Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Unfinished Song (Book 1): Initiate by Tara Maya

Today I have the privilege of hosting Tara Maya, author of the excellent "The Unfinished Song" series! The first book is FREE on Amazon. Described as "100% original", "enchanting" and "very creative" ... grab a copy while you can - I did!

DEADLY INITIATION

A DETERMINED GIRL...
Dindi can't do anything right, maybe because she spends more time dancing with pixies than doing her chores. Her clan hopes to marry her off and settle her down, but she dreams of becoming a Tavaedi, one of the powerful warrior-dancers whose secret magics are revealed only to those who pass a mysterious Test during the Initiation ceremony. The problem? No-one in Dindi's clan has ever passed the Test. Her grandmother died trying. But Dindi has a plan.

AN EXILED WARRIOR...
Kavio is the most powerful warrior-dancer in Faearth, but when he is exiled from the tribehold for a crime he didn't commit, he decides to shed his old life. If roving cannibals and hexers don't kill him first, this is his chance to escape the shadow of his father's wars and his mother's curse. But when he rescues a young Initiate girl, he finds himself drawn into as deadly a plot as any he left behind. He must decide whether to walk away or fight for her... assuming she would even accept the help of an exile.

EXCERPT
Blue-skinned rusalki grappled Dindi under the churning surface of the river. She could feel their claws dig into her arms. Their riverweed-like hair entangled her legs when she tried to kick back to the surface. She only managed to gulp a few breaths of air before they pulled her under again.

She hadn't appreciated how fast and deep the river was. On her second gasp for air, she saw that the current was already dragging her out of sight of the screaming girls on the bank. A whirlpool of froth and fae roiled between two large rocks in the middle of the river. The rusalka and her sisters tugged Dindi toward it. Other water fae joined the rusalki. Long snouted pookas, turtle-like kappas and hairy-armed gwyllions all swam around her, leading her to the whirlpool, where even more fae swirled in the whitewater.

"Join our circle, Dindi!" the fae voices gurgled under the water. "Dance with us forever!"

"No!" She kicked and swam and stole another gasp for air before they snagged her again. There were so many of them now, all pulling her down, all singing to the tune of the rushing river. She tried to shout, "Dispel!" but swallowed water instead. Her head hit a rock, disorienting her. She sank, this time sure she wouldn't be coming up again.

"Dispel!" It was a man's voice.

Strong arms encircled her and lifted her until her arms and head broke the surface. Her rescuer swam with her toward the shore. He overpowered the current, he shrugged aside the hands of the water faeries stroking his hair and arms. When he reached the shallows, he scooped Dindi into his arms and carried her the rest of the way to the grassy bank. He set her down gently.

She coughed out some water while he supported her back.

"Better?" he asked.

She nodded. He was young--only a few years older than she. The aura of confidence and competence he radiated made him seem older. Without knowing quite why, she was certain he was a Tavaedi.

"Good." He had a gorgeous smile. A wisp of his dark bangs dangled over one eye. He brushed his dripping hair back over his head.

Dindi's hand touched skin--he was not wearing any shirt. Both of them were sopping wet. On him, that meant trickles of water coursed over a bedrock of muscle. As for her, the thin white wrap clung transparently to her body like a wet leaf. She blushed.

"It might have been easier to swim if you had let go of that," he teased. He touched her hand, which was closed around something. "What were you holding onto so tightly that it mattered more than drowning?"

LINKS
Tara’s blog  http://bit.ly/MtlSRJ
Tara’s Twitter  http://bit.ly/162sCtE
The Unfinished Song on Facebook  http://on.fb.me/1400mMq
Barnes and Noble  http://bit.ly/13yM5Dr
Smashwords  http://bit.ly/17zK8Xn

Initiate is free everywhere except on Barnes and Noble (where it’s $0.99). You can download a free .epub version via Smashwords.



Thursday, August 28, 2014

Painted by Eliza Wyatt - Book Review

Painted is a fantasy novella of courtly drama, intrigue and high magic set in a world with more than a hint of the Spain of yore - where masked balls invite romance but hide an assassin's blade, where rulers and countries plot and scheme and form shaky alliances.

This is one fabulous novella. Do not be fooled by the length. I rate stories on entertainment value and Painted boasts a satisfyingly complex heroine and plot, with a unique take on magic, all packed into a quick-read length. Our courageous heroine Wyrren has Moebius Syndrome, with partial paralysis of her face, and is at the beginning of her study of magic. But she has a deep and interesting backstory. The tale starts with her being the ward of the Grand Meister of Hael Maelstrom, a political exile from her own country, which is renowned for its magic and assassins. She has played a part in the downfall of her country's ruler, the King of Marla, and was queen for a day before she had to flee.

Wyrren has attracted the attention of the powerful magician and ruler of Hael Maelstrom, Sebastian del Torlo. But he has his own secrets. For political reasons, Sebastian is pursuing an engagement with Kartania Reise of Doppel, a land which resolves all of its conflicts with an armoured fist in the nose or the edge of the blade in a duel. But Sebastian is also being threatened by another powerful magician, Edward Lowar, who seems to have a hold over him. With the help of her younger stepsister Ana, a courtesan, Wyrren sets out to delve into the strange, dangerous truth behind Hael Maelstrom's ruler.

A highlight of this story is the complex and refreshing take on the types and uses of magic, ranging from necromancy to vivomancy (healing), biskmatry, illusions, elemental magic, and threader-assassins. A second highlight is the character of Wyrren - smart, complex, flawed and wholly believable. I felt the world-building suffered a little, with much left unexplained or glossed over. Stronger visuals and a better explanation (smuggled in of course) of the uses and limitations of the types of magic would have been appreciated by this reader.

So, while it is not perfect as a novella, the story moves quickly, twists and turns, and in the end, is an entertaining and strongly recommended read. Get it! Read it! You will not be disappointed. (For only 99c on Amazon this is a steal)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Shapeshifter Dragons Book 2: Western Isles

The sequel to Aranya is taking shape! Plenty of people have been asking, 'When will it be ready'? Well, I'm a writer fortunate enough to produce material very fast once I find my creative flow - so I have a solid draft of the first third of the book already in place. I hope to complete Western Isles, the second book in the Shapeshifter Dragons series, before the end of the year. Will Aranya solve the mystery of her mother's heritage and fate? Will she be able to thwart the treacherous plans of the Sylakians, which are more far-reaching than she ever imagined? And what does the Black Dragon want of her? Can he be trusted?

Meantime, why not read The Pygmy Dragon, also a teen/YA story filled with dragons, mystery and romance, set in the same Island-World as Aranya?

The Pygmy Dragon is the exciting first book in a planned two-part companion series to Aranya. It tells the story of Pip, a Pygmy warrior, born in the jungles of the Crescent Islands and raised in a zoo by apes. Pip has a power that will shake the world she lives in - a power that may save the Dragons. But that power makes her a target for the envy and ambitions of others. Set approximately 150 years before the events of Aranya at a time when Dragons and Humans still coexisted in relative peace, it features a young Nak and Oyda, as well as a cast of colourful characters at the secret Dragon Rider Academy at Jeradia Island. It is a tale of no small courage, heroism and magic, where the smallest Dragon will need to make a terrible decision which may save or doom all the Dragons.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Pygmy Dragon flies onto Amazon


Yesterday, a Dragon kidnapped me from my cage in a zoo. Today, The Pygmy Dragon is available on all Amazon stores in Kindle format.

There’s a Dragon! A Dragon, a tiny Pygmy Dragon,
She’s cute and sweet and rather neat,
But she’s sitting in my salad.
Oh, she’s sitting in my salad!



Stolen from her jungle home and sold to a zookeeper, Pip knows only a world behind bars, a world in which a Pygmy warrior and her giant ape friends are a zoo attraction. She dreams of being Human. She dreams of escaping to the world outside her cage. 

Then, the Dragon Zardon kidnaps her into a new life. Pip rides Dragonback across the Island-World to her new school - a school inside a volcano. A school where Humans learn to be Dragon Riders. But this is only a foretaste of her magical destiny, for the Dragon Assassins are coming. They have floated an Island across the Rift and their aim is nothing less than the massacre of all Dragons. 

Now, the courage of the smallest will be tested to the utmost. For Pip is the Pygmy Dragon, and this is her tale.

The tale of The Pygmy Dragon (Book 1 of 2 in the Shapeshifter Dragon Legends series) is closely linked to the Amazon bestselling story of Aranya, and is set in the same unique world above the toxic Cloudlands. It features a young Nak and Oyda as well as a new cast of colourful characters. In this story you will learn the answer to one of the questions which most puzzles Aranya - what happened to all the Dragons? Is she the last?

Born in a jungle and living half her life in a zoo, Pip, The Pygmy Dragon is unforgettable reading for teen & young adult readers and up. Epic fantasy packed with dragon battles, mystery, adventure and romance, this is a series for fantasy lovers to savour.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Aranya flies into Amazon's Fantasy bestsellers list!

It is a privilege to be listed alongside authors I have admired for years. Aranya has flown into the bestseller lists on Amazon this week, achieving #27 place in Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery and top 50 (#48) in Coming of Age stories.

This is what the reviewers say:

"With a host of colourful and many original character incarnations, the time honoured theme of good versus evil takes on a refreshingly unfamiliar dimension." - Author, Stephan Myers

"You want fantasy? Here it is, in its purest form." - Author, David Rose

"I especially enjoy reading about strong female characters."

"An imaginative tale, full of battle and heroism, romance and betrayal." - Author, Michael Andrews

Come and see why she's flying high. Aranya is available in all Amazon stores in Print and Ebook formats.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Aranya flies high at Bookviral

"He spins a mythical yarn, achieving a notable balance between luxurious detail and intense action" I was delighted to get a great review this week at Bookviral. "it’s Secchia’s world building prowess that really sets this tale apart" ... thanks to the excellent team there!

Aranya has been flying high since publication at Amazon.com. Come and see why reviewers are saying it's "full of battle and heroism, romance and betrayal."

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dragon Dreams by Dusty Holloway - GR Review


Dragon Dreams (The Chronicles of Shadow and Light)Dragon Dreams by Dusty Lynn Holloway

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Dragon Dreams, the first in the Chronicles of Shadow and light, starts with one of the best opening prologues I have ever read. "In my shadow you sleep, hungry for my soul. In my heart you live, nurtured and at peace. In my life you belong, always. The red dawn of war clashes with the tide ..." Throughout the book the prose is rich and lyrical, yet the pace never flags. The tone is overwhelmingly dark, a world at the edge of ruin due to an escalating war between two powerful dragons, yet there are moments of light-heartedness and beauty amidst the fires.

Author Dusty Holloway has done a fine job of taking a fresh perspective on the Elves, Dwarves, Humans and Dragons of classic fantasy, and while there is a nod to old tropes, what is presented is fresh and well thought-out, each race characterised well, the Elves for example powerful and mysterious and very different to the Humans. The world-building is tightly woven into the story and never overwhelming or dry.

The main characters are the Human Nachal and the half-Elf Auri. The story concentrates strongly on the two of them, with minor riffs played by the Dwarf Dhurmic (who breaks his friend Nachal's nose at one point) and the Elf Watcher Liran, who has a decidedly unhealthy interest in Auri and plays the third point of a love triangle between him, Auri and Nachal. I am not big on love triangles, I have to admit, but this one was very well written. If I had any gripes, it was that I felt Auri came across a little weak - I would have preferred a heroine less at the mercy/sway of events and personalities around her and more in charge of her own destiny. However that destiny is complex and confusing to her, and the plot pleasingly complex enough to make their characters intriguing. I disagree completely with some reviewers saying that Auri is 'undefined'. Partly, that's the point. She's only twenty-one in this first part of the series, she's discovering who she is, and mighty forces of inheritance and destiny are coming to bear on her life. She has two very different men vying for her attention and the fate of the world resting on her shoulders. All in a day's work, eh?

All in all, this is a wonderful lead-in to series with great promise. A writer to watch!



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