The Reluctant Wizard by A.A. Warne

The Reluctant Wizard by A.A. Warne ~ Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

By day, wizards rule the world. At night, warlocks seek to destroy it. Now, one boy will challenge them both. 

Eli never wanted to be a rebel. All he wants is an end to the famine and war threatening his community. To save his mother and baby brother from marauding warlocks, Eli is forced to make a heartbreaking decision. He must travel to Terra Magicae, the mysterious land of the wizards, to study magic. In exchange, the wizards will protect his family, but this protection comes at a price: once Eli enters the Grand Wizardry Academy, he may never come home. 

Full of lush landscapes and magical marvels, Terra Magicae is more wondrous than Eli ever imagined… and more dangerous. At first, Eli’s struggles to fit in at the Academy seem ordinary. But the more he questions the wizards, the more he suspects a sinister purpose behind their bizarre rules and tests. For a dark secret lies at the heart of this mystical land, one so terrible it threatens not only the students at the Academy but the lives of everyone Eli loves. 

To save them all, Eli must step into the midst of the battle between the wizards and warlocks and defy both sides. He must become the rebel he was always meant to be.

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A. A. Warne writes elaborate, strange, dark and twisted stories. In other words, speculative fiction.
Located at the bottom of the Blue Mountains in Sydney, Australia; Amanda was born an artist and grew up a painter before deciding to study pottery.
But it wasn’t until she found the art of the written word that her universe expanded.
A graduate of Western Sydney University in arts, Amanda now spends her time wrestling three kids and writing full time.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Goodreads * Amazon

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

            I was never really interested in books as a child. I had a few stories read to be here and there but nothing grabbed my attention. I loved art and I always believed I was going to grow up and become an artist. I studied painting and pottery after high school and I love creating sculptures.
            But as I became a mother, these messy arts were not practical. My baby hated to sleep. She rather stay awake all day and play with me. So I put aside my art while she was young.

            For a creative being, this was not a good idea. A creative person MUST create. My friend noticed that I was struggling and she threw a book at me. Twilight. I laughed. I didn’t read! But she made me read all of it. And I did. Then I went out and brought book two, then three and by the time I finished reading book four, I starting brainstorming ideas for my own book.

            The best part about writing is there are never ending possibilities.

            It started as a way to be creative but it wasn’t until I spoke to a friend about the story I was creating and she encouraged me to keep going. Since then, I haven’t stopped.

            I now write everyday and clock forty hours a week, writing, brainstorming, researching and now publishing.

What is something unique/quirky about you?

            Even though I have a great life, wonderful family and seriously interesting kids, I often live inside my head. If I’m not researching something strange or wacky, I’m creating it mentally. Stories have been a huge part of my life, especially as a kid. I always had a movie playing in the background while I was painting or creating some time of art. Little did I know, that as I listened, I was developing skills that helped me discover the structure and the composition of a story. Now it has become something natural that ticks over in the back of my mind while I focus on characters, worlds and what’s happening for them.

Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you!

I met a wonderful author who is just as wild and crazy as I am, Michelle Crow. She lives on the opposite side of the planet and as soon as we met, it was like we had always known each other. In fact, we’ve gone onto writing a book together, she has been my bridesmaid, and we plan on visiting one another so many times in the next couple of years. She is the one who gave me the Madame of Darkness title. Even though we live in two different countries, that hasn’t stopped us from talking everyday, knowing what’s going on in each other’s lives, and supporting one another in writing.

What are some of your pet peeves?

            Contradictions! I can see them a mile away. But don’t get me wrong, I do them myself. There’s nothing like saying I’m going to eat clean and healthy but then I buy chocolate… okay, I know that’s a contradiction, but I have weaknesses too!

Where were you born/grew up at?

            I live at the bottom of the Blue Mountains, in Western Sydney, Australia. I am third generation in this town and we don’t have plans on moving anytime soon.
            Western Sydney is a large place, with the majority of Australia’s population here. I can see the mountains from my home, and yes, they are blue.

Who is your hero and why?

            I do love superheroes and anyone super-human. But in real life, it’s the everyday person. Each and everyone does amazing things. Look after sick parents, survive a horrific car accident, go on adventures and to me that is amazing. We live our lives and we’re not amazed by our own steps we take across the planet. So for me, a hero is someone who sets a goal and walks the path until it’s achieved. If we get knocked down, fail, detoured, or sidetrack but get back up and keep going, that’s even more amazing and that’s what I define as a hero – someone who achieves their inner purpose in their life.

What kind of world ruler would you be?

Oh rulers! I actually hate that word. It means to stand over a group of people and dictate their lives. Instead of that position, I prefer leader. Leaders mean so much more. A leader can also be part of the team. If a leader is part of the same team, and not above them, then they can ensure that freedom remains possible so that we can chose how to live our own lives. Leaders can be pushed aside and replaced, questioned and scrutinized – anyone who has that position should always be questioned at the very least. A ruler doesn’t have that same scrutinization which is sad because it trickles traits into a society that will easily diminish the importance of a group. Together humans are strong and we’re even stronger when we work together harmoniously.

I am excited to be one of many tour hosts sharing information on The Reluctant Wizard by A.A. Warne.

Scourge of the Fallen by W.M. Martin

Would you prefer to watch the video, instead of reading the review? CLICK HERE

Fallen

TITLE: Scourge of the Fallen
AUTHOR: W.M. Martin

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★
Story: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4)

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
Following the events of Shadow of Okeaous, the Fallen have been scattered. Whispers of the Hordes searching for something, around many of the Havens on Earth, has reached the ears of the Guardians. Meanwhile, the students of the Kindred Academy have been striving to further their knowledge of the incredible power lying dormant within themselves. With the aid of their Clan Leaders and an odd, new instructor, the dubious young Guardians-in-training will learn to harness exciting and dangerous new abilities. The worlds of the Kindred, no longer separated by the Veil, are equally unaware of an ancient darkness which has been steadily rising to drown out the light of the living; both Guardian and Fallen, alike.

Buy the book HERE!

MY 2 CENTS / THE CRITICAL POINTS:
WRITING (★★★★): Scourge of the Fallen is a self-published fantasy novel. I’ve said it before; fantasy isn’t my favorite genre and probably isn’t even in my top three favorite genres’. However, I read the first book in this series, Shadow of Okeaous and was pleasantly surprised by the fact that I really enjoyed it. That meant I was destined to read book two.

Martin has a very energetic writing style. His books are filled with action, adventure, and leave you almost longing for a few peaceful quiet moments. That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy this book, I did. It is a page turner with a lot going on and a lot of character arcs to follow.

One thing I really like about Martin’s writing is that he isn’t afraid to kill off his characters. Yes, some of the main characters die. I won’t tell you who, I think you need to read the book to find out, but prepare yourself.

I’m not sure how this book is marketing, but after reading it I would say it is good for Middle Grade – Young Adult readers. However, there are a number of times when Martin uses words in very obscure ways. Once example would be the word ‘purchase’ in the example below:

“Maggie could not get her swards out in front of herself enough to slice or to stab the large and imposing Fallen, so she kicked at him as hard as she could, but like her sward strike, her attack failed to find purchase.”

There were a number of references like that that I think some of the younger readers may not understand. The meanings are evident in the context of the story, but not always clear just by the typical meaning of the words being used.

STORY (★★★★): Scourge of the Fallen is the second book in Martin’s series and follows pretty closely behind where the first book left off. In book one, our main characters were 1st year students in the academy. In book two, they are second year student. They have already gone through a lot and have many battles and trials to face throughout book 2.

Martin gives us battle after battle and just when the reader is given a little hope that something good might happen, he throws another wrench in the story line.

CHARACTERS (★★★★): The reader is given numerous characters to follow in Scourge of the Fallen, maybe too many. There are so many storylines to follow and different characters to keep up with that I found myself loosing track at times. Not to mention the fact that many of the character (and location) names are difficult to pronounce, which makes it a bit harder to relate to and remember. I have the same issue when reading large epics like lord of the rings and Game of Thrones.

I only had two character-related issues with this story. The first was with Henry (human) who is introduced in Chapter 9. There was a lack of character development and nothing that really allowed the reader to connect with him much less care for him. Thus, when he died, we were left with an uneasy feeling of not really caring. It didn’t seem, to me, that Henry served much of a purpose or propelled the story along in any way. I think he could have been edited out of the story without a negative impact on the final storyline.

The second was Martin’s need to weaken our lead character, Maggie. Instead of Maggie being the hero at the end, which is what the series seems to be guiding us toward, another character (one we love to hate and love all at the same time) steps up and ends up being the hero. I like Lucy, I do, but it didn’t feel natural that she would be in the position she was in at the end, instead of Maggie. Just my opinion – I’d love to know yours after you read it. So, make sure you click on that link above to get your copy and then come back and tell me what you thought after you read it.

APPEARANCE (★★★★): The cover is great. Very eye catchy and inviting. It was designed by Anca Gabriela at BROSEDESIGNZ who I believe did a beautiful job of creating a cover that would inspire fantasy lovers to pick up the book.

FAVORITE QUOTES:
“That’s it! We’re all going to die. I knew it, we’re going to die. Thank you, Kylie, for delivering me to my death. Would anyone else like to say thanks to Kylie before we die?” ~ Klause

AUTHOR BIO: 

familyW. M. Martin is a writer of fantasy novels and a lover of his black lab, Willow. He’s also quite fond of his wife, Stephanie, and their four daughters. The stories he writes are inspired by his children. They are the first and last line of defense in regards to ensuring that his readers are certain to enjoy his works. He enjoys writing about female heroes, because his daughters are his.

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

ALSO BY W.M. Martin:

Shadow

Shadow of Okeaous
hen a teenage runaway named Maggie Bennett is drawn to the small but odd town of Thieves, she is unaware of what adventure awaits her. Maggie must journey to a world beyond the one she knows to undertake the trials and train to became a Guardian, all while an ancient and malefic presence is secretly haunting her every step, and it desires, more than anything, that which it once held. Journey along with Maggie as she learns about the world of the Veil, her place within it, and the Fallen hordes who want to watch it burn.

Dead Boy by Laurel Gale

Dead BoyTITLE: Dead Boy
AUTHOR: Laurel Gale

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4.75)

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
Crow isn’t like the other kids. He stinks. He’s got maggots. His body parts fall off at inopportune moments. (His mom always sews them back on, though.) And he hasn’t been able to sleep in years. Not since waking up from death.

But worse than the maggots is how lonely Crow feels. When Melody Plympton moves in next door, Crow can’t resist the chance to finally make a friend. With Melody around he may even have a shot at getting his life back from the mysterious wish-granting creature living in the park. But first there are tests to pass. And it will mean risking the only friend he’s had in years.

Debut author Laurel Gale’s story about friendship fulfilled may be the most moving—and most macabre—yet.

Buy it HERE on Amazon! 

THE CRITICAL POINTS
Let me start by explaining why I was reading a middle-grade book about a boy who is basically the walking dead. I was wondering through the dollar store when I found Dead Boy sitting on the shelf. Not only did the little boy on the cover look so sad I immediately felt the urge to pick up the book, but when I skimmed the pages and realized the reading level I thought, this would be a great book to read with my son for our summer book club. So, I paid the $1.09 and bought the book. The cover drew me in and the idea of reading with my son is what pushed me to buy it.

WRITING: Laurel Gale is a very passionate writer. It has been a long time since I read a middle-grade book that I, as an adult, really enjoyed. Gale has a way of making us empathize with Crow, the lead character a boy who died and then returned… only to age while slowly rotting away. Although this book technically is a middle-grade reading level, like I said before, Gale explores context that only an adult reader will truly understand; an obsessive mother’s love, dangers that threaten our children’s safety, the damage of helicopter parenting, the devastation that comes with the loss of a child, and the desperation of parents who are grieving.

STORY: The book centers around Crow, a young boy who died in fourth grade but somehow – magically – was brought back to life. I won’t tell you how… you’ll have to read the book to learn the secrets that lie within. The problem was, he wasn’t brought back all the way. Crow is doomed to grow old while his body slowly rots away and maggots infest his corps. It sounds gruesome right? I’ll admit the maggots got to me, but the store that Gale tells about this little boy’s life, friendships, adventures, and ultimately his selflessness was beautiful.

CHARACTERS: Gale really pulls at your heartstrings with Crow and his little friend Melody. She has a wonderful way of drawing you in and making you love the characters. It’s a short book at only 245 pages and a quick read. I finished it in just 2 days while on travel. However, if I’m being honest, I didn’t want it to end. If this is a series, and I don’t know that it is, I would definitely pick up the rest of the books. I can’t wait to get home and talk to my son about it and see what he thinks.

APPEARANCE: Beautiful! The illustrator did a fantastic job with the cover. It was the first thing I noticed about the book and nothing else mattered… I wanted this book on my book shelf for the cover alone. The fact that it ended up being a great story too, well, that’s just a bonus.

MY FAVORITE QUOTE: “Crow suspected that although Luke was popular and had never had to deal with maggots or foul odors, he got lonely sometimes. Maybe having friends wasn’t as important as having the right friends.”

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video!