The Last Descendant (Sanyare Chronicles #1) by Megan Haskell – My Review!!

The Last Descendant – My Review!!

The Last Descendant Cover

I found The Last Descendant (Sanyare Chronicles #1) on Indie Brag, a site that showcases the best of Indie Authors. After reading the blurb, I added it to the TBR list. Here’s my review!

Synopsis (from the author):

Raised in a realm where humans are no better than slaves, Rie Lhethannien has struggled for decades to earn a meager post in the High Court messenger service. Even training as an elite fighter isn’t enough to earn the respect she craves. Scorned by the high elves who rely on her loyalty, Rie’s closest allies are the fierce carnivorous pixies who travel by her side.

When she’s attacked on a routine delivery by assassins from the enemy Shadow Realm, Rie’s martial prowess keeps her alive…and frames her as a traitor. Facing execution at the hand of an unmerciful high elf king, Rie must forsake her oaths and flee into enemy lands to prove her innocence. The secrets she uncovers may threaten more than her honor or even her life…for war is looming in the nine faerie realms. 

What I liked about The Last Descendant:

The Last Descendant has all the great fantasy elements. Rie, a human coming into unknown powers, intrigue, battles, magic, elves, a forbidden realm, and a quest to uncover the truth. What more can a fantasy reader ask for? In addition, it’s a well-written and well-paced book. Fantasy lovers a series to keep them occupied. Well done, Megan Haskell!

What I didn’t like about The Last Descendant:

I’m not asking for an info dump, but more background on the Shadow Realm would help. I’m sure it comes out in the subsequent books, though, so I’ll have to wait.

Overall impression:

As with all the books I’ve read with Indie Brag Medallions, The Last Descendant (Sanyare Chronicles #1) is well-written and entertaining! Good characters, nice battles scenes, intrigue, and a touch of romance make it a book worth reading! I recommend this one to anyone who likes fantasy!

My rating:

5 Stars

Connect with Megan Haskell:

Find out more about Megan Haskell and her books on her website or her Amazon Author page! While you’re there, please consider leaving a review or a comment (and maybe buy a book or two)!

Connect with me:

I’m always interested in meeting new friends. Find me on the socials on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, Google+, and Tumblr. Say hi and let’s start a conversation!

 

The Emperor’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker – My Review!!

The Emperor’s Edge – My Review!!

Emperor's

 

 

Steampunk is a genre I’m beginning to like more as I read it more often. I enjoyed the mix of fantasy and steampunk elements in Lindsay Buroker’s The Emperor’s Edge quite a lot. Here are my thoughts.

Synopsis (from the author): Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an eight-foot pile of coffee canisters onto their heads. But when ravaged bodies show up on the waterfront, an arson covers up human sacrifices, and a powerful business coalition plots to kill the emperor, she feels a tad overwhelmed.

Worse, Sicarius, the empire’s most notorious assassin, is in town. He’s tied in with the chaos somehow, but Amaranthe would be a fool to cross his path. Unfortunately, her superiors order her to hunt him down. Either they have an unprecedented belief in her skills… or someone wants her dead.

What I liked: In addition to the fantasy and steampunk I mentioned above, I simply liked the story. Amaranthe is a nice character, with tons of self-confidence (and a bit of self-doubt), Sicarius is a believable villain/hero with a mysterious side, and the rest of the supporting cast plays their roles well. Filled with enough action and intrigue to keep me turning pages, The Emperor’s Edge was a most enjoyable book!

What I didn’t like: The Emperor came across as an idealistic simpleton, and the regent was a bit stereotypical. Likewise, the gang Amaranthe negotiated with was too easy for a tough street cabal.

Overall impression: The Emperor’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker was a fun steampunk read. I liked the characters, the action, and the way the villains ended. All in all, a good book for those who enjoy fantasy and steampunk!

My rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded to 5 Stars)

Have you read The Emperor’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker? What about any of her other books (and there are a bunch)? If you have, or plan to, please consider leaving a review. It only takes a few minutes and authors love them!! Another thing authors like is to connect with their readers and fans. You can find Lindsay Buroker on her Amazon Author page or her website.

Speaking of connecting, you can connect with me on the socials! Don’t be shy, just stop by and say hi. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. If you don’t want to miss a post, subscribe. Lastly, if you want to email me, drop me a line at bill@williamlstuart.com!

 

Suwanee Fest 2016 – A Great Weekend – Even With the Rain!!

Sorry I’m a little bit behind on my posts. Been a crazy couple of weeks! And the crazy weeks started with Suwanee Fest 2016!

Suwanee Fest? What’s Suwanee Fest? Well, as many of you know, I live just north of Atlanta, GA in Buford, GA. Just south of Buford is Suwanee, GA, Suwanee is a small city of about 18,000 people. Every year, the city hosts Suwanee Fest. The event website refers to the festival as “Two days of family, friends, food, and fun!” I can attest to the fact it was all of that!

There was a ton of entertainment (including my favorite Who’s Bad – The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Band), great food, almost too many amazing exhibitors to count, and The Gemstone Chronicles!

Yep, I was there with books in hand to meet and greet new friends and readers of the series. And it was a blast! Not only did I sell a few books, but I also met so many awesome people. I talked about gemstones for hours, referred a few to my favorite gem hunting spot (Gold n’ Gems Grubbin’), and got to spend a couple of hours with my brother John and my niece Aidia. Overall, not a bad way to spend a Saturday! Below is the picture of my booth before the fun began.

Suwanee Fest Booth

Book interest was at an all-time high, and my editor extraordinaire Abby (who doubles as the City of Suwanee Public Information Officer) tried to stop by a few times to say hello. Every time she tried to stop by, though, I was interacting with new friends! Like I said, not a bad way to spend a Saturday!!

Unfortunately, Sunday was not the best day. Despite the great entertainment, the rains came and wouldn’t go away! Nonetheless, The Gemstone Chronicles staffed the booth in hopes of meeting more new friends. Alas, it wasn’t to be as the rains kept visitors away. On the plus side, though, John came by (and helped me pack up during one of the few breaks in the rain) and I had the chance to talk with Abby for a few minutes.

Suwanee Fest 2016 was a great event and I hope to attend again next year! If I met you, sold you a book (or 4), gave you a gemstone, or simply talked about gemstones, thanks for stopping by the booth! I truly appreciate each and every person who took time out of their celebration to visit with me and buy a book. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! If we did interact, and you have my contact information, give me a shout and let me know.

Connect with me:

In case you didn’t pick up a card or a bookmark, you can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, or Tumblr. You can also email me here at bill@williamlstuart.com!

Shield of Skool by Gordon Brewer – My Review!!

Shield of Skool – My Review!!

 

Shield of Skool Cover

 

Epic fantasy is one of my favorite genres. I saw the Shield of Skool by Gordon Brewer and liked the way it sounded. Read on for my review!

Synopsis (from the author): In this epic fantasy, a modest mission from his overlord turns into a perilous trek and personal quest for Urith, known as the Clovel Destroyer. Leading his nephew Oslaf across enemy lands, the warriors find allies in the demigod Mivraa and a beautiful young prophetess named Fedelm. As told by mystic visions, one of the group is destined to discover the first piece of the lost Skool, an ancient weapon of the gods, long thought destroyed.

On their quest to recover this powerful weapon, they must battle mortal enemies, both human, and monster, who will stop at nothing to terminate them. The overlords who rule the lands of Kamin are against them, and chaos begins to creep into the mortal world. The realms of the gods start to become a battleground for control of the terrifying weapon. All sides learn they have much to fear about their future when enemies create shifting alliances. The powerful and the weak become treacherous partners in the race to find the Shield of Skool.

What I liked: The Shield of Skool is my kind of epic fantasy! Full of battles, an honor code among warriors, gods interfering with humans, intrigue, and a cool world, the Shield of Skool has it all. I enjoyed Urith as a character, and Oslaf is a good sidekick to the more experienced warrior. The budding attraction between Oslaf and Fedelm (and between Mivraa and Urith) add an interesting flavor to the story. The underworld god and goddess are delightfully evil. All told a nice start to the Clovel Sword series!

 

What I didn’t like: As much as I enjoyed the story, the Shield of Skool needs another review by an editor. I found many errors that detracted from the tale.

Overall impression: The Shield of Skool was an enjoyable read. With a review by an editor, and some corrections, this would be an excellent start to an epic fantasy series! I rounded it to 4 stars (since Amazon doesn’t allow half-stars).

My rating: 3.5 Stars (rounded to 4)

Connect with the author:

If you read Shield of Skool by Gordon Brewer, please consider leaving a review. And check out his other books through his Amazon Author Page or his website.

Connect with me:

Did you like my review? Leave me a comment and let me know. If you prefer, you can email me at bill@williamlstuart.com, or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, or Tumblr. I look forward to meeting new friends!

Trinity: The Battle for Nevaeh by David Wind – My Review!!

Trinity: The Battle for Nevaeh – My review!!

Trinity Cover

I read the first two books of this trilogy (and gave them both 5 stars). When David Wind released Trinity: The Battle for Nevaeh, it hit my TBR list immediately. Read on for my review!

Synopsis (from the author):  Concluding the opening Trilogy of the Tales Of Nevaeh series, Areenna of Freemorn and Mikaal of Tolemac bring together the ten dominions for one last battle against their ruthless enemy. The Dark Masters threaten to annihilate the Nevaens, wiping humanity from the face of the earth, unless Areenna and Mikaal can find the mystical power that is Nevaeh’s salvation
To save their world, and their people, they must go where no one has gone for 3000 years: below the Island—deep beneath what used to be Manhattan. As the days grow darker, they search to find deliverance for their people, and become what has been prophesied—the Trinity of power. To accomplish this, they must first discover the third pillar of their powers.
Time is running out. Can they build the Trinity in time to save humanity from extinction?

What I liked: Areenna and Mikaal are like old friends who continue to grow and amaze as they pursue their destiny. Adding to their mystique is Neleh, the third part of the Trinity puzzle, another compelling character. The Dark Masters are a great counterpoint of evil throughout the series, and their invasion of Nevaeh makes for an excellent backdrop for the story. I liked the revelation of what lies below Manhattan, and what (or who) the Eight are. The book links all the elements of action, intrigue, battles, and mystery together and brings the series to a satisfying conclusion.

What I didn’t like: I would have liked more on Neleh, and the People. As important as the character was to the book, I know more about some of the minor characters than her. Similarly, I would have liked to know how The Eight fared after the final battle.

Overall impression: As with the first two books, I enjoyed this one! The familiar characters, a few surprises, good battles, intrigue, and the great conclusion made this as good as the others!

My rating: 5 Stars

Connect with the author:

Want to know more about Trinity: The Battle for Nevaeh or the other books in the Tales of Nevaeh series? Visit David Wind’s  website or his Amazon Author page!

If you read any of the books, please consider leaving a review. I know David Wind would appreciate it!

Connect with me:

Do you want to comment on this review or contact me? I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, and Tumblr, or email me at bill@williamlstuart.com. As always shares and comments are appreciated!

Blast of the Dragon’s Fury by L.R.W. Lee – My Review

Blast of the Dragon’s Fury by LRW Lee is one of my latest reads. I found the book through the Independent Author Network and I loved the cover and the blurb sounded like my kind of book. Read on to see what I thought!

Blast of the Dragon's Fury Cover

Synopsis (from the author): Ten-year-old Andy Smithson believes he is merely a kid too often in trouble with his overambitious parents–until his destiny as the Chosen One to break a 500-year-old curse is revealed. Swept away to the land of Oomaldee of medieval times, he discovers he must collect several ingredients for a magic potion to defeat the oppressive curse that plagues the land, the first of which is the scale of a red dragon, the fiercest of all dragon species. There’s just one tiny problem, he’s never battled dragons, except in his Dragon Slayer video game. Armed with only his wits, an ancient sword and a magic key, he must overcome grave peril at every turn before he can even attempt the feat. No pressure, but it’s his skill alone that will save – or condemn – the kingdom forever.

What I liked: This book, the first in a series, is a unique twist on the hero tale. The hero, in this case, is a ten-year-old boy who is transported to a kingdom that is under a curse. Andy is a good character, and fits the typical kid profile. His parents are both CEOs, so he feels neglected. The king – who wears jeans and t-shirts – was an interesting take on the ruler who needs help, and Mermin (Merlin’s brother) is a bumbling sort of wizard. My favorite character was Alden, the servant boy who befriends Andy and shares his adventures. The story moves along nicely, with action appropriate to the age group. The book entertained me with its humor and was a good read!

What I didn’t like: The one complaint I have is that the King doesn’t reveal what caused the curse or why Andy must be the one to break it. I realize the story will be revealed later in the series, but a little more information would have helped!

Overall impression: The first book of the Andy Smithson series, Blast of the Dragon’s Fury is a good middle grade and above read. It’s entertaining enough for adults, and younger readers will enjoy the unique use of cow farts! Full of humor, adventure, magic, and heroes, the story flowed nicely and kept me entertained! I will add the rest of the series to my TBR list!!

My rating: 5 Stars

Connect with the author:

If you read Blast of the Dragon’s Fury by L.R.W. Lee, please consider leaving a review! And connect with L.R.W. Lee on her site at LRWLee.com!

Connect with me:

Want to leave a comment on my review? Please do! I love to hear from readers! If you want to connect with me, find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, or Tumblr. You can also email me at bill@williamlstuart.com. If you don’t want to miss a post, subscribe to the blog!

 

My Collection – Gemstones and More Gemstones!!

After digging through a box the other day, I decided I finally needed to organize my collection of rocks garnered from my many trips to the North Georgia Mountains. I was surprised and excited when I went through my plastic bags and grouped the stones together. I didn’t realize all the cool stones I had!

Let’s start with hematite. If you recall a previous post on hematite, this stone looks like a dark gray lump, but, once tumbled, turns into a beautiful silver color. The cool thing about hematite is that when rubbed against sandpaper, it leaves a red streak (hence the name hematite, which comes from the Greek root word for blood). Hematite is one of my favorite stones!

Hematite Collection

Hematite Collection

Quartz is a great stone, too! It comes in many colors and I haven’t found one I didn’t like. In my collection, I have clear, rose, lemon (yellow), smoky, and the cool pencil quartz. I had clear quartz cut into round brilliant cut stones and they are gorgeous!

Round-Brilliant-3-Carats-Web

Round Brilliant Cut 3 Carats

 

Faceted Gemstones Round Brilliant Cut Quartz

Round Brilliant Cut Quartz Pair

The stones below are quartz as I found them. I will start with the pencil quartz. It is a misleading name, as some of the crystals are much larger than a pencil!

Pencil-quartz-Jan-2016

Pencil Quartz Collection

I think some of these would look great just hanging from a chain, but a couple of them are too big for anything except maybe a paperweight! Below is a picture of one of the large crystals.

Large-Pencil-Quartz-Jan-2016

Large Pencil Quartz

 

Clear and lemon quartz are beautiful stones, too. I think I might send my gem cutter a couple of the lemon quartz to see what he can do with them. I expect they will be gorgeous! Here are some of each.

Clear-Quartz-Jan-2016

Clear Quartz Collection

 

Lemon Quartz Collection

Lemon Quartz Collection

Aventurine is another quartz stone and usually has bits of mica or other minerals that give it a shimmering appearance. Here is my collection of aventurine.

Aventurine Collection

Aventurine Collection

 

Amethysts and citrines are other forms of quartz. I have a nice collection of each and I have some large amethysts. Which are your favorites?

Amethyst Collection

Amethyst Collection

 

The two large amethysts are shown on the scale below. Using the conversion of 5 carats per gram, the first stone is 630 carats and the second is 575 carats!

Collection 630 Carat Amethyst

630 Carat Amethyst

 

Collection 575 Carat

575 Carat Amethyst

Both of these stones are too fractured to cut into gemstones, but I love the deep purple color of them.

The citrines are a golden version of amethyst. I like the lighter color ones, but the darker ones (second picture) are the ones I might send to the gem cutter to see if he can get anything out of them.

Citrine Collection

Citrine Collection

 

Collection Citrine Dark Tips

Citrine Dark Tips

I have a large number of emeralds, too. One of my all-time favorite stones, these are rough and ready to tumble. I might have a few that are suitable for gem cutting.

Emerald Collection

Emerald Collection

Collection Emeralds to Facet

Emeralds to Facet?

If you recall from The Gemstone Chronicles Book Two: The Amethyst, Laura used a moonstone to turn her friends and family invisible during a battle. Now, I haven’t tried invisibility with these moonstones, but I like them!

Moonstone Collection

Moonstone Collection

I find lots of garnets. The garnets are a deep red and its hard to show the color in a photo. I did manage to capture one, though. What do you think of them?

Garnet Collection

Garnet Collection

 

Collection Garnet Red

Garnet

Lastly, I wanted to share my collection of rubies and sapphires. Now, I don’t believe any of these are gem quality stones, but I like them anyway. I think when I start cabbing (making cabochons) in the near future, I will do a few of these just to see how they turn out. Stay tuned for them!

Rubies and Sapphires Collection

Rubies and Sapphires Collection

 

Collection Rubies and Sapphires 2

Rubies and Sapphires

Connect with me:

I have more, but these are the favorites of my collection. What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment, subscribe to the blog, email me at bill@williamlstuart.com, or connect with me on social media. I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, or Tumblr!

Alora: The Wander-Jewel by Tamie Dearen – My Review!!

It’s time to post another review! Alora: The Wander-Jewel by Tamie Dearen is the subject of this week’s review installment. Read on to find out my thoughts!

Alora: The Wander-Jewel Cover

After seeing lots of buzz on Twitter about this book, I decided to check it out for myself. Good call on my part!

Synopsis (from the author): Unlike her friends, fifteen-year-old Alora has visions. Only while in the shower. And only of one stranger: a handsome boy with long brown hair, intense green eyes, and the oddest clothes. A boy who vanishes whenever she opens her eyes. And then one day, he doesn’t… Alora’s safe world is soon turned upside-down as she’s thrust into another realm where her soulmate waits, magic abounds, and unfathomable evil seeks to claim her.

What I liked: This is the first book by Tamie Dearen that I’ve read I liked the way she introduced her characters. Alora is a typical teen, seemingly awkward, with faults vs. perfection. Her friends, Beth and Wesley are similar in that regard, and Beth is quite the spunky fearless friend. Both Beth and Alora had dealt with loss and tragedy in their young lives, and that makes them more realistic. Alora’s interaction with her soulmate Kaevin, and their constant need to be together makes their situation perilous. Vindrake is sufficiently evil and rounds out the story nicely – especially when compared to Alora’s Uncle Charles, who is the quintessential good guy. All said, an excellent read.

What I didn’t like: I thought Vindrake was wooden and too easily manipulated in the story. The resistance of Kaevin’s clan (and Uncle Charles) to accept the idea that he and Alora could be soulmates got a little repetitive, as did everyone’s disbelief in Alora’s abilities.

Overall impression: Love interests, teleporting between worlds, battles, intrigue, and the sacrifices made for loved ones, makes Alora: The Wander-Jewel an entertaining read. I would recommend it to YA fantasy and clean fantasy readers! Well Done Tamie Dearen!

My rating: 5 Stars

Connect with the author:

Connect with Tamie Dearen on her website or on her Amazon author page! I’m sure she would appreciate it!

Connect with me:

If you want to leave me a comment about my review, please do! if you want to connect with me on social media, I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, Tumblr, or just drop me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com. I look forward to hearing from you!!

 

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy 2016!!

Happy Holidays! I was in my living room last night, helping Aidan and Maggie (yep, the same two whose namesakes grace the pages of The Gemstone Chronicles series) decorate their Christmas tree (we have 2 – one that is the front window of our house where we place most of the presents and a second one we call the kid’s tree). We put many of our favorite ornaments on the kid’s tree, and it always spurs moments of recollection of when we got the ornaments, why they are special, and then we have to find just the right spot for the ornament to hang. It made me want to share some of our holidays with you, my readers and friends! Without further ado, then, here are some holiday images to share!

First, here is our house, well-lit for Christmas! This year, our relatively new boxwood shrubs are finally large enough to light.

Happy Holidays 2015-Christmas-Lights-Web

I really like our front door, too. Our snowman with his red hat and scarf are a great addition to the decorations!

Happy Holidays Christmas-2015-Front-Door

 

As I mentioned above, we have 2 trees. This is the tree at the front of the that house shines with the rest of the lighted decor to lend our house a festive glow!

Happy Holidays Christmas-2015-Tree

The kid’s tree is beautifully decorated, too. Some of my favorite decorations on this tree are the Noah’s Ark ornaments.

Happy Holidays 2015-Kid's-Tree-Web

Here are my favorite Noah’s Ark ornaments!

Happy Holidays 2015-Noah's-Ark-1

 

Happy Holidays 2015-Noah's-Ark-2

 

Happy Holidays 2015-Noah's-Ark-3

To go along with the season, I want to thank all of you readers out there for visiting my blog, leaving me comments, and reading and reviewing my books. You have no idea how much your comments, connections, and feedback mean to me. Thank you all!!

Connect with me:

If you want to connect with me, I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, and Tumblr. You can always just drop me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com, too!

Have yourselves a safe and happy holidays and best wishes for a fantastic 2016!

Merry Christmas!!

 

 

 

Gemstones Again!! Faceted Emerald, Quartz, and Citrine!

Gemstones again! I haven’t done a gemstone post in a while (partially because I haven’t been gemstone hunting due to other commitments – like marketing The Gemstone Chronicles), but I now have some very cool stones to showcase! Before I get to the final versions of the gemstones, though, I wanted to show you what the stones looked like when I found them.

The first stone is an emerald. I sent this one over to my gem cutter friend because it had a great green color when illuminated by a strong light. And, the natural shape was pretty cool!

Gemstones Again Emerald

I know the picture doesn’t show the green color. It was difficult to capture…

The second stone I want to show you is a quartz crystal. I found this one and it was extremely clear. Now, I believe the stone is beautiful in its natural state. What do you think?

 

Gemstones Again Quartz

The final stone is a citrine. For those not familiar with citrines, they are the same stone as an amethyst, but with different impurities to give them a yellowish-orange color.

How did the gemstones turn out? I think they are amazing! Here is the finished emerald. While not as green as Lana’s emerald from posts past, or what I envision the Emerald from the Elven Bow in Book Three: The Emerald, it is a great stone!

Gemstones Again Emerald-Cut-Emerald-6.5-Carats-Web

If you recall from my Rubies and Diamonds post, I asked my gem cutter friend Gene to facet two round brilliant cut quartz stones. They are 1.25 carats each. Here is a picture of them!

Gemstones Again Faceted Gemstones Round Brilliant Cut Quartz

Round Brilliant Cut Quartz

 

To match these, I asked Gene to cut the quartz rough above in a brilliant cut, as well. I think he did a fantastic job! I can see this as a pendant or perhaps a really big ring!

Gemstones Again Round-Brilliant-3-Carats-Web

 

The last stone is the citrine. I have a bunch of citrines, but they are usually so fractured inside that they aren’t really suitable for faceting. The stone above seemed very clear and, as it turned out, it was!

Gemstones Again Citrine-Princess-Cut-1.7-Carats-Web

Apologizes again for the pictures as they really don’t show the beauty of the stones, but, as you can see, this Princess Cut weighed in at 1.7 carats and is a great yellow color!

I have to go through the stones I found this past weekend and see if I can find a few more to send to Gene! I also plan to start creating cabochons after the holidays, so stayed as I post progress on them!

What do you think of the finished stones? How do you think they should be mounted? Gold or Silver settings? Pendants or rings? Let me know how you would mount them?

Connect with me:

You can connect with me on social media, too, and let me know what your thoughts about the stones are. I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, Tumblr, or just send me an email to bill@williamlstuart.com!

Happy Holidays!!