Category Archives: Christian

Free! Get Tiger’s Paw for Free!

Do you love urban fantasy? Intrigued by the thought of secret societies fighting to remain secret? Military espionage, shapeshifters, and Elves in a world similar to our own. Exactly who can be trusted?

Find out when you pick up Tiger’s Paw for free today through Sunday.

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Book Review Wednesday – Honor

Honor: Second Novel of Rhynan by Rachel Rossano

Amazon Book Description:

The Earl of Dentin excels in his position as Securer of the Realm. But the king’s order to pluck an orphaned child from a loving home unsettles Dentin. When a dark-eyed woman challenges his honor regarding the mission, Dentin finds himself unable to justify his actions or get her out of his mind. Something about her lack of fear intrigues him.

Lady Elsa Reeve attempts to avoid the marriage of convenience her brother and mother demand of her. She understands the need to pay off her brother’s massive debt. She only wants her family to consider her wishes in the process.

As Elsa becomes further entangled in a snare of her brother’s creating, only one man defends her. But can she trust Dentin, her unlikely champion, and his motives? With a murderer on the loose, Elsa’s fate in jeopardy, and a traitor plotting against the king, Dentin finds his priorities shifting in an unexpected direction.

I have to say that after reading the first book in this series, Duty, I was on pins and needles waiting for Honor and it did not disappoint.

Plot – Grade A

The premise of this book rests on Dentin’s attempt to balance his personal honor with the orders of the king as well as hunting for murderers and traitors in his position of Securer of the Realm. Dentin is a self-professed man of honor but he is challenged not only by the difficulty of his latest task but also by Lady Elsa Reeve. Elsa has been treated like a pawn by her own family for years but she has a strong and loving spirit too, which steals away any preconceived notion that she’s your typical damsel in distress. Think medieval-esque Darcy and Elizabeth and you have a good glimpse into their contrasting yet complimentary temperaments. The dynamic between these two characters is definitely part of what makes the plot, which ranges from initial intrigue surrounding Dentin’s unpleasant task to a murder to treason, mesh well together. As compelling as each of the elements in the plot are on their own terms, Dentin and Elsa’s personalities and their brewing relationship really glues it together as a whole. A number of familiar faces from Duty show up in this book and there are passing references to events that occurred in that book that are now influencing characters and events in Honor five years later and while reading the first book enriches the experience for this one, Honor is able to stand on its own.

Content – Grade A

This is a clean fantasy. The romance between Dentin and Elsa builds up slowly and sweetly with their attraction becoming clear even though they both spend about half the book reminding themselves that they really shouldn’t be falling in love right now, especially Dentin. There are two or three kisses before they get married and some references to sharing a bed with a husband but it’s all handled very sweetly. I applaud Rossano for her ability to show the initial and growing attraction between the characters in a way that is very compelling without ever straying into crassness. There is also a reference to a girl being rendered unmarriageable by a scoundrel and a man having a mistress but these are also handled with care.

No language is written out. It’s all either cut off before the first syllable or is merely referenced to as “he cursed.” There is violence, including a character who is abusive to women, and there are also people who are wounded or killed. This violence is accomplished without gratuitousness. The violence occurs and characters react but there is nothing shown that shouldn’t be or that should have been toned down further. With the abuse in particular, the aftermath is what is mainly shown with one exception but it is never glorified nor overly gritty and one character warns the character being abused to escape her abuser because she’s seen this happen before and the last time it killed the girl who was married to an abuser.

There is spirituality present with the characters referencing, worshipping, and praying to the Kurios and asking for His guidance. There is also a reference to one character not being afraid of death because he long ago learned to turn to the Kurios for his security after death.

Technical – Grade A

This was a very well-written and compelling read. There were maybe four whole typos/slips in the entire story. One was a missing punctuation and there was a missing article that didn’t affect the reading of the sentence. There were two true typos. Most readers might not notice these unless they’re looking for them. There was maybe one slightly anachronistic phrase but I can’t make up my mind on it and it wasn’t egregious.

Final Grade – A or Five Stars

Overall this was an excellent medieval-esque fantasy that demonstrates how to combine romantic and political intrigue without them competing with each other or straying into boredom or disbelief. The plot is compelling and along with the characters kept me drawn in. The end of the book leaves one with all sorts of questions about what will happen next and I eagerly await the next novel of Rhynan. I would recommend this book to those looking for a clean Christian fantasy and those who enjoy fantasies set in a medieval-esque world. Recommended for ages 15 and up.

Next – Avalon: An Allegory by Valerie Howard

Launch Day is Here!

I’m very excited to announce that Tiger’s Paw: A Novella is now available on Amazon via Kindle and Paperback!

This novella launches my Clean New Adult Christian Urban Fantasy series The Therian Way.

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What if history didn’t quite play out the way we know it? What would stay the same? What would change? Even in a world where Elves and Humans coexist, there are secrets. Not all the old legends are accurate, but neither are they false. Hidden among the Humans are the Therians, those gifted with the ability to shift into beasts. How long they will remain unseen by Human eyes depends on how well they adhere to their code of life and honor – The Therian Way.

When secrecy is vital to survive among Humans and Elves, the Therian Way offers balance. The Fringe, a militant group of discontented Therians, threaten to expose their race to Mankind. It falls to General Baran to track down and remove the Fringe Nest before time runs out. Who can he trust when the fate of his people lies in the Tiger’s paw?


Tiger’s Paw originally started out as an entry in a short short story contest in 2013, which is when Baran first made his presence known and of course he wasn’t content with just the brief glimpse that turned into the first chapter of the book. The first draft revealed that there was a lot going on in this new story world that couldn’t be told in just one story. And The Therian Way was born.

There is a lot more to come in the world of Therians, Elves, and Humans with Book One releasing this winter.

I hope that you will enjoy coming to know Baran and his world starting with Tiger’s Paw.

Book Review – Goandria: The Schism Part I

Goandria: The Schism Part I by R. Michael

Amazon Book Description:

In this prequel to an upcoming novel, Goandria lies under the cruel rule of worlox demons. Emerging from an unknown realm, they claim large swaths of the northern territories for their own. The wizards, blessed with power from Voshnore, continue their fight against them with little success. Pushed back to the south, generation to generation, year by year, they labor in vain. Until now.

Lorkai, general of the wizard army, returns home after years of fighting. He brings long awaited successes on the battlefield. Yet those successes come with prices of their own. Several of Lorkai’s men now anguish in worlox occupied areas. Following a warm welcome, Lorkai’s request for aid is refused. Lorkai and his best friend, Evera, take matters into their own hands. The wizards uncover secrets about the worlox, which leads the friends to fight for their lives, and their humanity.

This short story paints an interesting backdrop for an upcoming novel.

Plot – Grade A-

For a short story, there’s limitations in certain areas of the plot but in Goandria the plot fits well into the pages used and doesn’t come away with a choppy feeling. However, I did have some difficulty with the middle of the story on the chapters focusing on Lorkai and Evera since my attention wasn’t snared by them as much as it was by the subplot with the worlox demons. Lorkai was a difficult character for me to understand even though he is one of the focuses of the story. I had difficulty empathizing him even though I felt that was what was intended and there was a tad too much whining going on for a famed, battle-hardened general once we got about halfway through the story for my taste. That said, this prequel is meant to provide some important background information for Michael’s upcoming novel and it achieves its mission. There were some areas where I wish a little more information had been shared, especially Evera and Lorkai’s relationship, but overall this short story stands well on its own even as it opens the door to further adventures.

Content – Grade A

This is a clean novel. While it deals with warfare and the requisite violence, injuries, and death, there is nothing gratuitous in how this is handled. There are serious injuries and references to horrible conditions in prisons but nothing that I would consider inappropriate for the intended audience of teens and young adults.

There is no language and no sensuality is present in this book. While this is a dark fantasy that deals with demons, it was not completely without hope. Most of the spiritual content in this prequel comes up with the Worlox and their fear of being returned to their prison and their attempt to usurp the wizards and Voshnore. The wizards’ magic comes from Voshnore and the reason for limits on their power is discussed. However, I would hope that more time is spent on the spirituality of this world in general and Voshnore in particular in the upcoming novel of the series so readers can come away with a better understanding of how this fantasy world works.

Technical – Grade B-

I have to admit I was torn over this grade because on the one hand R. Michael writes very beautiful descriptive scenes. The opening scene was gorgeous and truly painted a picture and this happens almost every time Michael has a descriptive passage. On the other hand, there were enough technical issues that the grade had to come down. First, there a few homonym typos, such as “aide” when “aid” is what was meant based on context and “steeling” when it should be “stealing.” These didn’t happen often though.

Second, the characters’ thoughts were put in quotations and this just drove me nuts especially when Lorkai and Evera are in the same scene together and they had just been talking to each other but suddenly I see “talking” that is really thinking. This confusion on the reader’s part is one of the reasons that using quotes to delineate thoughts, even internal dialogue, is generally ruled a no-no in writing. Because it’s a short read, this wasn’t as much as a problem as it would be in a full-length novel but I do hope that in the future R. Michael swaps to italics when delineating thoughts.

Third, while Michael writes beautiful descriptions/narrative, the dialogue did not flow as well as it could have. This story is set in a medieval-esque fantasy world but there were far too many modern sayings and words being used and they do pull me out of the setting. “Yeah” and “okay” are constantly showing up and there were a number of small phrases that would fit more with a modern-day setting than the chosen medieval fantasy setting. The dialogue tags were perfunctory but occasionally awkward, which did clash with the beautiful narrative descriptions.

Final Grade – B or 4 Stars

Overall, I thought this story showed the great potential of this new author. For his first book, he creates a decent snapshot into the backstory of his series. There are some technical difficulties as far as anachronistic dialogue and the thoughts being delineated with quotes instead of italics. But, overall, I can see R. Michael’s potential to write some beautiful epic fantasy. His description and narrative is simply gorgeous and I feel confident that he can bring his dialogue up to that same level. I recommend this book for lovers of epic fantasy. Recommended for ages 13 and up.

*Please not I received a free copy of this book via a blog tour in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not paid or required to leave a positive review. My opinions are my own.

Goandria: The Schism Part I is available via Kindle

 

 

Welcome to Goandria! – Guest Post by R. Michael

Welcome to Goandria!

 

Gray and black clouds marched across the once-blue sky. The wind stripped many of the trees of their orange and red foliage. Before long, the darkened sky flashed with bolts of lighting, and thunder rolled in the distance like ominous war drums. A sea of hardwood trees swayed as far as the eye could see in every direction, but in the center of a clearing rose two towers.

The towers were tall, and their walls blazed white, even amongst the coming darkness. The polished stone flawlessly highlighted the craftsmanship of their architect. Each tower looked as if it was carved out of a single piece of stone. Compounding this illusion, no windows were set in the stonework, for their inhabitants did not require any such hindrances to the structures’ beauty. They were pyramidal in shape but elongated so they appeared stretched upward. They were joined by a bridge near the top of the towers which was accented by a series of flying buttresses. Statues of warriors lined the outside of the structures as well as several walkways that merged into a single road that was the only way in or out of the towers.

Along the stone road, a chocolate-brown horse bore its blue-cloaked rider. Two score similarly-clad individuals came out to greet the rider. The horseman threw back his hood, revealing a pronounced jaw and brow bone, long, brown hair, and a short beard that covered his face and neck. He stood taller than his peers, a little over six feet, and his entire frame was reinforced by bulging muscles. Beneath his cloak, he wore a steel breastplate with chainmail sleeves and a bronze-hilted, hand-and-a-half sword hung at his belt.

 

Goandria: The Schism introduces a storyline that has been in the works for nearly a decade and a half. This novel will give readers the first glimpse into a larger fantasy world that will unfold as the series continues.

 

The Schism sets up events for the next book, Goandria: Visions of War, and serves as a prequel to the entire series. It was a storyline I did not intend to release or write anytime soon, but as I started to near the end of my first manuscript, I began to realize how important The Schism storyline was. I also wanted to avoid continuity errors that commonly happen when releasing prequels after the main story.

 

What happens in Goandria: The Schism? Long ago, the worlox demons emerged from their prison and set themselves up as Lords over the world. The people were persecuted and oppressed, nearly to extinction. The only force that stood in the way of total worlox domination was the wizard order. The wizards, tasked with the protection of Goandria, had been locked in a stalemate with the worlox for generations until the events in this book unfolded.

 

I wish to deliver to the reader an Epic Fantasy tale that is very character driven. I hope that my audience can laugh and cry with the two main protagonists, Lorkai and Evera, as they push forward in their war against the worlox. This is only the beginning, so stay with the characters as their lives take unexpected turns.

 

R. Michael was born in Merrillville, IN, and grew up in rural Minnesota. He has aspired to become a writer since he was twelve years old and works toward that goal daily. Fantasy and R Michael author picScience Fiction are his passion, and he loves to get lost in a new world. A dedicated family man, he spends his time taking care of his family’s needs. He has one son and is happily married to his editor.

Part I of Goandria is free on Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/513226

Book Review Wednesday – Devil’s Pathway

Devil’s Pathway (DAWN: Warriors of Valor Book 1) by Vicki V. Lucas

Amazon Book Description:

I force myself to live by one rule: Don’t look at the demons. The two times I broke this rule still haunt me. Tonight I made another mistake. As a huge demon leered at us, I couldn’t fight the urge. I looked. And he saw me. Maybe it’s not a big deal. Nothing happened as my aunt sped beyond it in the car. Besides, I only have one year of high school left. I’ll be fine. But I know exactly what could occur. I’ve seen it too many times. Two men lurked with the demon I saw tonight. Evil clung to them, as if they had given their souls in exchange for something else. I shudder when I consider what they could be. But do vampires really exist? With everything I’ve seen, I wouldn’t be too surprised. Where are the good guys? If there’s darkness, shouldn’t there be light? How come the angels don’t battle the demons if that is the case? Or do they? Maybe there’s a war around me that I don’t see. I just want to be left alone, and after tonight, I don’t think that’s going to be a choice.

***

This young adult fantasy novel weaves angels, demons, and vampires into a thrilling adventure in which angels and humans wage war on demons and vampires. The action doesn’t stop as Nic, the main character, is forced into choosing which side of the fight he is on while both sides are desperately urging him to join their army. Devil’s Pathway is a Christian fantasy novel for teens who are ready to get serious about their faith. If you like Frank Peretti’s “This Present Darkness” or novels by Ted Dekker, you’ll like Devil’s Pathway.

I haven’t really enjoyed the angel/demon subgenre of speculative fiction, too many conflicts with Scripture, but I accepted this book for review because the author made a compelling case and I had enjoyed reading one of her earlier books. Have to say, I am so glad that I took that chance.

Plot – Grade A

This book dug its claws into me and held on from the first page to the last. The plot puts an original spin on the typical angels vs. demons storyline. A spiritual war rages around Nic who is trying desperately to remain neutral instead of choosing one side or the other. Nic is an empathetic character who I related to quite easily. The angels and demons and, yes, even vampires have interesting roles but they don’t steal the spotlight away from Nic. The book ending is resolved without being truly resolved. There are still many questions that I expect Book Two will answer but this book can stand well on its own. The ending comes at a natural breather story-wise and was written in such a way that it left me eager for more without making me feel as though there was absolutely no resolution.

Content – Grade A

This a clean read but it also handles a number of sensitive topics, in particular a school shooting is referenced and later shown via flashback as well as the murder of a parent in front of the child. I applaud Lucas for handling these sensitive situations in a way that showed the horror and grief of such events without descending into morbid bloodbaths, especially in a first person POV. In keeping with having vampires, there are descriptions of a few initial attacks and the aftermath of those attacks; however, there aren’t any gratuitous descriptions of gore.

There are a few instances of mild language, one “damn” and two or three “craps”. Hell is also referenced many times in its proper spiritual context. There isn’t any true sensuality in this book although there are some references to an abandoned mining town having a whorehouse.

The topics of bullying in school and abusive relationships are also addressed and handled with appropriate care. This a spiritually active book as is expected in this subgenre. What I appreciated was not only that the presentation of demons and vampires wasn’t glamorized but the importance of prayer and having a strong spiritual walk was also underlined without descending into the realm of preachiness. The struggle for Nic was real and didn’t come across as flat or like he was merely a puppet. Even I wasn’t entirely sure whether Nic would make the choice I wanted him to make. There is also a tie between Christians’ prayers and the angels’ strength in spiritual battle, which I found very interesting since I don’t recall seeing such a tie before.

Technical – Grade A

This is a very well edited book. There were three or four minor typos in the middle but nothing jarring. The book switches between first-person present for Nic’s narration and third-person past for the sections featuring other narrators (primarily the second-in-command demon, the angel Eli, and Rob). There is one section near the finale where the angel leader’s pov is in third person present, which was only slightly confusing since only Nic had been in present tense. Now, I don’t usually care for present tense but Lucas’ writing was strong enough and compelling enough for me to still be hooked. The characters are fleshed out to the point I actually found myself rooting for them to do what I knew they needed to do if they would just cooperate and I cheered whenever there was a hard-won victory.

Final Grade – A or 5 stars

I devoured this book in about five hours because I could not put it down. Lucas created a spiritual battle that resonated with me and made me think. Devil’s Pathway handles sensitive topics without crossing into crassness or gratuity; however, I would recommend this book to older teens and for parents to be prepared to discuss the topics raised, especially in regards to school violence and abusive relationships. Lucas handles these matters in such a way that I believe it can help open the door for discussions between parents and teens. I eagerly await Book Two. I recommend this book for fans of spiritual thrillers, Frank Peretti’s Present Darkness series, and it’s also a good choice for Christians who, like me, aren’t really fans of Ted Dekker. Recommended for ages 15 and up.

*Please note I was gifted a copy of this book by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not paid or asked to leave a positive review. My opinions are my own.

Devil’s Pathway is available via Kindle.

Next Week – Honor: Second Novel of Rhynan by Rachel Rossano

One Life to Live

Does it ever strike you that we are given only one life to live? There aren’t any do-overs or replays. We are born, we live, we die, and our earthly legacy is only what we achieve, what we do in this life. So how is our one life going to be remembered?

Some of us will be remembered through our families, our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on. Some of us will be remembered because we did something embarrassing or incredibly foolish, although hopefully that won’t be our only legacy. Some of us will be remembered through our legacy of works and/or faith. Some of us will be forgotten because we let all the chances to do something memorable, to take the opportunities given to us, pass us by because we were too afraid or were too busy or just didn’t feel it was the right time or that our efforts weren’t good enough to move past the starting gate.

As writers, we have one life to live but that life can produce  many books or only a few books that will impact someone somewhere or no books at all. Writing is hard. It takes courage to bare our ideas, our thoughts, our hopes and dreams, and even a little piece of our soul through the written word. And to be perfectly honest, I know I’ve sat at my desk staring at my looming To Do/Wish list and just thought that I am never going to get to the end of the first leg of the journey (aka publishing). But then I look at the stories I’ve already completed, at the projects that HAVE reached some sort of stepping stone, and at the reasons why it took longer than originally planned to reach the point of “ready to publish.” One, I wanted to have a true polished piece so was unwilling to take shortcuts. Two, I wanted to write stories that honored God and that meant giving my very best. Three, I still have a life outside of writing that demands my attention and time too.

Writing is emotionally and spiritually draining at times because you’re pouring your whole heart into the words, the plot, and the characters. If you are anything like me, you also pour your heart into the non-writing areas of your life. All this effort, this sinking of yourself into your work makes being able to recharge mentally, emotionally, and spiritually extremely important and also difficult. For example, a few days ago, I sat down with a book to read for fun. A major CBA book that wasn’t fantasy but I hoped it would help with the recharge. Instead, I ended up even more drained because there wasn’t anything truly fulfilling or relaxing in the book’s plot. The reason I mention my reader experience is because it also ties into having one life to live and our legacy as writers. Do we want to produce the sort of books that leave readers more drained than they started or the books that provide hope, an escape from the harshness of our world (at least for a little while), a reminder that we can still laugh and enjoy life, and show the different ways Christ’s love surrounds us?

We have one life to live. What is your legacy going to be as a writer? Are you going to be brave enough to put your work out there even if you don’t personally feel it’s as ready as it can be? The hardest part in the editing process is knowing when you’ve reached the point where your tweaking has become detrimental instead of helpful to the story. It’s also knowing when to say this is the final draft even if it’s not as perfect as you imagined. Are you going to be embarrassed by what you have written if your family learns about it? Then do you really want it to be your legacy? Are you going to pour yourself into your writing? Are you going to make the effort to make a difference with your stories by focusing on light and hope in spite of the darkness? Are you going to stop making excuses and procrastinating on finishing what you’ve started, what you’ve been dreaming of and write your book? You don’t have to be a best-selling author to have an impact, a legacy. But you do have to finish the first draft. You won’t have any legacy if you never make the effort.

What is your legacy? When your one life is over, will you be wishing for a do-over or be content in the knowledge that you made the effort and left something behind that’s worthy? Everyone has decisions or periods in their lives that they wish they could do over and do differently but we don’t have to let those moments be our only legacy. As writers, we can leave any number of legacies. Sometimes we’ll write flops, sometimes we’ll write hits, and most of the time we’ll write the middle ground. But even a flop can be a better legacy than never trying. Don’t let your life be one filled solely with “I wish I had” or “I wish I had not” or “if only . . .” Seize the moment, have faith, and be courageous. Be a writer who finishes their work and who leaves a legacy.