Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Review: These Violent Delights by Chole Gong


The cover caught my eye on today's book. And the blurb. Why? It's a Romeo and Juliet retelling!!!
And not just any retelling. Think 1920's in Shanghai, where gangs and violence ruled as much as the nightlife. Juliet is the heiress to one of the gangs, and she's not the soft girl Shakespeare once showcased. This Juliet carries bite...
Oh, but don't think this one is for pure romance fans, either. The entire book carries bite, but read on to find out just how much.

These Violent Delights, Book One
by Chloe Gong
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Young Adult Historical / Fantasy
449 pages

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.


                                                          * beautifully set in Shanghai during the 1920's
                                                          * Romeo and Juliet retelling
                                                          * romance not main plot
                                                          * gory and blood-thirsty
                                                          * intriguing look at colonialism

While falling along the rim of a Romeo and Juliet retelling, this dive into Shanghai during the 1920's allows for so much more than an intriguing tale.

Juliette has spent the last four years studying in the U.S. and returns to take her place as future heir to the Scarlet Gang, who rules Shanghai and is at constant odds with a Russian gang, White Flowers. While she's no stranger to the ruthlessness involved, she's soon faced with more than the already difficult task of gaining respect. Add an ended but once intense relationship with a potential heir to the White Flower gang, and she's got her hands full. But things aren't done there. She needs to fight to keep her status in a very violent and unforgiving world...and that as a monster has crept up into Shanghai and started to kill people with random reason. But monsters aren't Juliette's greatest concern.

The writing in this book is very well done. It is beautifully worded...and sometimes, with a touch of structure which almost reminds that Juliette doesn't have English as her own mother tongue. She's from Shanghai, through and through, but broader and more world-minded thanks to her studies abroad. And she's tough. She knows what being the heir to the gang means, and she has no qualms about taking on this role. So, yes, it's a violent book, and she's not a gentle woman. And yet, she's hard not to like. 
Roma, on the other hand, is the softer of the two. 

The parallels to the original tale are clear, but there is definitely enough originality to this retelling to keep it more than interesting. Juliette and Roma might have a true-love romance...if the bloodshed, family politics, territory wars, and monsters would allow a sweet romance to occur. But then again, Juliette isn't a sweet romance kind a girl. There's simply too much gore in this book to every qualify as sweet.

The world building is very well done, and this was probably my favorite aspect of the book. It's rich enough to make every scene vivid and draws in enough history to make it feel realistic to the time. I especially appreciated the building up around colonialism...not just for setting purposes, but the author incorporates many of the feelings involved. The mix of various backgrounds and fights to find foothold...or keep foreigners from gaining too much...creates an intriguing historical glimpse alongside the main plot. 

It's an interesting read and not just for Romeo and Juliet fans (which....if I'm allowed to admit it...I'm definitely not) Still, I enjoyed this read quite a bit.

Happy Book Birthday, Arsonist's Lullaby by Susan Harris!

Yesterday, Susan Harris celebrated the release of her latest book in The Ever Chace Chronicles!

Arsonist's Lullaby by Susan Harris is now available in print. Readers can grab their paperback copy of this exciting 7th installment in The Ever Chace Chronicles that readers are calling, "a captivating penultimate thrill ride."

Grab your print copy from AMAZON or BOOK DEPOSITORY!


by Susan Harris

Life just got complicated for the agents of P.I.T as Ashlyn, Derek and Ever’s teenage daughter, makes her entrance. Derek soon discovers Ashlyn is hiding a hell of a lot more than she’s revealing. If that doesn’t complicate things enough, the team tries to set aside their grief so they can avenge Sarge’s murder and piece together clues an arsonist leaves for them, all with no idea how much danger they face with someone from Derek’s past returning to settle an old score.

Ever Chace carries the weight of loss with her. Still hurting after the recent loss of her brother, she now has to deal with the death of a man who was like a father figure. Having made a heartbreaking decision, Ever comes face to face with her strong-willed, rebellious daughter, who has other ideas. With Odin poised to attack, Ever will have to decide if she can survive another personal sacrifice in order to save the world. 

The past, present, and future collide in the penultimate book in The Ever Chace Chronicles.

The Ever Chace Chronicles has more than 350 five-star reviews on Goodreads, and is perfect for fans of the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series by J.R. Ward and the Night Huntress Series by Jeaniene Frost.

Read all of the books in The Ever Chace Chronicles by Susan Harris:

  • Skin and Bones
  • Collateral Damage
  • Smoke and Mirrors
  • Night of the Hunter
  • Never Back Down
  • Shortcut To The Grave
  • Arsonist's Lullaby

If you've been missing out on this series, now's the time to rectify that!

Grab the first book for free today in digital!


And here she is...

Susan Harris is a writer from Cork in Ireland.  An avid reader, she quickly grew to love books in the supernatural/fantasy genre. When she is not writing or reading, she loves music, oriental cultures, tattoos, anything Disney and psychology. If she wasn't a writer she would love to be a FBI profiler or a PA for Dave Grohl or Jared Leto.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Happy Book Birthday, Playing With Fire by April Henry with Giveaway!


April Henry
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
YA Thriller

When a fire cuts off a popular trail in the Oregon forest, a small group trapped by the flames must find another way out―or die―in Playing with Fire, an unrelenting teen-vs-nature YA thriller by New York Times bestselling author April Henry.

Natalia is not the kind of girl who takes risks. Six years ago, she barely survived the house fire that killed her baby brother. Now she is cautious and always plays it safe. For months, her co-worker Wyatt has begged her to come hiking with him, and Natalia finally agrees.

But when a wildfire breaks out, blocking the trail back, a perfect sunny day quickly morphs into a nightmare. With no cell service, few supplies, and no clear way out of the burning forest, a group of strangers will have to become allies if they’re going to survive. Hiking in the dark, they must reach the only way out―a foot bridge over a deep canyon―before the fire catches them.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble


Hugging closely with reality, this is a thrilling tale with tons of high-stake moments.

Despite living near the mountains, Natalia has never gone hiking, but thanks to a friend, that's about to change. After a nice trip, they turn back down the trail to head to the car and are met with incoming flames. Together with other hikers stuck on the trail, they get word from a rescue helicopter to head toward a bridge over a canyon. But getting there isn't going to be easy, especially when Natalia already barely survived a fire six years before and isn't psychologically completely past the experience. And especially since there might be someone there who wants to kill her.

The tale starts off with a very grabbing scene and sets the stage for the thrill to come. It's quickly clear what kind of troubles (fire-wise) Natalia and the others will be up against. Even some of the dangerous moments along the way aren't exactly hard to see coming. But it's exactly that which keeps the tension high. Every turn carries danger and time is running short with flames threatening from several sides. 

The author has done her research, and every moment comes across with realistic flair. The scenes, dangers and solutions are logical and understandable. This hits so well that the moments Natalia offers medical assistance could almost be copied in real life...they carry that much detail. 

There's a colorful mix of characters, which keep the stakes high, the moments more unpredictable and, at the same time, adds a little zest to the situations. Each person has their positives and negatives, and these filter in at all the right times. There were times where too many problems occurred...too many accidents too fast...but in general, all was well. The writing itself is very well done, and that kept the story running smooth even when other things didn't. I also had a hard time feeling for Natalia's fear of fire, considering that if she hadn't had chapters remembering the problem, her reactions wouldn't have really had me guessing that she was mentally struggling.

All in all, it's an exciting read and has more than a few tense moments.

And here she is...

April Henry is the New York Times–bestselling author of many acclaimed mysteries for adults and young adults, including the YA novels The Girl in the White Van; Girl, Stolen; The Night She Disappeared; The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die; The Girl I Used to Be, which was nominated for an Edgar Award and won the Anthony Award for Best YA Mystery; Count All Her Bones; The Lonely Dead; Run, Hide, Fight Back; and The Body in the Woods and Blood Will Tell, the first two books in the Point Last Seen series. She lives in Oregon.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


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Monday, January 18, 2021

Review: Ducks On The Road by Anita Lobel

Tomorrow is the release day for a cute book, which helps young listeners to work on their counting skills... but in a super, adorable way. It's not time for ducks and fuzzy ducklings to go marching across my pasture yet, but Spring is on its way (and doesn't time fly?). While I can count, this one had me smiling the whole way through.

A Counting Adventure
by Anita Lobel
Paula Wiseman Books
Picture Book
40 pages
ages 4 to 8

From Caldecott Honor artist Anita Lobel comes a touching and classically, vividly illustrated story of a family of ducks out for a walk and the surprises they meet along the way.

When a family of ducks goes out for a walk, their path takes them in unexpected directions—and maybe even to some new friends. Little ones will delight in counting ducks one through ten and identifying the other animals the duck family meets on their country walk.


These little ducklings wiggle and waddle on the sweetest adventure, which just happens to help young listeners work on their counting skills along the way.

The duck family is out for a walk down the road. There are ten ducklings when they start out, but one by one, the ducklings get distracted by other creatures and 'disappear'. 

While counting is the main idea behind this read, it's subtly woven in to a cute and surprised-packed tale. The ducklings are sweet...which ducklings aren't? And the walk in a perfect row behind their parents makes them so easy to count. When they start peeling off and, one by one, meet other cute animals, young listeners are sure to smile and wonder what will happen as well as count the ones who are left. There isn't any danger in this book. Each surprise is a good one, which later brings friendship and more fun than before. The only thing which confused me and my family members was the last creature the ducklings met. Where did it come from? The same parents?

The illustrations are very lovely and a treat to flip through. In some ways, they are repetitive, but there's just enough change to insure young listeners are captivated. In this way, it will be natural for them to concentrate on the line of decreasing ducks and count them again and again.

It's a lovely book and a lovely way to strengthen those number skills.

Sneak Peek: Clarissa by Giulietta M Spudich with Giveaway


by Giulietta M. Spudich
Middle-Grade Fantasy

A fire is coming. It starts with a girl and a key.

After her mother’s death, Clarissa doesn’t know how to connect with her distant father. Her only friend is an oak tree who she can tell her deepest secrets. When she discovers a mysterious key that unleashes a long-forgotten fire spirit, she must find her voice to protect those she loves.

"A delightful, fantastical tale of how oak trees and humans can be friends." -Dr. James Canton, author of "The Oak Papers"

**Get it FREE Jan 9th & 10th!! **

Giulietta M. Spudich enjoys writing everything from children's stories to grown-up fiction and poems in between. She lives in Cambridge, England where she moved from California in 2002. She is inspired by cats, especially her late black cat, Smokey.

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

Signed paperback of Clarissa with cat necklace – 2 winners!
$10 Amazon – 1 winner 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Review: This Is Drew by Catherine White


by Catherine White
Illustrated by Inna Eckman
Mascot Books
Picture Book
ages 4 to 8
38 pages

Autism can be hard to understand, even for experts in the field. Join us as we meet Drew and teach his classmates about living with autism. Thoughtful examples illustrate differences in interpreting situations, allowing children to ultimately foster empathy and compassion for those who see the world a little differently.


With easy to understand situations, the general characteristics a child with autism might display are presented and brought to light so that others might have a better understanding.

Drew is just like any other child, except he sometimes acts and behaves a bit differently. He doesn't always understand how others feel or how he should react to certain situations. But he's still a wonderful person who wants to simply be friends.

I appreciated how this book views autism. Too often, people have developed exact ideas of what autism should look like thanks to several movies and don't understand that it's not that simple. Drew is presented as a very normal most ways. But he has trouble understanding feelings and the meaning behind certain situations, and sometimes, simply doesn't know how to express himself. This book explains the basic aspects of autism as they generally appear. But the thing with autism is that it never is exactly the same in every person. Just several of the traits are similar to different degrees. So, kudos to the author on that end.

As for the book itself, it's written in a way listeners will understand and brings across situations they can relate to. With simple explanations, it becomes clear why kids with autism react the way they do. And yet, the author makes sure to point out that these kids aren't really that different in many respects. It's a great read for opening up children ages 4 to 8 to autism and gives them a better understanding of those who have it.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Review: So You Want A Pet Dragon by Tania Pourat

 Just in case you didn't get enough dragons yesterday, I have another dragon read for today. This one is for a slightly younger audience, ages 4 to 8, and takes a more silly twist on 'bonding' with dragons. 

by Tania Pourat
Illustrated by Tristan Tait
Mascot Books
Picture Book
ages 4 to 8

We all know how hard taking care of a pet can be. Taking care of a pet dragon is no exception! If you need tips and tricks to take care of your dragon, look no further. This book has everything you need to know to care for your very own feisty, fiery friend. Simply follow this advice and see for yourself how rewarding owning a pet dragon can be!


Packed with down-to-earth information for all those would-be dragon owners, this book is sure to create more than one smile.

Owning and caring for a dragon isn't an easy undertaking, especially in today's world. In these, pages everything that young dragon owners need to know, watch out for, or do is pointed out. After all, dragon owners want to keep their pets happy and safe, while making sure they don't lose their tempers, too.

The book is pretty straight forward as it goes from one thing to watch out for to the next. The things dragons need are sometimes important and, more often, silly. And it's exactly this which makes this a fun read. The illustrations allow the fun to seep from every page and make it hard for listeners not to wish they could own a dragon as well. While the care and things to watch out for are presented as tedious, it's pretty clear they'd be tons of fun too.

The text rolls along nicely for the age group and makes each situation clear, while allowing the illustrations to do their part along the way. I would have like to have seen the ending round out a little smoother, since it does chop off rather quick. But it's still a lovely read, and I can see dragon lovers enjoying it quite a bit.

Cover Reveal: The Worlds That Separated Us by Megan Jayne


The Worlds That Separated Us
by Megan Jayne
YA Fantasy

MAY 1st, 2021!!!

University graduate Rosie is from Earth. At least she’s never had cause to question that before now. After a car accident and an oddly familiar stranger turn her world upside down, she is forced to question everything she thought she once knew. Thrust into a world of betrayal, loss, and love. Rosie faces an impossible choice between the two worlds she’s grown to love, or risk losing everything she’s ever cared about. All while an impending war is on the horizon.

Add to Goodreads

And here she is...

Megan Jayne is a debut author with her first YA Fantasy novel ‘The Worlds That Separated Us,’ due for release in Spring 2021. She was born in Northern Ireland and still resides there in a small picturesque village with her husband, two young children, and beagle Holly.

When Megan isn’t writing you can usually find her; playing with her two children, in the kitchen baking delicious cakes, deep into a novel, or settling down to a good movie with her husband.

Website / Goodreads / Instagram / Newsletter


Friday, January 15, 2021

Review: Dragon Mountain by Katie and Kevin Tsang

I was in the mood for some dragons, and better yet, set in the mythical mountains of China...and all that in a modern day, middle grader's world. Doesn't the cover scream dragon adventure? This one is the beginning to a new series (which came out last September) and had me reading it in one sitting because... well, go on down and read my tidbits to see what I thought.

Dragon Realm, Book 1
by Katie & Kevin Tsang
Sterling Publishers
Middle Grade Fantasy
333 pages
ages 8 to 12

BEAST QUEST meets PERCY JACKSON in this epic new fantasy series.

Deep within the mountain, a great creature stirred in its sleep. Its eyes rolled back in its head, and its wings jerked wide open…

When 12-year-old Billy Chan finds out his parents are sending him to a summer camp in middle-of-nowhere China he doesn’t know what to expect. There he meets fellow campers Dylan, Charlotte and Ling-Fei and together they stumble upon an age-old secret: four powerful warrior dragons, hidden deep within the mountain behind the camp. They have been trapped since an epic battle with the Dragon of Death and need the children’s help to set them free before terrible evil is unleashed on the earth. Billy and his friends must set off on a dangerous adventure that will take them to the heart of the Dragon Realm. But can they save the dragon and human worlds from destruction?
DRAGON MOUNTAIN is the first book in the DRAGON REALM series by Katie and Kevin Tsang, co-authors of SAM WU IS NOT AFRAID.  


                                                              * diverse characters
                                                              * friendship conquers all
                                                              * China setting
                                                              * fast paced
                                                              * easy read


What a fun read! Dragons get a chance to allow their awesomeness to come to full light, while kids do what they best—form friendships and save the world.

Billy Chan might have a father from Hong Kong, but he's a pure California boy with tons of surfing medals to show for it. Still, he has to head to a camp somewhere in the middle of no-where among the mountains of China to learn to improve his Mandarin. There he meets a group of very different kids from all over the world, who are about as excited to be there as he is (which is zilch). But from the very first moments, when the camp leader pulls out magical beads and claims the beads know how to divide the campers into groups of four, things start getting weird. Billy finds himself placed with three others, who might appear very different, but still fit together well. After facing a disappearing tiger, a hole opens up in the mountain and they are sucked in to discover four dragons, who've been waiting for them for many, many years. And the dragons have news no one wants to hear—great danger is coming to both Earth and the Dragon Realm, and these kids are the only hope either has to survive.

This is a great read for fantasy, magic, dragon, adventure and simply action fans. The pages draw in right away as Billy exits a train at a small, Chinese village and feels so lost it hurts. He's very easy to connect with and him, like the other characters, come across very natural, as if they could be a group of kids anyone might meet. The personalities are very different, and each of the four heroes is likeable in their own way...and each has their own kinks and quirks. But this one sets on imagination, adventure, and the dream of doing so much more than sitting around as adults would often have kids do. This tale lets dreams take flight with excitement around every bend.

Of course, the diverse characters and Asian setting bring along a nice flair, which is gladly seen in today's world. I did love diving into China and the mountain along with Mandarin and such. This acts more as a light peppering to the story, since it only sets the scene before the dragons come in. Nothing can compare to the amazingness of these dragons. (Yes, dragons...dragons...and more dragons.)

The tale is for middle graders, and it stays snuggly in this group. The language and grammar fit very well to the lower and middle range of the age group, and is actually a bit light for anyone older...which has its pluses and minuses. There isn't a super amount of depth, keeping this tale fun and action centered...which fits wonderfully to grades 4 through 6. I had no trouble reading through this one in a short evening and see even reluctant readers sinking into these pages.

It's a sheer adventure story packed with magic and dragon goodness, where friendship reigns. And I can recommend this one without a smidgen of doubt because middle graders are sure to enjoy every page. 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Review: The Cloudburst by Rajesh Naiksatam


"The will to survive is a force that never discriminates."
by Rajesh Naiksatam
Story Vision Magic, Inc
Young Adult Catastrophy Fiction
185 pages

After fifteen-year-old Ganpu Aapla and his parents lose everything they own, including their beautiful ancestral home in Katalveldurwadi Dabhol, India, to a forced takeover by America’s Enrone Corporation, they move to Mumbai in search of justice. Ganpu’s family takes up residence in a temporary shack that doubles as a chai shop near the Bandra Kurla Complex in a Mumbai suburb.

One day during monsoon season, when Ganpu’s parents are out working, a harmless drizzle suddenly turns into a torrential downpour, which quickly floods the streets.

Julie, Rick, James, and Saira, four international students whose parents all live in India, are supposed to be taking a boat trip to the Elephant Caves, but the unexpected cloudburst dampens their plans. After the tour group heads back to land, their guide leaves them with a stranger—a local teacher named Anu—at a bus stop while he looks for help.

Local teens Siva, Javed, and Xinmin, enthralled by the Mumbai rains, decide to venture out into the city instead of going straight home after school and find themselves also stranded at the bus stop.

This ragtag group of mixed classes, races, and genders is forced to seek shelter with one another in Ganpu’s family’s shop. While they wait, the intensity of the rain increases, threatening their survival. With no way of contacting their frantic parents, the group reluctantly waits together to be rescued.

When it appears an outside rescue might be impossible, Ganpu wholly commits to saving the lives of his guests despite their distrust of him, a lowly roadside hawker. In order for his plan to work, though, he must destroy his family’s only home and livelihood, while each one of the stranded must overcome personal demons and prejudices.

Terrified and left with no other way out, Anu must conquer her own fears and motivate the kids to work together, or else the whole crew will face certain death.

This thrilling, edge-of-your-seat story demonstrates how courage, heart, and integrity is necessary to change our lives and the world around us.


                                                               * broad variety of characters
                                                               * contains individual issues as well as a main one
                                                               * messages is clear by the end
                                                               * good tension
                                                               * dialogue, situation, and characters natural and true to life


Set in Mumbai, this is a well-paced, tense tale, which hits upon many themes important in today's world.

Ganpu lives with his parents and helps out as much as he can at their Thai shop in attempt to keep the family afloat after losing everything to the bigger corporations. When a storm moves in, he helps more than a couple stranded teens find shelter in the shop, but the rain doesn't cease, and they find themselves in increasing danger. Ganpu does his best and will sacrifice everything to try to help everyone survive...even if they look down upon him.

A large variety of teens come together in a very unexpected place and are forced to confront several harsh realities. While the main plot centers around the storm, the author allows the various issues and baggage of the teens to float right along side as they work their way through other obstructions. They need to learn to step beyond normal borders of race, gender, and social status, and in the process, might see past stereotypes and manufactured differences. Especially Ganpu has tons of heart and comes across as very natural with the twists and personality kinks someone of his age tends to carry. He's a wonderful hero.

The book is written in multiple points of view and switches back and forth quite a bit, sometimes after only a page or two. This allows the parents and others' worries and situations to also come to light. While interesting, it also jolted and always took a moment to figure out who's viewpoint it was. Unfortunately, it also allowed little time for much depth to build with any of the characters outside of Ganpu. World building and backgrounds also suffered. If it weren't for the illustrations sprinkled through-out the pages, it would have been very difficult to picture the scenes and surroundings. Which is too bad, since this does take place in Mumbai and would give especially young readers a chance to broaden their horizons along the way a bit more.

This read definitely fulfills its purpose and through a edge-of-the-seat situation, shows that bonding occurs even when it seems impossible.

And here he is...

Rajesh Naiksatam was born and raised in Mumbai, India. At age ten, while on the school playground, Rajesh was hit by a powerfully thrown but misguided javelin. By the grace of God, the javelin wobbled at the very last moment and lost its momentum, fortunately leaving Rajesh with nothing more than a half-inch-deep hip wound.

Rajesh's late father, Shrikant Naiksatam, was one of the finest animators and visual effects artists India has ever produced. Shrikant wanted Rajesh to become a computer engineer, but Rajesh was more interested in following in his father's footsteps and joining the creative field. Eventually, Rajesh convinced Shrikant to let him work with him. While training with his father in animation and visual effects, Rajesh had the privilege of working with Prahlad Kakar, India's advertisement guru. Prahlad gave Rajesh an opportunity to direct his first stop-motion animation film for a commercial, which won an Advertising Club Award.

Rajesh came to the United States to pursue a master's degree in computer graphics at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, where one of his teachers was Chris Wedge, the director of the movie Ice Age.

After graduating from SVA, Rajesh worked for Tony Ciao’s company Data Motion Arts in New York City, where part of his job was training interns. Visual effects artist John Kohn was one of his interns. A few months after John's internship ended, he went to Los Angeles for work and convinced Rajesh to also move there, inviting him to stay in his apartment until Rajesh found a job. Since then Rajesh has worked with several film studios, including Boss Films, Digital Domain, Warner Bros., Walt Disney Animation, DreamWorks, and Sony Pictures Imageworks.

For Rajesh, the courage to face every challenging situation in his life to date came from that unforgettable javelin incident in his childhood.

Ian's Realm Saga by D.L. Gardner with Giveaway


Ian's Realm Saga
Trilogy Books 1-3
by D.L. Gardner
YA Fantasy

Winner of Book Excellence Award 2019

Three books in one, this saga follows the adventures of Ian Wilson through the portal and into a magical land called the Realm. From slave boy to warrior, Ian encounters the dragon worshiping village, Menek, their enemies the Kaemperns, and the all powerful fire-breathing dragon Old Stenhjaert.

Part 1. Deception Peak

Ian's Realm Saga, is a young adult adventure fantasy about a teenager, Ian Wilson, who follows his father, Alex, through a portal that magically appears on their computer screen while they are creating a game engine. They travel into a deceptively beautiful Realm, where horses run wild, the wind sings prophetic melodies, and their computer avatar (Xylon) comes to life. But when the two are separated, Ian is abducted by a tribe of dragon worshipers. In his struggle to be released, he causes chaos in the village and is banished into the wilderness with two other residents. They come upon a group of people who live for the sole purpose to destroy the dragon. They agree to help Ian find his father deep in the caves of the dragon's lair.
Alex is found, but not without sacrifice, causing a deepened relationship between Ian and the Kaempern leader, Amleth.
Alex and Ian ride for the portal home with the dragon at their heels. Alex, his father stops in his tracks and goes back with the intent to slay the dragon, sending his son to the portal to wait for him with the instructions that if he doesn't return by morning, go home without him. Alex never returns.

Part 2 Dragon Shield

Integrity isn't something you do, it's who you are," Aren tells the confused Ian in The Dragon Shield.

Now a young man, Ian returns to the magical Realm to fight against the tyranny that has befallen his friends. But the Realm is a different place, the forest is dying, the Kaemperns have lost the shield that protected them from the dragon, and Ian has a hard time proving his allegiance when trouble follows him through the portal. His struggle to do right buries him in confusion when he's confronted with a young boy who wields a powerful magical dagger which summons the dragon.

Part 3 Rubies and Robbers

"I will not let fear weaken us, not now" -says Ian as he dives into the cold waters of Moor Cove to find the escapees.

Ian has proven his abilities as a warrior and now the most dangerous battle begins, the battle against the power of evil. Ian must unravel the secrets of the mountain and discern whom his real enemy is, the enemy both without and within. He tackles with the twelve-year-old boy who seems to hold the fate of the entire Realm in his hands, and yet the pressing Songs of Wisdom call for compassion in his dealings. Ian leads his men in the fight against the powers of darkness. But he must also be willing to sacrifice everything he ever hoped to have in order to save those he loves.

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Layla: Born at Night
Ian's Realm Saga Book 3.1

When Ian returns to the Realm in search of Abbi and Elisa he not only encounters the fiery dragon, but falls prey to a lovely temptress and a wicked queen.

When Elisa's friend becomes a victim of a drive-by shooting, Abbi and Elisa seek a magical cure in Ian's shield, but are accidentally transported into the Realm with no way back. Ian suspects their whereabouts and opens the portal to find them. His entry compromises the integrity of the seal which prevents the dragon from returning to the Realm. In his search for the girls, he stumbles upon a beautiful enchantress who offers to help him.

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Fallen Morning
Ian's Realm Saga Book 3.2

After the death of her precious soldier, Queen Hacatine, in a fit of rage, commands her ambassadors to kill the Magic Thief and capture Layla's murderer.

Ian is a wanted man.

A Taikan slave boy, Rolando, voyages with the assassins. The ship encounters a squall and is soon battered to pieces. The Taikans escape leaving Rolando on the sinking ship. He saves the Sage's chest of incantations and barely survives himself. His intent is to find Hacatine's ambassadors and return the clandestine strongbox—but meets Silvio the Wizard instead.

Rolando's world is turned upside down.

Brad and Elisa Huntington return to Seattle from the Realm only to be crudely interrogated by Drew, Abbi's father. After Brad passes a polygraph test, his dad and Drew have no recourse but to believe his story. Soon scientists are forging through the portal in search of the Realm.

Drew wants his daughter back.

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Diary of a Conjurer
Ian's Realm Saga Book 4

When the old wizard Silvio eyes a woman dragging an unconscious young man ashore on his beach, he suspects the worst. A sorceress warrior from the island of Taikus could mean nothing but ill will. But who is the boy? With a burst of magic, he freezes the warrior into a bronze statue, and nurtures the boy back to health. The teenager, Ivar, explains that he is on a quest to discover his past, but a violent storm cast him into the sea.

Silvio's suspicions grow, and he wonders why a Taikan would rescue an archer from Kaempern since they are known enemies.

When Silvio joins Ivar on his journey, his answers come all too quickly. He, too, becomes the evil queen's prey, and there's a reason she's keeping him alive.

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Cassandra's Castle
Ian's Realm Book 5

Finalist Book Excellence Award 2017

A unique  YA Fantasy page-turner that spans the void between vastly different worlds, Gardner captures the most endearing qualities of the genre in a story that's both refreshing and original. -Book Viral Review

Readers who love excitement, peril and sweet romance will enjoy this time-travel adventure.

Eighteen years after her father visited the Realm, Cassie discovers a portal to the same world when she takes a selfie with her cell phone. Against the wishes of her friends, she goes in and finds herself captured by a grumpy old wizard. Its through him she learns of the unrest happening in the kingdom called Alisubbo. When a handsome cavalry officer, Valerio, appears with his troops in all his pompous attire, Cassie is taken breathless.

The cunning Valerio immediately recognizes the opportunity of befriending this lovely, young and naive stranger and sweet-talks her into helping his cause. Her mission, deliver an Appeal for Peace to the king. Cassie willingly takes the job, thrilled that she finally has the adventure she's wanted all her young life.

Tragically for her, the letter is not what Valerio says it is. Cassie discovers she's been a pawn in a coup to overthrow the king. She discovers the lies and false accusations too late. Before she can stop the violence, her hands are stained in blood. She must somehow turn the tide, save the life of the heir, and persuade him to return and rescue Alisubbo from Valerio's tyranny.

Other books in this series include Ian's Realm Saga and Diary of a Conjurer and the Tale of the Four Wizards which are published on my website.

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Lost on Taikus
Ian's Realm Saga Book 6

When the young wizard Abbott is abducted as a little boy, he is taken to the castle of the wicked queen Hacatine and condemned to wait his young life as a prisoner until he comes of age and his sentence is executed.
But even as a child, Abbott has other plans. When he meets the beautiful albino slave girl who spins silk from a butterfly's spittle he is more determined to not only escape, but bring the entire queen's court with him.

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Layla Born at Night Ian’s Realm book 3.1

Ian pulled out his phone and checked the connection. “There’s been some signal in here, but it’s been spotty. If I could get enough reception to access my files, time wouldn’t be an issue at all.” After another failed attempt, Ian put the phone back into his pants pocket and focused on the flames. 

“Is he going to meet us in Alcove Forest?”

“The portal isn’t there anymore. The portal is nearer the prairie. A longer walk for us, but an easier route for Brad and the Kaemperns.”

“All right. I’m ready to go home. Maybe you should get some sleep,” Abbi suggested, patting his knee. Her touch surprised him. 

He thought of Layla and her warm gentle hands on his neck. He took Abbi’s hand and held it for a moment, and then placed it at her side. She looked hurt and folded her hands in her lap after that.  “I will stay up and watch over the both of you,” he said.

“Ian…” she started, but when he looked into her eyes, her voice trailed. “Never mind.”

“Get some rest, Abbi.”

Abbi bedded down in what bit of soft dirt there was and closed her eyes. Ian continued to watch the fire, adding small pieces of timber and brush. When it died down, he stood and warmed his back, looking out into the dark of the night. Only the stars were visible beyond the campfire. 

The stars, and a figure moving toward him came into view. He squinted, not sure if he were hallucinating from fatigue. “Layla?” he asked.

“Yes, Ian,” she said. She didn’t stop approaching him, but kept coming, and behind her were five other women dressed the same as she, fully armed, their hair playing colors with the firelight. She stepped up to him and before he could decipher the danger, she drew his sword from his sheath and handed it to a woman behind her. He struck out to stop her, but she blocked his thrust, taking hold of his wrist and bending his elbow behind his back.

“What do you want from me?” He squinted from the pain.

“The key to the portal, Ian. That’s all. There’s something locked up in there that we care dearly about.” She frisked his pockets until she found the phone, tossing the pocketknife to another woman. “This!”

“You have no idea how to use that. It’s useless to you.”

He eyed Abbi stirring. Elisa still slept.

“No. You’re right. That’s why you’re coming with us.”

“What’s happening?” Abbi sat up, wiped the hair from her eyes and jumped to her feet. 

“Nothing to be too concerned about,” Layla said. “We’re taking your boyfriend to our ship until he answers some questions.”

“We could take them all,” one of the women suggested. 

“No!” Layla answered quickly. “I want this one for my own.” She smiled at Abbi. “Your loss!”

Abbi made a move to fight but was immediately restrained by two of the women. 

“Don’t, Abbi,” Ian said, fearful she’d be hurt. “Let me handle this. Take care of Elisa.” He could see the rage and terror in Abbi’s eyes when they locked onto his. He nodded, hoping she’d understand that he’d do everything he could to escape.  

That was the last connection he had with her before he was escorted out of the camp, and through the rock-strewn landscape that led to the sea. 

D.L.Gardner is an award winning author and screenwriter, taking home the Book Excellence Award for her Amazon's best selling Ian's Realm Saga as well as various other prestigious awards for her audio books and screenplays. Her young adult adventure fantasy and historical fantasy novels are loved by youth and adults all over the world.
"Dianne's wonderfully descriptive writing style will have you so involved in the story that in a sense you will have forgotten that it was just a story."
Dianne is a columnist for Amazing Stories Magazine, one of the most popular science fiction and fantasy magazines of all time. She's taught workshops and participated on panels at conferences and film festivals. Her concept film for Ian's Realm has won numerous fantasy short awards in L.A., New York and New Zealand.
Dianne was born in Ohio and raised in southern CA. She attended Northern AZ University and later continued her education in the Pacific Northwest. She's an oil painter, book illustrator, screenwriter and filmmaker.

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