Review: Dryad Vol. 1 by Kurtis Wiebe and Justin Osterling

Continue reading “Review: Dryad Vol. 1 by Kurtis Wiebe and Justin Osterling”

Let’s Play Assassin Creed Valhalla: The Hidden Shadow (#4)

This is a little something I’m experimenting with, but since my blog has hit 6000 hits! (Thx you very much) Here’s my let’s play of Assassin Creed Valhalla (#4). I hope you enjoy!

My lovely thumbnail:

My video:

Presenting my Assassin Creed Valhalla: A Hidden Shadow (Walkthrough #4) https://youtu.be/_TAutncKwfE via @YouTube#VirtualPhotography#GamerGram@assassinscreed@Assassins_UK#VGPUnite#Norsevember#AssassinsCreedValhalla#AssassinCreedValhalla#AssassinsCreedValhalla

Review: The Shattered Realm of Ardor Benn (Kingdom of Grit, 2)

Rating: 9.5/10

Synopsis:

The second in an action-packed epic fantasy series: In a world with dragon-fueled magic, master con artist Ardor Benn must infiltrate a centuries-old secret organization to find a missing royal heir. Ardor Benn saved civilization from imminent destruction, but his efforts brought war to the kingdom. It is believed that the rightful rulers have all been assassinated. However, a young heir might have survived. An ancient organization known as The Realm is behind the chaos, working from the shadows. Under the anonymity of masks, information is distributed sparingly.

Ard’s been hired to infiltrate them, but he’s got competition from an old friend. One who’s set to prove she’s better than the self-proclaimed “Ruse Artist Extraordinaire.” If Ard can’t find the heir then his world may again approach ruin. Stopping the complete and utter collapse of civilization is quickly becoming Ard’s specialty.

Review:

The Shattered Realm of Ardor Benn left me wanting more and more! This book and its blurb does what it says on the tin and it delivers in bucketloads of sheer fantasy awesomeness. There’s a quote from David Daglish, that on the cover of book 3 mentions about a thief getting involved in a small, but powerful heist to then going to save the world. That’s what this series. Let me tell you what it is in a nutshell: A thief that was promised a load of money just to steal a King’s crown now becomes involved in things that are bigger than him! Even bigger! I have to say, credit to Tyler for keeping an account of all the history, the organizations, and the complex religious mechanics that he’s involved. There’s an entire bible of worldbuilding that can be extracted from this.

There weren’t enough pastries! 🙂 I loved that about book 1 and Raek eating pastries was my favorite scene. You do occasionally get to see more of them during the pace of the novel. I am still not convinced that Ardor Benn attracts the right women to him, because you can see that during this part of the novel, he’s an honorable guy. And he needs a new love interest. Not Quarrah. I don’t think their chemistry is going to go anywhere at this point. If Ardor can salvage it. He needs a woman that understands him for what he is. Not what he can be. Big difference. He’s not as bad as others think. He’s a good man. But good men in this world are treated like prey for the cunning and manipulative people that we think aren’t manipulative. The reason I like Ardor is that even though he’s a good man, he’s smart. He may be innocent sometimes, but he knows how to navigate the slippery tentacles of murky politics. It gives me hope that in a grimdark world that we live in already, here’s a Jack Sparrow fella who knows what to do. Regarding Quarrah, she’s back and she’s kicking ass in style. We already see her intelligence working to her credit, as she does many scenes where she’s annoyed by Ardor, and who wouldn’t after the climactic ending of book one, but she’s back. I think we’ll see more of her in book 3. We also get the best new characters in this novel: Gloristar, the Professor and San, and Codley. By the end of this novel, you will feel awesome and yet…you will know what I mean when you get to the ending!

I did find some particular weaknesses concerning worldbuilding. Normally, fantasy novels love to illustrate their history to you. The weaknesses were was that when I found a secret or discovered something, then the worldbuilding would arrive and explain this happened and that happened. For example, a scene in which I won’t give too many spoilers talked about an x incident. That x incident was explained, but it could have been explained in a more precise manner. Religion is a notorious subject in this novel, and I would want the publishers to also add a glossary of all the religions: Wayfarisim for one. Of course, this is just a nitpick of mine. I do feel that some parts of the novel did do slow-pacing, and there were some scenes which in the course of the structure of the novel, were repeated a few times. But this novel is fantastic and I will tell you why. The weaknesses are a trifling compared to the excellent details of this novel. The worldbuilding is on par.

This novel? It’s full of Action, explosions, Professors, Scientists, Mad Kings, Super-secret Illuminati Style organization trying to do XYZ, and religious secrets being discovered. There are ships, glowing people with paint, need I mention an attack on a house? Also, the Realm is the worst organization ever. The worst. They are stupid, inefficient, horrible, and horrendous. That’s pretty much what I give them and their Overseer. Horrible people. Don’t under-estimate Ardor Benn and his partner, Raek! That’s what Kings, Empires, Evil Secret Organisations did, and look where that ended them! This has some of the best fantasy escapades ever seen. Fantastic stuff. Fantastic dialogue, fantasy writing!

You really have to get this book!

Review: Temple of Eternity (Bobby Ether Series #2) by R. Scott Boyer (Blog Tour)

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Temple of Eternity
Alibris
Abebooks
Amazon
Book Depository
Goodreads
Kobo

Rating: 10/10

Synopsis:

Deep in the rain forests of Guatemala, an ancient Mayan temple holds a mythical secret. The legendary Fountain of Youth lies within, but not all myths are fairy tales. The temple ruins have been seized by the Core, a sinister cult determined to unlock the mysteries of immortality.

When their captured friends are spotted near the temple, Bobby and his cousin Jinx must journey into the dark heart of the jungle to save them. Harnessing their extraordinary abilities, the boys will undertake an epic quest to fulfill a centuries-old prophecy.

Cut off from their allies, Bobby and Jinx combat supernatural barriers, raging rivers, and deadly beasts. They’ll face savage natives, vengeful ghosts, and ruthless mercenaries who can conjure a person’s darkest fears.

Past and present will collide, with the power of eternity on the line. Can Bobby fulfill the prophecy and lay the temple’s spirits to rest? If not, they may all become permanent inhabitants of the Temple of Eternity.

Review:

This book does what it says on the tin. You will face deadly beasts that are man eating beasts, you will face savage natives wanting to protect their homelands, vengeful ghosts that want their side of their story told, and too many ruthless mercenaries.

Temple of Eternity is a perfect book for YA readers. Well crafted historical fiction, well crafted modern-day fiction, and a superb plot that makes you engrossed. Easy to read. I need no complexity. I was so impressed with the writing style that Scott has done a terrific job of immersing you in this world. There’s an evil organization known as the Core, and they, as all evil organizations are, aiming to control the world. An organization that you don’t want to get involved in. I suspect it embeds them deep into the governments of this world.

I liked Bobby a lot. He’s a spiritual guy that can understand the past and I related to him the most. Jinx was a second favorite, as he’s young and an excitable character. Slab. I hated all the villains in this novel. The creep. The soul lady who’s just weird beyond belief. There are many characters to behold in this novel, and guess what? Each character is written perfectly. It wastes no character in this novel. Every piece of dialogue makes sense. The story itself is so well written and the plot is superbly well done. Tight but large enough to tell you there’s a second story going on here.

This is perfect for a Netflix series adaptation. Excellent and well done. And the story of the Mayans…it made me wish we saw more Mayan historical fiction. Because I wanted to read more of the Mayan characters and you will end up sympathizing with them so much. And the Mayans were less cruel than their Aztec counterparts. The concept of the Nexus is easy to understand, which allows Bobby to connect his consciousness with other living creatures. My suggestion would be to add more Gods. The ancient Mayan story involving Maximon and Lingya, and Ex Chauj….wow! Well done sir, you’ve done a fantastic job on it. I won’t say, but it is outstanding! I was not convinced of Ek Chauj’s POV however. He was the least convincing. And I would have wanted Bobby to meet the Mayan Gods. I hope in book 3, we get to go to Egypt, and we can meet the Egyptian Gods!

I say this is a great novel! 10/10!

Review: The Macedonian Hazard (Queen of the Sea #2) #2) by Eric Flint, Paula Goodlett, Gorg Huff

The Macedonian Hazard

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Rating: 10/10

Synopsis:

A new tale of time-displaced persons fighting for their lives in the ancient world, from 1632 and Boundary series creator Eric Flint.

It’s been more than a year since the cruise ship Queen of the Sea was transported in time and space to the ancient Mediterranean not long after the death of Alexander the Great.

Captain Lars Floden and the other “Ship People” are trying to plant the seeds of modern civilization. It’s not an easy task, to put it mildly, even if they have a tacit alliance with the co-regents of Alexander’s empire, his widow Roxane, and Eurydice, the wife of his half-brother.

For they have plenty of enemies, too. Cassander is using every foul means available to turn Macedonia and Greece into his own empire. The brutal general Antigonus One-Eye is doing the same in Mesopotamia. And Ptolemy, the cleverest of them all, is expanding his Egyptian realm to the Red Sea.

Things aren’t any easier in the colony that passengers from the cruise ship founded on the Caribbean island of Trinidad. President Allen Wiley is trying to build a twenty-first century democratic nation, but the people he has to work with aren’t the most suitable for the task: oldsters from the future, local tribesmen, and third-century BCE immigrants from Europe and Africa.

War, religious strife, assassinations, espionage, poisonings and other murders—and a fair amount of love, too—all mix together with the Ship People’s knowledge from the 21st century to form a new weaving of the fates. Hopefully, that will lead to a bright new future. If it doesn’t kill everyone first.

Review:

I was provided an ARC via Edelwiess, all thoughts are just that, my opinion only.

The Macedonian Hazard is a smart novel. I am no historical expert, nor do I claim to be a scientific expert on this matter. This series is more focused on its world-building because it has this: When different eras come and interact with each on a time mesh, then there is bound to be a more scientific explanation than the story. Why is that you might ask? It’s explaining this, that when 21st-century people are interacting with 4th-century people, the results can be wonderful, it can be unique, but it can also get slow pacing in some parts.

It’s smart in the sense that it doesn’t explain everything in one go. There’s a lot of POVs in this novel. You get to see the rulers of the Diadochi, which is basically Alexander’s general’s engaging in a huge civil war after he died. You see them trying to manipulate the Queen of the Sea, captained by Captain Lars, to get more resources. They’re trying to break the neutrality that the Queen of the Sea has. It can house, what, maybe 4000 passengers? But I can’t give all the answers to scientific research and mining for oil, for example. That I leave to you, dear reader.

I enjoyed the parts where the Ancients were reading about what happened to them in history. And how they try to manipulate the 21st-century people by using Wikipedia. No Joke. You got the characters of the Diadochi: Eumenes, Olympias, Roxanne, Dag and so many more. My suggestion to the authors that while I loved the fact that both Carthage and Rome were using 21st-century technology (I.e. Accessing the computers of the Queen of the Sea) I WANTED to see more of their viewpoint. It also disappointed me we didn’t see many Ancients use social media or YouTube. YouTube has become TV for me. I would reccomend the authors to watch El Ministerio Del Tiempio, a Spanish TV show that has people collaborating from all periods working under a special Ministry of Time to prevent Spanish history from being changed. It is a massive hit series. But I’d seriously love to see what an Ancient Greek, Egyptian or Carthaginian does as being a fellow Youtuber. Seeing the Ancients having access to social media would be so cool. This is however, under the limitations of what the authors can do. But it would seriously be such a good thing. I don’t like cable TV anymore. It would be so COOL to see how the Ancients use social media. I feel that in the next book; we need more of this.

Some parts had me giggling for no reason but just finding out how the Ancients use email. Like literally, you want a job posting for a worker or slave? Put it on the internet! Then have Ancient Romans and Carthaginians emailing you offering you their slave, but they are demanding expensive prices. That was so hilarious. I just don’t want to spoil this story. It’s very well written, fun, and immersive. There’s a lot of brutalities because this period was brutal, and it can get confusing if you haven’t read the first book. So I suggest you read the first book, and then the second. Another suggestion I would make is, I am sure there would have been Indian passengers from India that could help with advising how to contact India. Because if a 21st-century cruiser goes to 4th century India. This will change the landscape and the technology there by a decade.

I want to see more interactions between Ancient peoples using 21st-century technology and social media. I want to see more of this. I also liked the New World colony story, but wouldn’t it make more sense that if the ancestors of the Mayans, Aztecs and Olmecs were to go on the Queen of the Sea, log onto a computer, discover the cities that their ancestors would build, that they would adopt these techniques rather quickly? Also I love the Carthaginians in this novel. I really want to see more of them establishing colonies in the New World. I dislike the fact that warfare will transform from sword and shield to guns and explosives. I’d want combat to be something similar to 16th century combat or something like that. But not to the extent because there is no honor in exploding bombs.

It’s an amazing book and I say watch out for Phillip the III of Macedon. He’s perhaps one of the most intelligent characters in this book. And watch out for the ending. The ending foreshadows that history will change. I just had fun reading this. I was excited to see this on Edelweiss and knew I was in for a treat. I wish more mainstream fantasy publishers like Orbit and Tor UK, Gollancz, Little Brown Group UK, and independent fantasy publishers like Angry Robot would seriously recognize the potential that time travel and the ancient world has to offer!

I also felt this novel was too short. It needed to be much longer! I’d happily read a 1000 pages of this wonderful alternate time travel history novel 

Review: The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn (Kingdom of Grit, #1) by Tyler Whitesides

Rating: 10/10

Synopsis:

DISCOVER THE START OF AN EPIC FANTASY TRILOGY THAT BEGINS WITH A HEIST AND QUICKLY EXPLODES INTO A FULL-TILT, LAST-DITCH PLAN TO SAVE HUMANITY

Ardor Benn is no ordinary thief – a master of wildly complex heists, he styles himself a Ruse Artist Extraordinaire.

When he gets hired for his most daring ruse yet, Ardor knows he’ll need more than quick wit and sleight of hand. Assembling a dream team of forgers, disguisers, schemers and thieves, he sets out to steal from the most powerful king the realm has ever known.

But it soon becomes clear there’s more at stake than fame and glory – Ard and his team might just be the last hope for human civilisation.

Review:

Thank you to Nazia at Orbit Books for providing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are mine only.

The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn is a unique novel. In the sense, that’s its half musical, half heist, and half dragon. All of these three elements mentioned creating a fabulous start to this novel. Its also that a ruse artist has to steal the King’s Replica! I don’t wish to spoil anything, but Tyler’s done a fantastic job in illustrating the daily struggles that thieves have to go through to steal such items which amount to treason! And yes, the magic system known as grit, is bascially burned dragon poop that creates the magic that humans need. Grit is a unique system, and it’s not easy to come up with a magic system for any fantasy writer, whether from the beginning stage to the advanced stage. My favorite Grit magic? The memory wipe! A fascinating weapon if used in the right hands….Also if you want dragon snapping humans….(here’s a hint) and there’s a lot of cultural messages being sent here. Dragons are a big part of this world. The bakery is as well! You’ll come across a lot of pastries 🙂

A good magic system immerses you into the world, whereas a bad magic system will not immerse you. That falls into the simple category of what determines how a good story is executed and how well it is planned. Tyler here has made it simple enough, and it’s enough to immerse you into this world. He’s created a good magic system. He’s done a good job. Its simple enough, yet complex enough as well to immerse you and make you want to find out more. Though, I would have gone with fewer systems of grit purely because half the novel relies on a treasure trove of explaining how grit came to be, and what it has to do with the dragon.

My critique of this part would be that even though it is a fantasy novel and it’s a first, the trend is these days, to set up the world and begin a slow burn. I’ve read hundreds of fantasy books and I am thinking that maybe a slow burn isn’t needed so much. Some parts of the story did slow down for me, and there were times where I felt the pacing should have been a little bit better. But then again, this is a fantastic story and a story with a lot of potential. I did like Ard in many parts, but without wanting to spoil the story, Ard sometimes may have acted like a selfish guy when in reality, I don’t think he is. I think the guy’s lonely and he needs someone to love.

The chemistry between Raek, Ardor, and Quarrah was a good set up and a good build-up. I do, however, want to see more of Ardor and Quarrah as I felt you could have had a whole novel for Ardor and Quarrah alone. Their love setup is well constructed, but it is also to some extent realistic. You can fall in love, but what happens when you realize that that foundation isn’t as solid as you thought it was? That’s only a hint I’ve given, but it’s not enough. Once you discover the intricate backstory that is behind all of this, you’ll soon begin to understand. Rank was one of the BEST characters. Loyal and good, and a character that I want to SEE more of in fantasy. And I liked Quarrah a lot, she’s a loyal character as well, and I feel that Ardor has to see this: She’ll make a fantastic partner. Go marry her you, idiot!

Overall, this is a fantastic story. A fantastic setup. Dragons, Ruse Artists, Pastries, and whatnot. What’s not to like when a ruse artist or thief for that matter gets involved in shaking the destiny and fortune of an entire Kingdom? I can’t wait to read book 2 already! 10/10 from me. It’s very…musical! Very musical indeed!