Authors Talk About It

Book Award Contest & Indie Support

Category: fantasy (Page 1 of 3)

Trust – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

Click here to get your copy!

Tabitha Darling

An unlikely fusion of mythic fantasy creatures and modern humans, Trust, by Tabitha Darling, explores the relationship between a stranded centaur from a different planet and the human woman he kidnaps to nurse the newborn in his care. Together, they overcome language barriers, child-rearing, and the terror of an uncertain future, while all along learning to trust and care for one another. The first novel in the Children of Chiron series, Trust introduces readers to a new perspective on modern fantasy.


Trust begins in a centaur village with a rapid series of events that culminate in a magical teleportation to Earth. While the concept is clear, the series of events in the first several pages is not. It can be quite difficult for readers to keep track of characters and actions on top of all the unfamiliar world-building aspects of the scenes. There is extreme urgency to the situation, but the reasons why are difficult to pick out. Without any sort of anchoring expositional information, the quick pace of the dialogue and action could possibly turn readers off the story entirely, despite any course correction the story takes later. Along the same vein, the descriptions for action moments and movement in general could use quite a lot of expansion. The action is very frank, and as a result, uninformative. Poor action description can lead to misunderstanding of the whole scene. For instance, the moment Brenda and Ieang are forced to abandon Tejat is a pivotal moment, but even after several read throughs, it is a confusing moment.


Darling’s decision to write most of Trust through Ieang’s perspective is an ambitious one. The entire experience on Earth is a practice in defamiliarization. Because Ieang does not know what things are or how to describe them, readers are forced to pick up every clue as if it’s a mystery game, providing a steady-yet-mellow layer of tension throughout the whole story. On an entirely different note, the sheer creativity that comes with Darling’s reimagining of mythology and centaurs is commendable. Though the reader does not yet know how the centaurs’ faith and gods relate to what is understood on Earth, the few connections given are exciting and promising for future novels. While Trust is just the first of several novels, the story itself can stand alone as a quest or adventure narrative for both main characters, the unknown elements simply leave the reader waiting and wanting for the next installment in the series.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

Click here to learn more and enter!

Please like & share:

The Water Kingdom – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

5 Stars

Click here to get your copy!

Deborah Gray

In Deborah Gray’s The Water Kingdom, Nell Cunningham sneaks along on a field trip to White Shell Lagoon, but finds more than she bargained for—including a violet-eyed boy who clearly isn’t human. Meanwhile, Sebastian has been tasked with finding his lost queen and her priceless locket, but there’s danger around every corner for him—and for Nell, too.


Though its plot is certainly intriguing, The Water Kingdom also has some aspects about it that are a bit too cliché and predictable. Many of these obvious hints and tropes give away the plot twists before they happen, which perhaps takes some of the fun out of the story in general. Also, there were many scenes and plot points that were far too rushed, hurtling the reader through a fast-paced plot that may have been better executed if it had been slowed down a tad. Aside from that, The Water Kingdom is an incredibly entertaining young adult novel that shows a lot of promise.


The Water Kingdom’s greatest strength lies in its imaginative and descriptive storyline. Exciting and fascinating from the first page, this story is full of adventure, mystery, and delightful fantasy. Deborah Gray is a talented writer, seamlessly weaving lifelike characters and impeccable detail into a narrative that is consistently riveting. In many ways, The Water Kingdom is so well-written that it seems overwhelmingly believable at times. The Water Kingdom is a brilliant, creative novel that is impossible to put down—and will certainly inspire many equally great sequels in the future.

 

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

Click here to learn more and enter!

Please like & share:

The Magic Pen: Cindy’s Castle Adventure – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

5 Stars

Click here to get your copy!

Erin Childs

In The Magic Pen: Cindy’s Castle Adventure, debut children’s author, Erin Childs does a fantastic job of taking young girls on a magical journey of fantasy and wonder in just a few short pages. Cindy’s mother gave her a new coloring book and special glittery markers. With Cindy’s precise outlining and coloring, she transports herself into a magical world through the special magic pen. She enjoys exploring, but misses home. Therefore, she discovers how to return home by using her artistic skills yet again.


Erin Childs is a skillful writer and storyteller expanding on the glorious imagery within The Magic Pen: Cindy’s Castle Adventure, illustrated by René Hartman Domino, through her wondrous and colorful words. The only drawbacks, which are quite minute, are a teeny grammatical error once or twice and the idea that Cindy opts not to color for a while after her wild and exciting experience.


However, those are easy to overlook when there are such inviting and colorful images to entertain young readers, parents and teachers, alike. Even the colorful, yet simple, symbols on each page just above the page numbers are pleasing to the eye. Without question, the talent of Erin Childs and her illustrator, René Hartman Domino have the potential to make The Magic Pen: Cindy’s Castle Adventure a huge hit among young girls everywhere. The story crosses time and space and relishes in the support of a daughter’s artistic abilities by her mother. This is simply a fabulous story that deserves to be on library shelves, school book shelves and tucked lovingly under the pillow of young girls far and wide.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

Click here to learn more and enter!

Please like & share:

Epiphany – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

Click here to get your copy!

Sonya Deanna Terry


Epiphany is the collection of two books in Sonya Deanna Terry’s Epiphany series, The Golding and The Silvering. When Rosetta begins reading Our True Ancient History by Edward Lillibridge, she wonders what it would be like if the events of the book were real—and finds far more than she bargained for.


Though Epiphany’s rich complexity is wonderful to read, it does tend to be slightly confusing at times. The pacing is a bit off sometimes, and there are other times where the two fictional worlds in the story—one based in fantasy, the other in modern reality—don’t quite mesh as well as they could. Also, perhaps there is just a bit too much going on in this pairing of stories; the self-proclaimed “story within a story” is certainly that, but it may not always be an effective approach. Epiphany is certainly not a read for the faint-hearted, nor for those who are expecting a quick and easy beach read.


With that being said, it is abundantly clear that seasoned fans of the fantasy genre are going to find a lot to love in this quirky series. The plots of both The Golding and The Silvering are unique, colorful, and riveting, keeping the reader actively engaged and turning pages. Sonya Deanna Terry is a brilliant fantasy writer, incorporating vivid imagery and imaginative characters into a pure knock-out of a story. Epiphany is unlike any other fantasy series, but in the best ways; this is a fantastic, immersive, truly wonderful series that is sure to capture attention and leave a memorable impression on its readers.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

Click here to learn more and enter!

Please like & share:

Fire in the Dawn – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

Click here to get your copy!

Justin Fike

Fire in the Dawn is the first book in Justin Fike’s fantasy trilogy, The Twin Skies. As the story begins, Kyren is a prince in disguise, pretending to be a peasant to protect himself after the downfall of his entire family. Then, something terrible happens that forces Kyren out of hiding and into action. Kyren must rediscover who he is and unite his people to save them all from a most tragic demise.

Perhaps the biggest downfall (if you could even call it a downfall) of Fire in the Dawn is its complexity. Even with the helpful glossary of terms in the beginning of the book, it can be difficult to follow along with this fantasy world and its rich lore. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as fantasy novels should be this intricate and detailed, readers should be warned that this isn’t exactly an easy read. It requires a lot of attention and care to detail, much like what was obviously needed to write a great story like this in the first place.

What sets Fire in the Dawn apart from other fantasy novels, though, is Justin Fike’s excellent writing. Fike has managed to create a world and characters that are exotic and fascinating, while still maintaining a level of believability that most fantasy authors can only hope of achieving. Fire in the Dawn is an exciting, creative, fascinating beginning to a fantasy series that is likely to be reminiscent of literary greats like A Song of Ice and Fire and The Lord of the Rings. From Fire in the Dawn alone, it’s overwhelmingly clear that there’s an abundance of promise and potential for The Twin Skies trilogy – promise and potential that Justin Fike certainly has as a fantasy writer.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

Click here to learn more and enter!

Please like & share:

The Rite of Wands – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

5 Stars

Click here to get your copy!

Mackenzie Flohr

In Mackenzie Flohr’s The Rite of Wands, twelve-year-old Mierta McKinnon is looking forward to his Rite of Wands ceremony, which will cement his role as a warlock. However, during the ritual, he experiences a haunting vision of the future – and of his own terrible demise. Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Orlynd is another warlock, the soothsayer to the king, capable of seeing visions of the future. He’s not always taken seriously, though, to the detriment of those around him. Around them, a terrible plague is looming over the land, one that could devastate them all if it is not stopped.

In the beginning, it is a bit difficult to get the hang of The Rite of Wands, as in most fantasy novels as complex as this one. It takes a few chapters to get used to the dialects, pacing, and shifting perspectives, but the inclusion of language and dialect guides in the beginning of the book will help with that. Once readers get acclimated to the unique style of this book, they’re in for a treat. The Rite of Wands is much like the Harry Potter series in that it prominently features magic and is written for all ages; however, this book is also much different than Harry Potter in that it is more traditional and ethnic, though still unique.

The Rite of Wands is such an enchanting fantasy novel partly because of its complex, relatable, and believable characters. Mackenzie Flohr avoids the clichés of the genre, instead crafting a story that is so detailed, honest, and immersive that it’s hard to put the book down. Also, the descriptive language used is wonderful; although not extravagant, the words used paint a clear and vivid portrait for readers, and a very enjoyable one at that. The Rite of Wands is a great read for beginners or seasoned fans of the fantasy genre alike, and a promising start to what will inevitably be a phenomenal fantasy series.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

Click here to learn more and enter!

Please like & share:

Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

5 Stars

Click here to get your copy!

Sojourner McConnell

An adorable chapter book for young children, Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas? (The Dolcey Series) gives young girls a powerful life lesson while allowing them to step into a fantasy. Sojourner McConnell brings to life a young fairy who has powerful magic that she’s only just begun to start using to help others. When Dolcey here’s a child in need, she has been taught by her mother how to implement her powers to offer guidance and assistance. Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas? is her first experience in actually getting to help. She hears a young girl named Emily and rushes off to not only find her but help her get through the challenging time she is facing.

The colorful imagery within Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas?, illustrated by Ellie Barrett, add an additional element of fun and fantasy to Sojoruner McConnell’s story. These occasional images help bridge a gap between young students who are ready to read more difficult books and embrace more complex concepts with readers who aren’t quite ready to give up the picture book feel. Who’s That in the Pajamas? is a very well-written story and has a fun story line all while sharing a message of hope and a lesson on how to cope with big life changes that are out of one’s control. Sojourner McConnell’s Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas?, the first in her The Dolcey Series, would make for a wonderful tool for parents who are looking for something to help their children deal with a big move away from family and friends. It’s simply a must read!

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

Click here to learn more and enter!

Please like & share:

[Author Interview] Kate Sander | Force: Book Two of the Zoya Chronicles

Featured Authors Talk About It

Author Interview

Kate Sander

ATAI: Tell us a little about you.

Kate: My name is Kate Sander. I’m 27 years old and work as a Primary Care Paramedic in my home city of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada. It’s a small city in northern Saskatchewan. I’m married and we have two dogs, a 5 year-old Labradoodle named Sammi (she’s the queen of the house) and a 2 year-old Goldendoodle name Pippin (yes, they are named after hobbits). I also have my Firefighting training and a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. The combination makes for a very different and interesting take on plot and story-telling.

ATAI: How long have you been writing?

Kate: Not very long! I started writing in 2015 while I was working in the oil patch in Alberta as a medic. I’m not sure if anyone knows what that job entails, but it’s usually about 2 hours of paperwork and 10 hours a day of doing nothing by yourself. So I started writing. Never looked back.

ATAI: What was your most recent release?

Kate: Force: Book Two of the Zoya Chronicles was just released! It follows Senka through her newest adventure in our world and The Other Place. It’s a thrill, it’s fast-paced and in my opinion it’s better than the first.

Click here to get your copy!

ATAI: What do you love most about writing?

Kate: My job can be very stressful at times and I find that there’s a lot of situations that I can’t control. When I write, I’m in control of the entire world (unless my character refuses to behave). I find that it’s therapeutic and can really help me out.

ATAI: What do you find most challenging?

Kate: Finding time! Between work and life I find it hard to just sit down and write. I also find myself getting obsessive when writing a novel. That’s all I think about, all day, every day, until it’s done. So I try to take breaks between novels to try to keep everything fresh and to stop from burning out. Unfortunately for my readers it means long gaps between novels. However I think the break helps me deliver a better product.

ATAI: Where do your ideas come from?

Kate: No idea. I’ve always had a really over-active imagination, so I guess it comes from that. Now, instead of standing in the shower and “winning” the argument I had with someone 5 months ago, I’m thinking of plot and character development.

ATAI: What is your writing process?

Kate: I use a solid mix of pre-plotting and writing by the seat of my pants. I pre-plot main ideas loosely. My chapter and book outlines are very fluid and I’ll change them a hundred times before I finish the book. I find that this allows me to follow the creative process. It also allows for plot changes when my character makes a really stupid decision.

ATAI: Do your characters (or message) ever seem to have a life of their own or an agenda of their own?

Kate: Yes! I try to write my characters as being flawed and human. So sometimes they make really stupid, life-altering decisions. And once they are on paper, in my mind they’ve occurred so I can’t change it. It leads to really interesting plot points, but sometimes really annoying character flaws that I have to work through.

ATAI: What’s your favorite part of your book (or one of your books)?

Kate: My books tend to focus on female characters. I LOVE it when they kick ass against all odds. I work really hard to make the fighting believable, and as I have a black belt in karate I understand a little on how to use a smaller frame against a bigger body. This makes my women ultimate badasses and I absolutely love when they let loose and kick ass.

ATAI: What are you working on next?

Kate: Currently on a bit of a break. Next will be the next two Zoya Chronicles. I have plans for 2 more books, and I don’t write in order. So hopefully book 3 finishes before book 4 but no guarantees.

ATAI: Where can people find you online?

Kate: My website is www.zoyabooks.com. You can get signed paperbacks and merchandise on that site, and also get in contact with me about anything you need. My facebook is www.facebook.com/katesander. My twitter handle is @K_Sander10. My author email is katesander.author@gmail.com. I try to answer everyone.

ATAI: Thank you for sharing with us and our audience.

Kate: Thanks for the interview! I really appreciate the opportunity to be featured on your site.


*NOTE: ATAI does not edit the responses of the authors.

Would you like to have a featured author interview on ATAI?  

Click here.

Please like & share:

Steel, Blood and Fire – Entered in 2017 Book Award Contest

4 Stars

Click here to get your copy!

Allan Batchelder

In Allan Batchelder’s Steel, Blood & Fire, legendary warrior and “Reaper” Tarmun Vykers is an unstoppable force of destruction – that is, until he is caught and his hands and feet amputated. Abandoned in the forest, Vykers descends into a madness-fueled survival mode, his only company a mysterious spirit from beyond the grave. Beyond the forest, though, a wizard who calls himself the End-of-All-Things is plotting to destroy the realm and all its inhabitants. Vykers is certainly no hero, nor is he the “Reaper” he once was, but nevertheless, he remains the last hope of victory in the war to come.

The beginning of Steel, Blood & Fire is rather dull, with too much mundane dialogue and frequent POV switches, and not nearly enough intriguing plot development. It isn’t until much later in the book that anything starts getting interesting. Many aspects until then have promise, but are not as well developed as they could be. Also, Steel, Blood & Fire is, perhaps, trying to balance too many characters and subplots at once; it hardly spends enough time on any of these to warrant true empathy or intrigue from the reader.

However, there is plenty to love about this unique fantasy novel. Allan Batchelder has a great style and voice for fantasy; he nails the genre right on the head. As for the battle scenes, those were spectacular, full of excitement and detail. Using an anti-hero as the protagonist in these battles is a refreshing and fascinating choice – a choice that really paid off for this novel. Steel, Blood & Fire could certainly use some sprucing up in some areas, but it excels in many others. Overall, this is a worthwhile book to read, particularly for fans of the fantasy genre.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

Click here to learn more and enter!

Please like & share:

Pyre – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

5 Stars

Click here to get your copy!

Eric J. Hull & C. M. Stultz

Eric J. Hull and C. M. Stultz’s Pyre is a gripping fantasy tale about Prince Aaren, who has had the strange ability to set fires with his mind since the day he was born. However, every time Aaren causes a fire, the princess of his rival kingdom, Sare, burns, too. They both must wear enchanted jewelry to protect them, but their safety is only temporary. Meanwhile, a peasant boy named Michael makes a strange discovery in the depths of the woods by his house. A flaming pendulum and mysterious voices guide Michael on a terrible quest, one that could result in unspeakable tragedy for the young, fire-connected royals.

As with all epic fantasy novels, Pyre’s plot tends to be complicated in some areas. Especially for the first portion of the book, it can be difficult to follow the characters and how they relate to one another. Some aspects of the plot seem too vague, at first, adding to the confusion. This does eventually clear up, though; in many ways, Pyre is a book that should be read more than once, in order to fully grasp the depth of the story.

Pyre is incredibly well-written, though; its imagery is superb and the plot carefully constructed. Each character is complex and intriguing, even the villain. The use of multiple perspectives was insightful and well executed, and the story itself was creative and fresh. Also, for having two authors, it is impossible to tell which passages were written by Hull and which by Stultz. Their voices blend together seamlessly into one creative force. Pyre is a fantastic entry in what promises to be a phenomenal fantasy series.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

Click here to learn more and enter!

Please like & share:

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)