow, he always kept to his grandmother’s side. He met Rei’s gaze and blinked at her with violet eyes. However, he didn’t respond.

“Arram,” Virga muttered.

“Hi,” he said, although it sounded more like a grunt.

“I don’t know what to do with this boy.” Virga linked arms with the younger woman, pulling her off the fountain. “Shall we?”

Rei hesitated. She knew she probably shouldn’t linger at the scene of the crime, so to speak. It was enough to reopen the temple for Ballarat, but she wasn’t sure how much she should push her luck. The cleric didn’t look pleased when he found the pile of wood at his doorstep this morning. It would only be a matter of time before he retaliated, and she would have to watch her drinks for poison from now on. For now, she would rather remind him these people belonged to her gods, not his.

“It’s not a good idea. I’m supposed to be converting.”

Virga laughed and released Rei’s arm. “Sagitan told me. Next time you plan a stunt like that again, let me know. I love to rebel.”

Rei covered her mouth in an attempt at feigned shock. “Stunt? Virga, I don’t know what you’re talking about. The temple was open when I arrived here this morning. Maybe our darling cleric finally realized we can all live in harmony?”

Both women glanced at the cleric, who scowled from his post at the entrance to the basilica, its hideous structure towering high above the buildings around it. Its golden roof reflected a sun beam into Rei’s face.

Virga chuckled softly. “Of course. You are a model citizen and incapable of doing anything illegal.” She cupped Rei’s cheek. “Then run along before the cleric decides he wants a word with you. Your mother invited us over for dinner tonight, so we’ll see you later. All right?”

Rei nodded and Virga turned to leave. “Come along, Arram,” she called to her grandson.

“I’ll be right there.” His head tilted to the side as he edged closer to Rei.

She never liked the way he studied at her, the same way the cleric would look at a bug before squashing it under his shoe. She didn’t know where Arram and his grandparents lived before they came to Ballarat, but she smelled privilege and it reeked.

“Why does it matter who worships many gods or one god?” he asked.

Rei blinked. “That’s a question for the cleric. He’s the one who believes we should choose one over the other. I don’t care who people worship.”

“You do, you little hypocrite. The two of you have been butting heads since before my grandparents and I arrived in this one-horse town. Why does it matter to you that people worship many gods?”

“Because they’re real, Arram!” she growled, her face growing hot. “The Volocio are real. One of them has already been reincarnated, and it’s only a matter of time before the god queen returns.”

Arram raised an eyebrow. “You mean Kazimir Ettowa, claiming to be the god of illusion?” He snorted. “If that Ettowa is the real thing, I’m the son of the death god.”

Rei’s heart stopped at the mention of the name. Her name. “What does being an Ettowa have to do with it?”

He leaned against the side of the fountain and ran a hand through his hair, the same shade of brown as hers. “That family is rich, disgustingly rich, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they paid the holy father to give him the title.”

Rei pursed her lips. She knew the brotherhood who raised Kazimir was humble and lived a life with little to no earthly possessions. She didn’t think these monks were so easily bought by her family’s money. She liked to think they were men who took the religion seriously, unlike other monasteries with their jewel-encrusted walls who used their religion solely to make a profit. She never told anyone her relation to Kazimir.

“Well, my brother saw Kazimir’s powers work,” she said. “I believe him.”

He chuckled. “Of course, the brother you bring up all the time and yet I’ve never met. He’s probably some other illiterate yokel from this backwoods town,” he sneered and barked a laugh. “You’ve convinced me, Rei. But please, satiate my curiosity: what’s your brother’s name?”

Rei felt the name Niklaryn Ettowa on the tip of her tongue. She wanted so much to say it, to boast about it. He was legendary; he was the best of the Daer Knights. She was so proud to be his sister. But unfortunately, everyone knew who he was, and revealing her relation to him would also reveal who she really was.

He smiled. “That’s right. You never say. Makes me wonder if he exists, or he’s some lie you use when you know you’re losing an argument.”

Rei shook and her muscles quivered. Her hand itched to slap his face, but she knew she had to take the higher ground. It’s what her brother would have wanted. She breathed in loudly through her nose, trying to compose herself.

“This conversation is over.” She pointed toward the temple, where Virga had long disappeared. “You should catch up to your grandmother. She appears to be missing her shadow.” Now it was her turn to flash her teeth at Arram. “Now fuck off.”

“Duly noted.” He pulled away from the fountain and sauntered over to the temple. “See you at dinner later.”

Rei rubbed her face and held back a yell. Any euphoria she had left was gone. She hated how much he got under her skin.

She crossed the square with the intent of heading back to the bar, replaying their conversation over and over in her head. She didn’t stop until she reached the other side of the square, next to the pantheon of the One True God. Its hideous gold-painted roof left her angrier. It only reminded her how much this religion and Arram were monumental thorns in her side, and she was not looking forward to dealing with more of the young man’s colorful remarks over dinner. The day had started out so well.

Rei turned the corner and collided with a figure.

“Ope, careful, little lady,” said a light accented voice.

“Sorry.” She stared at the stranger, her jaw dropping. His hood had fallen off, revealing a head of deep-red hair. He was older than she was; there were lines around his bright green eyes that smiled as he met her gaze. But the feature that drew her attention most was that every inch of visible skin was covered in freckles.

She had experienced this before. Her eyes relaxed as her vision multiplied, as though she were in two places at once. Swords clanged in the distance, crashing together, and her nose filled with the metallic scent of blood. The man stood in full battle gear, covered in blood that was not his; some had even splattered onto his face. He raised his war hammer, Nature’s Wrath, as he yelled. His green eyes locked with Rei’s as she held her own bladed staff high in the sky and she screamed in response. Lightning flashed above her, dancing across the clouds while the thunder clapped. Around her periphery, she could see long vines writhe and thrash.

She knew him. The gods had sent her this vision. They used to send more when she was child, but their silence the last few years had caused her to doubt their faith in her. They wanted her to meet this man and her heart raced at the thought of it. She shook her head, the vision disappearing. She gave the stranger a shaky grin.

“I’m sorry.” Her voice cracked. “This may sound odd, but I feel like I’ve met you before.”

He let out a huge breath and a slow smile crept across his lips.

“I have the same feeling too,” he said.

A lightness bloomed in her chest like she waited years for this moment. She was unaware of what the moment was, but she knew she had to trust the gods. She extended a trembling hand.

“I’m Rei.”

From the Author on why they wrote the God Queen:
I first toyed with the idea of The God Queen when I was about thirteen-years-old (I am thirty-three now). Star Wars Episode One had just come out and I was (and still am) a die-hard Star Wars fan as well as a huge fan of the magic girl genre (Sailor Moon to be more specific). I began to have these day dreams of a girl with powers who would have cool space adventures like Luke Skywalker. At that time, I wanted more books with female heroes, so I decided to write one for myself. Between then and now, I have written at least four or five different versions of my story. There is a very basic skeleton that's the same (Rei can channel lightning, Bronx is a reaper, reincarnation, a prophecy, etc), but as I grew older and learned how to write better, I would apply what I learned in the newer incarnation of my story. It never bothered me when I started over - I knew the story wasn't ready yet.

Even after all these years, it's still why I wanted this story (and what will be series) to be the best it could be. I wrote it for my thirteen-year-old self, because I wanted to be someone she could be proud of. Granted, I don't think my current book would be appropriate for my younger self, but I proved to myself that as long as I didn't give up, I could still fulfill my dreams.

Where to buy!


Barnes and Noble

Author Links


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday- Freebie- Books with main characters that are witches

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by   

This week was a freebie. Because it is hot and I want Halloween season to hurry up I've chosen ten books with main characters who are witches. 

Hey! You! My new novel Blood Born was just released from Fire and Ice YA. It's an LGBTQ+ gender-bent Dracula retelling. I am giving out pdf, mobi, nook copies for reviews and you can find it on various online book stores. Email me if you're interested!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Settings I would like to see more of

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com/

This week's theme is Top Ten Settings We Wish To See More Of.

1. Cemeteries/Mortuaries
2. Pioneer/Oregon Trail (not religious or straight historical fiction)
3. Alternate Realities that aren't dystopian
4. Haunted Houses/Apartments
5. Magical gardens
6.Utah- not Mormon
7. Northern California- Sacramento and up
8. Romania/Transylvania
9.The Netherlands
10. The Afterlife

Bloggers- My novel Blood Born was released 07/16/2019- It is an LGBTQ+ gender-bent Dracula retelling with a plus-size MC. Check it out here https://reneelake.wordpress.com/2019/01/09/blood-born/  It is on NetGalley and I have review ebook copies available upon request.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Spot Light Post: Malaki Mayhem by Ashley Craig

"A proclamation; mass banishment; a royal impostor...
When she awakes alone with no memories in a magic-filled realm, Ela never expects the chaos to come. She finds that she must stop the banishment and imprisonment of all non-fairies, expose a royal impostor, and reunite a kingdom...challenging enough tasks, anyway, made even more difficult by her missing memories and lack of magical abilities. The kingdom's fate rests in Ela's hands...can this blue-haired woman and her companions meet the challenge?
Experience a wide variety of magical, mythical creatures in this unique fantasy realm!
Contains strong language and PG-13 situations."

Malaki Mayhem is a fantasy adventure romance set in a magical realm filled with traditional mythical and legendary creatures, including fairies, sylphs, nymphs, shifters, and more. There are also a few creatures of Ashley's own creation (such as Malaki, of course), and she re-envisioned a few traditional ones.

Ashley grew up roaming the forests of the Appalachian Mountains so the idea for the story blossomed from her over-active imagination and hours spent in the forest as a kid wondering about all the magical "what-ifs..." She has always had a fascination with magic and mystical creatures. For this story, she started thinking "what if one race of creatures wanted to take over the world? How would they do it? Why would they do it?" and then the story grew from there. She even delves into her own spin-off of how the world was created.

Ashley wrote most of this book while listening to her favorite band, Panic! at the Disco; their "Death of a Bachelor" album released around the time Ashley started writing this book so that album stayed on repeat for much of the drafting process. When she thinks back on the writing process, "House of Memories" sings the loudest to her.

Check out Malaki Mayhem on Amazon (in Kindle or paperback format) to find out who the royal impostor is and what motivates them!

You can also visit her website and blog at http://www.ashleycraigauthor.com/

Buy Link

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday- Child Hood Unfavorites

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Where we showcase ten books within a theme. This week was Childhood Favorites. I feel I've done this more than once. So this week my personal spin are childhood favorites that everyone loved and I didn't or that I just never got around to reading.

Children's Favorites I didn't like

Caveat: Loved the original Disney Movie

Childhood Favorites I just never got around to reading or had no interest in