Monday, May 20, 2024

Wings of Ink by Angelina Steffort

Anya, after spending years in a Tavrasian Prison expecting to be killed, is instead given to the Crow Fairies. She is now to become the bride of the Crow King, which as everyone knows is a fate that is usually worse than death. But this is no longer the rule of the old king, where kidnapped brides were forced into marriage, but is it any better? For no crow bride has ever survived even a full year of marriage, but the question remains … why not? King Myron has decided that this will be the last time he will accept another unwilling bride. If Anya dies and the curse that all Crow Fairies live under remains unbroken, he will never try again.


But not all Crows want the curse broken, though they do wish to again be able to take their own brides. Most of them wish to continue in the ways of Myron’s father, back when every crow would steal away a bride at Ret Relah, with each of the women destined to be dead within a year. But others, like the current king, wish for things to change. He wants the curse to be broken, and a new era for the Crow Faeries to begin. Anya is their last hope for that change.


I received a review copy of this book and enjoyed it as much as I did the Quarter Mage series of books. This series takes place in a time after that series, though within the same world and includes a few of the characters that we met in that series. I do not believe it is necessary to have read that series to enjoy this one, though I do believe that it will increase your enjoyment of this book if you are familiar with what used to happen to the women taken as crow brides. 


I greatly enjoyed reading this book. I did correctly guess what was needed to break the curse before the end, but I suspect that since I knew more than Anya did about the curse, (given that I’ve read the other books in this world by the author) that she would have figured it out sooner had she had my knowledge. And yes, there is a reason why she couldn’t simply be told what was needed in order to break the curse, but you’ll have to read the book in order to learn about that for yourself.


This is the type of book that I enjoy and often wish I didn’t need to put it down to sleep or go to work, but alas, life only allows us so much free time to be able to read, right? I enjoyed reading this book, learning about the different factions among the crow fairies, as well as seeing some familiar faces from the other series. Watching each  of the characters grow and learn about each other, discovering that often their assumptions were very wrong, is something that I enjoyed about this book. If you’ve read Ms. Steffort’s other series and enjoyed it, then I can pretty much guarantee that you will enjoy this one too. It is an excellent fantasy book that explores a different side of another type of faerie. Recommended.


https://amzn.to/4b7KKcF (Amazon link)


https://books2read.com/u/4XjPKL (Books2Go link to other vendors)


Amazon requires me to state that I have an Amazon Associates account that I use to generate the links to the books on their website. Purchasing something after following those links will earn a few pennies for me off the sale, though as of yet I have not earned anything from my Amazon Associate links.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Black Ballad by Rick Heinz

This is an interesting new RPG (Role Playing Game) that can take place in virtually any setting or campaign. How is that possible, you may wonder? Well, as an explanation, have you ever been in a campaign where the entire party was killed? That’s where this campaign comes in. It takes place in the realm between life and a character’s final death. In a realm where the dead are awaiting their passage into either being resurrected or they are ready to pass into their eternal rest.


I read a review copy of this book, and it sounds like a well defined and easily adaptable adventure for players to explore if their characters have died, but they aren’t ready to give up and create new characters and would like to continue playing to see what might happen in the afterworld. It is easily adaptable to be used with whatever campaign or game system you and your group happened to be already playing.


It’s been a few years since I’ve played AD&D, but reading this rules system and adventure, it seemed very well explained and I can see how it can be adapted to other RPG systems. The adventure really sounded like a fun one to me, and there were multiple side quests and options for different outcomes depending on what choices the players make. There is no intended ending for this one. It is entirely up to the players as to who they choose to interact with and what they choose to do or not do. And there are outcomes that are well thought out and planned no matter which path your party chooses to take. There’s even an outcome for if they choose to do nothing at all and simply enjoy their afterlife in this realm that exists between life and death.


All in all, I was impressed by how well thought out it all was by the creators of this adventure/realm. It sounds like a very fun idea, and one that I could see quite a few people enjoying, no matter what types of players are in the group. I’ve played in adventures where everything went according to plan, as well as ones where it feels like the group “took a left turn in Albuquerque” and have gone so far “off-script” from what was planned for them that the Game Master had no idea how to get them back on track. But so far as I could tell, this one allows for that to happen and lets the players determine when and where the story will go.


All in all, if you enjoy playing RPGs, then this is one that I think you should consider giving a try. It definitely sounds like fun to me. Recommended.


https://amzn.to/3VD6BUw (Amazon Link)


https://4horsemenpublications.com/product/the-black-ballad-a-metal-infused-rpg-campaign-and-setting-perfect-after-a-tpk-chronicles-of-the-crossing/ (Link to the book on Publisher's website)


https://books2read.com/u/3yMZWv  (Books2Read link to other Vendors)


Amazon requires me to state that I have an Amazon Associates account that I use to generate the links to the books on their website. Purchasing something after following those links will earn a few pennies for me off the sale, though as of yet I have not earned anything from my Amazon Associate links.



Monday, May 6, 2024

Elixir of Life by Andrew Dulay

This was a  medical thriller dealing with life and death, involving the medical staff in a Saudi Arabian hospital, their patients, the people of the town, a group of men who arrange for the illegal buying and selling of human organs for transplant, as well as those who decide to sell one of their own kidneys.  This book deals with some tough issues, including alcohol addiction, rape, poverty, adultery, accidental death, and murder. For many very obvious reasons, this is not a happy tale, though it ends on a more positive note for some of the characters than it does for others.


I read a review copy of this book, and while I did enjoy parts of the story a great deal, there were other aspects that I had some problems with. It is a complex tale with what feels like four distinct, though often intertwining, plotlines going on. It is also a very, very long book--at the end of the story, my Kindle said I had read about 750 pages.


I also feel that this book could have possibly benefitted with another round of editing and definitely needed a proofreader's expertise as well. While everything was spelled correctly, there were a number of wrong words and incorrect forms of words (example: passed vs past and light casted shadows vs light cast shadows). 


One other item that I felt was a bit problematic for me (though others may feel differently) and that added to my feeling of this book being too long, was that at times it went into great detail on a transplant surgery. While I do understand that some of the plot does revolve around things that happened during surgery, the book often goes into great, specific detail involving the minutiae of the surgery. For me, it was much more detail than I felt like I, as a reader, needed or wanted to know. And in some cases, with me not having a medical background, it meant the involved items were meaningless to me. I felt that much of what I read was unnecessary and that leaving it out would have made the book easier to read and more enjoyable for me overall. 


As I mentioned, there were parts of the story I enjoyed a great deal. The characters were very interesting and their individual stories were often the parts that I truly enjoyed learning about. The author did a good job of interweaving several intertwined, but initially separate plotlines together, and those were some of what I found most enjoyable about the story. But with over 700 pages, I do feel that this book would have overall been better off had it been broken into two or three books, rather than keeping it as one extremely long novel. And as such, I feel that I must rate this one as 2.5 stars, for while I did enjoy parts of it, there was room for improvement, especially when it came to the editing/proofreading.


That being said, I do feel that those who enjoy medical thrillers that clearly contain a great deal of actual medical knowledge and expertise from the author will likely enjoy this book more than I did.


https://amzn.to/3y3V7iZ (link to book on Amazon)


https://books2read.com/u/baERqa  (Books2Read link to other vendors)


Amazon requires me to state that I have an Amazon Associates account that I use to generate the links to the books on their website. Purchasing something after following those links will earn a few pennies for me off the sale, though as of yet I have not earned anything from my Amazon Associate links.

Wings of Ink by Angelina Steffort

Anya, after spending years in a Tavrasian Prison expecting to be killed, is instead given to the Crow Fairies. She is now to become the brid...