Tuesday, January 15, 2013

WITS Book with a View January 2013

Book Title: Shadows over Sheradan
Author: Scott Barker
ISBN: 978-1-4653-5007-7
Publisher: Xlibris
Genre: fantasy, adventure
Publication Date: 2012
Book Length in Pages: 508
Reviewer: Sarah Moore

I am going to begin this book review with an admission. I am not well-versed in the genre of fantasy/adventure. I do, however, have a great appreciation for strong characters and compelling storylines, and I can get wrapped up in a novel regardless of its literary category if I enjoy the writing. I share all of this because I hope it makes my thoughts on Shadows over Sheradan, the new release by Scott Barker, more meaningful to other readers who, like me, do not bring an extensive home library of fantasy books into consideration when determining their next book selection. Barker has crafted an epic three-part novel that led me to develop emotional investment in the outcome and have one of those experiences in which you tell yourself “just one more chapter” before finally compelling yourself to bed.

Shadows over Sheradan tells the story of Prince Trigarius’ pursuit of the dark Izzasha the Betrayer through the moons and rings surrounding the planet Zalaghorn, and the physical landscapes that Barker describes with a rich effect. Trigarius is joined on his journey by a crew of loyal and talented individuals who hold their leader in the highest regard, along with one reluctant passenger whose mysterious presence and powers lend some great layers to the plot. As Prince Trigarius’ charge is revealed in more detail and readers follow him on his quest, the pages bring forth the joining of forces with another crew through tragic circumstance, battle scenes that will make your heart race, moments of romance both new and rekindled, and, undergirding it all, a testament to the importance and power of true friendship.

Being a three-part novel of approximately 500 pages, and already admitting to my own lack of fantasy reading experience, I readily share that Barker does his own masterful job of revealing the story. Readers will be doing themselves a service by allowing the author to draw them in with his talent rather than settling for my synopsis of a complex story to which I cannot do justice in limited type. Instead, I will share, as the purpose of encouraging your contact with this book, that Barker has developed characters that are relatable, sympathetic, and engaging. He has taken the emotions found in a friendship or that a humble servant feels for his leader, feelings to which most of us can relate in our everyday lives, and placed them seamlessly into a fantasy environment found in dreams. He has crafted good guys and bad guys, but done so in ways that capture the flaws and humanity on both sides.

Perhaps most importantly, it is apparent on every page that Shadows over Sheradan is a work of passion for Barker. Each detail is carefully constructed so that readers will get a true sense of the oppressive weight of dread as the shadow creatures are unleashed to engage in their final battle. The detail-oriented nature of Barker’s writing will allow readers to close their eyes and visualize Prince Trigarius standing at the helm of his ship or shiver as the brave crew members set out on a frozen land in search for their lost comrades. Barker includes maps and illustrations that, instead of removing the need for one’s own imagination, stoke it. As Barker is asking you to step into a new world with his writing, a glossary of terms is provided as well.

If you like to read novels that are smart, detailed, and engage your senses, then consider adding Shadows over Sheradan to your collection. Whether you never have read an adventure novel of this type before or you already claim dozens of such fantasy novels on your list of favorites, I have confidence that you will enjoy this new work by Scott Barker and reach the back cover eager to read more.

Title: Shudderville Part Three
Author: Mia Zabriskie
Publisher: Mia Zabrisky Books (December 16, 2012)
ASIN: B00A55P258
Reviewer: Dana Micheli

Mia Zabriskie’s Shudderville Part I left me feeling as if I had been dangled over the edge of a great cliff (hanger). As I read the last line, I quickly moved to flip the page of my Kindle, but there was nothing. How would I find out what happened to Sophie McKnight, or learn the true identity of Tobias Mandelbaum?

Despite my disappointment, I decided to move on to Part II. After all, we’re not supposed to know how every story ends…right? You only have to read my review of Part II to see that I was just as enthralled by that very different but equally terrifying tale. Still, Tobias Mandelbaum lingered in the back of my mind.

Luckily for me, Mia Zabriskie is not one to leave her readers hanging (at least, not for long). Shudderville Part III picks up where Part I left off. Tobias Mandelbaum, the mysterious old man that grants wishes and steal souls, has returned. His latest victim is Cassie, Sophie McKnight’s best friend and—as it turns out—her betrayer as well. For no one, it seems, is able to resist Mandelbaum’s dangling carrot.

As in Parts I and II, Shudderville Part III explores the polarities hidden in the human psyche—good vs. evil, love vs. hate, and condemnation vs. redemption. But here Zabriskie underscores another theme: the truly terrifying consequences of wishing for “true love.” Be careful what you wish for.

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