Tag Archives: fantasy

The Battle for Verdana by Brett Salter – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Battle for Verdana by Brett Salter to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

The Battle for Verdana by Brett Salter

Here is the book blurb.

What’s REALLY hiding in the forests of the Pacific Northwest? Could it be The Tyrant King’s army of Darkbrands? Could it be more of Mr. Jones’s liaisons? Or could it be the solution to the problem vexing our favorite heroes? Whatever mystery it is, you can guarantee the boys from Georgia are sure to find themselves deep in the thick of it.

This is the fourth book in the Talisman series but works perfectly as a stand-alone read. However I definitely think they are more enjoyable read sequentially, particularly as you would get spoilers, if you were then to subsequently go back and read earlier titles. Also I note that the blurb really seems aimed at existing fans, with its references to “our favourite heroes” or the boys without naming Rome and Julian. I feel the synopsis could do with some attention to better invite new readers to the series.

My review is a bit more sketchy than for previous titles as I wish to circumvent around those potential spoiler scenes. So after a short prologue, Rome, Julian and the latest recruits are on their way to return to Beacon, who also featured previously. But in chapter 2, before they even rendezvous, they already encounter a hideous Garm. Then using Beacon technology they start to plan their next trip to a remote area in the Pacific Northwest, which appears to be a hotspot of Darkbrand activity. They are hoping to find another Talisman there. But whilst planning they are interrupted by another Garm and a Minotaur followed by a curse bearing Nocturn.

But things don’t quite go to plan when they reach the remote forest in the Pacific Northwest. What happens next? Who do they encounter here in the Den of Verdana? So near and yet so far? Can they make a deal? Where and what next? Do they find any Talismans?

I’m still not sold on the covers. They really don’t say grab this book to me, which is a shame as it is a great read.

The Battle for Verdana is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format, targeted at young adult readers. Once again a good fantasy tale. Suitable from age 11 upwards in my opinion.

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Windy City Ruins by Brett Salter – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book Windy City Ruins by Brett Salter to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

Windy City Ruins by Brett SalterHere is the book blurb.

It’s just a simple trip to New York. What could possibly happen to our loveable heroes THIS time? Faster-than-sound reptiles? Exploding Minotaurs? Generational secrets coming back to haunt them? Expect the unexpected in this third installment of The Talisman Series, “Windy City Ruins”. The war for Earth is creeping steadily closer, and Rome’s team is in a mad dash to figure out the Talismans before it’s too late. Can they amass enough talent to help them defend the realm? Or will The Tyrant King’s heinous minions sweep them off course and leave Earth ready for the taking? Windy City Ruins is the third installment of the Talisman Series.

This is the third title in the Talisman series. It works fine as a stand-alone read but is better in my opinion to read all the books in order. Previously Julian and Rome have bonded as knight and fire dragon to defend Earth against the darkbrands, sealing portals from the void.

The story begins with a recap of who all the main characters are and the skills they possess from their Talismans, as the boys Julian and Rome fly from England to New York, accompanied by Mrs Case. The other three, Camela, Krysta and Mr Jones initially remain in Somerset, rejoining the team later in this book.

The plan is to make contact there with Beacon, a possible source of information on the darkbrands, whom Mr Jones has identified via email. But there is always the possibility that Beacon may not be an ally, so could they be heading into a trap?

And then Beacon’s email reply of where to meet is in code. Can they decipher it?

They are very suprised to discover that Beacon is not at all who they envisaged and faster than the speed of sound, they find themselves transported to a nerve centre in Chicago. But a Minotaur is hot on their heels!

More surprises abound, both good and bad. Who else might they encounter?

Mythology and knowledge of the elements play a part in this series and it is fascinating how this is wound into the story, in particular explaining how many Talismans there may be in total.

I’ve mentioned this before but the covers don’t do justice to the quality of the stories.

Windy City Ruins is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format, targeted at young adult readers. Another great fantasy instalment to this series. Suitable from age 11 upwards in my opinion.

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Riders of Fire and Ice by Brett Salter – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book Riders of Fire and Ice by Brett Salter to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

Riders of Fire and Ice by Brett Salter

Here is the book blurb.

They’re back! Julian and Rome are taking their show on the road. This time to lovely, old England in search of Camelot. While there, the Knight and Dragon will be trying to solve the mystery of the Talismans, the mystery of their shadowy stalker, and the mystery of sibling rivalry. Prepare to meet some new faces and, of course, some new Darkbrands as the two further their adventures across the pond.

This is the second title in the Talisman series. It works okay as a stand-alone read due to the initial recap, but it is better in my opinion if you have read the first title The Search For Synergy in advance, as then you will have better knowledge of Julian and Rome bonding as knight and fire dragon to defend Earth.

The story begins with boys Julian and Rome flying to England on a school trip to Bridgewater in Somerset. However their main reason for going is to try to find clues about Camelot, to see if they can find a link to the dark monsters who are trying to take over the world. Coincidentally Julian’s hated younger sister Camela is at the same boarding school where they will be staying.

Also why does principal Mrs Case seem to be staring at them so much? Does she know something about their secret? Could she be an ally or an enemy?

The author has chosen to assume that Bridgewater is the location of mythical Camelot. I’ve heard of a few possible sites for Camelot previously, but first time I’ve come across the idea of it being Bridgewater. He also describes the town centre as covering 15 square miles, but it is only a small market town really!

So the boys go to meet Camela and her best friend Krysta in the school library and then start their research for clues. Rome is surprised to see how anti-dragon Camela is. She and Julian are like chalk and cheese. Camela talks in Olde English, with phrases like methinks and silly knave.

They get a shock when they try to phone their elderly mentor Mr Jones. He hangs up on them and transports himself there to hear about the clues. Will the boys get to try that trick?

And who is the shadowy figure stalking them? Not everyone is quite as they seem?

Once again lots of magic, talismans, monsters and portals. Throw in some sibling rivaltry plus a nutcase and plenty of mystery and danger. Can they prevail?

Riders of Fire and Ice is available on Amazon in paperback, hardback and Kindle format, targeted at young adult readers. A great follow-up read to The Search for Synergy. Suitable from age 11 upwards in my opinion.

However I did feel the author could have done more research on Somerset. He had made it sound very American.

And am I reading too much into how similar Camela’s name is to Camelot? Possibly since Julian’s middle name is Pellinore, another character from Arthurian legend.

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The Rescue of Vincent by Bob Doerr – book review

Disclosure. This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.. All opinions are my own.

Earlier this year I reviewed The Enchanted Coin by Bob Doerr and I have now received a free e-copy of The Rescue of Vincent, the second title in the series to review. To find out more about the author you may visit his website.

The Rescue of Vincent by Bob Doerr

Here is the book blurb.

Fourteen year old Ricky Street discovers a magical coin in a small creek near his parent’s Florida home. The coin has his name inscribed on it along with directions that he toss it into the fountain by the Tree of Life. He does so and suddenly finds himself transported to a strange world where he encounters two other teen agers from two separate worlds who had also been transported there by magical coins that they had found. The three soon meet Vincent Wollitzer, whom they save from drowning in quicksand, and learn that if Vincent doesn’t reach civilization soon his world will be thrust into a terrible war. The exciting adventures the four experience in their efforts to get Vincent back to civilization include surviving attacks by dragons, sea monsters, and other strange creatures.

Adventure and tossing a magical coin into the fountain by the Tree of Life at Disney World is the link between this book and The Enchanted Coin, the first title in the series. But all the characters are different.

So the story starts with 14 year old Ricky finding a coin during a storm. Just like in the first book, the coin is engraved with a personalised message “Ricky Street, throw this coin into the fountain in front of the Tree of Life!”. He shows it to his Mom and together they plan a trip to Disney World. But when he tosses the coin into the fountain, everything goes dark.

He can’t see anything. Where is he? Where is his Mom? A girl speaks to him in the darkness. She is Lexus and she too has just thrown a coin into a lake. Then a scream and another boy, Bebo arrives, who also tossed a coin into a river. They have all been transported to this dark cave, but why?

When they reach daylight, they observe how different they all look. Lexus has blue skin and hair, whilst Bebo is hairless and very short. They are all from different worlds. Soon they also start coming across dangerous creatures and poisonous plants, but they use their varied abilities to work togther as a team.

When they hear a call for help, is that why they have all been brought here? They discover  another boy trapped in quicksand. This is Vincent who was in a plane crash, enroute to becoming leader of his world. Vincent lloks different too, being very furry. If he doesn’t get there, a terrible war may ensue. Can they all pull together overcoming the challenges, to get Vincent there in time? And will the others be able to return to their own worlds?

I really loved how this story celebrates the diversity and teamwork of the 4 main characters. But I would have preferred a bit more variation between the covers of both this book and the previous title.

The Rescue of Vincent is another brilliant fantasy adventure read, which I highly recommend to teens and children aged 9+.

And for those of you like me, who hadn’t heard of it, here is some information regarding the Tree of Life at Disney World. Sounds an amazing sculpture with over 300 carvings of species including some extinct, plus a theatre at the base.

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The Enchanted Coin by Bob Doerr – book review

Disclosure. This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.. All opinions are my own.

I received a free e-copy of the book The Enchanted Coin by Bob Doerr to review. It is the first title in a series of 4. To find out more about the author you may visit his website.

The Enchanted Coin by Bob Doerr

Here is the book blurb.

We have all heard of tales of UFO’s, ghosts, people who say they can talk to the spirits, ancient curses, and magical talismans. Most of us automatically dismiss them as false, figments of people’s imagination, and understandably so. However, might not just a few of them be true? I don’t know, but I heard this story from a young man the other day who swore the fascinating tale I have set forth in this book really did really occur, because it happened to him. You be the judge.

Fourteen year old Greg Worling’s life changed the day he found an eight sided coin along the edge of a pond on his parent’s farm. The coin sparkled as though it reflected the sun’s light even in the shade. Drawn to it, Greg discovers an inscription on the coin that read, “Greg, drop this coin into the fountain in front of the tree of life.” Weeks later, his little sister by his side, Greg tosses the coin into the small fountain and is instantaneously transported to a strange land.

The story begins with 14 year old Greg and his family heading on holiday to Disney World. He is particularly excited as he has a plan to execute there. This is regarding the coin he recently found, not just any old coin but one which is inscribed “Greg, drop this coin into the fountain in front of the Tree of Life!”. His research online has identified that there is a Tree of Life in the Animal Kingdom Park at Disney World. He has kept it secret from his parents but shared his plan with sister Cindy, who watches as he tosses the coin into the tiny fountain under the tree.

But where is he? And where is Cindy? He is alone in a dark uninviting tunnel behind a waterfall, so he darts through the waterfall into the daylight. A sheer rock-face below so he starts to climb up, when a girl crashes down the cliff on top of him. She is fleeing from the evil Denza, so they retreat into the tunnel.

The girl is Princess Fawn of the Cheerakoo and this is the start of an adventure in a strange land as he assists Fawn with her dangerous mission to save her people’s land, learning about the different tribes here. He is even more startled when they come across a sabre-toothed tiger and pterodactyls. Not only does it seem like nowhere on earth, but a totally different timeframe too.

So how will the adventure play out? And will Greg ever get home again?

The Enchanted Coin is a great fantasy adventure read, which I highly recommend to teens and children aged 9+.

Not having heard of the Tree of Life at Disney World, I looked it up. Sounds an amazing sculpture with over 300 carvings of species including some extinct, plus a theatre at the base.

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Cover Reveal – Talisman Series volume 5 by Brett Salter

I’ve posted over 400 book reviews on my blog, but this is the first time I’ve done a cover reveal. Author Brett Salter is gearing up to publication of his fifth title in the Talisman series. You may find out more about the author on his website.

So far, I’ve only read the first book, The Search for Synergy, and you may see my review of that title here. An entertaining fantasy read, targeted at young adult readers. Suitable from age 11 upwards in my opinion.

The fifth book in the series will be called Desperate Tides, Desperate Measures and here is the book blurb.

After a few minutes, Julian and his friends walked to the portal. In the middle of a large standing pond, there was an area of overgrown swamp plants and a few strewn rock piles. Immediately, the group saw the oval-shaped portal, which had been activated by the returning Nocturn, however, no dark energy seeped out of it. Rome, the fire dragon from Volcana stood atop Scarabadon peering down. His giant claws pinned the fragile Nocturn to the soggy ground. A deathblow imminent.

Looks like our heroes can finally put an end to the nightmare that was Scarabadon, The Juggernaut. And it seems everyone’s favorite Synergist Knight and Master Dragon have fixed their Talisman issue too. Having thwarted every attack The Tyrant King has thrown at them to this point, The Alliance believes that they can endure any challenge as long as they remain together. Now, having the upper hand seems like the perfect opportunity to seek out more allies and even more of the realm’s mystical Talismans. Could this be a “happily ever after” for our ensemble of motley heroes? Or is this peace just a fool’s hope and just as temporary as the changing tides?

The Talisman series will reveal the clandestine workings of the dragons and their knights who embrace the role of protecting our world from The Tyrant King and his evil minions. Whichever side controls the Talismans and their magic will determine the destiny of the world. The question is, what are these Talismans, and how can they be used for the good of humanity and the dragon dens?

Without further ado, here is the cover.

Desperate Tides, Desperate Measures by Brett Salter

This image conveys a sense of fantasy and mystery to me. Do you like it? Would you pick it from the shelf to read?

You can find Brett Salter on social media as follows:-
Facebook | Instagram

Plus you may find out more about the series and characters on the The Talisman Series Wiki Fandom website.

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The Search for Synergy by Brett Salter – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Search for Synergy by Brett Salter to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

The Search for Synergy by Brett Salter

Here is the book blurb.

“The Search for Synergy” is the story of two young men who are brought together by design to help save the world from the evil that lurks in The Void. Rome and Julian will have to join their fledgling powers and become a fighting duo of knight and dragon, working to fulfill a primordial destiny. This will be especially hard for Rome who, up until now, thought he was merely human.

This is the first title in the Talisman series, but works perfectly well as a stand-alone read, although you can tell towards the end that it is setting the scene for a follow-up to be set in England.

The story starts by introducing us to 13 year old Rome, who whilst messing around, accidentally sets a tree on fire, just looking at it. Meanwhile another boy Julian has seen this and recognising Rome’s abilities, takes him to meet elderly Mr Jones.

The pair try to convince Rome that he is not a human, but a dragon, explaining that Julian is a knight and that the two boys need to train for the Great Synergy to combine their powers. But Rome initially doesn’t believe them.

Weaving in myths from King Arthur’s time, there is a destiny to fulfil.

Portals, monsters, magic all abound in this tale. The roll of the die is crucial.

However I did  have to look up Hackey sack which I discovered to be rather like playing football but using a bean bag instead of a ball. Sounds a fun game that Rome and friends enjoyed.

The Search for Synergy is available on Amazon in paperback, hardback and Kindle format. An entertaining fantasy read, targeted at young adult readers. Suitable from age 11 upwards in my opinion.

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Dragon’s Future by Kandi J Wyatt – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I downloaded for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book Dragon’s Future by Kandi J Wyatt to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

Dragon's Future by Kandi J Wyatt

Here is the book blurb.

Trapped in a boring life, Carryl longs for something different. With the death of a dragon rider, she realizes her dream of becoming a rider herself. But first she must save the despondent dragon’s life.

Ruskya has settled into his new role as a dragon rider. A sinister rider has attacked the colony. The fate of all that Ruskya holds dear lies in his hands.

Ruskya and Carryl step into leadership roles to defend the colony and their village. Now they battle dragons and their own insecurities. They’ll need the courage of a dragon to defeat their enemies or die trying.

Dragon’s Future is the fabulous first book in the coming of age fantasy series Dragon Courage. If you like enticing worlds, captivating stories, and a new twist on dragon lore, you’ll love Kandi J Wyatt’s fantastic series.

This is the first title in the Dragon Courage series.

The story begins with a prologue set 15 years earlier when twins Duskya and Ruskya, then aged 10 were both selected at the annual procession by the dragons Wryn and Wyeth to become their respective riders. They leave their mother Meredyth and village home to go live at the Three Spans Canyon dragon colony where Glendyn will train them as riders.

Now it is Ruskya’s turn to train Kyn, the latest youngling to join. At the same time he is also developing his mental control, mind reading and communication powers, plus learning what his father’s role with the dragons was.

Meanwhile riders from another colony attack both them and the village. Why are they under attack? One of their group is killed. Can Carryl, a healer save the grieving dragon? More deaths of villagers follow. As they try to defend, one of them is kidnapped along with a dragon. How will this all end?

A good story, but I did find it difficult to remember whose dragon was who’s as all the dragon names are fairly similar. And I did feel that the way the riders continually addressed each other was just superfluous padding to the book, eg “Honoured Rider, may your dragon fly straight and true”.

Dragon’s Future is available on Amazon free in Kindle format, or alternatively may be purchased in paperback or audiobook. A fantastical adventure read for older children and teens.

I’ve also previously read the Myth Coast Adventures trilogy by this author and here are the links to my reviews of those titles.
An Unexpected Adventure
An Unexpected Escapade
An Unexpected Exploit

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My Three Warlocks by Robert H Cherny – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book My Three Warlocks by Robert H Cherny to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

My Three Warlocks by Robert H Cherny

Here is the book blurb.

Three Warlocks, brothers, triplets, run a ranch where they train horses for cowboys and cattle ranchers. They use their special powers to keep their ranch solvent and, despite the recent death of their adoptive mother, are content with their lives. All that changes when a pre-teen equestrian shows up with her father to buy a horse. On the same day, triplet witches and their mother are directed to the ranch by a mysterious stranger.

The witch’s mother and the girl’s father have a history, and only he knows that none of this is a coincidence. Within two days, the warlocks, the witches, their mother, the girl, her father, and some friends and family use their powers to fight a forest fire. They are then recruited by the mysterious stranger, an ancient wizard, to protect a rape victim. The woman was raped by a magical being who intends to steal the baby and kill her. This wholesale rape of indigenous populations has been going on for a long time, and the wizard believes he finally has the team to stop it. The wizard quickly loses control of the team, and it completes the mission without him.

The team takes on missions without the wizard, relegating him to advisor status. After several missions on their own, the team emerges far more powerful than anything the wizard could have imagined. Even though he created the team, he does not control them, and, in some ways, the “battle group” he created controls him.

I read all of this story but I really struggled with it. Set in modern day American ranching / rodeo with plenty of fantasy elements thrown in, it just did nothing for me. I liked the characters and a few bits of the storyline, but certainly not enough overall to draw me in. Even the cover is off-putting.

It also mentioned a legend of Paul Bunyan with a blue ox who I had never heard of, so I looked him up on Wikipedia. Apparently he is a giant lumberjack who features in American and Canadian folklore.

My Three Warlocks is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format. An unusual fantasy read, targeted at young adult readers. Not a book for me, but maybe others will enjoy more.

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The Power of the Pearl by William Edmonds – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Power of the Pearl by William Edmonds to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

The Power of the Pearl by William Edmonds

Here is the book blurb.

Thirteen-year-old Alaric Swift lives a tough, lonely life. He’s never known his parents, nor had any friends.
However, everything changes after his adoptive parents attempt to eat him, and he’s taken to live on the magical island of Harramore. The reason? Alaric is the son of the most powerful being to have ever existed—the King Guardian, Rei.
So begins a magical adventure as Alaric learns to master hidden extraordinary powers, meets creatures beyond his imagination, and gets caught up in a plot to steal the world’s most dangerous object, the Golden Pearl.
The Power of the Pearl is a captivating opening to the Miracle Prince series and a page-turning debut..

This debut novel by William Edmonds is the first title in The Miracle Prince series.

The story starts with Mr Solomon taking 13 year old Alaric to John and Sue, another set of foster parents in a long line. Alaric always seems to end up doing something which makes things go wrong with each foster family, but this time it is the other way round. John and Sue transform and try to eat him. Alaric is rescued in the nick of time by Mr Solomon and magically transported to Harramore, Land of the Nephilim.

Turns out Alaric is one of the Nephilim, in fact he is the Miracle Prince, son of assassinated King Guardian Rei. He fits in much better with his next foster family, the Trolleys and soon is on the Rei basketball team at school, which in Harramore is a totally different experience to what Alaric and you and I are used to.

Lots of magical mythical adventures then follow for Alaric, along with his friends Laurence and Lucy.

The Power of the Pearl is available on Amazon, in paperback and Kindle formats. A great adventure which will certainly appeal to fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. Suitable for older children and teens.

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