Category Archives: Books

The Aeronaut’s Windlass – A Book Review

Books. They’re beautiful works of art that require nothing less than the life and soul of their authors. They are an invaluable part of my life and I’m confident they always will be.

At the very least that is my excuse for writing a post that has absolutely nothing to do with travelling while I am in a beautiful country nothing less than half way across the world from my home. Continue reading The Aeronaut’s Windlass – A Book Review

Book Review: ‘City of Demons’ by Kevin Harkness

Hello all and welcome to the Apothecary! The following book review is for a novel that was passed on to me for review by the publisher, Tyche Books. To really see all the detail in the cover, you should click on it and view it full sized. The smaller versions don’t do it justice in the slightest.

Fantasy Book

“Demons are invading the Midlands for the first time in centuries.

The farmers have no defences against the murderous creatures. Swords in the hands of ordinary soldiers have no effect against demons, for the ability to resist a demon’s power – a projection of paralyzing fear – cannot be taught.

Garet’s life is forever changed the night his midlands family is attacked. Demonstrating a rare talent for resisting demon fear, Garet is taken to the city of Shirath to become a Demonbane: one who can withstand the demons’ psychic assault, trained in combat, and learned in demon lore.

But the ancient city isn’t a safe haven, it’s a death trap. While opposing political forces vie for the throne, a new demon terrorizes the citizens. To save Shirath, Garet must find friends and allies quickly, because the biggest threat to the city isn’t the demons, but the people living within the city’s walls.”

‘City of Demons’ is the debut novel of indie fantasy author Kevin Harkness. As with any new author I wasn’t sure what to expect and picked up the book with a degree of hesitation. I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t the dark, gore filled fantasy that I was expecting.

It’s a rich story set in a unique world and filled with interesting glimpses into the human mind. It delves into how our past experiences and how we deal with them can affect our ability to overcome fear. I noticed a tiny bit of steampunk-ish influence in the novel, which in my world is always a fun discovery.

That being said, it is not a difficult story to follow and I found it both entertaining and easy to read. I have no doubt that Kevin will only improve as an writer and I would happily read any novels that he might release in the future.

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Download ‘City of Demons’ as an ebook on Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo Books.

or purchase the paperback on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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Book Review: ‘Beauty and the Werewolf’ by Mercedes Lackey

“The eldest daughter is often doomed in fairy tales. But Bella-Isabella Beauchamps, daughter of a wealthy merchant-vows to escape the usual pitfalls.

Anxious to avoid the traditional path, Bella dons a red cloak and ventures into the forbidden forest to consult with “Granny,” the local wisewoman. But on the way home she’s attacked by a wolf-who turns out to be a cursed nobleman. Secluded in his castle, Bella is torn between her family and this strange man who creates marvelous inventions and makes her laugh-when he isn’t howling at the moon.
Bella knows all too well that breaking spells is never easy. But a determined beauty, a wizard (after all, he’s only an occasional werewolf) and a little Godmotherly interference might just be able to bring about a happy ending….”

As with all of Mercedes Lackey’s “Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdom’s” novels – this book is a fantasy romance, but thick with adventure and fantasy with just a dash of the romance to make all those people with gushy hearts like me perfectly happy. Yes, it is technically one of a series but you could read it quite easily on its own. If you want to get a better look at one of the minor characters and the world that Lackey has created I would suggest reading “The Fairy Godmother” first. It is still my favourite of all the books in this series and will introduce you to… well… the Fairy Godmothers and a bit of backstory.

It’s easy for me to say that I loved Beauty and the Werewolf, I’m not sure I blinked from the time I picked it up until the moment I read that last page. It’s a fun, slightly sweet read with all the elements of a classic fairy tale that I do so love. Curses, magic mirrors, step-mothers, Fairy Godmothers and of course… true love. (Aww)

The romance is relatively clean and the violence is only slightly graphic in a couple of scenes. There is some adult content for sure, but I would say that it would be fine for 16+.

If you were introduced to fantasy romance on the urban side of things, and haven’t yet tried out true fantasy, or you’ve never read fantasy before, this series would be a good place to start. You have the comforting familiarity of fairy tales and romance but with a fantasy world to wrap it all up in.

Definitely worthwhile; and if you happen to have a cozy fire to snuggle up in front of while enjoying this particular vintage, I’d count yourself lucky and me just a little jealous. ;)

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You can download the ebook on: Amazon, Kobo Books, Barnes & Noble and Ebooks.com.
Or the paperback:  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BooksAMillion and Indigo Books.

Thanks for stopping by!
-B

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Local Talent Showcase: ‘Iron and Wine’ by Candace Osmond

I stumbled across some pretty sweet news today. Not only is there a self-published fantasy author in my own town – she also happens to work for the same company that I do. Actually all things considered I’m a little blown away by the fact that I didn’t discover this detail a whole heck of a lot sooner. (My own fault for not spending more time talking to people!)
Iron and Wine by Candace Osmond

Iron & Wine is an Urban Fantasy novel set in a world full of hidden magical places and secret societies cloaked by modern day. In the first instalment of the Iron World Series, young artist Avery Quinn reluctantly leaves behind her quiet and comfortable home in the country and moves to the city with her best friend Julie Ryan. With the expectation that college will be the most exciting part of her life, Avery hopes that her little world remains quiet and simple. But after a troublesome blue sprite looking for help appears in her bedroom one night, her boss turns out to be a three hundred year old vampire, and her best friend accidentally reveals herself as an orphaned pixie, school quickly becomes the least of her worries. Every aspect of Avery’s life explodes with mythical beings and legendary creatures who all play a very important role in her existence. Some are friends, some are guardians, while others quickly become life threatening and deadly enemies. Avery must learn to juggle living in both her world and theirs. But, in this magical tale of strange love, strong bonds and scary beings; what once was nothing more than mere fairy tales told to her by her Aunt Tess are now a scary reality and Avery has somehow landed deep in the middle with little or no way out except death or worse…the loss of her humanity.”

This novel is currently only available as an ebook – but never fear, Candace has the paper and glue variety in the works as well. In the meantime I definitely encourage you to check out her novel on Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books or Amazon. It’s currently free to download as well, except on Amazon. (If you do happen to read it be sure to go back and leave a review!)

In addition, she will be giving away a signed copy when she hits 500 followers on Twitter so go follow @candaceosmond while you can!

-B

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Book Review: "The Wysard" – Waterspell Book 2 by Deborah J. Lightfoot

Note: This review is for Book 2 in the Waterspell series. Some small spoilers may be unavoidable if you continue reading. For the review of Book 1, please click here.

“After blundering into the last stronghold of magic, Carin discovers that she is right to fear the wizard Verek. He is using her to seal the ruptures in the void, and she may be nothing more to him than an expendable weapon. What will he do with her — or to her — when his world is again secure? Or has he erred in believing that the last bridge has been broken? The quest may not, in fact, be over … and Lord Verek may find himself not quite as willing to dispose of his fiery water-sylph, Carin, as he once believed himself to be.”

The tone and main storyline behind the second book is very different from the first. There are still a limited number of characters, which make it great for an easy evening read, but the setting and plot are quite different. It follows up on the questions left unanswered in the first but the main focus is less on Carin’s… severe dislike of Verek, but rather the larger picture.

I found it a fun and entertaining read, I had no problems getting into the story and finished it extremely quickly. The Wysard is an interesting, unique adventure with faint tones of romance but strong in narrative. The spoken language has its own cadence to it, strong and rich but still easy to get lost in and enjoy. I didn’t find it contrived or ridiculous but rather thought that it added to the story.

I am happy to report that I found the ending was fabulous in every way. For once, there wasn’t a huge cliffhanger looming over my head, even though there is another book in the series. I loved that feeling of satisfaction at the end, rather than the irritation that rises to the surface when a book has no real conclusions.

I have every intention of reading the third book in the series, I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

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You can download this book on Smashwords, Amazon, Kobo Books and Barnes & Noble.

…or pick up the paperback on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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Book Review: ‘Florence’ by Ciye Cho

“Seventeen-year-old Florence Waverley is out of her depth. Literally. Kidnapped and taken below the waves to the mer world of Niemela, she is the ultimate gift for merman Prince Kiren: a human familiar tied to his side. But nothing is what it seems amid the beauty and danger of a dark ocean.

Every Niemelan has a role to play, from the mermaids who weave towers out of kelp to the warriors who fight sea monsters. But in trying to survive, Florence will end up in the middle of a war between the mer and the Darkness. A conflict that will push her between two brothers: Kiren, the charmer inexplicably drawn to both her and the monsters; and Rolan, the loner who has been pushing her away since the day they met. But in order to take a stand–and find out where she belongs–Florence will have to risk it all: her life, her heart… and her very soul.”


This was the first book I have read that was set in an under-the-sea world quite like this one. The setting and society are both quite unique and I found it great to find an author who has come out with something different.

Florence is geared towards young adults and it also happens to be one of the few that I would recommend for younger teens without hesitation. There is a hint of romance, but absolutely nothing that might offend and though there is a bit of violence it isn’t graphic enough that I would worry about it much.

The descriptions in this book are very vivid and creative – the world is bright and imaginative and there is a definite chance that you might start seeing rainbows by the time you are finished due to the incredible amount of colours that are absolutely everywhere.

The story itself is entertaining and light, an easy read and a fun way to sit back and relax. It is cleanly written and edited and even though it is in 1st Person POV (which as you likely know isn’t my fav) I still enjoyed reading it. 

I would love to know what someone 10 – 14 years thought of it! One of these days I’ll have to give in and get an ereader for my neices/nephew so they can test out the YA books as well and help me give you a clearer picture!

There was room left open for a sequel, and Ciye confirmed in our interview that he has plans to write one, but the ending is satisfying all on it’s own. No cliffhangers here. (Finally! I was beginning to think that EVERY book ended in a cliffhanger!)

The ebook is only 0.99 – so this is definitely a book worth taking a chance on. Until July 14th, Midnight EST, you can also ENTER TO WIN a copy of this book in our giveaway.

I would just like to mention that this is a newly released novel, so if you do happen to read it, it would be great if you could take a moment and leave a review wherever you picked it up. You have no idea how much a few words can help!

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You can find the ebook on: Smashwords and Amazon.

… and the paperback on: Amazon and the Author’s Website.

***

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Author Interview with Ciye Cho

Hello all and welcome to the Apothecary – I hope you enjoy the interview we have put together for you today! Before we get started I’d like to take a moment to introduce the featured individual today; Ciye Cho, author of Florence.

“Ciye Cho lives in Australia and works as a graphic designer. He writes YA novels in his free time–and his head is often lost in the clouds or some place far from reality…”

Hi Ciye and welcome to the Ebook Apothecary! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few of our questions.

Thanks for having me!

The world that you have created for ‘Florence’ is quite unique – Why did you choose to write in an underwater setting?

I’ve always wanted to write a mer book–one with a different take on mermaids and sea culture. So I thought it would be cool to set “Florence” amid deep-sea volcanoes… at the bottom of the ocean.

What age group did you have in mind when you wrote ‘Florence’?

Well, “Florence” is a YA book–but I think there’s lots of stuff that adults can enjoy in Niemela. YA itself is one of those genres with a really, really broad readership. People read YA fiction to escape from reality.

Now this is a question I just have to ask – is there a sequel to ‘Florence’ in the works?

Yes! I intend to write a sequel… for Florence has many more challenges ahead of her.

Did you create the cover for ‘Florence’ yourself?

Yes, it’s an image I created. 

IMG_0789

In my mind the colors in the underwater city were extremely vivid, almost surreal – was this an affect that you had intended?

Totally. I’m fascinated by the colors of the ocean, from the neon hues of the Great Barrier Reef to the rainbow stripes of a cleaner fish. Bioluminescence and iridescence were big things that I kept thinking of when I worked on the imagery behind Niemela’s living architecture.

Do you scuba dive or spend any great amount of time in the water?
What accounts for your fascination of the world beneath the waves?



I’ve never been scuba diving, but I have snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef. I also live on the Gold Coast, which is near the sea. Beyond that, I’ve always found ocean life to be majestic. The colors, shapes, and hidden stories–there’s so much that goes on below the waves…

Now, I just have to ask… How do you pronounce “Ciye”?

Kai… like a blue-haired manga character. 

sanc0063

If “Florence” was a recipe what ingredients and instructions would it contain?

“Florence” would be a Niemelan pasta dish.


To create this dish:
1) Gather some seaweed and mash it up with a mortar and pestle.
2) Mix the paste with squid ink, powdered crab shells, and iridescent fish scales
4) Add a lock of red hair. Preferably powdered… and from a human.
5) Serve the paste on a bed of kelp noodles.
6) Add sea salt.
7) Bundle everything inside a wrapper of edible kelp.

NOTE: This mer dish is not suitable for human consumption.

***

Another huge thank you to Ciye for taking the time to answer all my ‘kooky’ questions. :)

To find out more about his new novel Florence, be sure to check out the excerpt I posted and of course… Enter the Giveaway!

Tune in tomorrow for my review of the novel!

***
Book Description

Seventeen-year-old Florence Waverley is out of her depth. Literally. Kidnapped and taken below the waves to the mer world of Niemela, she is the ultimate gift for merman Prince Kiren: a human familiar tied to his side. But nothing is what it seems amid the beauty and danger of a dark ocean.

Every Niemelan has a role to play, from the mermaids who weave towers out of kelp to the warriors who fight sea monsters. But in trying to survive, Florence will end up in the middle of a war between the mer and the Darkness. A conflict that will push her between two brothers: Kiren, the charmer inexplicably drawn to both her and the monsters; and Rolan, the loner who has been pushing her away since the day they met. But in order to take a stand–and find out where she belongs–Florence will have to risk it all: her life, her heart… and her very soul.

Photos courtesy of Bruce Tuten and NOAA Photo Library
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Excerpt from ‘Florence’ by Ciye Cho

As you may know, we are currently featuring ‘Florence’; a YA Fantasy novel by Ciye Cho. Later in the week we will have both an author interview and a review for you, but for now here is a super short little excerpt from near the beginning of the book!

Coral Reef at Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge


I swam ahead, far beyond the others.

The shore dipped off to reveal a hidden world. Overlapping plates of coral formed the terraces of an underwater kingdom. Anemones of neon abounded everywhere, steeples that rose and fell as clownfish bustled within them. The light that passed through the ripples gave the reef the glow of a mirage.
It was impossible not to blink.

A red brain coral came into view, and tiny crabs made their way through its maze of grooves. Sea stars lay everywhere, sunning themselves in the honeyed light. I floated facedown along the water’s surface. None of the animals noticed me, but that suited me just fine. Each creature had its own natural behavior—groupers moved slowly; clownfish hid in their anemones—and here, I reverted to what I did best.

I observed the world.

I pulled out my underwater camera from the side pocket of my jeans. The SeaBrite was a tiny gizmo, four by two inches in size. Its case was made of turquoise plastic, and it had a viewfinder at the top and an LCD screen at the back. I turned on the camera and took snapshots of the reef.

A creature of brown and gold rushed past me. It had a reed-like body with a curled tail, a pointed snout, and several petal-shaped fins. A sea dragon? It slowed around a gathering of sea ferns. I took in a deep breath, then reached above the water to flip down the cap on my snorkel. I swam below. The water here was stained a dark blue, but I found my way to the ferns. Pinned to them was the sea dragon. I took a photo of it as it glimmered in the light.

The water darkened as another shape rushed past. The sea dragon raced off and all the other fish retreated into the nooks of the reef. A shadow fell across the corals, and I put my camera back into my pocket and turned around.

A man was floating amid the reef.

***

Sunrise before coral spawning, NWHI

This ebook can be currently found on: Smashwords and Amazon.
… and the paperback on: Amazon and the Author’s Website

If you are interested in getting your hands on a copy, you can also enter to win 1 of 10 that we are giving away until July 14th, 2012!

Photos courtesy of USFWS Pacific

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Ebook Giveaway: "Florence" by Ciye Cho

This brand-new novel was only just released on July 1st – and you get the chance to be one of the first people to read it! Here at the Apothecary we’ll be featuring this book for a whole week – and we’re kicking off the festivities with a giveaway! Ciye has kindly offered up a whopping 10 ebooks for our lovely readers – so check out the synopsis and then enter your name into the draw! 

“Seventeen-year-old Florence Waverley is out of her depth. Literally. Kidnapped and taken below the waves to the mer world of Niemela, she is the ultimate gift for merman Prince Kiren: a human familiar tied to his side. But nothing is what it seems amid the beauty and danger of a dark ocean.

Every Niemelan has a role to play, from the mermaids who weave towers out of kelp to the warriors who fight sea monsters. But in trying to survive, Florence will end up in the middle of a war between the mer and the Darkness. A conflict that will push her between two brothers: Kiren, the charmer inexplicably drawn to both her and the monsters; and Rolan, the loner who has been pushing her away since the day they met. But in order to take a stand–and find out where she belongs–Florence will have to risk it all: her life, her heart… and her very soul.”

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can find the ebook on: Smashwords and Amazon.

… and the paperback on: Amazon and the Author’s Website.

GOOD LUCK!

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Author Interview: C.A. Lang

Hello all and welcome to the Apothecary. Today you’ll get a sneak peek into the mind that created the brand-new steampunk/fantasy novel ‘Blightcross‘ that we have been featuring this week. For more information about the novel check out the Excerpt and Enter the Giveaway!

I hope you enjoy the interview!

“C. A. Lang is a product of Nelson, British Columbia, and it shows. Growing up around Victorian architecture likely had something to do with his appreciation of steampunk, although we’re not quite sure why he felt the need to ditch the steam engines and go all internal-combustion on the genre. He has settled in Kelowna, B.C., where sometimes he can be found abusing a gigantic jazz guitar in public, hanging around certain wineries, and running obscene distances.”

Hello Clayton, welcome to the Ebook Apothecary! Congratulations on the release of ‘Blightcross’! Tell us a bit about the publication process and your experience working with Tyche Books.

Thank you for having me! Having Tyche Books publish my novel was an easy, fun experience. I had briefly dealt with Margaret years ago when I had first submitted this novel to another publisher, who ultimately decided to pass. When Tyche Books came into being of course I wanted another shot with her, despite having been out of the scene for a couple years due to my attempts at being a responsible adult. I loved the editing process–it really tightened the manuscript more than I could have done alone. The cover turned out exactly how I’d wanted it. I think the only disagreement was whether or not there is an “e” in “whisky,” which depends on where the speaker and the whisky are from. By that I mean it went as smoothly as anyone could ever want.



When did you first come up with the idea for ‘Blightcross’? 

Five years ago, or maybe more. I’d just been heavily into Michael Moorcock’s The Chronicles of Castle Brass and some other steampunk-ish novels. Ever since reading Moorcock’s work, I’ve wanted to write more risky, non-traditional fantasy. Also at the time I was into modern gems like Ulysses. All of this led me to think that there was so much going on in people’s heads in the interbellum period, and that a fantasy novel in that setting would have so many cool possibilities.



Who was your favourite character to write and why?

Great Leader Till Sevari was a lot of fun to write because of how screwed-up he is. He’s not even bad or evil. I know that’s a cliché but it’s true. The man has been traumatized and warped and propped up by a very confused population of crazy people. He’s a symptom. It could have been anyone in that time and it’s no reflection on him personally, unless you believe in the Great Man theory and that people like that arise out of a vacuum. But for the purposes of this novel, writing Sevari was essentially writing the entire nation’s postwar personality disorder. Of course Capra is my favourite character in general, but as for writing, yes, it has to be Sevari.

The world you’ve created is very intriguing; something of an industrial steampunk setting (just without the steam). What can you share about the technology and why you chose this particular setting for your novel?

I grew up around cars and electronics and mechanical things. There was endless talk about engines and so on at our house. So as a small-town middle class person, these are always part of my makeup no matter how pretentious of an artist I become. Because of that, and that I liked fantasy novels, steampunk naturally appealed to me. But I found that type of technology too limiting and the Victorian psyche far too naive. Jules Verne is thrilling and will always be one of my favourites, but it’s hardly confrontational or challenging, and that that’s how I want to write. Also, it was just plain fun to work out how magic and that level of technology would interact. For example, while they have aircraft and oil, development of other devices we’d assume they’d have ended up a little behind–like infantry weapons and medical technology. That’s because magic users filled the need for those technologies previously. So it was fun to play with. On a deeper level, I meant to use a dirty industrial setting to highlight physical reality–this is my own reaction to our tendency nowadays towards what I see as an odd relationship between our minds and the physical world.

Do you have plans for any additional books in the ‘Blightcross’ world?



Of course! There’s a lot more there, and I have the next novel partially outlined. You can get a vague hint of future stories from my short story Tidal Tantrums, which appeared in Tyche Books’ Ride The Moon anthology. The situation in Blightcross didn’t allow for a lot of aspects that I’m going to write in the next one.

If there were a recipe for ‘Blightcross’, what ingredients and instructions would it contain?

-500g grass
-fed top sirloin
-ground coffee
-black pepper
-1 bottle of Phillips Chocolate Porter
-beef stock
-shallots
-potatoes
-oil
-butter

Start tractor, preheat exhaust manifold to normal operating temperature. While the tractor warms, rub the sirloin with black pepper and ground coffee. Sauté shallots in a saucepan. Once caramelized, deglaze the saucepan with chocolate porter. Add a knob of butter and beef stock. Boil on high heat and reduce. If a mad dictator walks by and tells you to get back to work in the oilfield, punch him in the neck and tell him that labourers need meat and potatoes, not gruel and vegetables. Once the reduction boils down enough, add another knob of butter and reduce heat. Now drop the sirloin onto the exhaust manifold for no more than two minutes per side. Serve with hacked-up potatoes and a glass of dark ale.

*** 

Now, I know you must be a little intrigued after that! Take your curiosity a step further and go read an excerpt from the book, check out C.A. Lang’s blog, enter to win either the ebook or a paperback copy, or check out all the locations you can pick up a copy of the novel:

You can find Blightcross as an ebook on Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo Books and Barnes & Noble,

Or the paperback on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Chapters Indigo.

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