Category Archives: fiction

review of cotula by debbie manber kuyper

Overview.

This book continues the saga of P.A.W.S. begun in the book of that name.
Rifka, a young Jewish girl has disappeared from her home in Safed, in Israel. She remembers nothing of her life before except what the man she is with has told her. He says she is his wife, although little more than a child.
The story is about how Rifka is saved from the man, who is the werewolf, Frederick, with the help of the mysterious stomes known as Cotula.
It ranges from Israel to London, and ends up in St Louis and New York via the mysterious shadow land of Umbrae.

Blurb

Follow the Cotula. The stone will show you the way.

Rifka is lost, far away from home, kidnapped by an insidious werewolf.
Far off in Manus Wu, a plan is set in place. An Old One sends colutae out into the world. These stones when brought together have the power to release Rifka. Yet does she truly want to go home?
Meet an empathic goat, a family of otters, a girl who loves to draw fairies, and a dragon in this new installment of the P.A.W.S. Saga.

Story

The story moves with a good pace. We are carried along with the characters through their various adventures in trying to defeat the werewolf, Frederick.

I enjoyed the tale as it continued with the people we had met in the earlier books and more are introduced, but the author manages to keep them clear in our minds.

Characters

The large number of characters is difficult for an author to manage. However, they all seem to be realistic, and have human failings and strengths. They have doubts and query themselves, and some have to fight against their own nature, as in the werewolves who do not want to feast on human flesh.

Writing

On the whole, the writing is good, but, like the other books in this series, some errors have slipped through the editing process. Ms Kuyper gives acknowledgement to her editor, but I think said editor has done a less than perfect job. I noted well over 100 errors and word repetitions in the book.

Conclusion

This is more of a YA book, I would say, although it can be enjoyed by adults, too, I am an adult, and I enjoyed it!
The drawback with offering it to a youngster would be the errors in the book.
I have given it 4*. It would have got 5 if there were fewer typos etc.

Please leave your comments in the comments box below. I would love to hear from you, especially if you have read any of Debbie Manber Kuyper’s books.

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What to do in Self-isolation

These are difficult times. We are all facing unprecedented restrictions to our lives. We are told to stay at home and keep our distance if we do go out.

Some people find this difficult. Some more so than others. If you are used to an active social life, and work with many people, you will undoubtedly find all this hard to do.

For those of us who are used to working from home, like writers, it’s not so difficult to keep on working. We are used to working in isolation, but for people who work in restaurants, cafes, and the like it must be very hard. Some people can work from home, but many cannot. What to do to fill the time?

Some people have decided, stupidly, that this is a holiday. The weather is good and they’ve nothing else to do, so they go off to the seaside, or National Parks. We’ve all seen the pictures of the crowds in these places. What are they doing but risking spreading the disease? It can spread fast enough on its own without stupidity helping it.

This sort of behaviour will force the government to create a lockdown when people are not allowed to go out. Do we really want that?

So what can you do in this self-isolation? Well, read a book. (Of course I would say that, wouldn’t I?) Or even several.

If you have been following the serialisation of Carthinal’s story, you might like to read this to find out what became of him in later life.

As it happens, from today (23rd March) until Friday 27th March, the ebook version of my fantasy novel, The Wolf Pack, will be FREE on Amazon. Why not pick up a copy while you can?

All Carthinal wants is admission to the ranks of the mages. Traveling from Bluehaven to Hambara, where his rite of passage is to take place, he doesn’t expect to end up on a quest to find the long-lost sword of the legendary King Sauvern.

With strangers he meets on his journey, Carthinal sets out on the seemingly impossible quest. Followed by Randa, the snooty aristocratic daughter of the Duke of Hambara, and the young runaway thief Thad, Carthinal and his companions face tragedy and danger.

Watched by the gods and an implacable foe, they will have to accept help from the least likely sources and face their innermost fears. As the fate of their world hangs in the balance, they realize that this is more than an adventure. This quest will change them all.

What have you got to lose? After all, it’s absolutely FREE, and you’ve now got time to read.

What are your opinions on this self-isolation? Will it work, or are there just too many people who are too stupid to understand what it’s all about?

Will this behaviour cause the government to impose even more draconian laws?

Let me know via the comments box.

carthinal 11

The next morning, before they ate breakfast, Carthinal cleared his throat.“I did a lot of thinking last night after I went to bed. He swallowed and looked at his feet, then up at Mabryl. “I’ve decided that I would like to be adopted by you.”


Mabryl beamed. “It won’t be straightforward, I don’t suppose.” Mabryl took the plate of eggs and bacon Lillora had brought in from the kitchen. “You are not a minor in the eyes of the law. I’m not quite sure exactly what your legal position is. You aren’t an adult, though, no matter what the law states.”


Carthinal took a plate and put an egg and some bacon onto it. He passed it to Emmienne who had entered the room. When she took it, he helped himself and pulled a chair up to the table. He took a bite of the bacon and reached for some toast.


Mabryl began to butter his own toast and said, “Your age could be a problem. Developmentally you are only about fifteen, both physically and mentally, but in actual years, you are eighteen and an adult according to Grosmerian law. Elves attain their majority at twenty five, if I remember correctly. Humans at sixteen. As you have mixed parentage, I would guess that you would be the equivalent age at somewhere around twenty-one.”Mabryl looked into the distance. “Perhaps we could tell the lawyer you are only fourteen.”


Carthinal’s eyebrows shot up. “A-are you saying we should lie to the lawyer?”


Mabryl looked away for a second before replying. “It’s not really a lie. You are a half-elf and as a result have developed slower than a human child. In human terms, you are about fifteen. We’ll both need to go to the lawyer, so we can get all the details straight, including who your parents were.”


Carthinal drew his brows together. “Which lawyer will you go to?”


“I’ve always used Gromblo Grimnor. He has a big practice in Bluehaven. He does very well if his apparent money is anything to go by.”


Can I persuade him to use a different lawyer? Or maybe I can give a different name for my parents. But if Gromblo recognises me, I’m in a lot of shit. And he’ll expose Mabryl as a liar. He knows exactly how old I am.


“When will we go to see him?” Carthinal asked.


“I need to find out exactly what needs to be done first. I’ll need to go to see him and ask him about the procedures before you come, too.”


Carthinal nodded. He would have to think this one through. Gromblo would no doubt bring out the paper saying Carthinal was dead, and then what? Mabryl would not believe a reprobate young man against a well-known lawyer. Especially one who had papers to prove it. He would have to somehow make sure those papers disappeared. But what about his name? Carthinal wasn’t a common name in Grosmer, the country in which he lived. Much thought would be needed.


But not now.


They had all finished their breakfast and Mabryl wanted both his apprentices in his study. Today he was going to teach Carthinal a simple spell. Not a cantrip, but one that would take more energy to manipulate the mana than he had used up until now.


Putting all thoughts of Gromblo to one side, Carthinal almost ran into Mabryl’s study. This would be a momentous day. A real spell, not a little trick.


As he entered, Mabryl handed him a large book. It had a black cover with a red dragon engraved on the outside. The leather cover felt soft to his touch. Carthinal opened it and saw blank pages. He looked at Mabryl with raised eyebrows.


“It’s your spell-book. You will write your spells in here as you find them. I suggest you divide it up into sections. Each section for one level of difficulty, so you don’t get them mixed up, and you can easily find what you want.”


Carthinal grinned as he caressed the spine of the book. “Thank you, Mabryl. This is a wonderful present. I promise I’ll keep it tidy.”


Emmienne bounced over. “That’s so-o beautiful, Carthinal.”


“You’ll get one as soon as I think you’re able to perform a spell, not a cantrip. I just don’t know what to have on the front of a book for you, though. The dragon seemed right for Carthinal, somehow.” He turned to Carthinal, “You must write the spell into your book before you even think about casting it.”


Carthinal spent the next few hours painstakingly copying the magic words and the diagrams of the hand gestures needed to perform it.


Mabryl had given him the choice of spells to try. The young man had been thinking about the meeting with Gromblo and had decided on a course of action. He needed to decide on which spell to choose to facilitate his plan.


He looked at the easy spells in Mabryl’s spell book, chose one and began the laborious task of copying. Everything had to be exactly right or the spell would not work. It took the rest of the morning.


When he had finished copying, Lillora called them in for lunch so Carthinal could not try out the spell for a while. He sat at the table fidgeting, until Mabryl told him to stop. He forced himself not to bolt his food. Finishing before everyone would not make his spell attempt come more quickly.

I’m hoping that this story will soon be ready to send to my publisher. I’ve been working on it quite a bit, and I think I’ve made it better in places. Still a bit more work to do, though.

I am thinking of calling it The Making of a Mage, rather than Carthinal. What do you think?

I would love to hear what you think of this story. It’s part of a series of prequels to The Wolves of Vimar. Please let me know in the comments.

Last Day of free offer

Don’t forget that today is the last day to get my best-selling title, Vengeance of a Slave absolutely FREE.

It is currently number 2 in British and Irish Historical Novels and number 81 in Action and Adventure.

To get your FREE ebook, click in the cover in the sidebar, or here.

Here are a couple of reviews it got. For some reason, Amazon have taken these down, but they’ve left the stars. (I’ve heard of other writers who’ve had reviews removed for no apparent reason!) I can assure you, they were genuine reviews!

Randall Krzak

5*
Vengeance of a Slave by V.M. Sang is a riveting story set during the period when Rome controlled Britannia. Follow the trials and tribulations of Adelbhert after he and his sister are taken by the Romans from their mother. They eventually end up as slaves in what is modern-day London. Adelbhert performs a nightly ritual to remind himself of the suffering he and his sister have endured, beginning with the crucifixion of their father. He vows to escape and punish those who have wronged him.

V.M. has created a moving story which will keep you turning the pages to find out how Adelbhert and his sister handle their new life. Experience their sorrow, anguish, and finally hope as they adapt to their changing situation. This is the first novel I’ve read of V.M.’s and it certainly won’t be the last! Well done and highly recommended!

D. W. Peach

5*
Adelbehrt keeps a running list in his head of all the reasons why he hates the Romans—they crucified his father, stole him as a child from his mother, and enslaved him. As he grows into his teenage years as a slave, the list gets longer. With the help of a network of Britons, he escapes, determined to exact his revenge, but not everything is as clear cut as he once thought.

The plot is straight forward, and though there are some tense moments, battling and mortal danger isn’t the point of the tale. This story has a strong moral message about the nuanced nature of people and how they treat and judge each other. Ultimately, it’s about a young man’s growth and the events that change his perceptions as he matures.

The pace is moderate with some repetition, but I was engaged throughout. The historical details seem well-researched, adding to the authenticity of the story. Point-of-view focuses on Adelbehrt for most of the book, with occasional shifts to other characters, and all main and secondary characters felt believable to me. Adelbehrt is particularly well-rounded and likeable as the story centers on his thoughts and experiences.

Please add a comment in the comments box.

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review of argentum by Debbie Manber Kupfer

Argentum (The P.A.W.S.Saga Book 2) by [Kupfer, Debbie Manber]


**** stars

Overview

This is the second book in Debbi Manber Kuyper’s P.A.W.S. Saga, and it begins where book 1 finished. It is a tale of shapeshifters, werewolves and animagi.
P.A.W.S. is the place where these beings live. There are many such places all over the world.
Werewolves are humans that have been infected with lycanthropy, and are forced to become wolves at the full moon. Animagi can change their shape at will into an animal, while shapshifters require a charm passed down through families, and originally made by Merlin himself.
In this second book, we take up the story where the eveil werewolf, Alistair, has been destroyed.
Or has he?

Blurb


Argentum is the thread that binds all magic …
The silver of Miri’s cat charm passed on through the generations.
The silver of Jessamyn’s scepter, the source of her illusions.
The silver of Quentin’s scrying bowl, forged by Merlin.
All intertwine in Argentum.

With Alistair gone a measure of peace returns to P.A.W.S., but Miri is tormented by nightmares. The silver charm that had recently hung around Alistair’s neck is now in Miri’s possession and seems to have taken on a life of its own. And then it mysteriously disappears.
Jessamyn seeks help from Quentin, who claims to have repented his past association with Alistair, but can he be trusted?
And what of Jenna? The young girl rescued from Alistair’s pack house holds a terrible secret. One that could determine the future of P.A.W.S.

Story


I found the story to be as immersing as the first book. Miri’s growing romance with the shapeshifter, Danny, whose alterego is a large maine coon cat, plays a big part in the story.
There is also a mystery about how her friend Josh’s mother has a photograph that looks like one she has of her grandmother when she was young.
The story, I found captivating, and wanted to know more about the whereabouts of Miri’s second charm that had belonged to her grandfather, and who took it. Was the dead Alistair influencing events? And how could this be?

Characterisation.


The characters in the book are realistic. They all have their good and bad points, just like real people. Perhaps they did not develop as much as they could have, but then there are 5 books to get through. Perhaps they will be changed by the end of the 5th book.

Writing.


This is the weakest part of the book. While the style is easy to read, I found a number of grammar mistakes that should really have been discovered and corrected in the editing stage.

Conclusion


All in all, in spite of the grammar errors, the story is good, and so I decided to only remove 1 star from my review.

A catch up on my #writing and an #offer.

I’ve been working on both the next book of The Wolves of Vimar series. It’s book 4, and will be called Immortal’s Death.

It will follow on after the friends, who call themselves Wolf, have discovered disquieting things about the Master of Erian and his designs on the land of Grosmer.

Duke Larrin of Sendolina has been missing, and all contact with Sendolina lost. The friends, who call themselves Wolf, send the little dragonet, Muldee, to find out what has happened.

When he returns with the news that Duke Larrin has been imprisoned in his own castle, five of them set off to rescue him.

Meanwhile, there have been riots in Hambara, and Thadora is dispached to find out what is happening. She finds the populace starving because there are no jobs, the richer people, who, by and large provide the jobs, having left in the riots.

I am about half-way through at the moment, and hope to get it finished in the next few months, Then I need to submit it to Next Chapter. It will be some time before it’s released.

In the meantime, I’ve submitted a prequel to the publisher, and am waiting for the next step. It’s the story of the parents of Carthinal, the protagonist in The Wolves of Vimar. I am looking forward to that being released, but as yet have no idea when that will be. I’ve also finished the story of Carthinal’s early life. Just a bit more editing, then I’ll submit that to Next Chapter.

Wolf Moon, Book 3, will be FREE in ebook format from tomorrow, 8th February until Wednesday 12th February. Get your copy soon or you’ll miss the opportunity. If you’ve not read the first two books, you can buy them at the same time by clicking on the covers in the sidebar.

Thank you for reading. Please add a comment in the comments box.

Carthinal's Story 10

Carthinal came out of the study in Mabryl’s house. He heard voices coming from the living room.


“I think you’re mad, Mabryl. He’s a wild kid from the streets.”


“He’s learning, Danu. He’s stayed in at night for the last two months.”


Carthinal realised that Mabryl was talking to Duke Danu, the ruler of the Duchy of Bluehaven. The duke had once been learning to be a mage, but his elder brother net with a fatal accident. This meant Danu had to leave his studies as he was now the heir to the dukedom.


He met Mabryl when they were both apprentices, and kept an interest in magic. The two men were close friends.


“I thought it was a madcap idea when you took him on as an apprentice, but to consider adopting him…”


Carthinal knew he should not be listening to a private conversation, but he could not resist. It concerned him. And what was Mabryl saying about adopting him? Carthinal crept quietly to the door in order to hear more.


“—potential. I felt it when I saw him teach himself to do a simple cantrip. He could be a great mage one day.”


“Maybe, but do you have to adopt him? He could get you into a lot of trouble.”


“Danu, I have no wife, no children. What’s going to happen to this when I leave this world?” He swept his hand around the room. “I don’t want just anyone coming in and going through my magic stuff. It could be dangerous.”


Carthinal crept away to his room. He needed to think. Do I want to be adopted? I’ve lived quite well up to now on my own.


After he heard Danu leave, Mabryl called up the stairs. “Carthinal, come down here, please. Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble—for once.”


Carthinal entered the living room and Mabryl told him to sit down.
“I’ve been talking to Duke Danu. I put an idea I had in front of him. I don’t think he thought it a good one, but I still do, in spite of his arguments against it.”


Carthinal shifted in his seat and kept his eyes downcast.


Mabryl told Carthinal about his plans to adopt him. “If I die without an heir, then all my things will revert to the Crown.” He ran his hands through his hair. “You are a orphan, Carthinal. You have no one and nothing, so I thought of adopting you. This would be a help to us both. What do you think?”


Carthinal looked up. “Please may I think about this? It’s a big step.” His thoughts were in turmoil. What exactly would his adoption entail?


Mabryl nodded. “Of course. I wouldn’t expect you to decide right away, but you do need to be fully in agreement. Now, you can go and think. I need to see some people who want their boy to become my apprentice, and I need to see what kind of potential he has.”


Carthinal returned to his room. Mabryl’s words span in his head.
He wants to adopt me. That means he’ll be my father. Do I want to replace my real father? But then he’s been dead for years. I can only just remember him. And what about the gang? If I become his son, then I can hardly go around with a criminal gang, can I.


Then he remembered other words Mabryl had said.
Mabryl said I’d inherit everything he has. This house and all that’s in it. That’s worth a lot. Could we move the gang’s HQ to here? No, that’d be no good. Can’t have the Beasts in this district.


Mabryl told Duke Danu I have great potential. He said I could be a great mage. Did he mean that?


These thoughts, and many others went round and round in his head until he thought he would go mad. It was a big decision. He dropped off to sleep to dream of an important quest where he used his magic to fend off many dangers.

A Review of Rags of Time by Michael Ward.

Overview

This historical mystery is set in the turbulent times just before the English Civil War.
Michael Ward has plunged us into a violent and unpredictable world where King Charles I is pitted against Parliament. The king wants money to pursue a war with Scotland over what the Protestant Scots see as an attempt to re-establish Catholicism. Many English also think the king is going too far with his ‘reforms’ of the Church and accuse him of being overly influenced by his queen and her mother, both Catholics.
Pamphlets against the king abound, and violence can flare up anywhere at any time.
Michael Ward takes us into this hot-bed and makes it real. His discussion of the politics of the time fits in beautifully with the plot, and doesn’t seem like a history lesson, even though I have come away with a clearer picture of the times.

Plot

Thomas Tallant is the son of a spice merchant based in London. He has just returned from a trip to India when he is asked for his expertise with falcons, which he has gained on his travels.
An illustrious wool merchant has died in mysterious circumstances and falcon feathers have been found nearby. Soon, though, Thomas finds himself accused of the murder.
He must try to prove his innocence through many turns of the plot to the twist at the end.

Characterisation

The author has created varied and believable characters, from the somewhat naïve Tomas to the intelligent, pipe-smoking Elizabeth. He also brings in a few real historical characters, which adds interest.
Each character has his or her own voice as well as strengths and flaws.

Writing

There are a few slips in the writing—few typos and the odd grammar error. The version I read, an e-book, had some formatting errors as well. In one or two places a sentence broke off in the middle and a line space appeared before the sentence continued.
A bit

Like this.
But such was the excitement of the plot that it didn’t bother me.

Conclusion

In spite of those errors, mentioned above, this was a thoroughly engrossing book. I liked the characters I was supposed to like, and despised those I wasn’t supposed to like.
I found it to be an unputdownable (is that a word?) book that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys historical mysteries. I have given it 5 stars.

If you enjoyed this review, please leave a comment in the comments box.

An update on my writing, and a special offer.

The Wolves of Vimar is a fantasy series. Book 1, The Wolf Pack, finds Carthinal setting off to take the tests to end his apprenticeship and make him a full mage.

Once in Hambara, where the tests are to take place, he, and some people he met on his journey are given the task of finding a lost artefact. It has been prophesied that it will be needed in the near future.

The book tells of their adventures in finding the artefact and returning with it.

Book 2, The Never-Dying Man, finds the friends settled into normal life in Hambara. That is until someone who helped them in the quest for the Sword turns up asking for their help. His child has been kidnapped.

Because they owe him a life debt, they agree to help find her. After rescuing her they are left with more questions. Who wants her, and why?

They stray into Erian, the next country and get recruited into the Erian Army where half the group are arrested and taken to Frelli, the capital.

Here they find that war against Grosmer is being prepared. Why, they do not know as there has been peace for generations. What they do find out is more dangerous, and surprising than they could have imagined.

The half of Wolf, who are prisoners must escape and take the news back to the authorities in Grosmer.

Book 3, Wolf Moon, follows the other half of Wolf, who managed to escape the arrest. They are chased into a cave system in the mountains where they find a people living entirely in the mountain.

These people want to have nothing to do with the outside world. In fact, they don’t want anyone to know they exist. To keep their secret, they refuse to show the friends the way out.

Eventually, though, they are persuaded to help and allow Wolf to leave. Unfortunately, though, the group of friends have to pass many dangers to get out, and also, once out, they need to dodge the Erian army which is on the lookout for them.

As they make their way past many dangers, they discover more secrets. Can they manage to get back to their homes and pass their discoveries on to the authorities in Grosmer?

I am currently writing Book 4, which is to be called Immortal’s Death. It is a slow process as I have been distracted by other writing projects, including Jealousy of a Viking, which is the sequel to Vengeance of a Slave, my very first historical novel, and I loved writing it. What I found out was fascinating. But you’ll have to wait for Jealousy, although Vengeance came out at Christmas.

But from today, The Never-Dying Man is available for a mere $0.99, £0.99. This offer is only available until 19th, so don’t waste time. Click here to get your copy, or click on the book’s image in the side-bar.

If you have read any of my books, please consider writing a review. Reviews are important to both writers and readers. Readers can see if they think a book is for them before they spend money on it, and writers rely on reviews to get their books noticed. With the millions of books on sale, this is a difficult process.

So please, Help a Writer and write a review.

A 5 star review of Vengeance of a Slave

As you might know from my previous posts, Vengeance of a Slave was released on Boxing Day. I have already received a 5 star review.

It has reached the following positions on Amazon.com: #6182 in Action & Adventure Fiction #1481 in British & Irish Historical Literature #6419 in Adventure Stories & Action

Here is the review by Randall Krzak.

Vengeance of a Slave by V.M. Sang is a riveting story set during the period when Rome controlled Britannia. Follow the trials and tribulations of Adelbhert after he and his sister are taken by the Romans from their mother. They eventually end up as slaves in what is modern-day London. Adelbhert performs a nightly ritual to remind himself of the suffering he and his sister have endured, beginning with the crucifixion of their father. He vows to escape and punish those who have wronged him.

V.M. has created a moving story which will keep you turning the pages to find out how Adelbhert and his sister handle their new life. Experience their sorrow, anguish, and finally hope as they adapt to their changing situation. This is the first novel I’ve red of V.M.’s and it certainly won’t be the last! Well done and highly recommended!

And here’s another one I received when I had self-published it, before Next Chapter agreed to publish it under their Legionary imprint.

Review by Ashok.

Vengeance of a Slave (A family through the Ages) by V.M. Sang is about the horrifying experience of siblings Adelbhert and his sister Avelina, his sister, who witness Roman soldiers crucify their father and other men from their village. These small children are snatched from their mother by the Romans to be sold as slaves. Bought by a rich merchant, they are taken to a distant island Brittania where they are treated as pets. When they grow bigger, plans are made to sell them as house slave and courtesan.
Adelbehrt’s experiences have embittered him and he dreams and plans to extract revenge from the Romans, and he plans to escape with his sister. How they escape, the dangers they face, the stratagems they use to stay hidden, the helpful and cruel people they encounter, their adventures… These make up the remaining plot.

A great narration of a novel idea with good word pictures which drew me into that period, I found the overall narration and language to be gripping. But for some errors I found, I would have said it is five star material.

These typos have now been sorted, of course,

And it has also received another 5 stars without a review attached!