Tag Archives: fantasy

KNIGHT’S RANSOM – Review

Litercurious Book review

Knight’s Ransom Jeff Wheeler
Knight’s Ransom Jeff Wheeler
TitleKnight’s Ransom – The First Argentines
AuthorJeff Wheeler
Publisher47North (January 26, 2021)
FormatKindle, Paperback, Audiobook, Audio CD
Pages431
Genre Historical Fantasy, Coming of Age Fantasy,
Sword & Sorcery Fantasy (Books)
LanguageEnglish
ISBN 10/13154202529X / 978-1542025294

Currently Knight’s Ransom is Free-to-Read on Kindle Unlimited

AUTHOR

Jeff Wheeler is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He majored in History at the San Jose State University. He worked at Intel while attending college but retired early to write full time. Learn all about Jeff, his books, and his new projects on his website here.

SYNOPSIS

Knight’s Ransom is a fantasy book in the times of ancient knights, magic, and multiple kingdoms. The main character, Marshall Barton, is just a boy when he was taken as a hostage to ensure his fathers loyalty to the King. Claire, another hostage, nicknamed him Ransom just to annoy him, but the name stuck.

Ransom’s father disobeys the King, thus he is destined to be hung in front of his father’s Keep. The King, however, has a change of heart and takes Ransom into his household. When the King dies, Ransom is left to his own devices. He returns home only to be turned away by his own father.

What follows is a journey of hardship, pain, loyalty, honor and ambition for Ransom. He trains to be a Knight, and he becomes one of the best in all the Kingdom’s. He is “Fountain Blessed,” a term used for those who have a certain gift or “power,” with the innate ability to sense danger and the uncanny capability to fight.

The new King charges Ransom to look after his eldest son. Ransom is quickly intertwined in royal espionage, intrigue, political maneuvering and life-or-death battles. What follows is a tale for the ages.

CONCLUSION

Knight’s Ransom is a truly awesome book! I had trouble putting it down. It is full of Knightly Honor, sword play, jousting, loyalty and betrayal. This book has plenty of suspense, thrills, intrigue and action.

Written to please the fantasy reader, Knight’s Ransom has just the right amount of history mixed with magic and fantasy. The world that Jeff creates is described in a way that brings it to life in the reader’s mind.

I evaluate a book by the way it effects me. If I can see the world that a book creates in my mind, and keep thinking of it long after I put it down; then it is a very good book. I’ve already stared book two; Warriors Ransom.

I definitely recommend this book to all readers who enjoy historical fantasy revolving around knights, chivalry, kingdoms and massive battles.

Jeff Wheeler is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. His Grave Kingdom series was spectacular and now the First Argentines series is even better.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

OUR OTHER REVIEWS OF BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR

THE KILLING FOG – Review

The Killing Fog is the first in The Grave Kingdom series. Magic, mystery, intrigue and betrayal are all included in this fantasy. Bingmei must use all her wit, skill, and abilities to stay ahead of the ancient entity determined to capture and kill her. With the help of her friends and colleges, she embarks on a mission of survival.

Keep reading

THE BURIED WORLD – REVIEW

This book continues Bingmei’s quest for survival. With the help of her friends, she continues a mission to evade the evil she unwittingly released in the first book. She has many adventures, experiences great loss and witnesses more unspeakable horrors.

Keep reading

NOS4A2 – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleNOS4A2
AuthorJoe Hill
PublisherWilliam Morrow & Company (October 31, 2013)
FormatPaperback
GenreHorror
Page720
LanguageEnglish
ASIN #B00QQ198Z0

“An inscape, a world of thought. In a world made of thought—in an inscape—every idea is a fact. Emotions are as real as gravity. Dreams are as powerful as history. Creative people, like writers, and Henry Rollins, spend a lot of their time hanging out in their thought-world. S-s-strong creatives, though, can use a knife to cut the stitches between the two worlds, can bring them together. Your bike. My tiles. Those are our knives.”

Joe Hill, NOS4A2 (October 31, 2013). Ch. The Librarian, Loc. 1417-1427

AUTHOR

See our Authors Spotlight here.

SYNOPSIS

NOS4A2 is a horror novel written by Joe Hill. It is every horror aficionados dream. The central characters are Vic McQueen, an intuitive wild child with a penchant for two wheels, an infinite curiosity, a need for speed, and a special skill. Charlie Manx a sinister otherworldly psychic vampire. Bing is a sociopath with a dark past and darker future. Margret Leigh is a librarian with unique talents. Louis Carmody is a friend to Vic and father to their child. In addition are McQueen’s dysfunctional extended family.

When the story begins Vic lives with her parents in Haverhill, Massachusetts, not far from Lake Winnipesaukee; a favorite family getaway. 

Victoria McQueen – AKA Vic or The Brat

NOS4A2 is a standout in every way as a horror product. Set in contemporary times. The key character, Vic McQueen, is an 8-year-old child living in Haverhill with her dysfunctional mother and father who are in a combative relationship. Vic is a wild-child with an extraordinary gift. She is an exceptional artist, but that is not her only trait. She soon discovers her other talent, a symbiotic relationship between her and her bicycle; her ‘knife’ (a psychic tool that can act as a portal via the Shorter Way over a psychic bridge to anywhere she wants to go). Together they can traverse the ethereal plane.  

Hill’s novel steers us through the life of Vic from her days as a child, her teenage years and struggles, to her maturation. A life altering event; a clash with Charlie Manx, leads Vic on a personal and dramatic course that defines her life thereafter.

Charles Talent Manx – AKA Charlie Manx

Charles Talent Manx is the principal evil protagonist. He is a filicidal psychopath and mass killer. He has a distinctive overbite, ancient appearance, dresses strangely, and drives a vehicle from another era; a Rolls Royce Wraith. The Wraith is more than just a car, it is part of his Manx-scape, his inner-verse, it is his “knife.” The automobile is implicated in Manx’s unhealthy interest in children. He seemingly spirits them away in his Rolls Royce to his inscape, which he calls Christmasland. In an accident of synchronicity, Vic McQueen and Manx cross paths; from there the game is afoot. 

Bing Partridge

Bing Partridge is a rotund, bespectacled man from Sugarcreek, PA. Bing was tried and convicted of parricide for both of his parents. He is a sexual deviant and fascinated with using sevoflurane (Gingerbread scented gas). Sevoflurane is one of the volatile gases that includes: halothane, isoflurane, and desflurane. Partridge employs the gas as an anesthetic to render his victims insensible. He utilizes a military gas mask, given to him by his father when he was a child, to prevent himself from suffering the analgesic affects.

Bing is Manx’s most recent assistant; there have been many over the years. Bing has a fascination for Christmas, gas masks, and mature adult women; although his interests range too much lower age groups. He is dull, has a complex range of paraphilias and appears to suffer from an insufficiency of intellect with elements of psychopathy, and sociological illness. Cunning like a fox and yet barely able to operate in society, Bing shares Manx’s abnormal love of Christmas and Christmasland. Bing can, and will, do anything to attain Christmasland with its promise of eternal life surrounded by gingerbread and all the accoutrements, including access to children.

Ms. Margret Leigh – AKA Maggie

Ms. Margret Leigh is a scrabble maven with a special bag and a spluttering stammer. Maggie has a sapphic nature and works as a librarian in a small town. She is fascinated with scrabble. Maggie has her own “knife,” involving the use of her scrabble bag. She can retrieve messages that aid her in seeing future events.

Louis Carmody – AKA Lou Carmody

Lou is Vic’s significant other and father to Bruce Wayne McQueen. He is an all-around nice guy, dedicated father, and part-time hero.  

CONCLUSION

Joe Hill could be the best contemporary horror writer of our time. 

NOS4A2 is a strong tale, perfectly paced, and totally engrossing. It has a stupendous narrative, is skillfully written with superior character definition, and has a compelling chronology. It is a mythos all its own and I would not be surprised if it becomes a timeless favorite of many horror story lovers. 

NOS4A2 is replete with numerous literary Easter-eggs. He doffs his hat throughout the book to his illustrious literary family and references locations from their works. A reference to Shawshank is just one example. Notable locations: The House of Sleep, The Shorter Way, Manx The Sleigh House, the Graveyard of What Might Be.

I have seen the television show featuring a screenplay adapted from the book. My recommendation is that you should forget the show and read the book. The written form is far superior and elaborates much more than the TV version. There is simply no comparison between the two experiences. 

I have already identified my next Joe Hill book and decided on his award-winning number one best seller Heart-Shaped Box. What will your next Joe Hill novel be?

Take a look below where I have provided a read-for-free link to four of his works on KindleUnlimited. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR

Other books by this author are included on his Author’s Spotlight here. There is a range of his works that are currently free-to-read on KindleUnlimited – as of 1 July, 2020. Select the image below to view:

THE BURIED WORLD – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleThe Buried World
AuthorJeff Wheeler
Publisher47North (June 23, 2020)
FormatKindle, Audiobook, Paperback
Pages335
LanguageEnglish
AudienceBroad Appeal for Fantasy Readers
ASIN B07WNTX91Y

AUTHOR

This is the second book in The Grave Kingdom series. To read my review on the first book, The Killing Fog and to learn more about the author click here.

SYNOPSIS

This book continues Bingmei’s quest for survival. With the help of her friends, she continues a mission to evade the evil she unwittingly released in the first book. She has many adventures, experiences great loss and witnesses more unspeakable horrors.

This second installment in the series continues the battle between good and evil, but evil gets a counterpart. Now Bingmei and her followers not only have to evade one ancient evil entity, but two! Not just the entities themselves but the monsters they unleash from the “Grave Kingdom.” With their combined power they can control not only the living world, but the dimension of the dead as well.

Bingmei knows she is the only chance for the world to be rid of these evil entities and so do they. They will stop at nothing to kill her and continue their reign of terror for a thousand years to come. They will devour anyone who attempts to help Bingmei in their bid to capture or kill her. Bingmei must protect not only herself, but her friends. However, slowly she realizes it may not be possible to do both. She agonizes between protecting her friends and fulfilling her duty.

As they flee across the countryside, Bingmei and her little band of warriors and friends face off against an overwhelming foe. Battling not only their enemies but nature itself. From seemingly endless armies to magical beasts, they fight for survival and freedom.

Will she fulfill her duty? Will she protect her friends? Will she even survive? I guess we will find out in the next installment. What a cliffhanger!

CONCLUSION

The Buried World follows up on Jeff Wheeler’s The Killing Fog. This installment does not have as many epic battles as the first, but it has much more suspense. There are epic battles with magical creatures and objects; but there are many more moments where the suspense was too great to put the book down. I had to keep reading to see if Bingmei would escape, save a friend, or invoke some magic that would save the world.

Exceptionally written, Jeff has brought the characters to life and the environment into vivid detail. Each character has been constructed in such detail that the reader can not only see them in their mind, but envision them as actual living beings. He does a fantastic job of describing the environment. From the detailed palaces to the: monsters, the magic, the animals, the plains, or even the water; the reader feels as if they are there alongside Bingmei and her friends on this saga.  

I genuinely enjoyed this second book in The Grave Kingdom series and I cannot wait for the next one to be released on 22 September, 2020: The Immortal Worlds.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

MORE BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR

(These books are free to read or listen too with Kindle Unlimited)

THE KILLING FOG – Review

Litercurious Book Review

TitleThe Killing Fog
AuthorJeff Wheeler
Publisher47North (March 1, 2020)
FormatKindle, Audiobook, Paperback
Pages404
LanguageEnglish
AudienceBroad Appeal for Fantasy Readers
ASIN B07RJQPB63

AUTHOR

Jeff Wheeler is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He majored in History at the San Jose State University. He worked at Intel while attending college but retired early to write full time.

With some of his best friends, they founded the electronic magazine Deep Magic. It is a magazine where new and aspiring authors can get their fantasy and science fiction stories published.

He started his writing career self-published with Amazon’s Createspace and the Kindle Direct Program. His works caught the eye of Publisher 47North and 2013 he became one of their authors.

SYNOPSIS

Bingmei was orphaned at a very young age. Luckily, she was taken in by a kind and noble woman who just happened to be the leader of an ensign. Under Kunmia Suun’s tutelage, Bingmei continues to expand her martial arts skills. While on assignment for the local King, Bingmei unwittingly awakens a terrible ancient entity who is unleashed on the world and only she can stop it.

The story takes place in the future after all history is forgotten. No one really knows who the Ancients where, why they built the “Great Wall,” or why they disappeared. All that is known is that they left great cities and magical artifacts behind. Unfortunately, when the artifacts are used, they summon the “Killing Fog.” The fog kills everything it touches, but does not destroy anything leaving the bodies as if they were in a deep sleep.

Bingmei has a naturally ability to use magic and is an exceptional fighter. She must use all her wit, skill, and abilities to stay ahead of the ancient entity determined to capture and kill her. With the help of her friends and colleges, she embarks on a mission of survival.

CONCLUSION

The Killing Fog is a very well written book. The author established the plot and characters from the start. The imagery is exceptional and the detail exquisite. The use of China’s history intertwined with the fantasy of the future adds to the mysticism of this tale.

Jeff Wheeler obviously did a lot of research for this series. The detail in his descriptions of people, places and things are brilliant. The reader has no problem imagining the places or the people in vivid imagery. He has created a fantasy world that readers will enjoy for many years.

I genuinely enjoyed this first book in The Grave Kingdom series and I cannot wait for the next one to be released on 23 June, 2020: The Buried World.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

THE LOST WONDERLAND DIARIES – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleThe Lost Wonderland Diaries
Author/IllustratorJ. Scott Savage
PublisherShadow Mountain (Sep 8, 2020)
FormatKindle, Audiobook, Hardcover
Pages384
Language:English
ISBN 10/131629727865 / 978-1629727868

AUTHOR

J. Scott Savage is a noted author and presenter. He was a teacher and developed Common Core-aligned projects for elementary school writing curricula. He routinely presents at schools across the country inspiring the youth of today to embrace their creativity. He has been nominated for several awards. You can learn more about him on his website here.

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE?

This book is intended for children 8-11 years old or grade level 4-6. I will testify that people of all ages will enjoy this story, as I am much older than 11 and I enjoyed this very much.

SYNOPSIS

The Lost Wonderland Diaries is a wonderful story about a young girl and her friend in Wonderland. Celia is the main character and she is dyslexic. She befriends a young boy named Tyrus who happens to be a book worm. Together they accidently get sucked into Wonderland. Their guide in Wonderland is a charming new character named Sylvan. She is a young rabbit, barely out of bunnyhood, and tasked with finding “Alice” to save Wonderland. Together they have many adventures.

Celia is the daughter of a librarian, which for her is a nightmare because of her difficulty reading. Due to her dyslexia, Celia has put more effort into learning mathematics. Tyrus is a bit of a book nerd with a giant imagination. Celia and Tyrus must combine her knowledge of math with his imagination and knowledge of books to solve puzzles and riddles while making their way through Wonderland and avoiding its hazards.

Something terrible is happening in Wonderland when they arrive. The characters are being turned into monsters! Celia, Tyrus and Sylvan must navigate a variety of hazards, puzzles and monsters not only to get home but to stop whatever is happening in Wonderland. With the help of some of the original cast of characters and a few new ones, they work their way through wonderland discovering not only what is happening, but they discover themselves in the process!

CONCLUSION

The Lost Wonderland Diaries is a magical book! J. Scott Savage does a superb job of bringing his characters to life. The story line is exceptional, intriguing, and educating. I love books that can entertain as well as teach, and this book does it all.

The little puzzles that the main characters have to solve are wonderfully crafted and educational. J. Scott Savage does a great job of introducing his readers to the problems associated with dyslexia and the difficulties coping with the disability.

I whole heartily recommend this book for anyone of all ages.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank J. Scott Savage, NetGalley and Shadow Mountain for affording me the opportunity to review The Lost Wonderland Diaries.

LITERCURIOUS CHILD FRIENDLY JOKE

Q. Why did the rabbit try to eat a diamond?

A. Because someone told him it was 2 carats.

OTHER WORKS BY THIS AUTHOR

Norman 2 – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleNorman 2: The True Story of a Possessed Doll’s Revenge
AuthorSteven Lancaster
PublisherLlewellyn Publications (September 8, 2020)
FormatKindle, Paperback
Pages264
LanguageEnglish
ASIN#B0841637W9

AUTHOR

Stephen Lancaster is a self-proclaimed phenomenologist and has been involved in the field of paranormal research since 1997. In 2010 he became an author; chronicling his experiences investigating the paranormal.

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE?

The target audience for this publication is all those who have an interest in the paranormal and horror stories.

SYNOPSIS

Norman 2 is the sequel to Norman: The Doll That Needed to Be Locked Away. The earlier publication introduced Norman, a doll that the author and his wife discovered in a store. An ominous comment from the store owner piqued Lancaster’s interest, and he bought the doll and took it home. All too quickly, Stephen Lancaster claims, Norman began performing for his new audience. Almost immediately, sinister occurrences began to take place that forced him to utilize cameras to capture footage of the paranormal happenings. The author claims to have extensive footage relating to the possessed doll. The Lancaster’s lives become a nightmare that escalated exponentially over time. Eventually provoking the author to place the doll in a vacant room in an attempt to assuage the temper of Norman the doll. 

It is now two years later and Norman 2 continues the haunting tale. As the saying goes, sensational claims require sensational proof and that seems to be where the wheels come of this project. I am only too aware that paranormal investigators claim that their methods are based in science but that just isn’t so. The scientific method requires a number of things: for example, the experiment is repeatable producing the same result. In addition, it must be possible for your peers to replicate the same experiment and attempt to prove your theory wrong. In the paranormal world it is impossible to find irrefutable proof derived from the scientific method.

In Norman 2 Lancaster attempts to prove with visual evidence the voracity of his claims. I remain skeptical as I felt the events described fell short of proof of paranormal occurrences.

Lancaster recounts various disturbing situations including a seemingly spontaneous fire claimed to have been created by Norman in its room. There are instances of exaggerations or sensational claims that reduce, rather than increase the probity of the claims. The telling of the story reminded me of the over elaboration of a bad liar. I came to the uncomfortable conclusion that I was being lied to.

CONCLUSION

Throughout the book there were examples of repetition, misspellings and an amateurish writing style. This devalued the trope almost as much as the outlandish claims themselves. The work could have been far more concise and measured. I found myself being less subjective in part due to the lack of skilled writing, language, grammar, and vocabulary. 

If the family are so afraid of the doll it seems odd that they should wish to continue to house it in their home. Is the doll inhabited by a restless spirit, a demon, or the soul of a dead child? That question I leave for you to decide.

I am aware the force of my review may indicate I do not enjoy the entertainment value of paranormal entertainment shows and literature. I am intrigued with the subject and have been since I read The Amityville Horror as a child. I consumed the book in less than 24 hours, not stopping to sleep until I finished it. 

Incidentally, I do enjoy reading publications on the paranormal, especially when they are well written, balanced, and subjective. I enjoy paranormal literature that present the claims and evidence that leave it for me to decide if the claims carry any weight or not.

This is simply my opinion and you have your own and that is why I recommend you read the first book and then decide if you would like reading Norman 2

Rating: 2 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Steven Lancaster, NetGalley and Llewellyn Publications for affording me the opportunity to review Norman 2: The True Story of a Possessed Doll’s Revenge.

OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR

SPOOKS AND KNOCKERS UNCENSORED IS CURRENTLY FREE TO READ on KindleUnlimited

THE TOOTH QUEEN – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleThe Tooth Queen
AuthorNeil A. Ewart
PublisherOlympia Publishers (26 Mar. 2020)
FormatKindle, Paperback
Pages23
LanguageEnglish
ISBN 10/131788304055 / 978-1788304054

AUTHOR

Find out about Neil A. Ewart on his publishers web-site here.

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE?

The Tooth Queen is written for children 5-7 years old.  

SYNOPSIS

The Tooth Queen is a very short children’s story. It relates the trials and tribulations of the Tooth Fairy and her work for the “evil tooth queen.”

It explains in a magical way, why it’s important not to have tooth decay.

CONCLUSION

This book is very well scripted and flows nicely. It is written in a rhyming prose, and the illustrations are both colorful and vibrant. Neil uses his story telling not merely to entertain but to educate. In this case he is advocating proper tooth care in a way that young children will easily understand.

I especially liked the picture puzzle. I had to go back through the book to find all of the pictures, which was very entertaining. Children will absolutely love this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Neil A. Ewart and Olympia Publishers for affording me the opportunity to review The Tooth Queen.

LITERCURIOUS CHILD FRIENDLY JOKE

Q. What does the Tooth Fairy use to fix a broken wand?

A.  Why tooth paste, of course.

TEN FINGERS TOUCHING – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleTen Fingers Touching
AuthorEllen A. Roth MFA
PublisherGetting to the Point, Inc.; First edition (April 12, 2015)
Pages110
LanguageEnglish
ASIN #B00W1XABD0

AUTHOR

Ellen A. Roth MFA is the author of Ten Fingers Touching. You can find out all about her here

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE? 

Anyone who enjoys a heartwarming tale sprinkled with love and adventure in equal measure set against the fight between good and evil.

SYNOPSIS

Ten Fingers Touching is a well crafted and sculpted story written by a consummate professional in the person of Ellen A. Roth.

Roth has managed to combine a romance within the epic struggle between the honorable and the malevolent, skillfully woven with a surprising conclusion.

Whilst a brief tale, the story has something for everyone; ethical dilemmas, copious moments of adventure, love interest, and plenty of mystery.

One cannot comment on Roth’s exquisite manuscript without mention of the simply magnificent illustrations produced by John Blumen. Obviously, John completely understood what was required artistically to further enhance a most beautiful fairy-tale. Collectively they make a stunning combination and a spectacular book.

Whilst the story is concise at 110 pages in length it left me wanting to read more. I sincerely hope that Roth follows up with a second offering in the near future. I for one, will be in the queue to purchase a copy.   

CONCLUSION

Ten Fingers Touching was a joy to discover. It left me with a warm fuzzy feeling that is frequently lacking in many of today’s tales. I enjoyed following the well crafted characters and frankly, I never wanted the tale to conclude. It was engaging throughout and left me wanting more.

A beautifully crafted love story in the midst of adversity with a twist in its tale.

Ten Fingers Touching is a steal at the price right now on Amazon. It is flying off the shelves. I strongly recommend snatching up your copy while they’re still available. It would make an ideal gift for anyone over 10 years old.