Saturday, November 21, 2015

Rowena and the Dark Lord (Land's End Book 2) by Melodie Campbell

Published by Imajin Books

 This is the second in the Land's End series. In the first we learned that Rowena, or Row as she is usually referred to, discovered a portal in her classroom when two men in medieval clothing suddenly appeared through the wall of her classroom, witnessed by both Row and her grad student Kendra. So begins this extraordinary adventure of magic and time travel, because the next time, Rowena is whisked through the wall into a medieval world of lusty men. A witch's curse years before caused no baby girls to be born henceforth. Obviously, with no women in their country, this young, hearty female immediately gets the attention of every male in Land's End. But it turns out that Rowena's mother was originally from Land's End and is in fact, a princess, and she had escaped through a portal, married and gave birth to Rowena. A fact that Rowena never knew.

Now with child, and living in Scottsdale, Arizona with Kendra and two medieval knights she pulled through the time portal, all is not well in paradise. Her partner Thane from Land's End is getting restless. As new King of Sargon, he blames himself for abandoning his troops, he feels a sense of separation from himself, a man out of time. But Kendra has a  plan to interest Thane and Richard. A medieval festival has come to town. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? They can join the revelers wearing their own armor and the girls their dresses from Land's End, but can they pull it off? Their men don't even speak English, a fortune teller has given Rowena a special charm, one she has seen before in Land's End and there is magic in the air, sensed by Row. This second book is more magical and possibly even more unique than the first, and that is really saying something! Melodie writes full out imagination, action and humour. I love her method of story-telling.

A new portal opens as Rowena and Kendra are walking down the street. A confused Gareth steps out and takes Rowena back through this portal, leaving the rest behind. But what's this? Gareth is not in Land's End! Rowena is alone and the portal has closed. She has also torn another dress, a very common occurrence in the life of Row. Fortunately, when Thane, Richard and Kendra finally manage to appear, Row will soon meet Kendra's friend, the wizard Val, who is an expert tailor among other magical things and will hopefully be able to keep Rowena dressed!

There is much more magic in this second book as Rowena begins to learn what she is capable of. Her mother had been a witch and, so it appears, is Rowena, though as yet she has a lot to learn. Studying a book of spells, she inadvertently conjures up a complete Roman army in mid-battle. Not only that, but they are from another time again. There is so much new and different in this second book, a shorter read but full from cover to cover. A lot is explained, a lot is unexplained, and I look forward to the next installment! How will she return the Romans? How will she rescue Gareth from the in-between, or can she? How can she avoid the pull of Cedric's magic? Will her unborn baby be safe in this world? So many questions. Melodie Campbell will have her hands full in writing Book 3, but she is definitely up to the job. Such wonderful creativity, humour, and magic has gone into this series, and historically she has obviously done a great deal of research.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Last Goodbye by Alfred M. Albers

Published by Infinity Publishing

Mystery, history, deceit and magic; wonderful blend of suspense 
 Alfred M. Albers has a unique talent when he tells a story; he puts the reader into the book by detailing so clearly it is as though you are watching a movie...or actually going along with his characters. Where it may seem to some readers that the detail is, well, detailed, I think most will agree it puts a different perspective on everything from history to mystery. The author keeps us grounded in the story in a way I haven't often seen.

While we see nearly everything going on in the background it does connect us with the main story. Perhaps it is related to the attention to detail a magician must have, and the story after all is featuring John Michaels, world-renowned magician as the main character, and his wife, Stella. This is the fourth book in the John Michaels series. This particular magician works with the police in solving not just a probable crime committed on a fellow magician, but similarly in a series of murders that appear to be mob-related. In the first instance, was the death an accident or a murder? In the second instance, were any of the deaths related to the first?

With sleight of pen, the author misdirects the reader as easily as a magician misdirects an audience. Who is killing off local magicians and why? What has started this series of murders? How did it begin? Was it professional jealousy, gambling wars, infighting? There are mysteries and murders galore. Lies and deceit to go with them. The action builds throughout, with twists and turns that take the breath away and pull us along with them. History, mystery, misdirection, magic, lies and secrets, I was not happy to have to put the book down occasionally to attend to my household chores. I wanted to read from start to finish in one go. I love the John Michaels series.