#Bookreview: Torn from Troy #epic #myth

This is a special post I do once a month to highlight a book I reviewed some time ago, but never actually featured on my blog. Because this is an author blog and not a book blog, I don’t always feature all the books I read. Like all good and dedicated fans of the written word, I do my part and leave reviews on Goodreads.com, Amazon.com, and sometimes other places, but don’t always bring attention to what I’m reading, unless you follow me on YouTube… hint, hint, wink wink 😉 In any case, please enjoy this review of a book I read at some point in my life.

~

Goodreads

Title:  Torn from Troy

Series: Odyssey of a Slave #1

Author: Patrick Bowman

Genre: Epic Fantasy, Mythology

Pages: Audio Download (199)

Reading Level: Teen

Content: PG-13 (violence, adult situations and content, oppression)

It doesn’t take long for the action of this story to pick up, none the less, I had trouble getting into it. I received a free audio version of this book from a summer reading program I signed up for and was determined the give the book a fair shot. I’m glad I did. The overall story and lasting impression was good. It’s a different spin on an ageless tale and I’m glad I finished the first installment.

After the fires of the Trojan War have burned out, Alexi, a 15-year-old Trojan is taken as a slave by the Greeks and sent abroad to serve them on their journey because he just happens to speak Greek. The typical tale of the Odyssey is there in the background of this story, but all the vantage points are skewed. The great Grecian heroes are perceived as dirty barbaric oppressors and poor Alexi is caught between doing what must be done to survive or deciding whether or not there’s any point to trying to escape.   With dangers lurking around every corner, path, and even wave, being a slave to the Greek armada might just be the safest place for him, if they don’t kill him first.

For me, this story is interesting enough to warrant me reading the next book, but then I do have a thing for finishing what I’ve started. I think this adventure will greatly appeal to the younger readers it’s targeted to, especially since many of them may not be as familiar with the original story as I am.

I’d recommend this to pre-teen and teen readers as well as anyone who likes new takes on old myths.

I give this book a 3.

This review has been posted to GoodReads.

If you’d like to obtain a copy of this book, try this link: Amazon

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

Legacy by Stephanie Barr, interview by #thetoiboxofwords

Greetings readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors and welcome to The ToiBox of Words. I’m your host Toi Thomas, author of Eternal Curse, and today I’m sharing a special interview with author, Stephanie Barr, about her fiction book entitled, Legacy. Enjoy!

~

Where did the idea for Legacy come from?

Well, that’s a long story. I’d written short stories (already in another anthology) and then five novels and had self-published four of them after my divorce. I was having a hard time getting into the mood or writing after my divorce and signed up with a short story contest. Although I didn’t win, I jumped back into short stories as I hadn’t done in years. After a couple years, I had more than thirty of them and nowhere to put them. So, I thought I’d make another anthology. I have another two stories coming out in multi-author anthologies this fall.

Wow, thirty short stories is impressive. With thirty stories in one book, how long is the book?

It is nearly 133k words, so it’s a long read. I was actually expecting a few of my beta readers to complain, but, so far, no one has.

How did the title of this book come about?

“Legacy” is a story in my anthology and involves a pair of teenage boys who survive the atomic bombing in Nagasaki, with one of the boys (Omoto) deeply in love with the other but unwilling to bring that up because he didn’t want to ruin their relationship. When the one loved dies in violence, Omoto has to decide what kind of legacy he’ll leave. I love the title and it seemed fitting for stories that reflect my thoughts, frustrations, societal issues. There are also stories with characters from my novels, my own legacy so the title seemed perfect for the collection.

I’ve seen that quite often, having a whole collection of stories listed under the title of one, but the fact this is a representation of your own legacy, makes this all the more special.

What genre is this book and why did you choose to make it so?

Most of my fiction is fantasy and/or science fiction and my short stories are the same. The short stories that expand on novels are in keeping with the original genres, almost all of my upcoming novel related stories are hard science fiction and the stories that are related to nothing could be anything. I have two that are historical/contemporary, some fantasy, and some science fiction.

Do you worry that including so many different genres will alienate fans of a particular genre?

You know, I really don’t. I’m a character writer and I think the genre is really immaterial if the characters “speak” to the reader. And I hear that a great deal from readers. “I don’t normally like fantasy but this was really good,” or even, “I didn’t get all the technical details, but I just loved Kado.” That is something cool with my science fiction. Because I’m a rocket scientist, the science is pretty sound, especially anything in space.

What would you say is the overall message or the theme of this book?

People are what matters. What you are is not as important as who you are. We all can do something to make the world better. Love is always better than hate.

That’s quite a message, and one you can never seem to have too much of. I like it.

Tell me about the experience of writing this book; how long did it take?

The first contest I wrote for started in January 2015.  The last story I added to the mix was in June 2017. There are four stories (Tarot Queen stories) which are the only ones that were written before the respective novel. The rest of the stories, the other twenty-eight, were written in the last two years along with maybe half a dozen I’ve sold or am marketing elsewhere.

So, about two years to write an impressive single author anthology. Not too shabby.

Briefly, describe some of the stories within this book.

I told you about “Legacy.” I’ve got three stories with an autistic scientist in a space station (my son is non-verbal autistic). I have a blind arcane archer with a shapeshifting cat. I have kids escaping from ruthless invaders (prequels to the Bete Novels), meet and fall in love fantasy stories (prequels to Curse of the Jenri), a young couple getting married and the bride’s eccentric grandmother (sequels to Saving Tessa), and several stories centered on a talented Tarot Queen who uses and is used by her cards. And a farcical story of a dragon, a unicorn, and a miller’s daughter.

That last one sounds like the set-up to a cheesy joke, but then you did say it was farcical. I gotta say, I’m really digg’n the diversity of this collection. Nice job.

What are some of the major themes in this book?

Some things are bigger than yourself.
Who you are is more important than what you are.
Love can come from anywhere.
Love is better and stronger than hatred.
Nobody’s infallible.
Better to try and fail than be silent.
Karma, like natural laws, has no pity.
The quick answer isn’t always the best answer.
Brains over brawn.
There’s more than you think to some people.
Sometimes there is no good answer.
Anything can be taken too far.
Women are powerful.
Appearances can be deceiving.
People are people, no matter the “species.”

Those are some pretty intense and noble themes. I get the feeling that all your writing, at some level, has a greater message to it. Were these themes on your mind when writing these stories or did they develop within the writing process?

Some of the themes come from the novels that spawned the stories. Many of the standalone stories were prompted by particular markets or contests I was going for, but they include my own personal philosophies. “Legacy” was partly inspired by George Takai and his work. Several other stories like “Nemesis” and “Nightmare Blanket” were spawned by frustration with the recent election. I’m pretty adamant about feminism. It’s the long way of saying, some stories are built on the theme and some have the theme built into the story.

What are some of the settings in this book?

I have a space station – and that was fun because I worked with folks on orbit so it’s a bit of an area of expertise (though I don’t know as much as those who lived it). I’ve got high fantasy realms (often with highly patriarchal societies), the Earth in 2058, in a galaxy far far away (had fun with space battles using real orbital mechanics), modern day San Francisco and California between WWII and today.

Whatever the anthology is about, I always enjoy the sense of travel. It’s one of the best parts of reading an anthology, but you don’t get that as much when all the stories happen in the same world. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when being engrossed in stories from the same world is just what I want, but most of the time, I prefer setting diversity.

Who are some of your favorite characters in this book?

Who don’t I love? Characters are my favorite. Okay, I love Saldomar, Tander, Riko, Cristo, Denra, and Klevaron (Curse of the Jenri), Dylan, Nathan, Tessa, and Dotty (Saving Tessa), Dante da Silva, Scruffy, and Gus (Tarot Queen), Xander, Alya, K’Ti, and Laren (the Bete Novels), Bryder and Nayna, Kado—love me some Kado, the Devil, the dragon, Billy, Ryuuji and Omoto.

I love some of the names your characters have. I like that some are average sounding while others are more exotic.

Are there elements of your personality or life experiences in this book?

Oh, yeah. Most of my characters have a bit of me, but some have more than their fair share like Nayna and Dylan who are both very very smart and socially awkward. But the snark that makes my charming characters is mine, too (don’t ask me how both can be true; I can’t explain it) so that’s Dante da Silva, the Devil, Tander, Bryder. Kado, as I mentioned, is patterned on my son though he’s not really non-verbal, more ultra-terse and more ruthless than my son. I’m also a manga otaku who loves yaoi so Legacy is my sort of tribute.

I find that most writers can’t seem to keep themselves out of their stories, I know I can’t, but I like how you swing that a bit to pay tribute to people and influences that you care about the most.

What is one thing from this book you wish was real or could happen to you?

True love. Though inventing something that made me rich and famous would be cool, too.

One thing I’ve learned from reading so much is that true love isn’t always romantic love, (says the girl who married her best friend and can’t get enough of the Princess Bride). I too think I’d like to have something that could make me rich (don’t need the fame).

What is something you wish wasn’t real and hope doesn’t happen to you?

I wish people who were different or smart weren’t judged, bullied or mistreated, though that happened to me (to a lesser extent than in my stories). This is also applicable to minorities, religious minorities, women and LGBTQ folks.

I feel ya. There never seems to be a shortage of reasons for people to pick on others; I do wish the world would go ahead and change already.

Let’s say your book is being turned into a feature length film; quick- cast the main two characters and pick a theme song or score.

That’s really more pertinent to one of my novels, though you could tease a film out of the “Tarot Queen, Melan” stories or “Legacy.” I think Curse of the Jenri would make a great film. Grace Jones was an image I had for Melan. I could really see Scarlett Johansen as Layla and someone like the Rock (though probably younger) playing Tander. But that’s the general attitude he’d need. I always thought the opening credits would be great to a remix of “Witchy Woman” as Layla sneaks into the castle.

Wikipedia

I love that opening credits description. Sounds like something I’d totally watch. I understand this question being more suitable to a novel, but what if you could cast a film based on this collection. Imagine something like the Heavy Metal movie (not suitable for children) where one entity connects all the unrelated stories together. Do you think that would be too much?

That’s a very intriguing thought. I don’t have a single thread holding them together, but don’t challenge me. I could come up with something and several stories could be grouped into a single episode.

Do you have any special plans for this book in the near or far future?

Well, I’m hoping to release it in paperback and ebook at the end of July or, at the latest, early August. My other anthologies (stories and poetry) are only available in ebook format (and they’re available for free) but I think this is something special. My friend (Chuck, I mentioned him) says this book is like an anthology of anthologies. I think it’s something special.

So, is this book available for pre-order?

Yes. You can find it at Amazon.com

~

Okay readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. To try other works by Stephanie Barr, please visit the links provided.

Amazon.com  |  Smashwords.com

Learn more about Stephanie Barr at the links below.

Facebook | Writing Blog

This has been a

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

Bookreview: Firebound #fantasy #FlashbackFriday

This is a special post I do once a month to highlight a book I reviewed some time ago, but never actually featured on my blog. Because this is an author blog and not a book blog, I don’t always feature all the books I read. Like all good and dedicated fans of the written word, I do my part and leave reviews on Goodreads.com, Amazon.com, and sometimes other places, but don’t always bring attention to what I’m reading, unless you follow me on YouTube… hint, hint, wink wink 😉 In any case, please enjoy this review of a book I read at some point in my life.

~

Today’s flashback review is a little special but mostly because today is International Authors Day. I’m featuring a review of a book from an author I really like.

~

Goodreads

Title:  Firebound

Series: Spellbringers #2

Author: Tricia Drammeh

Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance, Paranormal

Pages: 285

Reading Level: Teen

Content: PG-13 (violence, sensuality, brief mild sexual content, dark and mature themes, adult situations, suspense)

In book one my heart went out to Bryce who seemed to be misunderstood, but in book 2 I really fell in love with Alisa. She’s the only character with no power of her own, yet she seems to be the strongest of them all. Depending on how you look at it, Alisa is the reason the Alexander family is as mighty as they are. In their society of magic and Spellbringers, their connection to this one human keeps them all from becoming monsters… I may be exaggerating a bit, but in any case, I really adore Alisa.

Rachel, on the other hand, is a character that despite her many many flaws, I can’t hate but don’t exactly love her. I feel for her in many ways, but she seems to be a bit self-destructive. Like all self-destructive people, she also hurts others as a result. The one thing she seems to have going for her is the fact that she is apparently the most powerful being on the planet though she hasn’t realized the extent of her powers. As destructive as she is, I still like her more than Jace.

It’s not that I don’t like Jace. I feel a bit indifferent about this character. I can see that he will continue to grow as the story develops, but for now, he’s a pretty face, decent brother, and good son.

The action of this book is much more involved, which I didn’t think was possible. Alisa and Bryce struggle to be close yet so far apart. After he speaks the claiming words to her, they crave each other but can’t share each other or live together. Alisa is forgetting what an independent person she used to be and Bryce is clinging to her affection so he won’t turn to the dark side. Yeah, whoa!

Rachel has the best of intentions trying to protect her brother but she has to know that going on dream dates with a demon isn’t going to end well. Plus, there’s more than one demon after her. When, Alisa, the only human in the bunch has to risk her life to save Rachel, things heat up in more ways than one. What a perfect end to this installment and a grand enticement for the next.

I think I enjoyed this one just as much as the first. Highly recommended again.

Read my review of Spellbound here.

I give this book a 5.

This review has been posted to GoodReads.

If you’d like to obtain a copy of this book, try this link: Amazon

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse #Review: Outliers of Speculative Fiction 2016 #specfic #book

The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you’ve finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same. In this way, we’ll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers. Please join us below.

Title: Outliers of Speculative Fiction 2016
Editor: L.A. Little
Author: Tim Jefferys, Various
Genre: Science Fiction, Anthology
Pages: 150
Reading Level: Adult
Content: R (adult situations and content, mature and dark themes, doom, and violence)

I was happy to see that another volume of this series was published. While it’s not as long as the first, it’s still top quality speculative fiction with lots of diversity.

Hell Is Other People: A.I. based on mood. Good.
The Death of Mohenjo Daro: cultural- epic battle of men, greed, and faith. Good
Myra’s Last Tango: end of the world and aliens with humor. Not bad.
Downriver at the End of the World: a sad, post-apocalyptic coming-of-age tale. Excellent.
A Speck in the Sky: dangerous power, sacrifice. Excellent.
The House on No Man’s Land: ghost story with a twist. Good.
Souls in Other Space: humorous, yet scary, space opera. Excellent.
Terrible Weight: sad and scary post-apocalyptic zombie-ish story. Excellent.
Existential Crisis: weird afterlife mingled with the living. Good.
A Packhorse for Your Silly Meme: A.I., evolution, an “infant savior”. Excellent.
Grand Ideas: not sure how to describe this one. Good.

Overall, I enjoyed this anthology and only wish there had been more of it. Recommended to adult (teens with parental approval) fans of science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, and horror.

I give this book a 5.

This review has been posted to GoodReads.

If you’d like to obtain a copy of this book, try this link: Amazon

Please stop by and see what others have read 😀

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

Bridges #WEPFF Challenge No. 5 featuring unknown title #amwriting #flashfiction

So, I’m on vacation and totally forgot to schedule this post. Also, I started working on it a few days ago and then forgot about it being too busy celebrating birthday month and working on a new blog project. This piece is unfinished and unpolished. My plan is to turn the segments into journal entries, but as you can see, I have a long way to go.

Well, all in all, I don’t think this is my worst work, but it shouldn’t be too bad. I look forward to seeing the other entries and thank Denise Covey and Yolanda Renée for yet, another, great challenge.

~
Unknown Title

Figie’s all the time going on about things as if he knows what he’s saying, but everyone knows he just hears things and repeats’em. I guess this time around, Figie heard something that no one wanted him to go around repeat’n.

So, here we are, running for our lives. Well, he’s running for his life and I’m trying to help’em, but as soon as others realize I’m help’n em, I’ll too be on the run. Been traveling by night and hold’n up during the day. Too many folks round here so dependent on solar power that life pretty much comes to a standstill come night fall. Sure folks use lunar power a bit, but none bother much to go out when everything inside is all lit up like it’s still daytime.

I hoarded a bunch of portable recharging batteries a few years back in case I ever decided to leave town and do some adventure walk’n. Folks just don’t adventure walk like they used to. I member people laughing at me for wasting space on old tech that probably wouldn’t work, but who’s laugh’n now?

I’m pretty much doing everything on my own to keep me and Figie alive. He’s a complete wreck; shake’n and twitch’n all the time. Spect’n someone to come punch’n out of the dark and kill’em in his tracks. Crazy thing is, after explain’n the situation, Figie hasn’t said another word. I have no idea what he heard that’s got folks com’n after’em.

Soon well be reach’n Pillar Peak. I figure, we could hold up there for a good while. One way up, no way down, and too cold for most to live. With us charging our batteries during the day and keeping a fire going all the time, we should be able to get by.

Food shouldn’t be a problem wit the way the fowls dip and dive all around. Most times you can’t even see the exact point of Pillar Peak ‘cause of all the swarm’n fowl. Wit the collapsible dome we been using for shelter and my skills with a sling, we’ll be just fine for a while.

Well, it’s been a full Lunar since we bunkered at Pillar Peak and not a soul’s come look’n for us. I’m thinking maybe Figie’s done lost it. It was fun for a while. Got to go on that adventure walk I always been talk’n bout, but now what. Just catch’n fowl, keep’n the fire, and sleep’n. Tonight Figie’s gonna tell me what this is all about or I’m break’n camp and head’n back wit or wit out’em.

Holy walk’n spirits are we in a terrible mash. No one’s come look’n yet, but it’s only a matter of time. Stupid Figie, hang’n around gathering other folks knowledge instead of learn’n his own. What a fool. To think he once had me believe’n you didn’t need to bother wit read’n and learn’n if you just pay attention to other folk. “Other folk,” he’d say, “they’ll teach ya e’er thing ya need to know, if ya just listen and be patient.” So, what happens when you learn something you don’t want to know… I’ll tell ya. You run for your life.

Stupid Figie. Hanging around the High Lord Scholars, all the time trying to sound smarter than anybody would believe him to be, found out where the Bridge is. Heck, he found out that it’s actually real. I mean, no one goes looking for the Bridge no matter how much wonder and power might be instore, ‘cause no one actually thinks it’s real. But foo on me, it’s real and Figie knows where it is. And they know he knows.

Now I’m twitch’n day and night just like Figie. He’s at least come back to his senses a bit and his help’n out. We’re alternating sentry duties. I’m still hunting all the grub, but he’s cook’n it and clean’n up after. Don’t really matter. Our nerves are so on edge, every pound we put on, we shake off in nerves. We won’t make it to the frost season; not up here. We gonna have to leave, but that’ll probably get us caught and killed. Seems no matter what we do or don’t do, we’re head’n to the Endless Ferry.

~

714 WIP- unkown title 2017 Copyright © Toinette J. Thomas
Seeking full critique.



Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords