“The Fire And The Forge” Jack Geurts – Book Review

Would you rather be the conquered or the conqueror?

In a world where gods pull the strings of mortals and people wield the power of the elements, the nation of Libera is attacked by its age-old enemy, the Kem, who lay waste to the land and its armies with their demonic powers of fire and steel.

Imharak, a blacksmith’s apprentice, is forced to leave his home town when it is raided and burned to the ground. 

Together with his master, Gaius, he flees into the wilderness, heading for Gaius’ brother, who is caught near a city that has just been conquered by the Kem.

What troubles Imharak is not so much the invasion, but the fact that he shares the same powers as the invaders, leading him to question where he came from.

He never knew his parents – he was raised as a Liberite and destined to be a common blacksmith. His powers had always made him an outcast, and now he starts to think he might have more in common with the conquerors than with the conquered.

Soon, Imharak will find his allegiances torn between both sides. As he and Gaius journey closer to the lion’s den, Imharak will discover who he really is and what he is capable of.

A bloody, harrowing adventure that takes its cues from ancient civilisations and mythologies, The Fire and the Forge is like no fantasy you’ve ever read.

While a lot of epic fantasy is set in a world resembling medieval Europe, The Fire and the Forge is influenced by ancient Mediterranean civilisations like Egypt, Israel, Carthage and Rome. 

It owes more to the world of the Old Testament and Mt. Olympus than the world of knights, wizards and castles.

You’ll find no elves, dwarves or goblins here. No dark lords, dragon-slayers or prophecies. 

You’ll find no good or evil, but only a grey sense of morality as people are forced to make life-or-death decisions in a harsh and brutal world.

From the very first sentence, this intimate, character-driven tale will dig its hooks into you and haul you along to the bitter end.

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Geurts delivers a compelling tale of the reluctant orphan who finds himself to be more than he could ever have imagined. Imharak’s place in the world is so much more than the sum of his bloodline. Finding himself in the midst of invasion, Imharak must discover which side of himself to align with. Will he be the conqueror or the conquered?

“The Fire And The Forge” is incredibly quotable. Geurts weaves life lessons like a true philosopher. Like Aesop, Geurts’ writing teach caution when caution is due and encourage a critical filter while disseminating information.

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Gaius, while not being blood related to Imharak, rears the boy with love and wisdom. Gaius’ past is never far from his thoughts and he uses the bloody lessons he’s learned to give Imharak a deeper understanding of life than most in their feudal land. The love between them adds a depth to this story that most tales like this lack. It puts a very human face on fiction and weaves a story that will, brick by brick, add pieces to the readers life. I’m better for reading this story.

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Unlike most fantasy, “The Fire And The Forge” has a setting that is closer to a Roman or Egyptian civilization and it’s a very nice reprieve from the ever present “dark ages” scene. The characters range in race and culture. It’s a story rich in diversity as well as adversity.

I especially enjoyed the different “magics” illustrated here. What a powerful imagination Geurts must have. There aren’t many stories that I recommend for film but this is absolutely one of them. If given the chance, I think it would rock the world on the scale of the “Game of Thrones” series. Yes, it really is that good.

I am completely caught in Geurts’ web and won’t be getting out anytime soon. I look forward to continuing the series.

5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Fire And The Forge | Series: Pantheon |  Author(s): Jack Geurts  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Sales LLC / Publication Date: 9-20-2017 |Pages: 448 (Print) |ISBN/ASIN: B075T5D6YN |Genre(s): Fantasy / Fables / Mythology / Fairy Tales |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 10-26-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

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Kids Book Review “The Nest” Kenneth Oppel

Steve just wants to save his baby brother—but what will he lose in the bargain? Kenneth Oppel’s (Silverwing, The Boundless) haunting gothic tale for fans of Coraline, is one of the most acclaimed books of the year, receiving six starred reviews. Illustrations from Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen.

For some kids summer is a sun-soaked season of fun. But for Steve, it’s just another season of worries. Worries about his sick newborn baby brother who is fighting to survive, worries about his parents who are struggling to cope, even worries about the wasp’s nest looming ominously from the eaves. So when a mysterious wasp queen invades his dreams, offering to “fix” the baby, Steve thinks his prayers have been answered.

All he has to do is say “Yes.” But “yes” is a powerful word. It is also a dangerous one. And once it is uttered, can it be taken back?

Celebrated author Kenneth Oppel creates an eerie masterpiece in this compelling story that explores disability and diversity, fears and dreams, and what ultimately makes a family. Includes illustrations from celebrated artist Jon Klassen.

The Nest Cover

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“The Nest” is written for kids over 10 but as an adult I was riveted. Oppel’s story is part Suspense, part Sci-Fi and part Horror. I promise you will never look at another wasp the same way. Part of you will always wonder whats really inside that paper nest.

Oppel hits some pretty heavy topics in “The Nest”. Steve’s (main character) parents have just had a baby who sadly has many health issues. This of course throws the family into a tail spin and Steve (who has already been suffering from OCD like tendencies and high anxiety) falls back into some of his rituals and nightmares. Nightmares that feel more than just dreams.

Steve’s little sister Nicole talks to Mr Nobody on her toy phone almost everyday. Steve and Nicole adjust different to the babies poor health and their newly very distracted and distraught parents.

It’s a bad summer for wasps but even with Steve’s issues plaguing him he rises as the hero and saves the day. I loved how Oppel showed that we are all broken in some way but that won’t stop us from rising above and being the hero. Hero’s come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes what we perceive as a weakness actually turns out to be an asset. Oppel wove this lesson into his story expertly and he is definitly moving to the top of my favorite author list.

I was hooked from page one and read the entire book in one day. I rate this book at the full five stars and highly recommend it for anyone over age 10.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: The Nest | Series: N/A |  Author(s): Kenneth Oppel  |Publisher: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc / Publication Date: 10-6-2015 |Pages: 272 (Print) |ISBN/ASIN: B00TBKYJ8Y |Genre(s): Middle Grade / Horror / Suspense |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 9-20-2017 |Source: Copy from library.

The Nest Cover

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For some kids summer is a sun-soaked season of fun. But for Steve, it’s just another season of worries. Worries about his sick newborn baby brother who is fighting to survive, worries about his parents who are struggling to cope, even worries about the wasp’s nest looming ominously from the eaves. So when a mysterious wasp queen invades his dreams, offering to “fix” the baby, Steve thinks his prayers have been answered.

“The Liar” Nora Roberts

Shelby Foxworth lost her husband. Then she lost her illusions…
 
The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved wasn’t just dead. He never really existed.
 
Shelby takes her three-year-old daughter and heads south to seek comfort in her hometown, where she meets someone new: Griff Lott, a successful contractor. But her husband had secrets she has yet to discover. Even in this small town, surrounded by loved ones, danger is closer than she knows—and threatens Griff, as well. And an attempted murder is only the beginning…

The Liar Cover

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“The Liar” took me by surprise with how hard it grabbed me right from the first page. Nora Roberts has always been one of my favorite authors. Due to this, I’m a bit picky with reviewing her books. I guess it’s because she’s a seasoned author with 50+ books published. I expect a lot from her and “The Liar” delivered!

The book opens with Shelby’s abrupt drop into widowhood and the realization that her now dead husband deceived her in almost everything.  Crushed by millions of dollars worth of debt Shelby gets clever. She takes stock of the fancy home with it’s ugly expensive furniture and begins to sell it all off. This brings further realizations of her late husbands lying which is a reoccurring theme throughout the book. The guy really was a total douchebag.

The book has a desperate feel at first but that weight starts to drop when Shelby and her daughter go back to their roots. There is nothing like being surrounded by a large family who loves you.

Shelby gains independence and with her chin up faces all the hurt she left behind when she ran off to get married. This is the part I really fell in love with her as a character. Her daughter crawled into my heart from the beginning but when Shelby faces down her mistakes with poise, accountability and shamefaced honesty I found that while naive, she really was a good person. I was also pretty mad that she was the one to pay for her husbands irresponsibility. 

Griffen does right by Shelby in every way he can and I found him to be the perfect man for who Shelby had now come to be. He gives her a steadying hand to hold in the madness but never treats her like she is incapable. I loved how he helped build her up instead of take over. Relationships should be partnerships and theirs is just that. It was nice to see Roberts get that right in this book since I’ve criticized her in the past for romanticizing controlling abusive dynamics and presenting them as healthy.

I won’t ruin the climax for you but it’s a satisfying end. While the storyline was a bit predictable I’ll admit that it’s one of the reason’s I love Nora Roberts’ books. 

I enjoyed reading and will continue to buy and read her books. I’m rating this book at 5 stars.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: The Liar | Series: N/A |  Author(s): Nora Roberts  |Publisher: Penguin Group LLC / Publication Date: 4-14-2015 |Pages: 514 (Print) |ISBN/ASIN: B00O2BKKZS |Genre(s): Mystery / Romance / Suspense |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 9-13-2017 |Source: Copy from personal collection.

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The Liar Cover

Shelby Foxworth lost her husband. Then she lost her illusions…
 The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved wasn’t just dead. He never really existed.

 

“Emotive” Kevin Laymon

Emotive is a tale of life, love, compassion, and the pursuit of happiness as told through the eyes of the story’s narrator, Linus. Linus is a puppy living in a small city located in the rolling hillsides of upstate New York. When the abnormalities of his owner Sam are all he knows since birth, he gains a perspective of unyielding acceptance and love towards the man who feeds him, takes him to the park, and murders women in his basement.

I AM LOYAL. I AM TRUSTWORTHY. 

I AM POWERLESS

Emotive Cover

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When I read the summary of “Emotive” it immediately piqued my interest. I have a huge soft spot for books narrated by animals. Since I also love a good thriller, “Emotive” was a must-read for me and boy am I glad I did. I was glued to this book from the first sentence of the first page. I literally read this entire book in one sitting. Well, I read it in the bath but you get the idea.  I can’t believe I let it sit on my shelf so long unread. I feel like I’ve offended the book gods by letting such a story sit unattended. My apologies, please don’t smite me!

Fair warning, this book will rip your heart out. Don’t worry it’ll return it eventually but holy moly is it one hell of a ride. Of all the murders in this book, I have to admit the cow was the hardest. After all Linus had been through, I had tears streaming down my face as I read those pages. How alone he must of felt. How betrayed by humans. How completely hopeless he must of found it all.

Sam will boggle your mind. He’s a total psycho, of that I have no doubt, but he also has one glimpse of remorse for poor Linus. I had a bit of hope for our little K9 hero but that hope was quickly dashed when Sam fell deeper into his obsession and paranoia. It was hard to see Sam discard Linus from his affection. It was hard to see Linus’ basic needs not be met and realize how animals must feel when us humans don’t make them a priority. When we forget to feed them on time or their water bowl doesn’t get refilled or we make them wait hours and hours on end before we let them out to potty. It was eye opening to see how emotionally devastating it is to animal kind to be at the absolute mercy of someone else’s compassion……or lack there of.

It was incredibly hard to see humans fail this one dog over and over again. This is a sight of our kind that will leave you with a bad taste in your mouth and a brand new perspective. As I read, my own two dogs lay next to the tub and I caught myself looking at them multiple times wondering just what they were thinking and what they thought of me. I didn’t expect to be so affected. As a pet owner and human in general, this story will inspire some introspection and I was definitely not expecting that when I began to read.

The climax is cleverly crafted and brings everything full circle. Laymon has written a masterpiece. I strongly suggest you read it.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: Emotive | Series: N/A |  Author(s): Kevin Laymon  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 4-5-2016 |Pages: 194 (Print) | ISBN: B019YT5UIY |Genre(s): Thriller / Novella / Serial Killers / Psychological  |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 8-20-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

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“Emotive was a unique read full of interesting perspective. The storytelling through the eyes of a dog created deep emotions & connections with powerful characters. The writing was strong & visual.” – Amazon Customer

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Book Review “The Lord of Salamander” T. H. Alexander

Dare to enter a new world of wonder and fear, good and evil, magic and mystery! 

In this first novel in what is to become the Epic Salamander Trilogy, Elijah Pendleton discovers he is the last and only hope of restoring a fabled magical land back to its original order and begins an amazing quest into the heart of the unknown that will include crossing dangerous lands, encountering ferocious beasts, and entangling himself in mythical hazards along the way. Throughout this extraordinary journey, Elijah will accumulate allies, hone his newly discovered powers, and race against time to end the land’s decade-long reign of darkness and fulfill a long-awaited prophecy: to take his place as the strongest who ever lived and become the succeeding ruler of the land called Salamander–the Lord of Salamander.

The Lord of Salamander Cover

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I want to first brag on how creative this story was. The hero’s journey is nothing new but the way Alexander framed this story was special. Alexander loves his characters. His love for Elijah and this world he has created shines brightly from beginning to end. Alexander’s love for his story brought me to love it as well.

It’s not been an easy life for Elijah and that thread follows him. It’s an uphill battle but a battle worth fighting for. I quickly liked Elijah and my fondness for him grew and grew. He has his flaws like anyone else and has definitely seen his fair share of bumps in the road. I love his tenacity though. 

Alexander’s writing is grabby in all the right places and my attention was caught and held for most of the book. I did feel that a few descriptions were a bit wordy but that can be worked out with a bit more “showing” from Alexander than “telling”. This is a hard concept to really pin down but for the most part Alexander is doing well with it.

There’s not much I feel I can share without spoiling the book. It’s carefully put together and I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. I enjoyed reading it and look forward to reading more from Alexander in the future!

4 stars!

4 star

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Lord of Salamander | Series: The Epic Salamander Trilogy |  Author(s): T. H. Alexander  |Publisher: Create Space Independent Publishing / Publication Date: 2-14-2017 |Pages: 304 (Print) | ISBN:  978-1543125832 |Genre(s): Fantasy |Language: English |Rating: 4 out of 5 |  Date Read: 3-20-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

T H Alexander author pic

For as long as he can remember, T.H. Alexander has been enthralled with the idea of storytelling through writing. Throughout his rough adolescence, he discovered the power of books and reading through such works as Peter Pan, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and James and the Giant Peach and used these fantastical tales as an escape from his own harsh reality.

But simply reading these stories wasn’t enough.

He carried with him into his teenage years the desire to go further and write a story of his own. After numerous failed attempts, when he was just fourteen, the right story would finally break through with the Lord of Salamander. Starting what eventually became the first draft of the novel when he was just a freshman in high school, T.H. would spend the next four years occasionally adding more and more to the story until the draft was finally completed in the summer of 2007. Since then, T.H. has edited, revised and rewritten the novel several times, the most recent taking place in 2016. He has also stepped into the Young Adult Horror genre with his gritty follow-up, Till Dawn, and has written numerous screenplays for movies and television.

He currently resides in San Antonio, Texas where he works on the next installment of the Epic Salamander Trilogy, Return to Salamander, which he hopes to have released by the spring of 2019.

The Booklist – 5 Books You Should Read

Since it’s well known that I’m a voracious reader, I often have people ask me for book recommendations. Due to this, I’ve decided to start a weekly list of books that I have personally reviewed. Each book has received a minimum 4 star rating from me. If you have read any of the books I’ve listed, please let me know what you thought of them in the comments! Click on the covers to be taken to the review.

The Poverty Industry Cover

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Have you read any of the books on my list? Drop your thoughts in the comments!

Book list

WWW Wednesday – April 20 2016

 

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This prompt comes from Sam over at Taking On A World Of Words. Leave a comment with your list or a link to your blog! Click on the covers for more information about each book.

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What are the three W’s?

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What are you reading next?

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Currently Reading

Kyle evans cover

Thoughts: I am more than halfway through this book and it’s awesome! 

Anything and Everything Cover

Thoughts: I’m not very far into this book but so far it’s pretty random.

Completed Books

Chewy Noh winter cover

Thoughts: I really enjoyed it but found it lacking in some respects. I gave it 4 stars. Check out my review “Chewy Noh Book Review”

not your mothers goose cover

Thoughts: I loved it! Hilarious to the max! Check out my 5 star review “NYMG 5 Star Review”

Next On My List

Eboracum Cover

Thoughts: I LOVE historical novels. I am really looking forward to reading this one!

The Keeper and the rulership cover

Thoughts: The description sounds really interesting and the cover is beautiful!

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what’s on your list? 

 

 

 

 

Happy Endings – The Divide is REAL.

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For serious readers I have realized there is a bit of a divide on this issue. I have noticed other bloggers actually tick off points on a review if the ending wasn’t happy/sad.

As readers, we get very involved in our stories. These are not just characters. They are little pieces of ourselves that we invest into every story. Each story changes a bit about us. After finishing a really great book, we emerge from our reading cocoon with a bit of a different world view. Every story weaves it’s way into our psych. 

Since we get so involved in stories, having the perfect ending is imperative. Don’t leave loose strings. Don’t hold out! Give us closure! Please!

I realize that every story shouldn’t have a happy ending. Some stories need that sadness to imprint on us. Some stories just can not end happy. 

Some stories even have a mixed bag kind of ending. Where some things ended well while others just didn’t. 

However, some stories have the heavily sought after happy ending. Where everything is tied up nice and neat with a pretty bow of happily ever after. 

Why the obsession with happy ending?

For me, reading is an escape from the soul crushing grind of daily life here in reality-land. It keeps me from getting bitter and grinchy. Each happy ending plants that seed of wistful hope that things can be beautiful and good. Sadly, reality-land often isn’t a very good place to be. 

Between working amazingly long hours for abysmally low wages and trying not to drop kick your angsty two year old, life can get tough out here.  

I need those tiny little seeds of happy. 

What side of the debate are you on?