Cover Reveal: Unpainted by Dan Fitzgerald

It’s time for something new! I am familiar with author Dan Fitzgerald’s fantasy series: the Maer Cycle is unique and wonderfully written and Dan shows that the joy is in the journey with his beautiful and thoughtful prose.

Well, Dan is tackling a new type of book: fantasy romance. While I am inexperienced in this subgenre, I know that those of you who like your books on the steamy side are in for a treat! Unpainted is a standalone romance that takes place in the universe of the Weirdwater Confluence. While there are cameos from previous books, you don’t need to have read them to dive right into Unpainted.

Would you like to see the amazing cover, also created by the author (seriously, what can’t he do)?


About Unpainted:

In the hermetic society of the Painted Faces, pale, unblemished skin is rewarded with station, wealth, and power.

Tera would almost rather go unpainted than enter into an arranged marriage with a total stranger, but that would mean giving up the only life she’s ever known. Not to mention her share of her family’s Pureline fortune.

She’d always thought love was a fairy tale and sex a joyless chore, but the alternative might be worse.

Enter Aven, a soft buttercup of a man, the kindest and most considerate person she’s ever met. A tropical honeymoon awaits, and with the help of her intimacy consultant, Tera is determined to make the best of this awkward ritual. Amid the island breezes, she and her new spouse form a bond neither of them knew they were capable of.

But trouble stirs beneath the polite veneer of the Painted Faces’ society, threatening to tear them—and their entire world—apart.

Unpainted is a queer arranged marriage fantasy romance, a standalone in the Weirdwater Confluence universe. It features a dual POV, magical currency shenanigans, and inordinate amounts of steamy, fluffy goodness with a soft femdom dynamic. Coming June 30, 2023.

About the author:

About the author

I am a fantasy and romance author living in Washington, DC with my wife, twin boys, and two cats. When I am not writing, I might be gardening, doing yoga, cooking, or listening to French music.  

I write fantasy in part because the state of the world demands an escape, but also because fantasy provides another lens through which to view what we are living now. Part mirror, part magnifying glass, part prism.  

I write romance because we need more love in the world, and sometimes we need to know things will work out in the end. 

What you will find in my books: Mystery. Darkness. Wonder. Action. Romance. Otherness examined and deconstructed. Queer and straight characters living and fighting side by side. Imaginary creatures and magic with a realistic touch.  

What you won’t find: Pointless violence. Sexual assault. Unquestioned sexism or discrimination. Evil races. Irredeemable villains. Predestined heroes. An ancient darkness that threatens to overspread the land.  

Interested? Check out The Maer Cycle trilogy (character-driven non-epic fantasy), The Weirdwater Confluence duology (romantic fantasy with meditation magic), or The Delve (fast-paced spicy romantic dungeon fantasy). 

The Write Reads on Tour- Ariva: Heart of the Sky by DH Willison

It takes great courage to stand against a ferocious mythic monster.
It takes far greater to stand WITH one who’s at her most vulnerable.
Tremors rock the land. Wild magic and creatures from the abyss ravage a formerly bountiful forest, while a creeping magic ailment spreads among the harpies. A fragile peace between harpy and human teeters on the brink.
Darin and Rinloh, oddest couple in all the land. They must become the oddest of heroes to save the land.
Heart of the Sky. A charming blend of whimsy, terror, and a lot of heart.

Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Arvia: Heart of the Sky will be available for purchase starting tomorrow.

I’m excited to join the Write Reads tour with my review of Arvia: Heart of the Sky. This is an enjoyable book, full of heart, humor, and a small dash of romance. The relationships built and the begrudging friendships developed are well done and take pride of place with the adventure framing a story that is ultimately about more than harpies. Although it’s great seeing a book about harpies!

Darin and Rinloh are not strangers to struggle. First of all, is their relationship. Most couples have obstacles to overcome, but Darin’s and Rinloh’s are a bit more unique. You see, Darin is a human and Rinloh is, um, not. She’s a harpy. What’s more, harpies in Arvia are quite a lot bigger than humans and generally see humans as snacks instead of friends. In fact, everything is bigger and more dangerous than Darin, coming from Earth, is used to. Including the danger.

One of the great things about this book is that, even though harpies are higher up on the evolutionary ladder, Rinloh is much more affected by the mysterious tremors suddenly rocking the land than the humans are. She has to rely on Darin who is used to being the weaker of the two. Not only that, the harpies have to band together, putting aside their differences and petty squabbles. See what I mean about Heart of the Sky focusing on relationships at its heart?

Author DH Willison writes with confidence, crafting a tale that is snappy and without unnecessary pauses. The chapters are long enough to move the narrative, switching between Rinloh’s and Darin’s points of view, but never overly wordy. The dreaded info dump is skillfully avoided, while the important background information is given in bite-sized pieces at exactly the right time for the story.

The characters were all great, with Darin being my favorite. I had to laugh a little when he tried to compare his past experiences on Earth with the critters found on Ariva. Everyone’s surprised but condescending reactions to his observations were just so fun. He also never gave up on Rinloh or on somehow helping, despite being rather ill- equipped for the setting he finds himself in.

Rinloh was a lot of fun and her inner monlogue was so darn honest! Who doesn’t hate their job or coworkers sometimes (although most people’s jobs don’t involve attacking creatures with way too many teeth)? Her charcter grew a lot throughout the book as she had to learn to rely on others. I think sometimes that’s a hard pill to swallow.

While you can just go ahead and jump in here (this is book 3), go ahead and grab the entire series. You’re in for a treat. Arvia: Heart of the Sky is a fun and playful book, with a sutble look at different relationship dynamics hiding beneath harpy-sized charm.

Highly recommended.

About the author:

D.H. Willison is a reader, writer, game enthusiast and developer, engineer, and history buff. He’s lived or worked in over a dozen countries, learning different cultures, viewpoints, and attitudes, which have influenced his writing, contributing to one of his major themes: alternate and creative conflict resolution. The same situations can be viewed by different cultures quite differently. Sometimes it leads to conflict, sometimes to hilarity. Both make for a great story.

He’s also never missed a chance to visit historic sites, from castle dungeons, to catacombs, to the holds of tall ships, to the tunnels of the Maginot Line. It might be considered research, except for the minor fact that his tales are all set on the whimsical and terrifying world of Arvia. Where giant mythic monsters are often more easily overcome with empathy than explosions.

Subscribe to his newsletter for art, stories, and humorous articles (some of which are actually intended to be humorous).



A Necromancer Called Gam Gam by Adam Holcombe

A grandmotherly necromancer seeking resolution for her past with the help of her loyal entourage: an undead cat and a spectral knight.

A girl on the run from the Eternal Empire for the mysterious power she possesses.

When a chance encounter pulls them together, Gam Gam will do what it takes to protect Mina from the rogue sergeant hounding her–including raising the dead. As long as they’re dressed for the occasion.

Thank you to the author for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. A Necromancer Called Gam Gam will be available on May 30th.

I can honestly say that I’ve never had a favorite necromancer character. It’s not like necromancers are dead to me or anything (I’ll stop with the ill-advised jokes from here on out), I’ve just never felt strongly about one before. That has changed with A Necromancer Called Gam Gam. I now have a favorite necromancer. A necromancer who not only raises the dead but makes sure they’re bundled up in the warmest of knitted goods can’t help but endear herself to me.

This novella starts with a desperate race through the woods. Mina, a twelve-year-old girl, finds herself being pursued by a sergeant and his men. She has an ability that he wants-I’ll leave it to the reader to discover what it is. When Mina stumbles across Gam Gam’s camping spot, we are introduced to an indomitable grandmotherly type. The sergeant gets more than he bargained for in Gam Gam and Mina.

A Necromancer Called Gam Gam is fabulous. The characters are all wonderful, well-written, and utterly unique. Mina is the anchor of the story, driving the emotion and plot forward. She develops quickly, a nuanced character experiencing loss and uncertainty, flavored by strong feelings of guilt. Through her eyes, the reader will experience a journey from regret and grief to sorrow tempered by gratitude and peace.

Gam Gam is flat-out fantastic! Yes, she raises the dead and her carriage is pulled by a pair of very dead horses, but she also bakes delicious cookies and knits colorful scarves and hats for each shambling corpse (even though they really don’t need them). It almost made me want to attempt knitting again, despite my disastrous last attempt. She could have become a caricature, underdeveloped and there solely for smiles. However, she is so much more. Her story arc is touching and elevates this novella from good to great.

Add in some memorable side characters, including an undead cat named Nugget, and you’ve got a wildly entertaining tale. The ending was perfect, satisfying, and a bit of a tear-jerker. I’m looking forward to reading more from author Adam Holcombe.

A Necromancer Called Gam Gam will take you a short amount of time to read, but it’ll stay with you for much longer. This isn’t one to miss.

May the 4th Be With You: Star Wars Literature is Strong with this One

See the source image

May fourth is lovingly known as Star Wars Day (“May the 4th be with you, always”) to fans of the movies. Even though Firefly is my jam, I still have some love for Star Wars, as do my husband and kids. In honor of the day, here’s a list of Star Wars favorites in our house:

The Thrawn trilogy by Timothy Zahn:

From Book 1: It’s five years after the Rebel Alliance destroyed the Death Star, defeated Darth Vader and the Emperor, and drove the remnants of the old Imperial Starfleet to a distant corner of the galaxy. Princess Leia and Han Solo are married and expecting Jedi twins. And Luke Skywalker has become the first in a long-awaited line of Jedi Knights.
But thousands of light-years away, the last of the Emperor’s warlords, Grand Admiral Thrawn, has taken command of the shattered Imperial fleet, readied it for war, and pointed it at the fragile heart of the New Republic. For this dark warrior has made two vital discoveries that could destroy everything the courageous men and women of the Rebel Alliance fought so hard to build. (taken from Amazon)

Star Wars ~ The Thrawn Trilogy: (Vol. 1) Heir to the Empire ; (Vol ...

My husband and I both loved these, although I must admit it’s been a while since I’ve read them. I am not sure if they’re still considered canon, but I don’t care all that much: good is good.

Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire by Delilah S. Dawson

After devastating losses at the hands of the First Order, General Leia Organa has dispatched her agents across the galaxy in search of allies, sanctuary, and firepower—and her top spy, Vi Moradi, may have just found all three, on a secluded world at the galaxy’s edge.
A planet of lush forests, precarious mountains, and towering, petrified trees, Batuu is on the furthest possible frontier of the galactic map, the last settled world before the mysterious expanse of Wild Space. The rogues, smugglers, and adventurers who eke out a living on the largest settlement on the planet, Black Spire Outpost, are here to avoid prying eyes and unnecessary complications. Vi, a Resistance spy on the run from the First Order, is hardly a welcome guest. And when a shuttle full of stormtroopers lands in her wake, determined to root her out, she has no idea where to find help.
To survive, Vi will have to seek out the good-hearted heroes hiding in a world that redefines scum and villainy. With the help of a traitorous trooper and her acerbic droid, she begins to gather a colorful band of outcasts and misfits, and embarks on a mission to spark the fire of resistance on Batuu—before the First Order snuffs it out entirely. (taken from Amazon) Galaxy's Edge: Black Spire (Star Wars) (9780593128381 ...

Delilah S. Dawson is a fantastic writer. I really enjoyed Kill the Farm Boy, so of course her take on Star Wars is worth reading. My oldest loved it.

Wookie the Chew by James Hance

‘Wookiee The Chew’, in the style of the original Pooh books tells the adorkable tale of the little biped that belonged to Chrisolo Robin (and Chrisolo Robin belonged to him). 24 pages of affectionately crafted adventure, brand new b&w illustrations and sneaky Star Wars references- a tribute to the combined genius of George Lucas, A.A.Milne and E.H.Sheppard. Suitable for jedi apprentices of all ages! (taken from

Let’s all pause for a collective “Aww”. This book is as absolutely adorable as it looks. It’s great for any age, and is definitely worth the read.

The Origami Yoda Files by Tom Angleberger

Not so long ago, in a middle school not so far away, a sixth grader named Dwight folded an origami finger puppet of Yoda. For class oddball Dwight, this wasn’t weird. It was typical Dwight behavior. But whatis weird is that Origami Yoda is uncannily wise and prescient. He can predict the date of a pop quiz, guess who stole the classroom Shakespeare bust, and save a classmate from popularity-crushing embarrassment with some well-timed advice. Dwight’s classmate Tommy wonders how Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. With contributions from his puzzled classmates, Tommy assembles this first case file in the blockbuster bestselling Origami Yoda series, hailed bySchool Library Journal as “honest, funny, and immensely entertaining.” (taken from Amazon) - The Origami Yoda Files: Collectible 8-book Boxed set -

Oh, the hundreds of origami Star Wars creations that have graced our house since my oldest discovered this series! These books are a lot of fun, and the step-by-step directions for making your own origami Star Wars characters inspire creativity. Plus, Tom Angleberger rocks: my oldest has written him two fan letters, and Tom responded both times! It meant the world to my oldest (it means a lot to me too).

Goodnight, Darth Vader by Jeffrey Brown

It’s time for a Star Wars bedtime story in a galaxy far, far away, and Darth Vader’s parenting skills are tested anew in this delightful follow-up to the breakout New York Times Star Wars books bestsellers Darth Vader™ and Son and Vader’s™ Little Princess. In this Episode, the Sith Lord must soothe his rambunctious twins, Luke and Leia—who are not ready to sleep and who insist on a story. As Vader reads, the book looks in on favorite creatures, droids, and characters, such as Yoda, R2-D2, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Darth Maul, Admiral Ackbar, Boba Fett, and many others as they tuck in, yawn, and settle down to dream. As ever, Jeffrey Brown’s charming illustrations and humor glow throughout, playing on children’s book conventions to enchant adults and kids alike. This Star Wars makes a fun, unique pregnancy gift, a new Dad gift, or funny new parent gift! (taken from Amazon)

Goodnight Darth Vader (Star Wars Comics for Parents, Darth Vader ...

There are several Star Wars books like this by Jeffrey Brown, but I read Goodnight Darth Vader first. It’s a lot of fun, and the illustrations are so cute!

Star Wars OBI-123 by Calliope Glass, Caitlin Kennedy, and illustrated by Katie Cook

Counting with Star Wars is hardly a chore!
From the chosen ONE to a transport of TWENTY
This book is full of numbers aplenty!
So, Padawans, prepare, get ready, get set
For a numerical lesson you’ll never forget! (taken from Amazon)

My youngest loved this book for the colorful pictures, and the fun rhymes. I love it because it actually goes up to twenty, instead of stopping at ten, which is rare in counting books. It made teaching number recognition easier and more fun.

What are some Star Wars books you love? Have you read any of these? May the 4th be with you!

The 5,4,3,2,1 Book Tag

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve done a book tag. Or else I have completely forgotten the one I published yesterday. It could go either way. At any rate, I came across this tag on the Words About Words site. Check out her great answers here and be sure to give her a follow!

5 Books You Love

I’m going to just go with five books that I’ve loved so far this year. It’s been a great reading year so far, so I’m already mad about narrowing it down.

The Magician’s Daughter by H.G. Parry (Review)

Mystic Reborn by Jeffrey Speight (Review)

The Adversary’s Hand by Dorian Hart (Review)

A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross (Review)

The Bone Shard War by Andrea Stewart (Review)

4 Auto-buy Authors

Erin Morgenstern, Stuart Turton, and Alix E. Harrow. I have a tie for my fourth author and it’s kind of a cheat since each of these authors has written one book series so far: Luke Arnold and Dorian Hart. However, I’ll buy whatever they write going forward, up to and including a book about beige paint.

3 Favorite Genres

Fantasy of all types, mystery, and…literary fiction? It’s tough because fantasy is my go-to but other than that, I go through reading phases.

2 Places I read

On the sofa and in waiting rooms.

1 Book You Promise to Read Soon

The Magick of Chaos by Ricard Victoria

I’m not tagging anyone, but I hope to see your answers! Please let me know if you do the tag, so I can add to my “to be read” pile.

One for my Enemy by Olivie Blake

In modern-day Manhattan where we lay our scene, two rival witch families fight to maintain control of their respective criminal empires.

On one side of the conflict are the Antonova sisters ― each one beautiful, cunning, and ruthless ― and their mother, the elusive supplier of premium intoxicants, known only as Baba Yaga. On the other side, the influential Fedorov brothers serve their father, the crime boss known as Koschei the Deathless, whose community extortion ventures dominate the shadows of magical Manhattan.

After twelve years of tenuous co-existence, a change in one family’s interests causes a rift in the existing stalemate. When bad blood brings both families to the precipice of disaster, fate intervenes with a chance encounter, and in the aftershocks of a resurrected conflict, everyone must choose a side. As each of the siblings struggles to stake their claim, fraying loyalties threaten to rot each side from the inside out.

If, that is, the enmity between empires doesn’t destroy them first. (Taken from Amazon)

This is one of those “take a chance” books for me. The only other book I’ve read by Olivie Blake was The Atlas Six, which just wasn’t really my thing. However, I was intrigued by the names Baba Yaga and Koschei the Deathless as well as the idea of mafia-like magical families.

There were things I liked and things that really somewhat irked me. The setup has the Romeo and Juliet obsession (yeah…not calling that love) to it, which kind of sets the tone. Everything has heightened stakes, although much of it is in the minds of the characters. There were a few separate storylines that intermingled here and there, finally coming together toward the end.

There was a cast of characters listed at the beginning of the book which I always appreciate, especially since each character had a nickname or two. I didn’t need to refer to it all that much, but it helped in the first few chapters.

The Romeo and Juliet stand-ins irritated me, possibly even more than the Shakespearean Romeo and Juliet which is kind of an accomplishment. They were just so darn obnoxious! I suspect some of this is due to the fact that I am rapidly heading toward the “get off my lawn, you hooligans” stage of adulthood. On the other hand, due to the fact that much of their interactions came from one-word text messages, there wasn’t any chance of character development from either of them. It made their motivations unbelievable. And, good gravy, the drama! Even for the Romeos and Juliets of the literary world, these two went above and beyond.

The heads of both magical mafia families were intriguing but didn’t get as much page time as I expected. This isn’t exactly a Romeo and Juliet story; rather, it took its inspiration from the play. Because of the deviations, I was hoping for more time from these mysterious leaders. I did like what was there, though. The way their backgrounds were slowly revealed kept them interesting throughout.

There were two characters who stood out to me. Their parts were what kept me reading, despite my tepid reaction to much of the rest of One for My Enemy. These were Marya/Masha and The Bridge. Masha was the oldest of the Anotonova daughters and heir to her mother’s (“Baba Yaga”) illegal enterprise. She was ruthless and manipulative, turning everything and everyone into a weapon to be used for her purposes. What I loved about her was that no one was off limits in her machinations, not even those she loved. It made for a character that I loved to hate. I don’t need to relate to or even like a character to enjoy reading about them, if that character is well-written. And Masha was.

The Bridge was a fickle character who thrived on making- and breaking- deals. He always had justification for his actions and could find a way around whatever bargain he had made, if he decided it didn’t suit him. His curiosity was, of course, what hurt him, but it allowed the reader insight that couldn’t otherwise be given naturally. He walked a fine line between cleverness and recklessness.

The pacing of the story was a little bit off. There were chunks that seemed to be rushed and then parts that were done in a way that seemed repetitive. As much as I loved the character of The Bridge, there were far too many scenes of him having pretty much the same conversation. It got to the point where I started to struggle with his parts. They didn’t really add to the storyline, and I lost interest after a while.

Alas, One for My Enemy was not for me. I expected a different story than the one the author told and the book and I ended up not being friends. There was much to like, I just am not the right reader.

Book Review from a Teen Reader: Weird Al: Seriously by Lily E. Hirsch

Every now and again my teen reader writes a book review that I enjoy way too much to not share with the world (or, you know, the people who read my blog). Today he has a rip-roaring take on a Weird Al biography. I typed it as he wrote it, excessive use of italics and all. Enjoy!

Recently, I read Weird Al: Seriously by Lily E. Hirsch and I enjoyed it! Here are my thoughts and opinions on what I think might be the first-ever biography I’ve read and reviewed! Don’t quote me on that, though; I could be wrong.

So first off, because this is a biography, my review might be a little different. It is pretty hard to talk about the settings and characters when the whole book is about a real person so I’m going to focus on the writing itself instead. Just thought you should know before we get started.

Okay! So now that I’ve done the introduction and all that, it’s time to start talking about the book! I personally thought it was really interesting, and not just because I think Weird Al is funny. I think the author did a pretty good job having a serious discussion about Weird Al’s music and life, although there were some tougher topics mentioned…(but that’s just par for the course with a biography, especially one with a political chapter. Even if that chapter is about how the subject of the book doesn’t actively share his political opinions).

But we all know what this book is really about: Weird Al’s trademark parody songs! But the question here is: did Lily E. Hirsch actually do a good job writing about Weird Al and his songs? Well, the answer to that question (at least in my opinion) is yes! A lot of the chapters had entire sections highlighting a different song and explaining some of what it took to write and perform. And sometimes there’s funny jokes! That’s a pretty neat bonus in my eyes.

One of my favorite parts of the book was a silly little section highlighting several times where Al’s parody was so well known that the original song actually got confused with the parody! I just thought it was really funny hearing about how the person who made “American Pie” (the song “The Saga Begins” is a parody of) almost started singing the wrong song because of how often they heard it; thankfully they (presumably) sang the right song in the end.

However, no review is complete without at least one negative opinion. And so I’m afraid I have to share some things that I wasn’t that much of a fan of.

First off, while I do enjoy a good pun, there were one or two parts where there were just too many bad puns, and it made it a bit tough to read at times (I guess you could say I found it pun-funny! Get it? Because it sounds like unfunny…I’ll see myself out).

Another thing I wasn’t sure about was some of the more serious chapters. I understand that it has the word “serious” in the title, but I just expect a bit more silliness from a book about Weird Al, I guess. Aside from those two things, though, I didn’t really have any problems with the book. I found it extremely interesting, and it occupied my time for a good while. Overall, a pretty positive review!

One more thing: the book did a great job illustrating just how nice Weird Al is. It definitely seems like he’s the one celebrity you would actually enjoy meeting (although, I don’t know that many celebrities to choose from in the first place…). It doesn’t really matter to my review, I just thought it was some fun information. All in all, this one is pretty simple! If you like Weird Al enough to buy a book, then buy this one! And if you don’t I’m assuming there’s at least one person out there who is completely outraged. I am not that person, though. I won’t judge you!

Dragonlance Side Quest: The Second Generation by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Years have passed since the end of the War of the Lance. The people of Ansalon have rebuilt their lives, their houses, their families. The Companions of the Lance, too, have returned to their homes, raising children and putting the days of their heroic deeds behind them.

But peace on Krynn comes at a price. The forces of darkness are ever vigilant, searching for ways to erode the balance of power and take control. When subtle changes begin to permeate the fragile peace, new lives are drawn into the web of fate woven around all the races. The time has come to pass the sword — or the staff — to the children of the Lance.

They are the Second Generation. (Taken from Amazon)

I have a confession: I am not a monogamous reader. I usually read multiple books at the same time. Lately, I’ve been rereading my Dragonlance books while also reading new books. You can read my thoughts on my latest reread of Kindred Spirits here.

“…Weis and Hickman are like kender and bad pennies-they keep turning up. And so here they are again, all set to tell us about the wonderful things that are happening in Krynn”. -Forward by…Fizban the Fabulous?

The Second Generation is set after the end of the War of Lance which is when the events from the Dragonlance Chronicles (the original trilogy) takes place. An uneasy peace exists, but it’s much more tenuous than people want to believe. A new generation of heroes needs to step up. This book of short stories introduces the children of characters from the Chronicles. They are not their parents and they think and act differently. The writing also flows differently. That isn’t a bad thing. The tone is similar, but it needs to be at least a little different because this is a different cast of characters.

This book is actually a grouping of five novellas by the masters of Dragonlance. It’s an odd one to review since a few of the novellas have been elsewhere as well. It’s good to see them gathered together with other stories about the children of the Heroes of the Lance, though, and it does form a bridge to the next part in Dragonlance’s history.

I’m always a little wishy-washy on books of short stories or novella collections. There are usually some that I just don’t like as much as others. Unfortunately, that is the case with The Second Generation, although I do think it’s a strong connection point between the characters from the original series and the characters that take center stage in the next book.

I do wonder if some of my not quite glowing reaction to a few of these novellas has to do with the fact that I love the original characters so much. Part of me struggled with these new additions at first. That being said, the characters themselves have new and interesting stories to tell.

“Kitiara’s Son” is one of my favorites from this book. Of all the book characters who lack parenting capability, she’d be at the top of my list. She has a son that is first discovered when his adopted mother comes to Tanis and Caramon for help. He is about to take the vows to become a knight of Takhisis- an evil order of knighthood that has recently sprung up. His mom hopes that Caramon and Tanis can convince him to not give his soul to their evil cause.

There are a few things I really enjoy about this story. One of them is the identity of the father. It isn’t who most people who have read the Chronicles would first expect. Another thing I love about this one is the personality of Kitara’s son, Steel. He’s very conflicted, although he tries not to show it. What follows is more of a story about choices and shades of gray than one of action (although there’s action too, of course).

“Raistlin’s Daughter” is a myth about Raistlin having a daughter. It’s not my favorite, possibly because I feel that it doesn’t fit his character, possibly because the tone seems a little…off. Whatever the reason, while I don’t particularly like the story, I do feel that it is the weakest in the collection. It isn’t bad, it’s just not fantastic. Moving on.

“Wanna Bet” is a rip-roaring tale of adventure, featuring Caramon’s three sons and an ill-fated errand. This is more funny than anything, although any story that involves the Graygem of Gargoth adds a bit to the lore behind Krynn’s creation. This is one of the novellas that appears elsewhere and it also feels most like a side quest from the original trilogy to me. I think it’s the addition of some very bad choices, a character who is not what he seems, and things that go so wrong that they almost go right.

“The Legacy” also focuses on Caramon’s three sons. This time it’s the youngest, Palin, who takes center stage. Unlike his war-like brothers, he’s interested in magic. He’s just enough like Raistlin to scare and worry his father. This story talks about his trip to the Tower of Sorcery and what transpires. I love this one! While it could be the connection to Raistlin, I think it’s a lot more about what it shows of Caramon (and the other original Heroes of the Lance). There’s a reluctance from Caramon to let his kids grow up, a fear of the horrors in the world and a desperate desire to protect his kids. Authors Weis and Hickman perfectly captured the struggles loving parents face every day. I feel for Caramon.

At the same time, it’s a story about the new generation of heroes coming into their own, about how what came before will play into their characters, and an introduction to the next part of the story. It’s masterfully told.

Lastly, there’s “The Sacrifice”, about Tanis’ and Laurana’s son, Gilthas. He reminds me so much of the protagonist of The Scarlet Pimpernel (or Batman, in a less Gotham-y sense). He is a weak fop who lazes around, doing nothing of importance. Except that’s not true at all. Underneath his metaphorical mask is an intelligent mind and a strong will. Gilthas resents his parents for being overprotective and wishes to help. Unfortunately, things don’t go as hoped and he ends up in a sticky situation. It also proves to be a break between himself and Tanis. This story lends a good explanation of what comes next in Krynn’s timeline. It’s probably the one that matters most as far as setting up the next few Dragonlance books. As far as the novellas go, it really does seem the center point of The Second Generation.

This is a well-written side book and an engaging one. There are a few inconsistencies between some of the tales told here and the events from the original story, but the reason for that is perfectly explained in the forward and actually adds a sense of fun and adventure. While I will always prefer the original companions and the Chronicles, this is a strong introduction to the new cast of big players, the ones who get swept up into events bigger than themselves. Also, major points for the addition of the Knight of Takhisis stat blocks!

It’s definitely worth reading if you want to know more about the world and get a good idea of the direction the series will take after the War of the Lance.

A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross

Jack Tamerlaine hasn’t stepped foot on Cadence in ten long years, content to study music at the mainland university. But when young girls start disappearing from the isle, Jack is summoned home to help find them. Enchantments run deep on Cadence: gossip is carried by the wind, plaid shawls can be as strong as armor, and the smallest cut of a knife can instill fathomless fear. The capricious spirits that rule the isle by fire, water, earth, and wind find mirth in the lives of the humans who call the land home. Adaira, heiress of the east and Jack’s childhood enemy, knows the spirits only answer to a bard’s music, and she hopes Jack can draw them forth by song, enticing them to return the missing girls.
As Jack and Adaira reluctantly work together, they find they make better allies than rivals as their partnership turns into something more. But with each passing song, it becomes apparent the trouble with the spirits is far more sinister than they first expected, and an older, darker secret about Cadence lurks beneath the surface, threatening to undo them all. (Taken from Amazon)

A River Enchanted is a magical book full of contradictions. It is meandering and slower in pace. It is breathtaking and kept me on the edge of my seat. It is a book where the setting lived and breathed, almost overshadowing the plot and characters.

Cadence is a land divided. It is also a land of magic. On one side, some can use this magic in different (and unique) ways, such as weaving protections and secrets into wool. There is a cost, though: it shortens the life span of those who use it. On the other side, magic can be used without paying a price, but there is never enough food or resources. These two sides are at war, the peace only lasting as long as neither clan crosses over into the other clan’s side.

Jack left the island of Cadence and has been gone for years when our story starts. He receives a request to return to help with an emergency: girls on the island are disappearing. The Laird’s daughter, Adaira, who summoned Jack, is convinced that only Jack can help. He has a unique gift: he’s a bard and his music can summon the spirits. Adaira hopes that she can persuade the spirits to tell her where the girls are and how to get them back.

Adaira and Jack are both interesting characters. They have a complicated history. As children, they were rivals. Adaira is beloved, the only child of the Laird. Jack was sent off the island and has always felt unwanted. It is a clashing of personalities and the friction between them leads to opportunities for them to build off each other, developing both characters in unexpected ways.

Jack’s mother is the one who sent him away. She has also kept the secret of who his father is. Needless to say, their relationship is strained. I liked that it was more than just resentment. There was love there on both sides, even though they struggled to fit into a family dynamic or even a healthy relationship. It’s hard to be close to someone who keeps secrets like that, and the author conveys this struggle brilliantly.

The book isn’t quite a mystery and it isn’t quite a fantasy. It defies classification. It is beautifully written and kept me enthralled even though I could argue that the entire book is merely setup. The ending dropped a bombshell and set up the second book wonderfully, but the majority of the book showcases the magic of the island, the history of the warring clans, and the relationships between the people on the island and between the people and the magic of the island itself.

There is no explanation as to why the island of Cadence is full of magic while the mainland where Jack has been for years is completely devoid of it. There isn’t a lot of explanation for several larger points, but I actually loved that. It left an air of mystery and excitement. There is so much lurking beneath the surface, peeking out in small ways and giving wonderful tidbits of a world both large and seeped in enchantment.

This isn’t a novel that will be enjoyed by everyone. It is a book to read if you like to be drawn in by the magic of language itself. If you love being lost in lovely prose, puzzling out the quiet beauty of a story well written, A River Enchanted is for you.

Heart of Fire by Raina Nightingale


Camilla has always been told that humans are inferior. They cannot use magic. If they bond to dragons, they will doom the creatures to extinction. She has never believed a word of it. She has always known that she can use magic, and she suspects it is the elves who harm the dragons by keeping them to themselves. Now, she is presented with the opportunity of a lifetime: a dragon’s clutch is hatching and while she will earn the wrath of her captors if she is caught, she has the chance to see a dragon hatch and perhaps even to Recognize.

Kario’s people have feared dragons since time immemorial. When an unrealistically huge black dragon flies in while she is hunting, she is certain she will die. Instead, her life is changed when Nelexi, Obsidian Guardian of Areaer, chooses her as her final rider. Kario takes the name Flameheart, but she is soon homesick and afraid that she is insufficient to be the partner of a god.(Taken from Goodreads)

Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Heart of Fire is available now.

The books starts when Camilla, the protagonist, finds a way to see dragons hatch. When a dragon chooses her as its companion, things shift. What was once viewed as something exclusive to the elves (the ability to bond with dragons) is now proven to be available to humans as well. The accepted way of things changes as Camilla faces new challenges and triumphs.

At its heart, Heart of Fire is a book about relationships. Aside from Camilla’s relationship with her brother and her complicated feelings about family, I really liked the relationships with the dragons. I feel like the communication (sort of telepathy) between the different characters and the dragons was used more as character development than as a conversation between the humans and dragons. I found that to be an interesting way to show what a character who is a little reticent- as Camilla came across- is thinking or feeling.

The book takes a while to get going, but stay patient: once things are set up, it’s an entertaining book. The author obviously had a strong idea of what was going to happen and why. The world is an interesting one, with dragons (yay!), elves, and magic. I particularly liked how magic worked. It was a different take which I enjoyed reading about.

I struggled a little bit with the characters. I felt like they were kept at arm’s length, although that could have been me. I thought that the dragons’ interactions are what gave us the best looks at how Camilla thinks. While this was a really cool dynamic, I do wish that Camilla-and other characters to a lesser degree- were just a little bit more accessible.

At the end of the day, Heart of Fire is an enjoyable fantasy, and Raina Nightingale is an author with a lot of promise.