Book Review: Adventures in Amarant

In this fantastically written collection of epic fantasy short stories by J.D. Bowens, we readers embark on several exciting--if quite brief--adventures with the Edderick brothers. We travel with them as two work as hired swords to protect a false priest, we follow two other brothers into dank sewers to rid a tavern of a rat infestation (and maybe more!), and we finally see all four brothers together as they save a group of halflings from bandits. In this prequel to the The Adventures of Amarant trilogy, we get a good feel for both the world that the Edderick brothers occupy, as well as the brothers themselves!

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Book Review: The Childless Ones

In this novel of intermixing stories of reality and fantasy, Jack is our guy. He is the man whose life we follow in the reality version along with his wife's (soon-to-be-ex) life. We see both struggling in their different relationships, while also steadily overcoming their respective pasts. As for the fantasy side of the novel, we meet a variety of characters, almost as a short-story anthology, all connected at the end. We go on various journeys with different races, different magic, different purposes in mind. But all seem to bear some similarity to the real world that Jack is suffering through currently. He uses this fantasy world to cope with his reality, and it creates a surreal narrative that is an ultimate pleasure to read. 

Book Review: Sugar: A Novel

In this contemporary romance, we follow the exciting life of neurotic chef Charlie Garrett. Stuck in the same job for the last several years with a cruel boss and empty promises of greatness, Charlie lucks out on a job offer from her ex-boyfriend, Avery. Little does she know, after moving cross-country from New York to Seattle, that this normal job as a chef at a high-end restaurant is also a TV gig. Is she able to juggle her newfound romance with Kai--a cook at a lovely local diner--with her chef duties and TV stardom? Or will it all unravel in her hands?

Book Review: Legion of Mono

In this short fantasy story, Mono must leave his husband and daughter in their home of Lethotar, while he--the last commanding officer alive of their army--must lead the final battle against the Holy Empire. If Mono's force falls, all of Lethotar and its people will be subjected to the mercy (or lack thereof) of the paleskins of the Holy Empire. They have already shown their true colors by breaking the treaty forged in good faith between the two nations... Will the Lord of Light's, Lethotar's people manage to hold off the overwhelming force advancing towards them? Or will the paleskin's tyrannical religion sweep them away?

Book Review: Barriers

60 years into the future, and the Earth has been tormented by the sun for the last 40 years. Something caused it to destabilize at that time, and since then has been bombarding the Earth with powerful solar flares, baking the land and killing off its inhabitants. Luckily, a scientist was able to create a Barrier system, which now protects certain cities from the sun's harmful rays. Unfortunately, those Barriers come at a steep price, and do not cover even close to the entire world. In order to supposedly fund the Barriers and their upkeep, the government has strict regulations on who is able to be a Barrier resident, meaning that residents over the age of 12 have to be able to earn a meaningful income. Nathan is on a mission to fight these terms of living.

Book Review: Clay Tongue

In this short novelette, a 10-year-old Jewish girl named Katie loves her grandfather. But his once story-telling brain is now all jumbled up after he suffered a stroke 2 years ago and now lives with aphasia, unable to talk or write. Even so, Katie is able to communicate with him just as well as before, as she herself is not much of a talker. In fact, her parents and other adults are constantly pushing her to talk more... When Katie catches a glimpse of her grandfather's half-finished story of his younger years and reads about his dalliance with a Golem just through their backyard in the woods, Katie decides to set off and see if it's true. Because if it is, the Golem will be able to grant her grandfather his voice back. 

Book Review: Redemption

Lord of the Flies X Star Trek with a dash of mental health awareness. Ash and his crew of struggling teenagers must find the pieces of and create the vaccine for Spades, a fatal disease that will kill off the human race in 3 weeks. Will they be able to reconcile with each other (and their own selves) in time to save the world?

Book Review: Solace Lost

With the multiple POVs strewn throughout the book of main and secondary characters alike, the reader gets several different views of this magical world of Ardia, each with a unique perspective. All of the main characters come from extremely different circumstances, and yet all share a history of trauma and ostracism, further creating conflict and emotion throughout the story. In essence, the Little Duke is creating a war with his nobles, attempting to unite Ardia under one rule, and at the same time, The House and Recherche Oletta (perhaps the real powers in Ardia) wage a secret war, each attempting to undermine the power of the other. Our main characters are simply pawns in these two wars, trussed up and strung to move one war or the other on a whim of one of the 4 separate powers. That is, unless they decide to go against orders and take their lives into their own hands

Book Review: Forever People

A computer code was created around cities, allowing those who died to have their consciousness automatically uploaded into this digitized afterlife. So as long as you died within the safety of these "Node nets," you were granted life everlasting. Most of the Earth has been netted as such, though there are still a few wild countries left unnetted. Death has become a natural, common occurrence, and people all from all aspects of life are doing whatever they can to increase their Node Points--the currency of the afterlife. If you don't have enough NPs when you die... Well, the belief is that you spend eternity in a sort of poverty-stricken hell-hole.

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