Fiction Blog, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, & Geeky Things

New Book Release: Imperial Towers (Book of Never: 5) by Ashley Capes


It’s a great week to be a bookwormdragon! I’m excited to announce that another author and friend has a new book out. Ashley Capes writes epic fantasy, genre-blending fantasy thrillers and gorgeous poetry. He’s just released the fifth novel in his Book of Never series, Imperial Towers.

View the cover and short blurb below, then be sure to check out the whole series at your favorite online retailer!

never5-6by9Only one thing stands between Never and answers – his brother.

Driven toward the enemy-occupied Imperial City, Never’s doubts grow. Even with new knowledge about his powers, can he truly keep his friends safe in a warzone? Or, like too many times before, will he end up responsible for the deaths of those he should have protected?

Check out Imperial Towers (Book of Never: 5) on your favorite online retailer.

Book Reviews, Fiction Blog

Indie Book Review: Winter of the Wolf by Christina Ochs

Winter of the Wolf CoverWinter of the Wolf by Christina Ochs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Winter of the Wolf is the fourth book in Christina Ochs’ Desolate Empire series. To be blunt, I have a lot of wonderful things to say about this book — only I can’t say any of them, for risk of spoiling the novel (and the entire series) for you.

What I can reveal is that it falls beautifully in line with the rest of the series. Winter of the Wolf is full of action, political drama, and jaw-dropping twists that literally made me shriek (and sometimes cry). Despite being a long novel (595 pages), it read incredibly quickly and left me wanting more.

And that’s all I will risk telling you.

That being said, I’m going to break from my usual, detailed review style and simply list the top five reasons you should be reading the entire Desolate Empire series.

  1. It’s “clean” Game of Thrones. An epic fantasy world, inspired by a real-world war. Multiple kingdoms fighting for control of one empire. Political intrigue, bloody battles, dark magic, and a little romance. All in a family friendly, no cursing, fade-to-black package.
  2. There’s a character for everyone. From the beautiful and savvy Princess Gwynneth to the brooding warrior Braedon Terris to the evil and manipulative Empress Teodora, you’ll find characters to love and love-to-hate. (Psst — sound familiar?)
  3. You won’t be able to breathe. Between the tense political situations and the life-or-death action, the Desolate Empire series will leave you on the edge of your seat. Just when you think you can breathe again, Ochs will give you another unexpected twist or a gripping cliffhanger. (For that reason, you’ll love to hate her, too. But mostly love!)
  4. Each book gets better. Thus far, this is not one of those series with a weak link or two hiding in the middle. Every single book has been better than the last.
  5. You can’t tell it’s self-published. As an independent author myself, I loathe to even make this point because it shouldn’t matter. However, for some readers it does. So, trust me — the writing is great, the plots are solid, and it far surpasses many traditionally published books I’ve read.

If this all sounds too good to be true, it isn’t. Do yourself a favor and buy these books today.

Winter of the Wolf CoverAs always, the links throughout this review are Amazon Associate links. This means, if you buy the book, I receive a small percentage of the sale. However, you pay no more and the author receives no less. The author has not paid or incentivized me for this review — I do so purely to spread the word about a book I love.

Book Reviews, Fiction Blog

Indie Book Review: Hills and Valleys by Helen Jones

hills and valleys helen jonesHills and Valleys (The Ambeth Chronicles Book 3) by Helen Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Hills and Valleys is the third novel in Helen Jones’s Ambeth Chronicles. You can read my review of the first two books, Oak and Mist and No Quarter by clicking on their titles. To avoid major spoilers for all three novels, I will focus this review more on my personal reaction to the text and the writing itself, and will refer to the content in broad terms. That being said, some mild spoilage will occur. You’ve been warned.

As with No QuarterHills and Valleys picks up right where the previous book left off. The reader is launched right back into England and Ambeth, as Alma and the members of the Light grieve the tragedy that befell them at the end of No Quarter. Right away, it is clear that Hills and Valleys will have a more serious tone than the previous two novels, signalling both a maturing in Alma as a character and the growing threat in the quest to return the Regalia (whether Alma chooses to continue helping or not).

For me, this grieving period lasted a little longer than I would have liked. While I understand and respect Jones’s choice to spend a decent portion of the book working through the character’s emotional distress, I would have preferred for the action to move along at the same time. Chess pieces were slowly put into place, but some of the conversations and debates between the Light and Dark in Ambeth seemed repetitive, and I wish more space would have been allowed to show the development of Alma’s powers (which, though fantastic, seemed to emerge a bit out of nowhere for me).

Speaking of Alma, I believe she really comes into her own as a character in Hills and Valleys. She shows strength and independence in situations where I feel she might have faltered in previous books (especially with her support of her mother and her interaction with Deryck), and toward the end of the book, she accepts rather dramatic revelations with admirable calmness. Likewise, the supporting characters reveal new layers to their personalities as well. Deryck and Ellery both face complex moral and emotional conundrums, Lord Denoris unveils new levels of delicious evil, and King Thorion gives us more insight into his personal struggles.

As with the entire series, the settings in Hills and Valleys are beautifully described. The jewel of the Ambeth Chronicles remains Ambeth itself, and seeing it from a new character’s perspective made me fall in love with it all over again. Moreover, the introduction of Wales made for a gorgeous (and symbolic!) backdrop, and I’m pleased that it will feature in the next novel, too.

If you’ve been a fan of the Ambeth Chronicles thus far, everything you love is still there: the wonder of Ambeth, the twisting turns of the quest for the Regalia, and the enchanting sparks of magic. If you’re a fantasy lover who has not explored this series yet, I highly recommend you jump on board. Between developed, emotive characters, dazzling magic, stunning scenery, and dashes of romance Ambeth has something for everyone.

As for this novel itself, Hills and Valleys is a brilliant continuation of the series that will leave readers hungry for the next step in the journey. I know I can’t wait.

View all my reviews

hills and valleys helen jonesIf you are interested in reading Hills and Valleys and would like to help sponsor my writing and research, you can purchase it through my Amazon Associates Store. By doing this, you will not pay a cent extra, nor will the author receive a cent less, but I will receive a small commission on the sale. Simply click the book’s title or the book’s image.

Book Reviews, Fiction Blog

Indie Book Review: Hammer of the Gods by Christina Ochs

hammer of the godsHammer of the Gods (The Desolate Empire Book 3) by Christina Ochs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I was given a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Hammer of the Gods by Christina Ochs is the third novel in the Desolate Empire series. You can read my reviews of the first two books, Rise of the Storm and Valley of the Shadow by clicking their titles. For the sake of avoiding spoilers, I’ll be focusing on the quality of Hammer of the Gods itself and my personal reactions to it.

I’ve said it once with these books, and I’ll say it again now: the Desolate Empire series is all-ages Game of Thrones. Ochs has crafted a vivid and complex world, with a large cast of engaging characters who are constantly locked in political maneuvers, fierce battles and other life-and-death struggles.

And Hammer of the Gods is the most intense yet. The story picks up right where Valley of the Shadows left off, and the reader is thrown straight into the action. The only thing I struggled with in the beginning was remembering some of the supporting characters and the world’s geography. If you’re in the same boat: don’t worry. Ochs provides maps at the beginning of the text and a glossary of persons and locations in the back to help you out.

As with the other two novels in this series, Hammer of the Gods rotates from multiple perspectives, with short chapters that allow you to breeze through the book despite its length. Ochs manages to cover years’ worth of action without making you feel like you’re missing anything. While sometimes this does result in more “summary” than I personally like, the fast pace and the detail of the main scenes make up for it.

Whether from Och’s writing talent, the intensity of the plot, or my now three-book relationship with the characters, I found myself having uncharacteristically strong emotional reactions to Hammer of the Gods. At different stages during my reading, I found myself fist-pumping, biting my knuckles, grinning from ear-to-ear, and holding back tears — all while on the train, of course.

If you’re a fan of “soft” cliffhangers, you’ll adore the ending. Like the other two novels, the main battles of Hammer of the Gods come to a close, but the individual characters leave us with some burning questions as to their fates and/or next moves. I found each character’s journey and growth profoundly satisfying, and I’m pleased with where each one is left at the end of the novel. There were a few twists that I did not expect throughout the story, and I’m very excited to see how they affect the next novel.

Fans of epic fantasy, historical fantasy, and/or military fiction need to read this series. Between bloody battles, political collusion, romances, religious zealotry, and even a dash of magic, Hammer of the Gods has something for everyone. Do yourself a favor and buy the entire Desolate Empire series NOW. And hell, at the time of this writing, Rise of the Storm (The Desolate Empire Book 1) is FREE on Amazon — there’s literally nothing stopping you from making your reading life 100x better today.

View all my reviews

You can find out more about Christina Ochs on her website, and you can read an interview with her on The 2016 2K Indie Books Tour here.

hammer of the godsIf you are interested in reading Hammer of the Gods and would like to help sponsor my writing and research, you can purchase it at my Amazon Associates Store. By doing this, you will not pay a cent extra, nor will the author receive a cent less, but I will receive a small commission on the sale. Simply click the book’s title or the book’s image.

Author Interviews, Fiction Blog

The 2016 2K Indie Book Tour: Lori L. MacLaughlin

Today’s interview on the 2016 2K Indie Book Tour (co-hosted by Kate Evans and myself) is with fantasy adventure author, Lori L. MacLaughlin.

LoriLMacLaughlinLori L. MacLaughlin traces her love of fantasy adventure to Tolkien and Terry Brooks, finding The Lord of the Rings and The Sword of Shannara particularly inspirational. She’s been writing stories in her head since she was old enough to run wild through the forests on the farm on which she grew up. When she’s not writing (or working), she can be found curled up somewhere dreaming up more story ideas, taking long walks in the countryside, or spending time with her kids. She lives with her family in northern Vermont.

Here’s a bit about her novel, Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble:

Trouble is Tara Triannon’s middle name. As swords for hire, Tara and her sister Laraina thrive on the danger. But a surprise invasion throws them into chaos… and trouble on a whole new level. Pursued by the Butcher, a terrifying assassin more wolf than man, Tara and Laraina must get a prince marked for death and a young, inept sorceress to safety. There’s only one problem — eluding the Butcher has never been done. Aided by a secretive soldier of fortune, they flee the relentless hunter.

Gifted with magic and cursed by nightmares that are all too real, Tara must stop an army led by a madman and fend off an evil Being caught in a centuries-old trap who seeks to control her magic and escape through her dreams — all while keeping one step ahead of the Butcher.

Sequel: Trouble By Any Other Name (coming spring 2016)

Now, here’s our interview with Lori:

What was the inspiration behind your book?

I’ve always been drawn to strong female characters who are more than capable of looking out for themselves and who are accepted as they are. I also prefer fantasy worlds where women and men are treated as equals, places where it’s not unusual for a woman to rule a kingdom or handle a sword well.

I built my story around these ideas and fitted them into the world I’d already created in maps and sketches. Then I dreamed up adventures for my characters that I would like to have.

Who is your favorite character?

I have trouble with that question. My first inclination is to say Tara, because she’s such a part of me. She’s an adventurer, vulnerable on the inside but hard and cold as the steel of her blade on the outside. She keeps everyone but her sister at sword’s length. She’s been hurt too many times to let anyone inside her guard.

However, I think I’d have to choose Captain Natiere, the wolf-like executioner known as the Butcher. He claims the wolves as his kin, though he’s not a werewolf. His traumatic past turned him into the monstrous person he is, but there’s so much more to him than anyone knows. He holds many secrets in the unfathomed depths of his soul.

What is one thing you want readers to know or “get” about your book?

My book has a lot of action and swordplay, but it’s much deeper than that. It’s more about the characters and the relationships between the characters, particularly the sisters, and how they grow and change throughout the story.

Who is your ideal reader? Or, who will enjoy your book?

With a female protagonist, my book will likely appeal more to women, but anyone who likes an epic fantasy adventure with swordplay, magic, and a little romance will enjoy it.

What three writing tips do you have for aspiring authors?

1. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, or anything else when writing your first draft. Just get the words down on paper (or on the computer). First drafts are meant to be messy.

2. Have others read your work. Find a critique group somewhere that will give you honest feedback. Your book will be so much the better for it.

3. If you’re going the traditional route, make your book the best it can be before submitting it to agents/editors. If you’re self-publishing, hire a professional editor to go through your manuscript before putting it out there. That’s probably the most important thing you can do for your book, along with hiring a professional cover designer.

9781942015000-Perfect-lady-thy-name-is-trouble_EbookCoverWhere can readers buy your book?



Barnes & Noble:



Where can readers learn more about you? 




Google +:


Twitter: @LLMacL,