Strike Three by Joy V. Smith

THREE
Strike Three by Joy V. Smith
Publisher: WolfSinger Publications
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (153 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Can a civilization grow/move beyond the losses, mistakes and regrets caused by the unimaginable destruction of weapon designed to destroy all life–down to the smallest microbe?

Because of the “hot virus,” the devastation of WWIII is more horrible than the worse case scenario, and missiles fired in retaliation gave new meaning to Scorched Earth.

There were scattered warnings, which only a few heeded in time. No one ever imagined they would have to start from scratch–and bare dirt.

What to save–and where?

Could we start over?

How?

Can a new world grow/move beyond the losses, mistakes and regrets?

It was the end of the world as we know it, and almost no one was prepared for it.

The premise caught my attention immediately. I’d never heard of a “hot virus” before and was quite curious to see how such a thing would affect not only human society but the plants and animals that were unlucky enough to be infected with it as well. One of the things I enjoy the most about the science fiction genre is how it can introduce complex topics to its readers in the middle of an engaging storyline. This book is no exception to that rule.

This story started out with a fast-paced plot that quickly skimmed over how and why the disaster happened so that it could focus on what happened next. I was intrigued by the idea of beginning with the social and economic recovery of a society instead of just focusing on how it all fell apart. With that being said, there were some pacing issues as everything progressed. So much time was spent on describing how the characters attempted to create a viable trade route that all of the other subplots weren’t given the attention they needed.

Most post-apocalyptic fiction assumes the worst of humanity. It was refreshing to read a tale from this genre that doesn’t take that approach to what life would be like in a world without any police officers or armies to protect the vulnerable. There is definitely something to be said for imagining a more positive approach to rebuilding society.

There was a fair amount of telling instead of showing. While certain sections definitely did need to be sped up in order to pack everything into such a short novel, I would have appreciated the chance to slow down and see certain sights from the perspectives of the characters who lived through them. For example, the idea of looking at what was once a thriving community and seeing nothing but death chills me to the bone. It would have been fascinating to hear more about how scenes like this one affected the main characters emotionally.

One of the most thought-provoking questions raised in this novel had to do with making incredibly difficult decisions. With extremely limited amounts of time and resources, how does one decide how to parcel them out? There’s no possible way to save everyone. Trying to do so will only kill off far more people than would have otherwise died. Everyone’s answer to this question is unique, but what Ms. Smith had to say about it is really interesting.

I’d recommend Strike Three to anyone who likes post-apocalyptic science fiction.

Cherished by Jessica Coulter Smith

CHERISHED
Cherished by Jessica Coulter Smith
Intergalactic Loyalties
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (72 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Verbena

Prince Drexyl of Tourmalane is intent on collecting the bounty on the four Keshpan males on board the Lynten 12. What he doesn’t expect is to come face to face with his destined mate – a woman he’d thought didn’t exist. Having come from a world where women are extinct, Drexyl is completely enthralled with the tiny human female, and willing to do anything to keep her by his side. Even take on an entire ship of Tarnans by himself.

They say that love is blind, but in Lucie’s case, it’s literal. Blinded after an accident at the auction house, Lucie is fortunate to have a decent man purchase her anyway. Cael always made sure her basic needs are met. She had food, clothes, and shelter. Even though she knows he uses some of the other girls for carnal pleasure, he never attempts to touch her in any way that makes her feel uncomfortable. But her world is suddenly about to change when he agrees to give up ownership of her in exchange for passage on a spacecraft to a new planet and a new life for him.

It’s a time when females are scarce and several alien species are on the verge of extinction if they don’t find a way to replenish their numbers, human females have become a hot commodity. Only able to see vague shadows and forms, Lucie has a very limited ability to care for herself. Dependent upon the mercy of men seemingly desperate to have a woman in their bed, she can only hope none take advantage of her vulnerability.

To her surprise, it seems many of the males aboard the spacecraft have an interest in having her as their mate. She doesn’t understand why. Who could possibly want a woman who can’t see? One who can’t cook, sew, care for children, or do anything most mated women would do? Though many tell her she’s beautiful, she really can’t understand why they feel that way, unless they’re so desperate to have a woman they’re willing to take a blind one.

Not being one to wallow in self-pity, Lucie carries herself with as much pride and courage as she can muster. Feeling her way around the ship, she does what she can to limit the burden upon her fellow travelers. As a few of the men begin to make their interest in her more clear, Lucie starts to wonder if maybe she shouldn’t choose one of them to be her protector, among other things. Would that be so bad?

A Tourmalane warrior and son of the king, Dryxel is desperate to find a mate. Like other races, his is destined for extinction. But when it came to Tourmalane reproduction, he couldn’t just settle on any woman, only a true mate would produce children. From the moment he invades the Tarnan ship and finds Lucie stumbling down the hall, he knows she’s the one.

Like any warrior, Dryxel is headstrong and determined to get what he wants. He would have gladly fought off the Tarnan men, even on their ship and sorely outnumbered, but he wouldn’t risk Lucie’s safety. When he hears how they refer to her as being ill, and then watches as they recklessly shove her aside in an effort to get to him, he nearly goes crazy with rage. But there’s nothing he can do but let them capture him and hope for a way to escape back to his ship with Lucie in tow. Even if it causes a war between the Tarnan and Tourmalane races, he refuses to go without her.

Ms. Coulter Smith has penned an interesting world where it seems human females are on everyone’s must have list. While some races, like the Keshpans, use them for personal slaves and outlets for pleasure, there are others who would gladly fall to the ground and kiss the dirt from their feet. I really enjoyed Lucie’s character. While described by others in the story as beautiful, she’s certainly not perfect. She knows her limitations but doesn’t sit around feeling sorry for herself. Dryxel is like most warriors—big, strong, handsome, bull-headed—he’s a typical alpha male. It’s the way he treats Lucie as an equal, despite her restricted vision, that really boosts his appeal. I found the level of Lucie’s experience when it came to sex, compared to Dryxel’s lack of experience, a nice change. She wasn’t some scared little virgin. Blind or not, she knew what she wanted and proceeded to show Dryxel exactly what to do. As with any Science fiction/fantasy novel, there were some odd characteristics about Tourmalane men and procreation. In any other story, it would have seemed too far out there, but given the setting, it’s acceptable.

Probably one of the things that hindered my enthrallment of this story was the speed in which Lucie and Dryxel were decidedly in love with each other. I believe in lust at first sight, like at first sight, definite interest at first sight, and can even accept some pretty strong feelings toward someone within a short time span, but I just can’t swallow being “in love” within a day. Maybe I just take the word too literal, but true love only comes after a bit of time getting to know each other.

Aside from my own personal opinions and preferences, it was a decent story that certainly didn’t feel like a waste of my time. I don’t think I’ve read anything thus far that portrayed one of the characters as having a disability that would impact their life the way Lucie’s blindness does, and so the saving grace for this book was the author’s choice of characteristics for her characters. There’s a fine line for reviewers between being objective and nit-picking. Sometimes it’s hard to see the beauty of a story when you’re too busy fussing about things that you would have written differently. All in all, I enjoyed Cherished, and am glad to have read it.

Love Rampage by Alex Powell

 

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Love Rampage by Alex Powell
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary, GLBT
Length: Short Story (44 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Maíra has always wanted a unicorn, but isn’t quite prepared when one shows up on her doorstep and kidnaps her—and proclaims that Maíra must confess her feelings to the girl she loves. Maíra is definitely reluctant to follow through with that, but everything changes when Carol is kidnapped by a demon…

You can’t control who you fall in love with, but you can control what you do with those feelings.

The dialogue in this tale was so much fun. Unicorns see the world in ways that humans can barely even imagine. These differences showed up almost immediately, and they brought a smile to my lips on more than one occasion. The unicorn actually turned out to be my favorite character of all in this book due to all of the zany things that tend to happen to people who meet them. Discussing specific examples of what happened would lead this review too far into spoiler territory, but suffice it to say that anything can and does happen when one of these creatures shows up!

I would have liked to see more character development. Maira was a fascinating protagonist whose physical features were described in detail, but I had trouble picking up on what kind of personality she has. Knowing if she’s generally shy, gregarious, talkative, or something else entirely would have made it really easy for me to give this story a much higher rating.

There’s something to be said for falling in love with a good friend. The romance in this piece was just as prominent as the science fiction themes, but neither genre ever overpowered the other one. What made it even more interesting, though, were the positive messages sprinkled throughout the plot. I wasn’t expecting them, but they worked quite well with all of the other themes.

Love Rampage is a good choice for anyone who likes romantic science fiction.

Shattering Halos by Sunniva Dee

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Shattering Halos by Sunniva Dee
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Length: Full length (352 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Daisy

I traded my death for love. I wasn’t given a choice. His decision has caught up with us, so now I am a living, breathing catalyst to war between Heaven and Hell.

The violations he committed saved my life. Since the collision, he’s appeared everywhere. In my hospital room, my school, even my house. He shows up in my paintings, my drawings, in all of my art projects. I can’t stop thinking about him.

He says his name is Gabriel, and he doesn’t understand what’s happening to him. He doesn’t know how I can see him or why he wants me in ways that should be impossible for a Celestial.

My obsession grows. I need him to hold me, kiss me—give all of himself. For every day he protects me, the consequences loom darker and taller. Soon, they’ll crash down on us.

The war is about to begin.

Shattering Halos is a book which draws the reader through adventure after adventure and into the world of angels on Earth without pause. Sentences fall into one another with little time to dawdle over details and there were very few boring or unnecessary scenes.

Gabriel is a guardian angel out the pages of a fashion magazine with high morals and an unending need to protect his charge, Gaia. Gaia is an ordinary human girl who almost died in a horrific car crash, only to actually witness her guardian angel. The premiss is strong and drew me in immediately but the worst sides of this issue weren’t dwelt on and Gaia got on with her life a little too easily. She was far more distraught by a later romantic mishap which did not sit well for me.

In addition, Gabriel acted like a young teenager as opposed to an angel that has lived through centuries of guarding his charges and he falls into temptation far too easily to be realistic. I felt the chemistry between the two would pay off far more if their relationship was developed more slowly and with Gabriel’s reactions being more manly rather than coming down to the high school level of Gaia.

Sunniva Dee also tries to get many different themes and story arcs into one piece from the darkest of advances to the biggest of battles and sweetest of loves. I feel the story could have been simplified and cut down for greater effect and realism.

The romantic side of the relationship is very overcharged and oversimplified  and feels like teenage high school drama.  It wasn’t really my cup of tea. The bedroom side of the relationship was not too detailed. Parts were mentioned but the joy of the outcome was more metaphysical than physical.

Taking all this into consideration, this book is not one I would recommend to a lover of adult fiction but perhaps it’s more appropriate for lovers of young adult or new adult stories. They may enjoy Shattering Halos for the fast pace and innocence of a younger time.

Burdened by Peiri Ann

BURDENED
Burdened by Peiri Ann
A Burdened Novel #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (259 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

Eighteen-year-old Tracey Warren is a ‘run-of-the-mill’ high school student on the verge of graduation. She has her friends and her fun; she has life all figured out. Or she thought she did.

Her pedestrian reality crashes around her after an innocuous touch from a diabolically handsome stranger. Just one touch from Nathan Newcomb and her head and her world spins out of control. Soon she discovers that the only cure for the uneasy feelings and pain is Nathan himself. A man whose very existence balances between violent chaos and rigidly controlled dangers.

Nathan knows that the life of a woman mated to a burdened Sephlem is destined for peril beyond a human’s reckoning. But Tracey calls to his desire to experience love in spite of the hazards. And Nathan’s impossibly potent magnetism draws Tracey into a bonding that will put her in mortal danger again and again.

Once the pair becomes one, the threat escalates and nowhere is safe. There are enemies that lurk behind every corner. But the greatest danger may be in the bloodlines that course through Nathan’s veins.

Can a love for all time survive or will their burdened souls surrender and fade away?

It is a bond that could both give new meaning to life while also having the ability to take away life.

Tracey’s life changes completely from the moment she meets a stranger. It was insta-love but like any romance story there should be something that makes it interesting. For me it was the whole fantasy world-building and how Tracey was introduced to it. She falls for a burdened Sephlem (If you want to know more about what that means I suggest you start reading it right away). Tracey gets introduced to a chaotic and dangerous world as his mate.

Peiri Ann started the novel in a very attention getting way. A high school student meets her mate and instantly faints . The hero saves the day by taking care of her. It was cute and touching. But one thing I noticed after a couple of chapters was that it was not descriptive enough. Though, the descriptions were precise and to the point, I wanted more. It took me a long time to finish the book for that reason.

In addition there were a couple of grammatical errors and word choices that were just not right.

The story outline was very interesting but I think it started a slowly, until Tracey really realized and found out what being a mate for a Burdened would be like. I loved how it ended. It was expected and surprising in a way. I truly appreciated the twists and turns that were given, making me want to know more and more until….. Viola! I finished reading the book!

One other thing that caught my attention and held it was the characters. There were some very good and annoying characteristics in some of them. I was never able to really get to really know Tracey although the story is written in her POV.

This book is not only about Tracey and Nathan. It is also about Tracey’s best friend, Glen, and Nathan’s cousin, Scott. In addition to Tracey and Nathan being mates, Glen and Scott are also mates. I just didn’t like how Scott treated Glen. I also think the story would have been helped by multiple points of view. It would have made the annoyance with Scott a lot more tolerable. While I didn’t much like Scott and Glen’s relationship, I loved Nathan and Tracey’s. They talked; if there was something that needed to be asked, they did while also realizing the sensitivity of the other’s feelings. Another thing to mention is that there are some scenes which may offend some readers’ sensibilities.

Furthermore, I would have liked to know more about Nathan’s world. Though it felt like the information provided was sufficient enough to get the story told, I think giving an extra amount of detail and background would have helped strengthen the plot. I was left with more questions about the world than answers. However, I think the second book would give more answers.

That being said I really do believe that it is a book worth reading. It’s a twisted family, but a family filled with love and secrets!

The Guide by Kenneth G. Bennett

GUIDE
The Guide by Kenneth G. Bennett
Publisher: Booktrope
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (23 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

The parents of a missing child hire a guide to accompany them on a hike
in Olympic National Park, in hopes of finding healing and closure. But the journey raises more questions than it answers.

Time heals many wounds, but it can’t mend all of them.

As much as I was intrigued by the beginning, the ending of this story is what really made me like it. I tried to slow down and savor the last few scenes because I was having such a good time following the Wagner family on their memorial hike, but the closer we came to the conclusion the stronger my curiosity grew about how it would all be tied up. It was a satisfying ending, although it also made me wish for a sequel! There is definitely room for one here if the author decides to write it.

There’s a twist in this tale that I figured out almost immediately. It was well done and fit into the plot nicely, but I would have preferred to have fewer clues about what was happening. This is the sort of thing that works best for me when I don’t know what’s going on until the last possible moment. One or two hints were all that was really needed.

With that being said, Mr. Bennett has a hypnotically smooth writing style that has captured my attention. I will be keeping an eye out for future books from him as I really enjoyed becoming immersed in this universe for the short time I was introduced to it. There’s definitely something to be said for science fiction that’s set in what appears to be a completely ordinary place and time.

I’d recommend The Guide to anyone who has ever let their imagination run wild while out on a hike.

Dragon Wife by Diana Green

WIFE
Dragon Wife by Diana Green
Dragon Clan #1
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Length: Full length (218 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

The clan is waking. After centuries of spellbound sleep, dragon-shifters are returning to the mountains. They are few in number, and the outside world has become overrun with humans.

Huroth, the dragon chieftain, recognizes a need for his kind to adapt, by forming alliances and mate-bonds with humans, but his clan is divided. From the first time she meets him, Lady Orwenna is drawn to the magnificent chieftain. The mind link he forms with her is both fascinating and frightening, as is the powerful attraction she feels for him. If only she knew what was in his heart.

Does he want her for the woman she is, or for her magical abilities? When war breaks out between kingdoms and ancient enemies of the dragons resurface, the clan will be tested. In the midst of uncertainty, can Huroth and Orwenna find their way together?

He was a massive beast with scales as black and polished as obsidian and teeth resembling white daggers. A beast capable of stealing her heart and making her a Dragon Wife.

After centuries of spellbound sleep, the dragon clan wakes up to a world where humans have taken over. To protect his clan, Huroth, the clan chieftain, forms an alliance with King Elric. He wishes to Mate-bond with humans, but not everyone agrees with him. The clan becomes divided.

When Huroth went to form the alliance he met with the Lady Orwenna. There is a connection/mind-link between them which at first surprises them both. When two kingdoms clash, the help of the dragon warriors is called. Huroth meets Orwenna again and their bond strengthens. But the mind link scares Orwenna. Though both of them are very much attracted to each other, Orwenna has doubts; doubts that could make their life or break it.

Orwenna wants to experience adventure and be controlled by her own decisions not be used for gain as a tool. She is a kind hearted but strong willed woman.

When the story started, it didn’t say much about Orwenna’s age. There were some descriptions that I think was missing. Yes, there were hints to her age, but I would have loved to know how old she was when they first met. Seeing “7 Years Later” shocked and confused me a little. I knew she was young when they met. But didn’t realize it would take seven years for her to reach her adulthood.

I very much enjoy reading dragon stories every now and then. Reading Dragon Wife was a treat for me considering I finished it in one sitting. That doesn’t happen that much these days.

I would have loved to see more of Orwenna’s magical abilities for one thing but I didn’t miss it that much.

Huroth and Orwenna have a lot of passion and chemistry between them. The romance is very much satisfying. They work hard to be with each other and for that I have a lot of respect for them. They are not willing to give up without a fight.

Speaking of fighting, the battle scenes, I was on the edge of my seat whilst reading that. It was almost believable, except for the dragons and the magic.

Dragon Wife transferred me to a whole new world filled with dragons and magic. Of course it wouldn’t have been complete without the romance.

Chasing Bigfoot by Steven Donahue

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Chasing Bigfoot by Steven Donahue
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (127 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Some of nature’s secrets are not meant to be revealed, as anthropologist Mike Foster and big game hunter Ben Cutler discover. A fisherman in a northern Pennsylvania town has an encounter with the legendary Sasquatch, and his eyewitness account grabs the attention of Mike Foster, who joins the search for the animal after physical evidence is discovered that supports the fisherman’s claim. However, Foster’s peaceful interest in the case clashes with the violent desires of Ben Cutler, a gun-for-hire who comes to town to kill the creature.

Bigfoot or Sasquatch or Yeti – whatever you want to call it … do they really exist?

What would you do if a hairy, nine foot tall humanoid appeared? It really depends on the type and profession of the person involved. Mike Foster is an anthropologist and the rumors of a strange creature in the nearby forest park piques his interest. He and his boss search to find the creature but when Mike discovers his son has gone looking for the beast, he follows and gets his first sight of what has to be Bigfoot. It’s not what he expects.

Various people have suggestions as to what should happen. Mike as a scientist feels the creature should be studied in its natural habitat without any interference to its way of life. The government wants to do experiments in a laboratory while the local sheriff and hunters want to destroy this threat to their environment.

Although this book is centered around the myth of Bigfoot, it also shows a lot of human reaction to the unusual. The hunter believes his destruction of the creature will show his father he can do something great, the journalist who is attracted to Mike, feels sorry for the creature but has to remember this is a big story. Mike on the other hand wants to ensure the Sasquatch is safe.

I got hooked on this story and, although it slowed down a bit at times, I found myself going back to find out what happened next. Oh and without spoiling it for the reader, the end is totally unexpected.

Spirited Away by Angela Campbell

SPIRITED
Spirited Away by Angela Campbell
The Psychic Detectives Series #3
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (256 Pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

Who knew pet-sitting could be so dangerous…or so sexy?!

Socially awkward Emma “Spider” Fisher prefers her laptop to people, so she’s more than happy to oblige her boss when he asks her to pet- and housesit while he honeymoons in London.

But it doesn’t take long for accident-prone Spider to lose a dog, get locked out of the house, and set off the house alarm!

Thankfully, her hot new neighbor is more than happy to come to her rescue. But Noah West is a mystery to Spider—and one she intends to solve.

“He thinks you’re an idiot for letting me in. He thinks I’m a thug. Oh wait. Scratch that. He thinks we’re both idiots.”

Emma Fisher or “Spider” as she likes to call herself is given the responsibility of pet-sitting by her boss, Zach, until he and his wife Hannah returns from their honeymoon. Working for her boss as the cyber security specialist allows her to work from home, and she is therefore the best candidate for pet and house sitting, I guess. Before long, she almost loses one of the dogs, gets locked out of the house, and finally meets the hot new neighbor who helps her get back in the house. This is just the beginning. Before long both of their lives gets entangled in a mystery that threatens their past, present and possible future together.

Emma is a beautiful but geeky woman who loves to play games. A confident woman, who develops her own personality a little late in life. She has worked hard to have her own personality, to be an independent working woman and that shows in the book. But during the beginning the book for me it felt like she had a crush on half of the guys she works with. I mean, I can understand, all of the guys she works with are hot guys. Still, it irked me a little because it felt like she couldn’t decide which one she had a crush on when in the rest of the novel it showed a totally different side of her, a confident know-what-she-wants woman. However, even with that it wasn’t difficult to get lost in this book. And I did get lost.

Noah West is the hot and sexy new neighbor. He is an insurance claims investigator who has retired but is doing one last job for a very insistent client who wants him to investigate Zach and Hannah. He meets Spider when she gets locked out of the house. From then on, their lives and problems get entwined with each other.

Noah and Emma are very much attracted to each other even from the beginning. It is fun to see the development of their relationship from neighbors, to lovers, to a couple.

One other thing I absolutely loved is the humor in it. The pets’ antics towards their pet-sitter had me laughing out loud, very, very loud, in the middle of the night to say the least.

This is the third book in The Psychic Detectives Series. I haven’t read the first two books of this series. I didn’t have any problem understanding what was happening. This book can work as a stand-alone but I would urge the readers to read from the start to better understand.

Haunted houses, Hilarious pets, romance, a mystery waiting to be solved. What more could I ask for?

The Lizard Queen Book One: This Shrinking World by H. L. Cherryholmes

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The Lizard Queen Book One: This Shrinking World by H. L. Cherryholmes
Publisher: CreateSpace
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (290 Pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

300 years ago, in a nameless world, a prophecy passed unfulfilled. A secret society that formed to prevent its occurrence believed it was their doing, while the secret society created to ensure that the prophecy came to pass wasn’t certain it had been stopped at all. Eventually, along with the mythology of time prior to the great Lizard Queen’s expansion of this world, the prophecy of Lacáruna fell into legend.

Split among three nations, nine ancient books hold the key to this world’s creation but no one has the ability to read them. And many have come to believe the world is shrinking. The indications are there—nations’ leaders falling ill, swamps drying, militaries gathering—that is, if those signs are being interpreted correctly. No one knows because the prophesied Lacáruna, a female from another realm and the only being who can read the Lizard Queen’s language, never arrived.

What they don’t realize is that Amy Darlidale is just a tad late.

Taking a break from a stressful workweek, Amy, recently divorced CEO, drives out to her desert getaway. While on a morning jog she crosses paths with an orange lizard and, on a whim, chases it into a field. Suddenly, she finds herself under a starless sky confronted by oddly marked and strangely colored people who claim she’s there to rescue the world from evil’s grasp and expand it once again. But not everyone wants that to happen so there’s a price on her head.

This is far from the relaxing weekend Amy had intended.

Amy Darlidale is looking for a quiet weekend after a stressful week. Instead, as she takes off after an orange lizard she spots on a morning jog, she finds herself transported into another world, a world where there are no stars and the moon is always full.

Amy is a recently divorced CEO who is extremely smart and totally driven. She is always in control, but now, she is in a world she doesn’t understand at all. She is lucky to be found by those who want her to fulfill an ancient prophecy, but soon she and her new friends are being pursued by those who will stop at nothing to keep that from happening.

This novel is the first in a planned nine part series, and as such, it does an excellent job of setting up the entire world. I was amazed at the depth of the details, from geography to flora and fauna which are radically different from anything Amy has ever experienced, to the social and religious beliefs of the land.

I found the language of the land, the variety of names, to be a hindrance to my keeping everything in order. Amy says that many of the words seem to be a form of Spanish, and that may be the case, but unfortunately, I know no Spanish, so I found that the multitude of new terms for everything in this world tangled me in a bewildering maze. While I’m sure my bewilderment matched Amy’s, I still found them daunting, and they frequently pulled me out of the story.

The plot has a number of exciting and tense scenes, with near escapes, and Amy is lucky to find true believers to help her, even if she herself doesn’t think she can fulfill a prophesy. There is also a lot of history that needs to be taught to Amy (and the reader) so that she can fully understand this world, and I was amazed at the depth of the descriptions. Truly this novel has set up a fantastic and wondrous world filled with new adventures.

Fantasy lovers who are looking for a new, rich, world to explore are sure to find that in The Lizard Queen.