Book Review – Magister’s Bane – Call of the Elements (book 1)

Magister's Bane (Call of the Elements, #1)

Magister’s Bane by Yvette Bostic

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


4.5 Stars

AJ Johnson lacks confidence in herself and hides her disfigured appearance under a scarf. Barely surviving on her own after being fired a week earlier, AJ’s luck changes when a phone call promises new employment. After a quick and strange interview, she is hired and is to begin her new housekeeping position the following day.

When AJ arrives at her new post, she is ushered upstairs. Feeling unnerved, AJ soon realizes that she is in trouble when she is locked inside a room, and she is not alone. From here on, AJ is thrust into the world of the supernatural where vampires, mages and shifters exist. A world she never thought was real and only belonged in books. But AJ’s adventure is just beginning as she realizes she’s not just among creatures from folklore, fantasy, and fairy tales; she is one of them.

I enjoyed this fantasy story, finding it a quick and easy read. The plot and characters are interesting and likeable, and I found myself rooting for a pairing among the characters. The story is well-written and the description allows for good imagery. The only drawback for me was the ending. While I understand the story continues in the next book, the end of book was not as satisfying of an ending I would have liked.

I do recommend this story to anyone who enjoys fantasy novels with vampires, mages, and shifters, and I look forward to reading the second book of the series.




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Author Interview – Agnès de Savigny

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This week’s guest is Auhor Agnès de Savigny. I will have the opportunity to meet Agnès at Kalicon 2019. This will be her first book signing since publishing her debut novel, Tempt the Ocean.

I hope you find Agnès’ interview informative and interesting.

About Writing/Books/Being an Author

1. Do you remember the first book you read that had an impact on you ‐ in what way and what was the name of that book?

I’m not sure this is the very first, but it’s the first that comes to mind: Charlotte’s Web. It’s probably the first book I read that elicited an overwhelming emotional response from me—in that case, full-on sobs for the title character. I think it represented the moment I understood that a novel has the capacity to go beyond simply telling what happens—that emotional engagement has real power in telling a story.

2. When did you first realize you wanted to write?

Always, I’m pretty sure. At least since I learned to put two words together and understood the capacity of words to create meaning. If you are asking when I realized I wanted to write novels, that’s a different question with multi-stage answers. I think the conviction to follow through on writing in a published format is a process, whereas the desire to write itself is an instinct, a drive.

3. Who is/are your favourite author(s)?

My standing favourite is Kurt Vonnegut. He’s probably the only author whose entire catalogue I’ve consumed. Well, his and Ian Fleming’s, but I don’t think the James Bond books influenced me the way Vonnegut’s did. I love the easy sarcasm of Vonnegut’s prose, and that his hope for humanity seeps through his words, even though intellectually he doesn’t seem to expect much.

4. What is your favourite thing about writing? What is your least favourite thing about writing?

I love losing myself in where I am. It’s almost like watching a movie, and I’m dictating what the characters are doing and how they feel and where they are. I think that’s how the surprises happen!

I don’t like starting. I have horrible blank page syndrome. Then writing feels like work instead of the joy it can be.

5. Where do your ideas come from?

Life, I guess? I can’t point to any one thing, really. They just do—in certain states of mind, atcertain times of the year; sometimes they flood, sometimes they trickle, and sometimes they stop. I’ve gotten some story ideas from dreams I’ve had—the latent germs of a lost moment. Crafting an actual story from ideas is where the challenge begins—and by that, I mean a good challenge.

6. I’ve often found that creative people have more than one talent, what is yours?

My day job is as a set designer for film and television. I studied film and architecture in school. I also grew up playing piano, and I continue to play very rusty guitar and drums. Music and design are a big factor in my writing, I think, in terms of structure and setting.

7. If you could jump inside a book for one day (as an observer) what book would it be?

The Mists of Avalon. I know, given what came out about the author in recent years, that citing this novel might be controversial. But the work itself is so powerful, a tome of Arthurian legend told from the points of view of the women in the story, that it has always held a special place for me. I love the King Arthur legends—could easily say they are my favourite stories—and to have them told from the female perspective was life-changing, especially when reading the book as a young woman. I loved this book and think of it often. But I can’t bring myself to re-read it now, knowing.

8. When you create characters, are they completely made up or do they resemble or remind you of people you know?

They are usually mash-ups. Never specifically one person but based on people I know. Or I’llimagine certain actors playing the roles and go from there. This is particularly true of my leading men. People are so complicated and diverse; it helps to have a starting point.

9. Have you ever created a character “out of thin air” only to run into someone in real life that reminds you of that character either in personality or their features?

No, per above.

10. How do you come up with titles for your books?

Oh… it’s a struggle for me. For Tempt the Ocean I had a page and a half list of optional titles,before narrowing that down to a good pick. I find I use a one-word working title as I’m writing, which keeps me on track, but might trip me up when the time comes to call it something else. I wish I was better at it.

11. What are you working on now and can you tell us about it?

Yes, I can! I have two historical romances at either end of the editing process right now. The first one, out next year, takes place in the mid-1740’s in London and New York and is about two childhood sweethearts torn apart by family, social class, and geography. They hate each other, of course, when they are first reacquainted, but life has other plans for them. I’m really having fun with it, although I’ve made it too long and have to cut a bunch out before I can publish it.

The second, still an early draft, is also a historical romance. Set a bit later in time and in anunspecified country in Europe, it’s inspired by “The Prince and the Pauper,” but the characters who switch places are women. Neither is confident in their new settings, especially when the husband of the royal character falls in love with the woman who is only pretending to be royal. Also having fun with it, as no one is quite who they say they are.

12. Have you won any awards for your writing/books and if so what?

Not… yet? I’ve had good responses to what I’ve published but no awards. Tempt the Ocean is my first published novel.

A Little More Personal

13. What is one thing you haven’t done but would like to do?

Visit Antarctica—if that could be done without leaving an environmental footprint, which maynot be possible anymore. I dreamt I was there once, and the shore was populated not by penguins but by the sesame street alien puppets that say “Yip.” That was awesome.

14. Can you tell us about an embarrassing/funny moment?

Not really… can’t think of anything funny enough, or not too embarrassing to share.

15. Have you ever experienced something weird you could not explain?

I did live in a haunted house once. There were a bunch of people living there and weird stuff was going on—some were convinced the place was haunted, others brushed off the idea as nonsense. But I had experiences, involving moving objects, that were unexplainable. Nothing aggressive. I think the ghost was trying to tell me to quit smoking.

16. Are you superstitious? Do you have any rituals for good luck?

I’m extremely superstitious but have no rituals for good luck.

17. What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?

I’ve been a vegetarian since I was twenty. I like fake meats, which some find odd. I love coconut bacon. But strangest? I accidentally ordered tripe when I was travelling in France as a kid. I don’t think I ate it. Nor did I eat the cow’s tongue on the same trip.

Basil ice cream—does that count? It was really good. Homemade at a friend’s cottage.

18. Do you have a favourite vacation spot? Where?

As someone who has travelled a lot and wants to keep doing so, that’s a tough one. I took myself on a writing vacation to Mexico one year, to a village on the Pacific coast only reachable by boat, and that had no electricity at that point. I lived in a palapa, watched the whales breach offshore while I brushed my teeth in the morning, and wrote by lantern at night. Just like you can’t go home again, that place is not the same as it once was.

19. Can you tell us about one of your favourite childhood memories?

My friend and I used to hide under the fronds of weeping blackberry bushes that lined theentrance to our neighbourhood park. We would stand inside unseen, picking and eating theberries until sated.

20. What makes you happy?

A lot of sun, apparently. And ice cream. And finishing stuff—which is often difficult. Eatingwith friends. And puppies.

21. If you aren’t writing (or doing anything associated with writing), what are you doing?

I wish I were rolling in a pile of puppies. Let’s leave it at that, knowing that’s probably not it.

22. Have you ever met anyone famous – who?

I met Stephen King while working on something he’d written for television, when he camearound to meet some of the film crew. My boss told him I’d read all his books, which wassomething I’d mentioned to my boss (with the caveat that I’d stopped reading his novels afterleaving high school). But while Stephen King was staring at me following this declaration,waiting for me to speak, I could only think of two things: one, I don’t want to insult the man bytelling him I grew out of his novels; and two: Misery. What I wish I’d said, after shrugging offmy embarrassment with a sheepish hello, was that I’d once read the advice he’d given tosomeone on how to become a writer, that his response was burned into my brain and that I was diligently following his directive. The advice he’d given was this: “Write, write, write.”

Agnès’ Links

Blogs: http://somatime.wordpress.com/agnes-de-savigny/#Agnes

http://somatime.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @AgnesDeSav

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AgnesDeSavigny/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14693489.Agn_s_de_Savigny

Author Interview – Allen Stanfill

My guest this week is Horror Author Allen Stanfill.

Allen has a number of published horror books. His latest, Children of the Cursed, released in August of this year.

I hope you enjoy learning a little about Allen and his writing.

Thanks, Allen, for participating. Oh, and I am with you 100% on the editing.

About Writing/Books/Being an Author

1. Do you remember the first book you read that had an impact on you – in what way and what was the name of that book?

I do actually, couldn’t forget it. The book was Stephen King’s “IT” scared me to death. But it was in that instant I knew I wanted to be a writer. To bring out emotions in readers that was brought out in me when I read.

2. When did you first realize you wanted to write?

I would say I wanted to be writer at a very young age. My first short story was written at the age of thirteen.

3. Who is/are your favourite author(s)?

Stephen King, R.L. Stine, J. R. R. Tolkien, to name a few.

4. What is your favourite thing about writing? What is your least favourite thing about writing?

Sharing stories with others that I created is my favorite thing about writing. I’m sure you’ve heard this plenty of times, but I hate editing. It is the worst part about writing as far as I’m concerned.

5. Where do your ideas come from?

Everyday life. I can see something on TV or out walking my dogs and boom, there’s my next book idea.

6. I’ve often found that creative people have more than one talent, what is yours?

Cooking. What can I say, I love to cook, almost as much as I like to write.

7. If you could jump inside a book for one day (as an observer) what book would it be?

Lord of the Rings.

8. When you create characters, are they completely made up or do they resemble or remind you of people you know?

I would say, a little bit of both.

9. Have you ever created a character “out of thin air” only to run into someone in real life that reminds you of that character either in personality or their features?

More than once, which I found slightly strange.

10. How do you come up with titles for your books?

I just try and think about a title that fits the story.

11. What are you working on now and can you tell us about it?

I am working on the second book to the Children Of The Cursed series. It is called The Tomb Of Carnage, let’s just say the main characters learn more about themselves in this book.

12. Have you won any awards for your writing/books and if so what?

None yet, but keeping my fingers crossed.

A Little More Personal

13. What is one thing you haven’t done but would like to do?

Taking a sailboat out on the ocean, that seems like a lot of fun to me.

14. Can you tell us about an embarrassing/funny moment?

I will skip this one. Somethings are better off kept to ones self. Lol.

15. Have you ever experienced something weird you could not explain?

When I was a kid, there was this one creepy house I walked by on my way to school. It was supposed to be vacant, though I swear someone stood by the upstairs window every time I passed by. Never could figure that one out.

16. Are you superstitious? Do you have any rituals for good luck?

Most writers are as far as I know, but I can’t say that I am.

17. What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?

Snake meat, I know it sounds gross but it wasn’t half bad.

18. Do you have a favourite vacation spot? Where?

I do. Yellowstone, is my favorite vacation spot.

19. Can you tell us about one of your favourite childhood memories?

Going fishing with my dad growing up has to be number one.

20. What makes you happy?

Spending time with my family and writing of course.

21. If you aren’t writing (or doing anything associated with writing), what are you doing?

Fishing, hiking, working out, things like that.

22. Have you ever met anyone famous – who?

Nope. Would make things interesting if I ever did.

Author Bio

My name is, Allen Stanfill. I’m the author of, The Midnight Killer. What can I say, I love to read and write books. In my spare time I enjoy working out with my wife. Also I like to go fishing, when my two kids aren’t trying to push me into the water.

Allen’s Links

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Allen-Stanfill/e/B01C10S8L4

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #Reviews – Colleen M. Chesebro, Sally Harris and Sandra J. Jackson

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the second of the week’s updates with reviews for authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore.

The first author with a recent review is Colleen M. Chesebro for The Heart Stone Chronicles: The Swamp Fairy

About the book

Fourteen-year-old Abigale Forester, recently orphaned and a ward of the State of Illinois moves from Chicago to Florida to live with her aunt, her last living relative. Magnolia Forester becomes her legal guardian, and together they claim an ancient inheritance; land that belonged to Abby’s mother’s family for generations.

Holding onto the only piece of her mother Abby has left, a calcite pendant and her mother’s most sacred possession, she discovers the truth of her legacy. The pendant is more significant than she could possibly imagine. Forged from a giant mystical heart-shaped stone found on the very swamp land Abby now owns, it holds the power of her…

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Book Review – A Mersey Killing: When Liverpool Rocked and the Music Died

A Mersey Killing: When Liverpool Rocked, And The Music Died (Mersey Murder Mysteries, #1)

A Mersey Killing: When Liverpool Rocked, And The Music Died by Brian L. Porter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Detective Inspector Andy Ross and Detective Sergeant Izzie Drake have been called to a scene where construction work uncovered skeletal remains. Finding out the remains are at least 30 years old, the detectives at the Merseyside Police Headquarters have a mystery to solve. But where do the detectives begin?

This is a great murder mystery story that will keep you guessing until the end. The story is engaging and well-paced. It takes the reader on a journey back to the 1960’s in Liverpool, England where up and coming rock and roll bands strive to make it big. And then to the 1990’s where detectives from the Merseyside Police try and solve a 30-year-old murder and the disappearance of a young woman.

I recommend this to anyone who likes mysteries, and even if you don’t, give it a try. It’s an intriguing read.




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Author Interview – Elly Grant

This week’s interview is with Author Elly Grant.

Elly has a knack for killing characters in her stories. If you’re a nice person, you have nothing to worry about. If not, you may find yourself a victim in one of her stories.

Thank you, Elly, for participating in Author Interviews.

About Writing/Books/Being an Author

1. Do you remember the first book you read that had an impact on you – in what way and what was the name of that book?

I read the book ‘Psycho’ when I was a young teenager. I found it really creepy then and I still do. I remember sleeping with the light on for a few days after I finished reading it, and I still feel nervous in showers that have shower curtains.

2. When did you first realize you wanted to write?

I can’t remember a time when I haven’t written. I loved essay writing when I was at school, but even then, my stories were often dark tales.

3. Who is/are your favourite author(s)?

Agatha Christie. She was a prolific writer with an amazing imagination.

4. What is your favourite thing about writing? What is your least favourite thing about writing?

My favourite thing is when I have finished writing my book and I can relax. When it is near completion, I have the irrational fear that I might die before the end and nobody will ever know ‘whodunnit’!

5. Where do your ideas come from?

Often, I witness injustice or bad manners and I really despise this. When I see people being cruel or unfair, I usually plan to kill them in a book. Many of my characters are horrible people who, on paper at least, deserve to die.

6. I’ve often found that creative people have more than one talent, what is yours?

I like to design things then make them. Usually, this either involves knitting something or baking a cake.

7. If you could jump inside a book for one day (as an observer) what book would it be?

One book that has held my interest for many years is ‘Gone with the wind.’ It is a book full of extremes. It is set during a harrowing time in history, yet still offers hope for the future. The characters are wonderfully portrayed, and by the end of the book, I felt as if I knew them as well as I knew close friends.

8. When you create characters, are they completely made up or do they resemble or remind you of people you know?

My characters are never based on people I know. However, they are often inspired by people I observe or hear about. Sometimes, when I give my character a voice, I hear the words in my head as if spoken by someone I know.

9. Have you ever created a character “out of thin air” only to run into someone in real life that reminds you of that character either in personality or their features?

Thankfully, no. Many of my characters are psychopaths and monsters, so I hope I never meet them in real life!

10. How do you come up with titles for your books?

My titles are inspired by the situations, places or characters in my books. Once I think of my story the title seems to just pop into my head.

11. What are you working on now and can you tell us about it?

I am writing short stories. All of them are rather dark and I’m hoping to compile them into a book.

12. Have you won any awards for your writing/books and if so what?

Several years ago, I began attending a long-established, local writing group and was thrilled when I won first prize in their annual short story competition. This was the first time that I’d received recognition for my writing and years later, I still get a jag of excitement when I think about it.

A Little More Personal

13. What is one thing you haven’t done but would like to do?

Whilst spending time in France I have often been given recipes by local people using ingredients from the region. I now have many recipes using products such as sweet chestnuts, walnuts, apples, cherries and many other locally sourced items. I would love to write a cookery book which uses these ingredients.

14. Are you superstitious? Do you have any rituals for good luck?

I am not superstitious however old habits die hard. My mother would often say ‘touch wood’ then touch something made of wood as a way of warding off something going wrong. I still find myself doing the same thing even though it means nothing to me.

15. What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?

I once ate a fruit in Madeira that the local people described as a pineapple banana. I still don’t know the name of this fruit. It was long and plump with a hard skin like a pineapple, but with a pungent smell and taste similar to a banana.

16. Do you have a favourite vacation spot? Where?

My favourite place in the world is a small spa town in the Eastern Pyrenees called Amelie les Bains. It is situated in the foothills of the Pyrenees, and I find everything about this town delightful.

17. Can you tell us about one of your favourite childhood memories?

A day spending time with my family picking wild blackberries to make jelly is one of my happiest memories. After collecting the berries my mother set out a rug on the grass and produced a wonderful picnic. It was Autumn and the sun shone all day. This day was one of simple entertainment, but to me it was magical.

18. What makes you happy?

My family makes me happy. We are very close, and we all live near to each other. So, we spend lots of quality time together.

19. If you aren’t writing (or doing anything associated with writing), what are you doing?

When I’m not writing I spend as much time as possible socialising with friends and family or visiting my favourite holiday spot in the Eastern Pyrenees.

20. Have you ever met anyone famous – who?

I haven’t met any ‘A’ list celebrities, but I once met the magician Paul Daniels and his wife Debbie Magee who were both utterly charming. I also met, and spent the evening, in the company of the comedian, Frank Carson. He was absolutely hilarious, very funny both on and off stage, and a genuinely kind man. My mother and my mother-in-law were big fans of his and when I mentioned this to him, he telephoned them for a chat. They were thoroughlyly delighted and completely star struck.

Elly’s Links

Amazon page: http://author.to/ellygrant

Pyrenees series book 1: http://mybook.to/palmtrees

Next Chapter Page: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/elly-grant

Author Interview – Daryl J. Ball

My interview this week is with Fantasy Author, Daryl J. Ball.

Daryl has published three books, two of which are a part of a series.

Read on to discover more about Daryl’s journey as an author and learn a little about his personal life.

About Writing/Books/Being an Author

1. Do you remember the first book you read that had an impact on you – in what way and what was the name of that book?

I read a lot as a kid, and I think everything we read impacts us in different ways so this is kind of hard to nail down. I can say though that it was somewhere around Grade 6 that I read “The Screwtape Letters” by C. S. Lewis and that it ultimately led to my becoming the librarian at my church at the time despite my youth. I’m pretty sure it had some long-term impact on how I view things, but I don’t think I really realized its impact until I was writing my first book, The Tannis Project. The Screwtape Letters was written as a series of ongoing correspondence between a senior demon and his nephew. It’s considered an epistolary novel. It is the only one of that style I can ever recall reading until recently and The Tannis Project which is a series of blog posts written by a vampire can also be considered an epistolary novel.

2. When did you first realize you wanted to write?

I realized it pretty early on, but I know for sure I recall really enjoying creative writing in school. I’m positive it pre-dates that though.

3. Who is/are your favourite author(s)?

I’m going to try and keep this list short best I can because there are so many. Ilona Andrews, Sir Terry Pratchett, R.R. Virdi, Tom Holt, Piers Anthony, D.R. Perry, Connie Willis, Kelly Blanchard, Robert Asprin, C. S. Lewis, I’m going to stop here as that’s already ten names, but I could go on.

4. What is your favourite thing about writing? What is your least favourite thing about writing?

My favourite thing is coming up with the idea. My least favourite is making revisions to the manuscript.

5. Where do your ideas come from?

I’ll have thought of a character and then I’ll sit down and think what experiences they must have had in life to make them the way they are. Showing a part of that journey becomes the basis of my stories. I want to explore what shapes them. It’s an approach that dates back to when I played Dungeons & Dragons for a bit as a teenager.

6. I’ve often found that creative people have more than one talent, what is yours?

I think I might be the exception to the multiple talent thing.

7. If you could jump inside a book for one day (as an observer) what book would it be?

As an observer that is completely safe from any harm? Probably any of the Discworld novels by the late Sir Terry Pratchett. Just a chance to walk around in that world would be quite the experience I think.

8. When you create characters, are they completely made up or do they resemble or remind you of people you know?

Almost all of my characters seem to be made up of aspects of people that I’ve met over the years. There are a few though that I’m not sure who they could be even remotely based on.

9. Have you ever created a character “out of thin air” only to run into someone in real life that reminds you of that character either in personality or their features?

No, but I did encounter someone the first time I was selling books that claimed my book sounded like their life story and that they were a vampire, complete with them trying to avoid sunlight and hissing.

10. How do you come up with titles for your books?

I honestly don’t know. The working title just sort of pops into my head and usually it remains the final title, although sometimes I make slight alterations. The Tannis Project’s working title was The Kayla Project. Putting the main character’s name Tannis in the title was decided on just before the cover was commissioned.

11. What are you working on now and can you tell us about it?

I’m currently writing the first draft of a sequel to my book The Tannis Project. Where as the first book explored a bit about vampires and their capabilities as seen through the eye of a vampire, the sequel dives a bit more into similar creatures found in different countries and how they might all be connected (within the world it’s set in). It’s a lot of research as I look through countless myths and find what makes each vampire-like creature different while also finding things they all have in common. The other main aspect of this story is that this sequel is being conveyed by a boy in his teens. The goal is to have it ready for release sometime in late 2020.

12. Have you won any awards for your writing/books and if so what?

My book, Son of No One, won 2nd place in the Fantasy category in an online vote called Virtual Fantasycon on Facebook in 2018.

A Little More Personal

13. What is one thing you haven’t done but would like to do?

Just one? Hmm, travel outside of North America. As for where specifically, I have a very long list and would be glad to go to any of the places on it.

14. Can you tell us about an embarrassing/funny moment?

In grade 2 my teacher had the same name as someone I knew from church. I had heard they were pregnant and so had made sure as a good student to get my teacher a gift. Turns out it was the person from church with that name who was pregnant, not my teacher.

15. Have you ever experienced something weird you could not explain?

Yes, but I don’t have a clear enough memory of it anymore to be able to write it down.

16. Are you superstitious? Do you have any rituals for good luck?

I’m not overly superstitious and no rituals that I’m consciously aware of.

17. What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?

Christmas fruit cake. There is something very weird about it being considered food.

18. Do you have a favourite vacation spot? Where?

I used to like being up in the Bancroft area visiting my grandmother and have lots of kin in that area. I have not been up there since the mid-90s though when she passed away. That and I no longer enjoy the outdoors as much. Both heavily contributed to that.

19. Can you tell us about one of your favourite childhood memories?

The day my baby sister was brought home from the hospital, and I got to hold her.

20. What makes you happy?

Cats doing cute cat things.

21. If you aren’t writing (or doing anything associated with writing), what are you doing?

Pretty much everything is writing related in some way, even sleeping.

22. Have you ever met anyone famous – who?

Not famous but I have met several authors who I hope will become famous.

Daryl’s Links
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDarylJBall

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DarylBallTM

Email: AuthorDJB@gmail.com