The Toch Island Chronicles by Kat Heckenbach

Angel cover
Angel doesn’t remember her magical heritage…

…but it remembers her.

Angel lives with a loving foster family, but dreams of a land that exists only in the pages of a fantasy novel. Until she meets Gregor, whose magic Talent saves her life and revives lost memories.

She follows Gregor to her homeland…a world unlike any she has imagined, where she travels a path of self-discovery that leads directly to her role in an ancient Prophecy…and to the madman who set her fate in motion.

 

 Seeking Unseen

It may be Angel’s wish…..

IT’S BEEN two years since Angel learned the magic chip of wood inside her locket would grant any wish. What is taking her so long to choose?
An alarming discovery about her beloved foster brother Zack makes the decision easy…but everything else gets complicated after she runs into her old friend Melinda, who demands to go along for the return to Toch Island.
…but it’s Melinda’s journey.
MELINDA doesn’t fit in with the magical freaks any more than she did with the losers back in Florida, but she never wanted to belong before. A secret world surrounds her where even the bugs have magic…
She’s more of an outsider than ever.
So when ex-con Doran Ashe slinks out of the shadows and offers her an easy road to powers of her own, Melinda follows him despite—or maybe because of—everyone’s warnings.
 legacy-rewound

Magic and mystery entwine – hidden in the web of time.

Melinda knew Kalek’s music created powerful visions, but it wasn’t supposed to actually send her into the past!

It definitely wasn’t supposed to bring someone back to the present with her. Especially not someone tied so tightly to Melinda’s own past, someone to prove, once again, that her family ancestry was made up of psychopaths who should never have existed.

Now it’s her chance to change her lineage–and history–forever.


When I began my journey to Toch Island in Protection’s Prison back in February, I knew this series would be good, but I had no idea just how wonderful the stories would be. Kat Heckenbach has created a realm that I long to actually visit. Her descriptions are vivid, her characters are full and complex, her plots are engrossing. I giggled, I cried (which I hate doing…thanks, Kat!), I didn’t want the stories to end.

I, very honestly, read all three of these novels in one day…I could not stop! I was sucked in instantly and did not want to leave. And to keep from dropping some spoilers, I’ll leave it at that. Great for everyone from tweens in age to teens at heart, the Toch Island Chronicles are books that I would highly recommend to all fantasy lovers. 🙂

¨‘°º0º°’¨ 

Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland

dreamlander

From the book: “What if it were possible to live two very different lives in two separate worlds? What if the dreams we awaken from are the fading memories of that second life? What if one day we woke up in the wrong world?

“Every night, a woman on a black warhorse gallops through the mist in Chris Redston’s dreams. Every night, she begs him not to come to her. Every night, she aims her rifle at his head and fires. The last thing Chris expects—or wants—is for this nightmare to be real. But when he wakes up in the world of his dreams, he has to choose between the likelihood that he’s gone spectacularly bonkers or the possibility that he’s just been let in on the secret of the ages.

“Only one person in a generation may cross the worlds. These chosen few are the Gifted, called from Earth into Lael to shape the epochs of history—and Chris is one of them. But before he figures that out, he accidentally endangers both worlds by resurrecting a vengeful prince intent on claiming the powers of the Gifted for himself. Together with a suspicious princess and a guilt-ridden Cherazii warrior, Chris must hurl himself into a battle to save a country from war, two worlds from annihilation, and himself from a dream come way too true.”

I stumbled across K.M. Weiland while on a blog hop, where I was so hoping to win some new books. Alas, I did not win (bummer), but I still managed to snag a book for free. I’ll admit that I’ve gathered quite a collection of free e-books, and many of them have been free for a reason, shall we say — unfortunately, not all of them are well-written, well-edited, or well-done. Dreamlander, on the other hand, was a very pleasant surprise.

With overtones of classics like Lord of the Rings and recent fantastic reads like Carr’s Darkwater Saga, not only is this book very beautifully crafted, with striking imagery, intense emotion, and complex characters, but it drags you into this land of dream vs reality and does not easily let you get back to your own normal, boring life. The story presents such a great premise (“What if your dreams were actually your other life lived in another place?”) with such rich detail and tangibility that you almost find yourself questioning what is real in your own life. It is a story that makes you think and feel and question and evaluate and really want to know what happens after the novel ends.

There is nothing better than a story that grabs you and won’t let you go, even after you’ve gotten to the last page, and Dreamlander is one of those novels for me. I would definitely recommend you snag your own copy. And, to make it even sweeter, it is currently free on Amazon or from K.M. Weiland’s website. Happy reading!

Tainted by Morgan L. Busse

Tainted-Hi_Res-Cover

What Happens When Your Soul Dies?

From the publisher: “Kat Bloodmayne is one of the first women chosen to attend the Tower Academy of Sciences. But she carries a secret: she can twist the natural laws of life. She has no idea where this ability came from, only that every time she loses control and unleashes this power, it kills a part of her soul. If she doesn’t find a cure soon, her soul will die and she will become something else entirely.

“After a devastating personal loss, Stephen Grey leaves the World City Police Force to become a bounty hunter. He believes in justice and will stop at nothing to ensure criminals are caught and locked up. However, when Kat Bloodmayne shows up in his office seeking his help, his world is turned upside down.

“Together they search World City and beyond for a doctor who can cure Kat. But what they discover on the way goes beyond science and into the dark sphere of magic.”

So, this was my first foray into the steampunk sub-genre, and I’m sure glad I started with this one! What made the book great was that the steampunk elements did not overwhelm the story, did not hijack the tale as I assumed they would. Instead of steampunk practically being a character in its own right, the elements enhanced the plot in (most often) subtle ways. And the story was awesome – it began with a fascinating premise (“What happens when your soul dies?”) and grew into a powerful tale of love, loss, trust, and truth.

Morgan Busse is a marvelous writer. She must be if she’s made me want to be a steampunk fan 😉 If you’ve never tried steampunk, start here. If you are a huge fan of the genre, Tainted is also for you. I highly recommend it. Book two, Awakened, is supposed to be released sometime this Spring, and I’m very excited to grab a copy and see what happens in the next part of the adventure. 🙂

**Special Note: I received a copy of this book (along with many others) as a winner of the Christian Book Box, sponsored by authors Charles Franklin and Mandy Fender. If you head over to their websites (just click  on their names), you can enter to win your own book box and be blessed with a plethora of books by Christian authors and other goodies. I got the box last November and am still being blessed by it 🙂 **

Of the Persecuted by Angie Brashear

of-the-persecuted-cover.png

From the back cover: “Laila Pennedy awaits death by hanging. For the Rendow Clan rules the Woodlands Region, aiming to slaughter the Faithful. And she deserves to die.

“But Lars Landre, the man destined to lead the Faithful out of persecution, has other plans hidden behind his rare and mysterious blue eyes. Rescue.

“Following the daring escape, Laila seeks the path of a warrior and vows revenge against the Rendow Clan. She embarks on a dangerous journey with Lars, one in which they endeavor to reach the promised safety of a magical village, to train for battle, and to ultimately assure freedom for those with faith in the Maker.

“Clashes of weapons and souls. Brutal loss of lives. Unrequited love. How in all the Woodlands will Laila survive?”

The action of this book starts on page one and doesn’t stop. And that’s not even what I enjoyed most about reading it 🙂 I appreciated how the author showed Laila’s emotional and spiritual growth throughout her ordeals. She started out as a character that I was not especially fond of – easily distracted by a pretty face and full of constant self-doubt. Yet, as she let go of her self and leaned on the Maker, she transformed into a heroine worthy of this epic tale.

And epic it is – from fire-breathing dragons to chameleon-like bears to gemstone-horned unicorns to visible spiritual battles…it’s got a bit of everything. It even has the promise of more to come. So, I’d definitely recommend you fantasy fans pick up a copy of Angie Brashear’s Of the Persecuted and join the adventure. 🙂

Protection’s Prison by Kat Heckenbach

protectionsprison

From the author: “Siophra’s magic enables her to Protect living things from harm. But there is no way to Protect herself from the heartache she feels over her father’s refusal to allow his precious Elven daughter to love a human.

“Her father’s anger pushes her to make an extreme decision, until her love for him, despite his cruelty, puts her in a place where her magic becomes necessary to keep him safe–a place where her Protection becomes her prison.”
My first thought before reading: seriously intriguing description. My first thought after reading: I’ve got to read the rest of this series! This was just a taste (a novelette – only around twenty pages) of the Toch Island Chronicles, and now I want the full meal. In this short story, Kat Heckenbach managed to develop a tremendously interesting world peopled (can I use the term peopled when we’re talking about both humans and elves??) with a set of multi-layered characters that I want to know more about. And I understand from others who’ve read the books already that this isn’t even the best of the lot – so, I’m really looking forward to reading Finding Angel, Seeking Unseen, and Legacy Rewound.
Even better? You can pick up the entire set of ebooks from Amazon for less than $5 right now! But don’t wait – this offer can’t last forever. I definitely encourage you to grab them up. Happy reading! 🙂

Mythic Orbits 2016: edited by Travis Perry

33893008

From the editor: “This anthology is a showcase for the best stories submitted in the general field of speculative fiction by Christian authors for this project. It represents a wide variety of genres, including science fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal. There is no common theme to these tales, though the subject of empathy or lack thereof does come up in them repeatedly. This is most definitely not an anthology about orbits which are somehow mythical.

“The main goal of this anthology was to demonstrate that Christian authors can write speculative fiction well. Stories with a wide range of appeal are included here, mostly serious, some with humor, some with ‘happy endings’ and others clearly not so happy. All of them worth reading.

“Some of these stories feature Christian characters in speculative fiction worlds, some make use of Christian themes either subtly or overtly, while some have no discernible connection to Christianity at all. Christian authors are featured in this collection rather than specifically Christian-themed stories.”

What a fascinating collection of stories! There is a little bit of everything in here, from ghosts to twisted fairy tales to robots to aliens. If you can’t find a story in this anthology that you like, there must be something wrong with you. 🙂 Just kidding. But seriously, I was impressed with the breadth of speculative fiction that is represented in this collection.

Equally important to me was the variety of lengths of the pieces. I know that may sound weird, but if you only have a few minutes, there are some rather quick stories you can dip into and enjoy. On the other hand, some of the pieces are quite a bit longer, giving you something to really sink into and soak for a while.

While all the stories were good, I did have a few favorites: “Nether Ore” by Kirk Outerbridge, “Cameo” by Linda Burklin, “Clay’s Fire” by Kat Heckenbach, and “The Water Man” by Sherry Rossman, all stood out for me. I definitely recommend that you pick up a copy for yourself and see which stories you like best. 🙂

The Shattered Vigil by Patrick W. Carr

shattered-vigil

After the defeat of Laewan at Bas-Solas, Lord Willet Dura and the other members of the Vigil believe the danger has passed. But then Willet is attacked by an invisible foe, and the illusion of peace is shattered. The group must defy the Church to save themselves and the rest of the northern continent from certain destruction. Splitting up, the Vigil will risk their lives to track down the Clast and try to discover what the Darkwater really is.

I waited a year for this book. And it was well worth the wait! Patrick Carr never fails to suck me into his story with multi-layered characters and complex plots. This world that Carr has created is so full and so fascinating, he could write novels set here for decades and never run out of material. And his characters are complex enough that they could continue to evolve over that time, and we’d still not know their whole stories. I love this type of tale: one that makes me feel like I’m right there, riding alongside Willet and Bolt, uncovering new clues and helping to battle the evils of the Darkwater. Wonderful!

The only downside? I’m guessing I have to wait another year for the next installment… At least I know it will be worth it!

*Note: you definitely want to read this series in order; otherwise, you will find yourself very confused. While it’s not absolutely necessary, I’d suggest starting with the introductory novella, By Divine Right. But you really should read the first book, The Shock of Night, before diving into The Shattered Vigil.

Someone asked me recently why I like to prefer to read fiction – Carr’s Darkwater Saga is a perfect example of why. There is so much Truth woven into this fantastical tale that, even though the story is not real, I find myself growing in the knowledge of God while thoroughly enjoying being swept away to a land of magic and mystery. For me, Truth is plain in non-fiction, but Truth is alive in fiction! Especially in such a well-written story as The Shattered Vigil.

Many thanks to Bethany House Publishers for the copy of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂