Monthly Archives: July 2016

Newly Published–The Sword Chronicles: Child of Sorrows

Kat_Mandu_100Hey readers! A couple months ago, I reviewed a book called The Sword Chronicles: Child of The Empire by Michealbrent Collings. At the time, I hadn’t realized there’d be a sequel (silly me, I probably should have realized that given the “chronicles” part in the description) but now there is and it’s been sent out into the world!

Sword chronicles

Title: The Sword Chronicles: Child of Sorrows
Author: Michaelbrent Collings
Series: The Sword Chronicles Book 02
Publication Date: June 20th 2016
Genre: Fantasy

Publisher’s DescriptionSword thought it was over.

She thought that when she killed the Chancellor and ended the corrupt reign of the Emperor, that everything would get better. That the suffering would end in Ansborn. That the people would be free.

But now a new terror has been born. A trio of warriors who live only for vengeance, who know only hate, have set their sights on Sword and on those she holds dear. They are powerful, they are deadly, and they are impossible to kill.

And worst of all, they are but harbingers of what is to come. Because after a thousand years, the unknown enemy that lies below the mountains of Ansborn is at last on the move. And it is coming for them all.

Death from among them.

Death from below.

And only one person – one Sword – has any chance of stopping it.

I am super excited to read this since I liked the prequel a lot. I feel like Sword’s journey is really just beginning. So stay tuned for my review of Child of Sorrows and if you want to know what I think about the first one, check out my review! And like always, you can support the author and check it out for yourselves! I recommend this action-packed series!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

One Book Two recently wrapped up its Read Along for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Many of us are reading this book for the second, or hundredth, time, and we’re still in love.

Harry PotterTitle: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Author: J. K. Rowling
SeriesHarry Potter, Book 1
Publish Date: June 26, 1997
Genre: Children’s Fantasy/Literature
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who are mean to him and make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. (Dudley, however, has two bedrooms, one to sleep in and one for all his toys and games.) Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed forever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard!

US Edition read by Jim Dale

British Edition read by Stephen Fry

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Kat_Mandu_100Kate Mandu says…

I’m pretty certain there’s nothing new I could say about Harry Potter that everyone else hasn’t said. This is a phenomenal series from start to finish because of the writing, characters, world-building, and its legacy. This seven-book masterpiece is not just for kids. Adults love it too. There will be generations to come who will enjoy Harry Potter and all its beauty.

I remember having my mother read it to me when I was ten years old. Yes, I could read, but when Mom pulled out that book and started mimicking all the character voices, I was drawn in immediately. It wasn’t until word of a movie got out though, that I became very interested in this. I read through the whole series (well, actually I think the seventh one had yet to come out if my memory serves me correctly) several times and absorbed everything I could. To say that I became obsessed was an understatement (I still have a poster mural at my old house, after all).

But can you blame me, really?

Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone is an epic debut. The writing is spot on, giving readers that wonderful imagery and descriptiveness. JK Rowling writes so simply, it’s stunning how it turns out. Each chapter is filled with a mixture of action and intrigue, not to mention characters you grow to love more with every book. She hints at things later to come and that mystery really benefits it – like at the end of this first book where Harry asks why Voldemort wanted to kill him.

Fans around the world now know why… but if you didn’t, wouldn’t you want to know? It’s like an entire cliffhanger in itself. And that’s one of the reasons I like JK Rowling’s works so well. That secretive suspense that lingers across every page.

Not to mention the remarkably memorable world she’s invented.

But I’ll see more of that world-building in future books and comment on it later – it really comes up more in the fourth and fifth ones, so I’ll save it for then. Let’s focus on book number one.

Some of us (cough, cough, as in me) can’t pick a book without choosing some favorites. So here are a couple of mine.

Favorite character – In the first book, Hagrid will always be my favorite. This gentle giant with a heart of gold rescued Harry from the Dursleys, introduced Harry to the wizarding world, and continues to provide friendship to Harry when he needs it most. His fascination with magical creatures often gets him into trouble but that’s what makes him exciting. I just love how much of a teddy bear Hagrid is.

Favorite scene – I really love the Halloween scene. I feel like it shows just how brave Ron and Harry are, for trying to save Hermione, even though it’s fueled a bit by guilt. For one, you get to see them fight against this huge troll and come out victorious, even if it’s sheer dumb luck 😉 And secondly, it ends up with our favorite trio becoming friends.

What are some of your favorites, blog readers? Did you enjoy this series as much as we have? Let us know in the comments – or better yet, join the group on Goodreads here: for discussions, polls, and future giveaways.

Luna_Lovebooks_100Luna Lovebooks says…

Ah Harry Potter. I still remember my mom handing me the paperback version of Sorcerer’s Stone when I was 11. Even then I always had a book on me somewhere and she thought it would be right up my alley. She was right. From the very first page I got lost in the charming characters and stunning world. Re-reading it now, they are still just as charming and stunning but there is an innocence that makes me smile and takes me back. It is no wonder that even today the series is still popular with children and adults alike.

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

A long time ago, a friend suggested I listen to the Harry Potter audiobooks. Though I had been a big reader since I was a child, I hadn’t really gotten into audios. I had tried a few, but they were all abridged and not very exciting. So it was with some skepticism that I borrowed her CDs and gave it a try.

Thus began my love affair with unabridged audiobooks. The combination of a wonderfully beautiful story and the amazing voice talents of Jim Dale captured my heart and imagination.  I’ve been listening to audiobooks ever since.

Unlike Kat and Luna, I was an adult when Harry Potter wizzed into the world like a Golden Snitch. Since it was a kid’s book, it was a few years before I caught on to how wonderful a story it was. Harry Potter is so beautifully done, so imaginative, so rich and full a world down to the last detail, so full of themes that apply to children and adults alike, it is no surprise that it is the classic of our age.

Agent_Annie_100Agent Annie says…

All I can say is WOW! What talent J.K. Rowling has. I had only listened to the Harry Potter books when they first came out and was really impressed with the narrator Jim Dale.  This read-along gave me the opportunity to appreciate Rowling’s writing.  One of my favorite quotes is by Dumbledore, “Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Thank you!” What a great way to flesh out the character’s zaniness.  I bet if I were 8 years old, I would be repeating these words until my parents were sick (and tired) of them.  As an adult though, I am still captivated by the complexity of the characters and the plot.  There is no doubt in my mind that JK Rowling deserves every accolade she receives for her writing! I look forward to reading the rest of the Harry Potter series.

Our reviews in this series…

The Devourers by Indra Das (Two 5-Star Reviews!)

The Devourers is an apt title for this novel. Not only will you devour it, but it will also consume you.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

DevourersTitle:  The Devourers
Author:  Indra Das
Series: stand alone
Publish Date:  July 12, 2016
Genre:  Fantasy
Source: From the publisher at BEA16

Publisher’s Description: On a cool evening in Kolkata, India, beneath a full moon, as the whirling rhythms of traveling musicians fill the night, college professor Alok encounters a mysterious stranger with a bizarre confession and an extraordinary story. Tantalized by the man’s unfinished tale, Alok will do anything to hear its completion. So Alok agrees, at the stranger’s behest, to transcribe a collection of battered notebooks, weathered parchments, and once-living skins.

From these documents spills the chronicle of a race of people at once more than human yet kin to beasts, ruled by instincts and desires blood-deep and ages-old. The tale features a rough wanderer in seventeenth-century Mughal India who finds himself irrevocably drawn to a defiant woman—and destined to be torn asunder by two clashing worlds. With every passing chapter of beauty and brutality, Alok’s interest in the stranger grows and evolves into something darker and more urgent.

Shifting dreamlike between present and past with intoxicating language, visceral action, compelling characters, and stark emotion, The Devourers offers a reading experience quite unlike any other novel.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Luna_Lovebooks_100Luna Lovebooks says…

Well readers, this is a hard book for me to even begin to review. Not because I didn’t like it, but because this is truly a unique reading experience and an amazing book. It is hard to put into words all my thoughts on this novel in part because The Devourers deals with serious, often difficult topics, many of which are hard to talk about outside the realms of books let alone in a review; and partly because this book is such an extraordinary reading experience that I am afraid I will take some of that magic away from you.

But I will try not to take away the beauty that is The Devourers.

badge5v4The prose is beautiful. It weaves the reader in and out of the past and the lives of Fenrir, Alok, Cyrah, and Izrail. The detail deposits you in this world full of shape shifters and their prey. Like Frankenstein and other tales before and after it, The Devourers explores what it means to be a monster and what it means to be human. I believe that part of what makes this book so wonderful is that through the eyes and stories of shape shifters, we explore humanity, sexuality, love, friendship, loneliness, and everything in between.

While I have no issue with the topics discussed in this book, I feel that readers should be warned that the issues of rape, bisexuality, homosexuality, transgender and sometimes even cannibalism come into play at certain points. Again I have no qualms with these issues being discussed but they may turn some readers away.

I give this book 5 stars.

Agent_Annie_100Agent Annie says…

The Devourers is fantastic! I really enjoyed the half-werewolf mesmerizing, or “glamouring;” but, then I was also mesmerized by the stories, particularly by that of the human woman, Cyrah. Her ability to see inside of herself and understand her situation, not just the fact that she’d been raped by an outsider—an animal at that—and that she’d been an outcast her whole life, but that she never really belonged in society at all. Her choice to partner with Jevah-dan was a way in which she could experience some sort of freedom and belonging even though it was a very strange way to have community. She never really had a family, but you felt that her life was satisfactory and that she experienced some of that wild freedom inside of herself.

This book is so beautifully written. There’s a paragraph in the book that stands out as an example of Indra Das’s ability to craft the written word:

“I was tied to Gevaudan with my back against his, so Shah Jahan’s empire lay sprawled below me like a painted map feathered with dark forest and threaded with road, stretched across the rocky table of the earth. The lamp of the sun was still hidden behind the edge of that table, though its light had begun to creep up the vaulted tent of the heavens, weakening the pinholes of the stars.”


I will warn readers that the book is also horrific. It is about Devourers, so what can you expect. It is graphic and cannibalistic. There are rape scenes and gay sex scenes, patricide, matricide and fratricide. If those things bother you, this isn’t the book for you, but if you can get past that horror and really dig into the way in which the relationships are built, this book is amazing. There are entanglements woven between all the characters that show how complicated families’ lives can be and how complicated communities are when inter-racial, nay, inter-species, “liaisons” result in off-spring.

badge5v4I give this book a five. I read it so quickly by the end because I wanted to see how it ended. I know I missed some of the beauty of the writing. This is definitely a book I would re-read and I would recommend that you read it right now.

If you like this book…

…you might try Shantarum by Gregory David Roberts, Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, or Beyond the Woods: Fairy Tales Retold by Paula Guran.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Calling by Cate Tiernan

CallingTitleThe Calling
Author:  Cate Tiernan
SeriesSweep Book 07
Publish Date:  October 29, 2001
Genre:  YA Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionAt last, I am coming into the sunlight. The dangers I faced are gone. And I’m in love. Deeply in love. But lately I’ve been having dreams. Terrible visions of someone in trouble. Someone who will die, unless I can prevent it. Who is calling me like this? And what will it cost me to help?

Morgan is a blood witch – but where is her real family? And who are her friends, and her enemies?

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Kat_Mandu_100Kat Mandu says…

This isn’t one of my favorites in the series, since I always thought it moved rather slowly. And the character seemed irritatingly slow herself, not realizing connections of certain things that are REALLY going to affect her life.

I do love the introduction to Killian, my favorite male character in Sweep. And I did like that someone besides Hunter, was telling her she was stupid to use her powers in such ways like Robbie did. But it was a good book to connect book six’s ending and with what is to come later in the series.

The best part is the new introductions to a lot of things. After the ending of Spellbound, things have started anew for Hunter and Morgan, but also for several other characters. Romance is blooming between friends Robbie and Bree, but also for Raven and Skye. We also get to meet Ciaran, the new bad guy to play an important role in Morgan’s life, especially now that things have shifted for Morgan again!

Cough, cough, spoiler: “MORGAN… I am your father.”

badge3v4The change of scenery was nice; it was set in New York so there was a lot of new descriptions and changes as the characters had to go on this road trip together and survive the immense amount of emotions floating around.

I rate it a three!

Books in this series…

Links will become active as reviews are posted.

Ultimatum of the Nameless God by Brian McGoldrick

Another entry in my review series of LitRPGs, stories that take place partially or entirely within massively multiplayer, virtual reality games.  PLEASE BE WARNED: This novel includes descriptions of rape and other forms of sexual violence.

Title: Ultimatum of the Nameless God
Author: Brian McGoldrick
SeriesPath of Transcendence Book 1
Publish Date: July 29th, 2015
Genre: LitRPG, Sci-Fi
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Taereun: Battleground of the Damned was never really a game. It was a testing ground to find minds and souls for the The Nameless God to use, and for tens of thousands of players, the game became reality, when they were put in the bodies of their characters. The Nameless God told them that he would return them to their real lives, if they fought through the Labyrinth of Yggr and freed his body from beneath the city of Haven. After searching for over 11 years, they found the Gate leading to Haven.

After being murdered right before the gate to Haven was opened, Mark McGuinness wakes up in a hospital in his original body. As a child, he was in an automobile accident. A freak whose body rejects most medical treatments, he was left scarred and disfigured. Angry, bitter and disgusted with the world, he had used Taereun: Battleground of the Damned to take out his frustration and anger, so he would not lose control and hurt or kill someone in real life. The closest he had ever come to being happy was living as Talon, during the eleven year search for Haven.

Having learned about the Power called ki, Mark McGuinness discovers that his human body is capable of channeling and using it. Once again armed with Power, he finds a way to travel from Earth to Taereun. He has questions he wants answered and people he owes. Whether mortal or divine, he will let no one and nothing stand in his way.

WARNING: For Mature Audiences Only. This story contains profanity and rather graphic descriptions of violence, gore, sex and sexual violence.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Vagabond Vahn says…

You know when the description of a novel contains a warning about physical and sexual violence, gore, and other adult themes, you have to make a decision.  Are you willing to explore these themes, or are you more comfortable simply moving on?  There is no right answer to this question.  Not only do each of us respond differently to these types of warnings, but we approach our handling of them in a variety of ways depending on where we’re at in our lives.

Ultimatum of the Nameless God was in the List of 119 LitRPG Books on Goodreads.  The title caught my eye.  The warning raised an eyebrow, and I decided to see how deep down a novel in this new genre would go.  I’m glad I did, but I’m conflicted sharing my review.

I want to be clear right now that in no way do I encourage or condone unwanted sexual violence.  This story includes rape, straight and homosexual.  It includes torture and violence, both sexual and physical. They are not the focal point of the story, but they happen.  With that said, these themes have existed throughout human history and I am not one to ignore them simply because it makes our society uncomfortable.  So it was that I purchased Ultimatum of the Nameless God – and in the end, despite the above, I’m glad I did.

The Good: It’s no secret among those who know me that I favor sociopath characters.  I relate to them on some level, and they intrigue me.  I find them far and few between as protagonists.  This is one reason I’m drawn to stories about assassins, vengeance, revenge.  The main character, Mark McGuinness, fits this mold.  There is a great balance in the exploration of what has led him to walk the line between being a sociopath and a psychopath—and he arguably does cross that line at times, but I find myself on his side when he does.

The story and events are gritty and uncompromising.  While it’s given away in the book’s description, the character comes to realize the “game” he’s been playing all this time is actually another world, and the people there, real.  The danger to them, the joys and horrors they experience become all the more palpable.   The journey Mark takes from his character of Talon, to his physical being of Mark, to the new Brand he becomes once back in Taerun kept my interest from beginning to end.

Brand leaves behind the scarred, weak Mark of his past.  He wants revenge for the death of Talon, his alter ego when he thought it was all a game.  He wants vengeance for the wrongs that have been thrust upon him.  He wants to remove all sense of powerlessness and won’t allow another to hinder that quest.  I find an almost atavistic empathy with these motivations and they continue to intrigue me.

The Bad:  Brian’s writing style is straightforward.  It doesn’t read as an author writing for the masses, it reads as a good friend across the country relaying an epic story to me.  This is detrimental to the experience for some readers.  For me, the events of the story itself made up for it and after a time I hardly noticed, but I feel it important to share for those who may be bothered by it.

I think the strengths of the story could have benefited from more exploration of the other characters.  At the same time, doing so could have created conflict with any empathy the reader has managed to build and share with Mark McGuinness.  I’m not sure in the end what I would prefer, but as result the side characters sometimes become background characters instead.

The adult themes may be a serious turn-off for some.  I equate it to watching a movie with depictions of the subject matter.  They are rarely the central point of a scene, but the author doesn’t shy away from drawing your attention to them, much the way the camera may pan over the scene and the audio revel in the screams.

It ends on a cliffhanger—be prepared if this kind of thing drives you nuts.  I immediately moved on to book two, and thus was not affected by this fact.

The Conclusion:  I wrestled for a few weeks before writing this review, about how I would rate Ultimatum of the Nameless God, and how I would present the review on the site.  It’s a great story.  It has straightforward, if not impressive, writing.  It explores concepts that make an awful lot of people uncomfortable but which shouldn’t necessarily be shied away from if we’re going to become better as a people.  It held my attention throughout, and provides a fresh alternative protagonist to the LitRPG Genre.  In the end, it’s a Great story.  I recommend reading it if the warning doesn’t immediately turn you away.  If it does, then the warning has served its purpose perfectly, because it is warranted.

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