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Book Spotlight: Rast by Christopher Hoare

Title: Rast
Author: Christopher J. Hoare
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing
Publication Date: March 2011
Paperback: 269 pages
ISBN: 978-1-926931-43-2
Genre: High fantasy

In Rast, magic is not a convenient parlour trick, it’s a deadly force that takes no prisoners. Those who must wield it are doomed, for it never ceases to work within the mind and nerves until it destroys its master.

And now, the time of the interregnum is here; the reigning sorcerer king, the Drogar of Rast, is struggling for a last grasp on magic power while his heir, Prince Egon, must take up the deadly mantle. Egon is fearful but courageous in his duty. Not one peril threatens Rast, but many. 

While he struggles to tame the magic to his command the mechanistic Offrang adventurers arrive to seize the land for their empire. The Offrangs don’t just disbelieve in magic, they treat any attempt to discuss it with withering scorn. Then, when the Drogar falters, the North Folk sweep out in their multitudes to cover the land of Rast at the behest of their depraved Casket of Scrolls. Deepning too, a creature of earth magic in its mountain pools, stirs to gain power enough to conquer Rast.

The Prince’s sweetheart Jady does her best to support him, but she is not strong enough in the power of the lineage to bear him a magic wielding heir. She sets out to meet the caravansi of the cousin princess who is sent to be his consort with duty and anger both warring in her mind. The crisis will reveal surprising enemies, surprising friends, and as the Drogar tells Jady, “Even a Drogar may not see a future not yet determined.” While Egon goes west to spy on the Offrangs and Jady makes her way east, the oracle provided by the Pythian that lives in a cavern beneath the palace reveals, “You have no high point to see the scattered threads but must trust to those who grasp them.”

Everyone, enemy and friend, has a part to play in the preservation of Rast.

Book Excerpt:

Chapter Two
Jady pulled firmly on the reins, the tall pickaback reared to his full height and planted his aft-most claws tight into the root-born path. His long body flexed beneath her as three of his six legs pawed at the air. When his middle claws again touched the musty smelling moss she leaned forward to whisper words of an ancient language into his feather covered ears.

Pellad, Cerefrus. Dosar––let me dismount.”

The obedient animal bowed low his head to let the mail-clad maiden slip from the saddle to the forest floor.

She stood a moment, tall and slender in the shadowy forest, watching the flicking movements of her mount’s ears—noticing each glance of golden eyes into the overhanging branches. No single sound or sight held more than a momentary notice––then they were alone. The only other occupants of the small clearing lived in her memory.

Their mound occupied the center. The scavenger-chewed bones of a thousand Krachins decorated its surface, and at the summit sagged the bloodstained talisman of the Soulingas, the family of the first Soule. It hung tattered from its staff, waiting for an eldest son to reclaim and restore it to glory. An eldest son who may never be.

“I cannot help it, father,” she sobbed, falling to her knees before the tomb.

In her mind, he looked down at her and smiled. “I would not ask you to forsake the man you love…but your dreams are sterile.”

“I would receive him in shame––if that were the only way.”

“That can never be. You know he could not––and you deceive yourself if you think you would.”

“But Rast…without the Soulingas––?”

“Your brothers and I are patient with you, but––”

“I could never love another!”

“Have you given any other the leave to win you?”

She knelt silently for many minutes. “Am I making it hard for him?” she said, at length.

“You both know his duty.”

“And yet his father has never spoken harshly to me. Surely if the Drogar saw the error of it he would have ended my hopes.”

“Even the dead cannot see into the mind of a Drogar.”

She breathed in sharply. The thought of her Prince becoming a Drogar in his turn was frightening. Would his gentle glances become veils of ice-hard magic? Not Egon––surely not Egon!

“Do you know why the Drogar sends you at this time?”

“This time? What do you mean?”

“Your Grandfather, my father, saw omens in it.”

“He didn’t speak to me of what he saw.”

“A commission to Deepning is never given lightly.”

She opened her eyes wide to take in the evidence of the tomb. “Three times have I come. Five times if I count the journeys with you and my brothers.”

“But this time the Drogar’s words are stronger, his intent more given in detail.”

“I know not why.”

“Go, Daughter, be about your mission. We cold bones will delay you no longer, but we will ever hold your life to our charge. We will never take rest until you and a husband kneel here—until the son you shall make together can be prepared to take up our talisman.”

Without another word or backward glance she stood and walked to Cerefrus. He bent to allow her to mount. Continuing along the forest paths she rode until she could see the dark overhanging rocks of a mountain through the branches.

Here she dismounted again and set the pickaback loose in a forage dell until her return. She settled the bow of sinew, horn, and wood across her shoulders, tightened the coil of long dark hair beneath her leather helm and glided forward beneath the tangling branches into paths no mounted warrior could follow. Testing again the Vales of Deepning Pools she trembled slightly, shivered within her taught nerves. She stifled her misgivings and set out upon the mission.

The Drogar spoke of some future sons of Soule. Did he mean the words in truth, or were they mere bolsters for her courage?

She walked watchfully; stepped softly. No gentle forest animals stirred, no bird flew. The trees grew tall and twisted as if they had wrestled, each with the other, for every scrap of sunlight falling dappled into the forest. Jady knew the secrets of each. She smelled resin weeping from wounded bark, wooden tears seeping from the trunks where tree had flailed against tree in wind-borne combat. She knew the smells of every forest dweller, and feeling her soft leather boots sink to their moss covered roots, caressed them in her walking.

The Deepning Pools lay above her, in a hanging valley upon the edge of the mountain.

She bent her footsteps up through the slanting trees and followed a path made by the many feet of the only animals strong and fierce enough to live near the magic Vale—the sharptoothed Krarks. Broken branches told of the rough passages they forced with their segmented bodies. Here and there, a fallen tree lay torn in two by mighty claws. Jady reached to touch the crystal-tipped arrows at her waist, and plunged on up the path.

She walked more quickly for about a league. When she felt the magic singing—the distant hints of dangerous melody ringing in her ears—she stopped to take the gossamer net from her pack. Woven by a wraith of midnight sorcery, the heirloom was handed down from distant ancestors. It had shielded generations of warriors from the spells. Fierce, dark-haired men with arms like the roots of trees. Men who let fly the crystal tipped arrows from tempered bows of horn and wood. Brothers, fathers, uncles and grandfathers, descended in unbroken line until at last, the only watcher of the forest was this high-breasted maid—the last of the Soulingas. She carefully draped the shimmering silver over her head and wrapped its folds about her. Safe within the wispy filament from the sirens’ temptation, she stepped gently on, spells buzzing futilely against the gossamer shield as angry bees against the keeper’s net.

Few but the Soulingas could venture into the Vale of Deepning Pools. Even Drogar magic rarely clashed with the fey enchantry—except at a few intervals in the circle of time, force was blocked by force. Prince Egon knew where the Pools lay, but had never glimpsed their glowing, living liquid. Only the Krachins were drawn to the fetid swamps by their lust for sour smelling vapours. The Guardian of the Forest must mark their comings and goings, and when the moment was right thwart their fell intention. Thwart also the evil purpose of the Pool creature, whatever strange reality it might possess––and prevent it gaining living sacrifice.

Only flying crystal point could secure payment and account in such magical commerce.

About Christopher Hoare

Christopher Hoare lives with his wife, Shirley, and two shelter dogs, Coco and Emmie, in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. As a lad he lived, breathed, and dreamed aeroplanes, won a place at RAE Farnborough learning to engineer them, but found the reality didn’t fit the dream. Did a stint in the army and then away to Libya to join the oil circus. Flying objects only appear as tools when they now appear in his writing.

His stories never take place next door to the lives most people live; the less charitable find similarity in characters who tend to be stubborn, independent, and contrarian. Perhaps there’s a connection between the worlds he portrays in fiction, and his working life in oil exploration in the Libyan Desert, the Canadian Arctic, and the mountains and forests of Western Canada.

He has written stories set in Anglo-Saxon Britain, in modern industrial projects, in the alternate world of Gaia, and the fantasy world of Rast. Sometimes known to satirize jobs and organizations he knows. Likes to write central characters who are smart, beautiful, and dangerous women who lead their male counterparts to fulfill dangerous duties they’d rather avoid. Gisel Matah in the Iskander series is perhaps the most Bond-like of these, but Jady in Rast can match her in many aspects.

Visit his website at http://www.christopherhoare.ca/ to learn much more, and download the free novella “Gisel Matah and the Slave Ship”. You can find his blog at http://trailowner.blogspot.com/

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Book Spotlight: TOTO’S TALE by K.D. Hays & Meg Weidman

Title: Toto’s Tale
Author: K.D. Hays & Meg Weidman
Publisher: Zumaya Thresholds
Publication Date: August 25, 2010
Paperback: 248 pages
ISBN: 1936144611
Genre: Children’s Middle Grade Fiction

PURCHASE HERE!

Toto the terrier and his pet girl Dorothy have their world turned upside down by a cyclone that rips their house from ground and spins it into the land of Oz. In this strange place, cats grow way bigger than they should and they speak the same language as Dorothy. So now Dorothy spends her time talking to a giant cat, a walking scarecrow, and a hollow man made of metal.

The five of them follow a brick road to see the Great Lizard who is supposed to give them something. Although Toto is hoping for a pork chop, he will settle for a trip back to Kansas. But when they reach the Great Lizard (who turns out to be a big human head), instead of helping them, he sends them out to kill a witch.

Toto enables them to survive attacks by killer bees and mad wolves, but the annoying monkeys with wings prove too much even for him, and the monkeys are able to carry him and Dorothy to the witch’s castle.

Once there, he realizes the witch is after the shoes that Dorothy picked up when they first landed in Oz. He also realizes that the witch can be destroyed with water. It becomes a race to see if the witch can trick Dorothy into giving up the shoes before Toto figures out how to melt her.

But even if he destroys the witch, they still have to figure out how to get home…

Excerpt

I’d smelled fear on the humans all morning, and the
stink was really getting on my nerves. I mean, we all
knew a windstorm was coming, and it was going to be
rough; but the humans didn’t have anything to worry
about. They’d just go down into The Hole and wait till
it was all over.
It was the chickens who should have been worried.
Their house was so flimsy it was likely to take off
and fly away in the next windstorm. But chickens are
too stupid to think about these things, so they weren’t
worried yet. Meanwhile, Auntem gave off enough
worry scent to cover every living thing in the entire
state of Kansas, and as I said, the smell was pretty
annoying.
So, yeah, I knew I wasn’t supposed to chase the
chickens, but I couldn’t help myself. When those lamebrained
layers started bragging about which one of
them could fly fastest, I decided to let them prove it.
I took off after Eggy, baring my teeth like I was
going to rip all the feathers out of her tail. It felt
really good to run. It also felt good to get some revenge
on the chickens. Ever since yesterday, when the
nasty old neighbor tried to stab me with a pitchfork
just for digging a little hole in her garden, everyone
here had teased me for running home with my tail
between my legs. They would have done the same
thing—it was a big sharp pitchfork, and the neighbor
is as mean as a wet cat.
The chickens, in particular, had acted like I was
the only one who had ever shown fear in the history of
forever. Now I decided I’d put a little fear in the
chickens so they could demonstrate why their name
means being a coward.
“Squahhhhh!” Eggy yelled as she ran across the
farmyard with me right on her tail. “That giant rodent
is going to eat me!” Her big fat feathered body
bounced ridiculously from side to side as she dashed
around on long spindly legs.
“I thought you could fly,” I barked. “And you know
I’m not a rodent.” I chased her into a corner between
the water trough and the barn.
“I can’t fly in this wind, you fool,” she squawked.
“Excuses, excuses.” I got ready to pounce on her,
but she turned fast and hopped out of the way. Then
she ran straight for the henhouse.
“Oh, no, you don’t,” I muttered as I shot after her.
She would have to pay for that rodent remark.
The other animals always make rude comments
about my size, but I think they’re just jealous because
I get to sleep in the house with the people. I’m small,
yeah, but I’m a lot bigger than a rat. And I have a
much nicer tail.
“He’s coming this—squaaah!—way,” one of the
other chickens shrieked.
They had been pecking in the yard, trying to eat
up all the loose bits of corn before they were blown
away by the storm coming across the plains. Now, instead
of eating, they scrambled frantically to get away
from me, squawking and flapping and looking about
as ruffled as they could possibly get. I loved it. I ran in
circles, snapping occasionally to keep them moving.
Then I saw one obnoxious old hen who had pecked
at Dorothy’s ankle last week. I really did want to bite
her. So, I opened my mouth extra-wide and headed
straight for her big fat chicken butt.
“Toto!”
I had to stop when I heard that voice. It was Dorothy,
my pet girl.
“Stop something chickens, Toto,” she said.
With her flat face and small mouth, she can’t
really talk properly, but I still love her. Auntem and
Unclehenry, the other people, are always making her
work when what she really wants to do is roam the
fields with me, chasing grasshoppers and digging for
shiny beetles. She needs me to protect her from work.
If you do too much work, you end up dull and sad like
Auntem, or pinched and mean like the mean neighbor
with the pitchfork.
I want to protect my girl and keep her just the
way she is. I love everything about my Dorothy, from
the smell of her shoes to her sloppy habit of throwing
things everywhere. She throws a stick or ball, and I
have to go pick it up for her. Then, instead of putting
it away, she just throws it someplace else, and I have
to pick it up again. It makes no sense at all, and
sometimes I get tired of cleaning up after her. Still, I
love her, and I’ll do anything she asks.
When I know what she’s asking, that is. I have to
pay attention really hard to understand human
speech, and usually, I don’t bother
Right now, though, even if she didn’t use many
real words, I could pretty much tell what she wanted
me to do just from the tone of her voice and the way
she looked at me, as if she wanted to tie me up like a
shock of wheat and throw me into the barn loft. She
was annoyed, and I could smell a little anger on her,
too. But underneath it all, there seemed to be more
fear than anything else.
Fear of the storm, probably.
With one last look at the fat old hen, I turned and
trotted over to Dorothy. I wagged my tail and hoped
she would pet me for a minute and that I could help
her forget her fears about the increasing wind and the
dark clouds growing like mountains in the sky. Maybe
she would also forget I’d been trying to scare the
chickens and that I’d chewed on one of her shoes this
morning before breakfast. She would forget it all, and
we’d just…
It didn’t happen.
She looked at me for a bit, like maybe she was
going to pet me, but when she bent down, it was just
so she could tuck a loose flap of leather back into her
shoe. That piece of leather is always coming loose and
tripping her, so she really should let me chew it off for
her, but whenever I try, someone always stops me.
“Dorothy!” Auntem barked as she stepped out of
the back door of the house, “Something up something
chickens.”
She can’t talk any better than Dorothy. They
practice a lot—it seems like they’re always barking
about something—but their language is so different
it’s difficult to translate into real words.
Anyway, I guess Auntem had just told Dorothy to
round up the hens, because that’s what she did. She
ran around waving her arms, herding them all into
the henhouse. I could have helped, but somehow I
didn’t think she wanted me to run around after them
again.
So, instead, I trotted over to the barn to watch
Unclehenry bring the cows and the horses inside. He
was having a hard time holding the door open because
the wind blew it closed. He kept turning to look over
his shoulder, as if there were a monster behind him.
But it was just dark clouds and grass bent low under
the weight of the coming storm. The wind moaned
almost like a voice as it gusted along the eaves of the
barn.
That sound made me shiver, and I had to admit I
couldn’t wait until it was time to go into The Hole.
The Hole is, well, a hole—dug out under the
house—and since the house is very small, The Hole is
even smaller. It’s not much bigger than the ones I dig
out in the yard to bury my pork chop bones. But it’s
deep and smells of worms and roots, a rich aroma that
reminds me of underwear. It’s a damp, comforting
place much more interesting than the hard dry
ground above. So, I never mind the wind and storms,
because I know they mean a visit to The Hole.
With a loud thud, Unclehenry slammed the barn
door shut and started toward the house with a lantern
and pail of water. Maybe it was time already! I hurried
to get Dorothy so we could go down into The Hole
together.
I couldn’t find her. The henhouse was closed up
tight and sounded and smelled full of hens. I could tell
Dorothy wasn’t in there. She couldn’t have gone into
the barn, or I would have seen her. So, she must be in
the people house. I pushed through the hole in the
screen door, ran inside and headed straight for the
door in the kitchen floor, expecting to see she was on
her way down into The Hole.
She wasn’t.


Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Toto’s Tale?

Kate: I started writing fiction seriously in 1999 when Meg was a little over a year old. I finally had an idea for a book I thought I could finish! The first draft took about two years, written mostly at night when Meg and her brother were asleep. As the kids got older, it became easier to find time to write for a while, but now everyone’s schedules are so busy that it’s just as difficult to make time for writing as it was when they were small. I’ve written five historical novels and two contemporary mysteries – the historicals under my name, Kate Dolan, and the contemporaries under the pseudonym K.D. Hays. Toto’s Tale is my eighth book and my first children’s book. It’s also my first book with a partner.

Meg: It’s my first book, period.

About the Authors

K.D. Hays and Meg Weidman are a mother-daughter team who aspire to be professional roller coaster riders and who can tell you exactly what not to put in your pockets when you ride El Toro at Six Flags. Meg is studying art in a middle school magnet program. For fun, she jumps on a precision jump rope team and reads anything not associated with school work. K.D. Hays, who writes historical fiction under the name Kate Dolan, has been writing professionally since 1992. She holds a law degree from the University of Richmond and consequently hopes that her children will pursue studies in more prestigious fields such as plumbing or waste management. They live in a suburb of Baltimore where the weather is ideally suited for the four major seasons: riding roller coasters in the spring and fall, waterslides in the summer and snow tubes in the winter. Although Meg resents the fact that her mother has dragged her to every historical site within a 200-mile radius, she will consent to dress in colonial garb and participate in living history demonstrations if she is allowed to be a laundry thief.

Their latest collaboration is a wonderful book titled Toto’s Tale.

You can visit their website at www.totostale.com.

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Book Spotlight: Synarchy Book 2: The Ascension by DCS

Title: Synarchy Book Two: The Ascension
Author: DCS
Publisher: SVT Publishing
Publication Date: July 30, 2010
Paperback: 442 pages
ISBN: 978-0578062181
Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller

Purchase here!

Excerpt

“We’re villains, as much as we are capable of being heroes. When the moments come that we can we soften the blow of our sins, we’ve got to take them.”
-Stefano Vasco Terenzio

Prologue

December 20, 2012- 11:44 PM
Vacherie, Louisiana
Oak Alley Plantation

It came down in thick heavy sheets, bulleting from the sky, drenching the ground that could only absorb so much before it leaked up from the grass, and quickly became the swamp that was so common in the area. The glare of headlights cut through the rain, illuminating the porch of the antebellum mansion that was now empty.

Caesar climbed out of the car, whistling. He snapped open the trunk and stared with vicious glee down at Vasco, whose hands Caesar had taped behind his back. Caesar reached inside and hauled the other man out, half dragging him through the puddles of water, and shoved him in front of the stairs, facing the house. “I thought you‘d want to see it one more time before you died.”
Vasco’s eyes traveled slowly over the elegant, old fashioned structure. It had once been her home, before she—

His jaw hardened. A lifetime ago, he had made love to her against those columns, often after he’d shot a few people out among the centuries-old oaks. For a fleeting moment, his eyes softened at the phantom images.

“You know, she and I had some good times here after you got popped.” Caesar grinned at his own memories.

Vasco’s eyes narrowed, jealousy and fury coiling hotly in his gut. His fingers fisted around the piece of glass hidden in his palm, and sharp edges cut into the tape and his skin, the blood washing away with the force of the rain.

Caesar turned him around so they were facing each other. “I don’t get you, Vasco.” He took a step back, pulling the gun out from the waistband of his pants. “Why? Out of all of them, I never thought you would choose this.”

The hatred in the depths of Vasco’s eyes was unhidden as he regarded Caesar. It was their destiny to be enemies, their agreement for this lifetime. He was fully committed to honoring that agreement. “Choice, Caesar,” Vasco said over the noise of the storm. “I never made anyone do anything. They always had a choice. You—Them—you take the fun out of the game when you take that choice away. But the better, less noble reason is I just don’t like you. Or your masters. I never have.”

Caesar shook his head. “I’ll never understand you Terenzios. I won’t miss you, either.” The thunder growled, a flash of lighting exposing the malevolent gleam in Caesar‘s eyes as he pressed the muzzle of the gun against Vasco’s temple.

About the Author

DCS was born in Alexandria, Virginia. She graduated high school in Huntersville, NC and attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte intent on earning a degree in Political Science and becoming a lawyer.

She instead eventually turned to writing. DCS is currently attending the American Institute of Holistic Theology to earn her PhD in Metaphysical Spirituality.

You can also hear her live every Saturday evening on BlogTalkRadio’s In the Mind of DCS. Show starts at 7pm Central Standard Time.

Synarchy Book 2: The Ascension is her second novel, and four more are scheduled for release.

Synarchy Book 3: SVT and Synarchy Book 4: The Black Widow are the next in the series due out in 2011.

“We’re villains, as much as we are capable of being heroes…” A lifetime ago, Stefano Vasco Terenzio saw one way to maneuver his family into a game of betrayal against an unbeatable enemy; walking into a bullet. A generation later, what started with one man’s ego will determine the fate of the whole word. For centuries The Brotherhood and their Gods, the Anunnaki have hidden in plain sight among us. For centuries they have lied, sacrificed man by the thousands, and manipulated humanity into their service. As the clock ticks closer to December 21st, 2012, they will stop at nothing to keep their control of planet Earth. In the thrilling sequel to Synarchy Book 1: The Awakening, the end is only the beginning. Secrets emerge that will challenge the core of everything you think you believe. All the while a team of scientists must make sense out of the fantastical, and the tenuous link holding together the one family that can save humankind, shatters.

Categories: Science Fiction, Thriller | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

LESSONS FROM THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA by Vicki Hopkins

Author: Vicki Hopkins
Title: Lessons from “The Phantom of the Opera”
Publisher: Xlibris
Genre: Performing Arts
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1-4415-2374-7
PURCHASE HERE

Leroux weaves the tale of a deformed man living in isolation underneath the Paris Opera House, who desperately loves a beautiful girl named Christine Daaé. The masked man has many names – Phantom of the Opera, Opera Ghost, Angel of Music, and Erik. His desperate search for love takes him down a road of obsession and violence, and the cry of his despair echoes in our hearts. “All I wanted was to be loved for myself.”

Lessons from “The Phantom of the Opera” steps behind the scenes and examines the symbolism hidden in the characters, emotions, sets, and events. The book leads its readers on an emotional journey studying the motivations of the characters and the numerous symbols hidden throughout the Opera House. It examines not only Leroux’s original work, but also analyzes the play and movie. Personal reflection is encouraged, and the author poses questions to incite further thought and revelation. As a result, lessons and life applications emerge from a timeless masterpiece for everyone to enjoy.

Where did you get inspiration for your book?

It started as an obscure blog on Google Blogger that gained worldwide readership from Phantom fans who requested my posts in book form. The story so profoundly touched my life, I felt compelled to write about the symbolism.

Visit the author’s website here.

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