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Review: Strategos Book 2: Rise of the Golden Heart by Gordon Doherty

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“Rise of The Golden Heart”, the second installment in Gordon Doherty ‘s Strategos trilogy delivers once again. Apion has now risen in the ranks to become the Strategos of Chaldia and his reputation as The Haga has spread throughout the lands. He is now one of the most feared among the Seljuk enemies. Once again, Doherty blends a well-researched history with a well written and enjoyable fictional plot. I sat back several times to take in his ability to make his characters fit into this historical period accurately, while I was still able to feel emotion for them, they are so well developed. I was further fascinated with the authors depiction of Constantinople, the seat of power, where Apion faces challenges even more difficult than the battles he has fought on the field. Still fighting the demons of his past, Apion, Maria, and Nazar’s story continues as a heart rending sub-plot. This book also introduces a cliffhanger twist (no spoilers).

I listened to the audiobook presentation narrated by Rob Goll, as with all his narrations he is able to portray these characters’ emotions while giving a well-paced and exciting rendering of action. Goll’s vocal interpretations are perfect for the characterization Doherty writes so well. I have moved on to Book 3 and was happy to see Rob is continuing his narration.

All formats of “Rise of The Golden Heart” can be found here:

https://amzn.to/2PEtl3h

 

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Dragons! Dragons! Dragons!

 

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Very rarely an anthology comes along which has not one weak link, Heroika is that anthology. Seventeen stories by diverse writers in a multitude of genres with one theme in common: Dragon hunting! These are tales of the primordial power of the dragon and the heroes and heroines who face their fears to make their world safe. Here there is steampunk, historical, mythological and more. High quality writing which touches on the motivation, fear and grittiness of the Dragon Hunter (and Dragon Eater as some stories show the age-old maxim of gaining the enemy’s strength through eating them).

This audiobook is narrated and performed by Rob Goll who does an amazing job with the different accents, accents not just from different areas of the world and fantasy world, but accents from different historical periods as well. His classical theatrical talent lends itself toward perfect timing and the ability to effectively portray the emotions of the Dragon Hunters and in some cases the Dragons themselves.

It is hard to pick a favorite, I loved all of the stories in their own special way. If I had to pick it would be La Betaille by Beth W. Patterson. This is the story of a little Cajun girl, Pichou (yes, Mr. Goll does a wonderful, believable accent here), who stands up to her fear in the face of the threat to her world.

I highly recommend this compellingly written and narrated anthology. As J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous quote said: “So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings.” Yes, they have their endings, but each story is a joy to experience.

Heroika was edited by Janet Morris

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Audio Book Review, Uncategorized

Audio Book Review: The Online Stage narration of Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler

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The players of @online_stage have brought to life Hedda Gabler, Henrick Ibsen’s masterpiece of “realism”. I am not reviewing the work, because, well…what can I say that hasn’t been said.  The role of Hedda Gabler is now considered one of the premier dramatic roles in the theatre.  As for the performance, Anna Grace plays Hedda to perfection. Her perfect timing, ability to make us hear the sarcasm dripping from her voice all make us realize that for all her boredom in her new marriage to George Tesman (which leads to her desire to influence human destiny, with its tragic outcome),  she is at heart simply not a very moral woman. Rob Goll takes on the role of George Tesman, the scholar whose interests lie in research and scholarship, at the risk of ignoring his new wife. Goll plays this character brilliantly, with a bit of personality, giving him an added depth and interest that, I believe, is necessary to a listener who is not seeing the action in real life. Again perfect timing and delivery on Goll’s part as well. Peter Tucker is also exceptional as Eilert Lovborg, once an admirer of Hedda’s and now competition for Tesman in his pursuit of a teaching position, he played a man of complicated emotions, and even with knowing the outcome of the play, Tucker admirably foreshadowed the tragic consequences throughout his clever reading. The remainder of the players are equally wonderful in their portrayals. I highly recommend this classic, it is 2-1/2 hours of listening pleasure of a drama all lovers of the theatre should experience

You can purchase here: https://www.audible.com/pd/B07ZQT1861?

 

 

 

 

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Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review: Ashes of the Fae by Sophia LeRoux

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Sophia LeRoux’s  “Ashes of the Fae” took me back to one of my favorite childhood fairy tale creatures, the Hag. I was both repulsed and intrigued by that figure, still am today. This different take on paranormal nightmares is one thing which made this novel stand out for me. The heartbreak of children being abducted, with a writer who does not shy away from death. This makes for an emotional ride as we meet Leila and her daughter, Iris. Iris is taken and Leila descends into a deep depression, overwhelmed by feelings of guilt and inadequacy. Her decline is written so skillfully, that I had to step back at times from the emotion. Enter Maddox, an unusual investigator who seems to have a knack for finding children. As Leila asks for his help finding Iris, a bond grow between the two adults. This is an atypical Beauty and the Beast theme. The beauty who thinks she is anything but beautiful and a man who accepts his beastly nature at the risk of denying his human needs. The characters are vividly drawn and relatable. I fell in love with Maddox almost immediately for his gruff but endearing nature. Leila is a strong female lead, even with her emotional descent, her only thought is how to get her daughter back, and willingly puts herself in danger.

LeRoux’s skill as a writer is evident, a strong descriptive writer. I could see through her words vividly, everything from a child’s bracelet to a decaying, odorous monster.

This paranormal romance is that as well with erotic, well written sensual sex scenes.

An all-around pleasure to read, I highly recommend “Ashes of the Fae” and look forward to the next installment.

Ashes of the Fae is published by Kyanite Publishing and is available here: https://amzn.to/2SNYoKA

 

 

 

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Book Review: River by Ryan Lesli

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A Young Adult Standout

River will break your heart, will make you cheer, and will grasp your imagination like few YA novels can. Every teen and adult, who as a teen, felt alienated, isolated, and a bit of an outcast, will see themselves in River, the main character of this novel. Although this young woman’s experience takes her on a more esoteric journey than most of us, it is still that deep inward search that connected with this reader and at times made me stop, breathe and have to check my emotions.

 

Ryen Lesli’s  writing style is so completely unique. She has a thorough understanding of how a young adult thinks. While River has to adjust to a  new world populated by the Fair, (a magical race which she finds out she is as well), she is also working through having lived a human life away from the legacy of being a reluctant Fair princess. Lesli’s worldbuilding is strong, with the world of the Fair being within the human world and yet still  separate, magical and mystical. Worldbuilding is a difficult task, to write the juxtaposition of two worlds takes an uncommon talent and Lesli does it superbly. All of that combined with well drawn characters with depth and personality round  out the strengths of this novel. 

 

Then there is River. This character shines in the YA world. Lesli shows us a young woman of strength and vulnerability. A first love, betrayal, a mother who is less than understanding, finding friends lost and unremembered for most of her life, and losing the friends from her life as a human. Her literal transformation back to being a Fair is written powerfully and will move you. 

 

Parents with children at the younger part of the YA spectrum (YA is typically 12-18 years) might need to discuss some language or situations (although it is not anything they haven’t heard in other media), it does make this a great book to read together. The issues within are relevant to today and to most pre-teens and teens.

I highly recommend RIVER. It is an important work, portraying serious themes, and I am anxious to read more in what has been promised to be a series. 

RIVER can be purchased on Amazon and other retailers.

River (Beginning of the End) by Ryen Lesli https://www.amazon.com/dp/1949645339/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_5c9iDb65BN8MN via @amazon

 

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