Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Children's Book Review: In the Land of Broken Time: The Incredible Journey by Max Evan and Maria Evan

In The Land of Broken Time: The Incredible Journey
by Max Evan and Maria Evan 

This book is about the adventures of a boy named Christopher, a girl named Sophia and a retriever named Duke. By chance they find themselves in a balloon that takes them to a fairyland where mysterious events happen.

The children want to find the way home, but first they have to solve a lot of mysteries and learn interesting ways of measuring time.

My Review:
In the Land of Broken Time: The Incredible Journey is a short story featuring an unexpected adventure that lands three new friends in a place where time has gone wrong, dogs talk, and pacifying caps are in, especially for grumpy gnomes with bad reputations.

What I liked most about the story is that it’s fun and paced well. There’s a good bit of humor, too, but it also presents some interesting tips about keeping your vision when moving into a dark room or how matter changes when it heats up or cools down. I also like the part about how the gnome’s reputation was damaged after a single outburst—he was an amusing character, but his dilemma teaches an important lesson.

As for the translation and editing, it’s almost completely solid. There was one very short spot (maybe 2-3 paragraphs) at about the 83% mark, where it seemed to revert to rough translation, but everywhere else, it’s perfect. I just skimmed over that one place.

Overall, I really liked this book. It’s fun, educational, and well-paced. I think children in the elementary or younger middle school age groups would most likely enjoy either reading it or having it read to them.

I received the review copy of this book from one of the authors.

About the Authors:

From Maria Evan via Amazon:

Hello! I am the author and the illustrator of children's books.

The idea to write a fairy tale came at a time when my son was 5 years old. He was sick, and I wanted to please him more than anything. He likes to read books, but all of our books have been read several times so I had a desire to come up with new stories, the first of them -- an adventure in which our son and our boxer dog travel by balloon. It was very exciting for me, starting the next series. I did not know how it would end. :)

Then I saw how his eyes lit up, and thus, he gave me the belief that my writings are interesting.

Together with my husband - Max Evan - we were able to realize this idea, and for me, it is important to know your opinion about our first children's book.   

Note that the book, description, and author profile are all translations from Russian. The book was translated by Helen Hagon, who did a fantastic job. I'm not sure who translated the author bio and book description, but I edited the versions you see in this post to better reflect the quality I saw in the book.  I tried to keep true to the intent I saw in the original versions.       

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Julius Bailey a fantasy author/blogger has nominated me for a Q & A blogger's tag!

Here's how it works:
  • Tag the blogger(s) who have nominated you
  • Answer the questions you were given
  • Nominate 10 bloggers
  • Write out your 10 questions
  • Let them know they’ve been tagged

We'll, I can't say I actually followed all the instructions. I'm not going to nominate anyone, per se, but if you're a blogger and you'd like to answer my questions, please do. Just tag me and share a link to your response in the comments.  Anyhow, here are my answers to Julius's questions.

J. Bailey's Blogger  Q&A Tag Questions from Realm Delver:

1: What is your favorite drink?
Coffee, with a close second of unsweetened tea. Yeah, I know... Exciting, right?

2: What is your least favorite book?
Well, least favorite... That's hard because I would not likely have finished it, and maybe it picked up later.  Well, I guess I'll give you Moby Dick, but only because I couldn't make it past the first page. I tried to read it in highschool, but haven't given it another shot since.

3: What's the longest distance you've ever traveled on foot?
Hard to say. I used to run four or so miles at a time when I was in the Navy, but that's not going to impress too many folks. I'd love to say I trekked the forest trails of some interesting location, but the closest I've gotten to that is just walking the paved walking paths between streets in my local area. Not quite as far as when I was in the Navy.
I did once lock myself out of my car at a mall in Norfolk and run all the way home to my apartment to get the back up key. I think that was a few miles. Nowadays, I live so far from the mall, it would be an epic journey of maybe few hours to get home. That trip took about thirty minutes, I think.

4: If you could own one of the batmobiles from any one of the live-action Batman movies, which one would you choose?
I'd get the one that jumped the bridge.  It's not quite the traditional look, but it looks like it would be the most fun to drive. I can't remember which Batman movie it was in, but Christian Bale played him.

5: Would you rather be chased by human eating snakes or human eating spiders?
I can't get over the "human eating" part of that question...

6: Would you rather have awesome kung fu skills, or awesome lightsaber skills (with a saber included)?
Kung fu, because if you're a badass, but only with a weapon, all your opponent has to do is disarm you to win the fight. I think weaponless fighting is the most impressive thing. Now, that's not to say I wouldn't love the awesome lightsaber skills, too, just being practical, you know.

7: If you had to be stranded fifty miles out in either a desert, the ocean, or the north or south pole, which would you choose?
Key word here is stranded. I'd prefer not to be stranded. Still, I think I'd be better prepared to survive in the desert (depending on what kind it is), but only from what I've seen and learned from the slew of survival shows I watch on TV. Pretty much all the ones that have someone just out there on surviving or showing how to survive are on my to watch list. My favorites, currently, are Naked and Afraid and Dual Survival.

8: What do you consider to be your greatest skill?
Writing and editing, but maybe crochet as well. I can crochet a mean purse (maybe literally with a little embroidery, picturing a scowling face on the side of a purse), and I'm fairly good at loom knitting and excruciatingly slow at regular knitting, though the projects turn out alright. Anyhow, creative outlets.. That covers it, I think.

9: What's your dream job?
Well, I think I'm doing it.  I'm a training specialist. So, I get to feed my creative side by designing eLearning, presentations, and workshops, and my social side by actually delivering those trainings. I love helping people, so answering questions and helping folks find good solutions is a plus. I also get to dabble in projects and I meet pretty much everyone who comes in the door because I run the orientation schedule and teach a couple of those classes, too. 
Second to that is writing. I do a lot of technical writing at work, but I love writing book reviews and coming up with stories of my own, as well. I used to think that would be my dream job, but I'm beginning to think that would just suck all the fun right out of it. I'm happy to leave it as a side gig.

10: What did you think of Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice?
I didn't watch it. I prefer to think of Batman and Superman as best friends, so I don't want to break the illusion...

Ok, so if you want to be tagged, volunteer below in the comments.  Here are the questions I'd like answered:
  1. What's your favorite pastime?
  2. Pudding or Jello?
  3. If someone at work would to mix up skittles and M&Ms in the same dish (with no warning), what would your reaction be?
  4. What's your favorite movie of all time and how old were you when you first saw it?
  5. If you have a favorite series (book, TV, movie, any of that), what is it and why?
  6. What is your post-apocalyptic skill set?
  7. If you could visit anywhere (real or fiction), where would you go and why?
  8. What was the most life-changing decision you ever had to make?
  9. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
  10. If you read, what's your routine? Anything quirky or interesting you'd like to share?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Fantasy Review: The Midnight Land: Part One: The Flight (The Zemnian Trilogy, #1) by E.P. Clark

The Midnight Land: Part One: The Flight
by E.P. Clark

As younger sister to the Empress of all of Zem’ and the only one possessing her foremothers’ gifts of clairvoyance, Slava is both one of the most powerful and powerless people in the Known World. Desperate to escape the intrigue and hostility of her sister’s kremlin, Slava takes off on an expedition to the Midnight Land, the uninhabited, unmapped tundra on the Northern edge of Zem’. But as she travels North, Slava discovers that it is more than just the world of women that covets her gifts, and that fate is pushing her to become a most unlikely hero…

Combining high fantasy with motifs from classical Russian literature, this is both a gripping coming-of-age tale and a subversive exploration of gender, empathy, and morality.

My Review:
The Midnight Land is set in Russia or a place very much like it, but not in a modern setting. It follows Slava, a young woman whose gifts make her both sought out and shunned by those around her. Sick of her lot in life, she jumps at the opportunity to get away for a while, even if it means traveling beyond the edges of the mapped northern border of Zem’ in the dead of winter.

What I most liked about this story was how Slava becomes aware of her own faults and begins to overcome them. This was an intriguing journey because she starts off seeing only the faults in others and grows through various stages of self-awareness. That she becomes stronger and almost heroic by the end made it all the better, especially as it is never too easy for her to do so.

I also like how it starts off like any sort of mundane journey. Even though there seems to be a paranormal edge to Slava’s gift, even she writes it off as just paying attention. All that lulled me into thinking this was all it would be, but when you hit the halfway mark, it becomes impossible to ignore the influence of things not of this world, though Slava, in particular, is slow to accept it.

As for things I found tough, well, the names of people and places are huge and peppered with various suffixes and permutations that seem to change the meaning of or relationship between them. There are clues and explanations woven into the book, but I also found it helpful to have been following a TV show where many of the characters speak in Russian, which helped with the pronunciation of some of the trickier words. It also helped me recognize that characters referring to each other by their full first and last names was correct, and the use of shorter names seemed to come with familiarity or an invitation to do so.

Another thing of note is the length. This is a very long book, which took me about a week to read, and I’m someone who sometimes reads four novels in that amount of time. I neither liked nor disliked this, but it was long, and decoding the Russian and keeping track of the characters made it a bit more challenging for me.

Finally, at the end of the book, it seems one journey comes to a conclusion and another just might be starting, but I wasn’t sure because it simply stopped. The book is a pretty good read in itself, but I’m not sure where the overall series is going.

Overall, I really liked this book. Folks who enjoy stories where fantasy and real life merge or where the folklore of real cultures is brought to life may enjoy this story.

I picked this book up while it was on a free promotion.

About the Author:
E.P. Clark starting writing fiction as soon as she deigned to learn to read, which was not particularly early--she spent a good deal of her childhood doing more important things, such as pretending to be a unicorn. Slightly later, she wanted to be a world-class equestrian. But, much to her surprise, the heavy finger of fate pointed her way and she ended up moving to Russia, which led, very circuitously, to her earning graduate degrees in Russian from Columbia University and UNC-Chapel Hill, and her current employment teaching Russian at Wake Forest University, along with some odd travel opportunities. The picture, for example, was taken in Finnish Lapland, shortly before she was almost trampled by stampeding reindeer. She continued writing fiction throughout all this, however, and has had multiple short stories published. This is her first novel, in what is shaping up to be a trilogy in seven volumes.

Author Links:


Twitter @Andreyev7

E.P. Clark's website

You can find a copy of this book and the next in the series on Amazon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Fantasy Review: Thread Slivers (Golden Threads Trilogy #1) by Leeland Artra

Thread Slivers (Golden Threads Trilogy #1)
by Leeland Artra

She craves fame. He wants freedom. When their worlds crumble, even survival may not be an option.

The world is driven by wizards, gods, and an imperial space marine 20,000 years into our future. Fame-hungry female mercenary Ticca is willing to skirt the edges of her warrior's code if it brings her the fame she desires. Her hopes of making a name for herself by spying on assassins are dashed when she's forced to kill the assassin she was hired to watch.

Lebuin is a rich journeyman mage who's just discovered his new rank involves actual journeying. He hires Ticca to help him advance to master and return to a life of comfort as quickly as possible. He's willing to spend all he has to make it happen, but the mage and his mercenary get much more than they bargained for.

Trapped in the crossfire of a vast power game, Ticca and Lebuin must survive a battle between rulers, guilds, and gods. In a land of magic and technology, they'll need to give everything to keep the world and themselves in one piece.

Thread Slivers is the first book in an epic fantasy/speculative sci-fi trilogy set in a distant future. If you like heroic, humorous, and exotic characters in a world that mixes elements of paranormal and hard sci-fi, then you'll love this beautiful, original, and thought-provoking adventure.

My Review:
I have mixed feelings about this book. I’ve been looking forward to it for some time, seen the promo posts about it being a #1 best seller, followed the author for a while, and was pleased to get the opportunity to receive a free promo copy of book one.

With all that hype, I thought this would be a fantastic book on par with the fantasy greats. Well, the story is interesting enough, exciting and full of cool magic and quirky and dangerous characters, one of which was quite a surprise. Even the cliffhanger was a delightful shock and not too bad as the next book is already out. So, for that, I must say I enjoyed the book.

However, I did say mixed feelings and this is why. The thing reads rough with choppy sentences and punctuation (or lack thereof). Another thing I didn’t like was how character bios and private thoughts just barge into the story, kicking you right out of the action. Just overall, I thought this could go through some more edits specifically to smooth out the delivery of the otherwise great story.

Overall, I really liked this book, but I feel like it needs more work to really earn the hype it claims. I think folks who enjoy action-packed fantasy will really dig this book. The rough edges could be smoothed, but the story itself is excellent.

I obtained a free copy of this book by signing up for a short-term email newsletter. If you follow the author on Facebook, I think you’ll run across the invite for this from time to time.

Discover this and more of Leeland Artra's books on his Amazon Author Profile.

About the Author:
I live in the Emerald City (Seattle, Washington) with my amazingly-patient wife and idea-inspiring son. The first half of my life was "wasted" (as my mother said once) avidly reading science-fiction/fantasy and role playing. I'm still trying to improve that statistic. Weekdays I work as a software engineer (which I call being a code janitor) and I try to avoid TV in the evenings by writing more books. In short, by day, I help improve people's lives and, at night, I help people take fantastic trips of the imagination. Helping people have happier lives appeals to the Dagger in my soul. The symmetry of my work appeals to the Navy-trained computer scientist in me. If you like Fantasy, Science-Fiction, and RPGs feel free to drop me a note I'd love to hear from you.

Author Links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/LArtra
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Leeland-Artra/e/B00B87A5EU/

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

New Release and Review: Rise of the Chosen (Lifeblood #1) by Anna Kopp

Rise of the Chosen (Lifeblood #1)
by Anna Kopp

In Sam's world there are two rules. Rule #1: Nobody dies. Protect the living at all costs. Rule #2: Everybody dies. At least once.

The Waking was a global event in which a force called the Lifeblood invaded all humans who died. The few strong enough to control it came back as powerful immortals. The rest let the bloodlust take over and awoke with one goal - to kill.

Newly appointed Watch Guard Samantha Shields has a legacy to uphold. Her father died a hero defending their city and now she wants to follow in his footsteps. Except for the dying part, of course. Unfortunately, fate has other plans as she discovers deep dark secrets that make her choose between her loyalties and the lives of everyone in her city. Both rules are in play as Sam is forced to make hard decisions that could cost her everything - including the person she cares about most.

My Review:
Rise of the Chosen is a rather interesting take on the zombie apocalypse. In it, all who die are either Chosen or Woken. Chosen are superhuman immortals, the best line of defense against the woken. Woken are mindless, vicious killers who are just as superhuman and immortal as the chosen.

What I liked most about the story were the ways humanity came up with to protect themselves from the woken. Each method seemed like something people would actually do, though there were some very dark strategies at play for even the best of them.

I also enjoyed the romance. The intimate scenes were fade-to-black, allowing the story to focus on the threats facing the heroine and the city, but it’s blended right into the plot in a natural and believable way. It seems like there’s more story to tell, which is great since there are more books coming in the series.

The only thing I didn’t quite buy or like was how Sam’s loyalties shift. I can’t go into details because they’d spoil the surprise, but let’s just say I’d have chosen differently.

Overall, I really liked this story. Fans of the zompoc and dystopian genres will probably dig this story. There’s meat behind this one, not just rampaging undead and hopeless scenarios. A great read.

I received the review copy of this book from NetGalley.

About the Author:
Anna Kopp is a writer from Ohio. She's a World of Warcraft playing mom of two boys who love Minecraft.

Book review contributor to My Trending stories at https://mytrendingstories.com/profile...