In the Land of the Everliving: A Celtic Adventure

In the Land of the Everliving by Stephen R. Lawhead is the second book in the Eirlandia series. It’s a fantasy story of a man on a quest – not unusual for fantasy, except that the setting is in the Celtic tradition and the book is interlaced with Celtic words and Celtic-like names. The protagonist is Conor mac Ardon, who is recovering from injuries in the land of the fairies, along with two members of his wargang. As soon as he is healed, they return to their home to fight the Scala, enemies who had invaded their land. Falsely branded as a traitor, he is denied access to his castle by his brother and seeks refuge in a friendly realm. He offers his sword to the queen, but when she becomes corrupted, he must find another way to fulfill his quest.

I enjoyed this book, but it is obvious that it is the second in a series of at least three books. I had not read the first one, In the Region of the Summer Stars, and although there was enough information to enjoy this book on its own, it’s generally best to read the books in order. I’m sure I would have enjoyed In the Land of the Everliving more had I done so.

Series can be tricky. As I said, I enjoyed this book even though I hadn’t read the first. However, I found myself wanting at the end. Simply put, it was the end of a battle but not the war, and while the war must continue to the end, I would have appreciated something more substantial at the end of Book Two.

Having said all that, the characters are strong, especially that of Conor, the interrelationships work well, and there is plenty of action for those who crave that. My advice? Start with Book One and read all the way through.

Pilgrim: A Good Continuation

The fifth book of The Wayfarer Redemption by Sara Douglass is entitled Pilgrim. By this point in the story, the Timekeeper Demons have invaded Tencendor and Faraday has joined forces with Drago to find a way to stop them. Meanwhile, Caelum, his father Axis, and his mother Azhure set out on a different path.

Surprises await for the Starson, who it is foretold will defeat the leader of the Demons. He must discover his true path and do whatever it takes to defeat him and his followers, no matter where it leads him.

The second book in a trilogy (and I do consider the second three books of this series as a trilogy) is often rushed and merely trying to set up for the final book. Pilgrim doesn’t do this. There is action throughout and tons of surprises. But my favorite part are the character interactions in this book, as in the others. Douglass does a great job of developing characters, and even the ones you think you know will change and make decisions you would never expect. Read the book – you won’t want to put it down.

Once Upon a Time: The Most Fun Ever

Once Upon a Time is a fantasy series which ran from October 2011 to May 2018 on ABC. It takes place in Storybrooke, Maine, where all the inhabitants are fairy tale characters who have forgotten who they are. They are under a curse cast by the evil queen of the Snow White story, and the only one who can break the curse is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, who, of course, does not know who she is.

At the beginning of the show, this Savior, Emma Swan, is living in Boston chasing down bail jumpers, when she is visited by Henry Mills who tells her she’s his mother and Snow White’s daughter. She takes him back to Storybrooke and decides to stay despite the objections of his adoptive mother Regilla, the evil queen.

The show goes back and forth between flashbacks to the fairy tale world of the Enchanted Forest to present day Storybrooke. The writers play fast and loose with the tales we all know, which is a large part of the fun. A lot of the fairy tale characters draw on their portrayals in Disney films, sometimes even including snippets of songs.

Characters across stories interact in interesting ways with each other and include not only fairy tale characters such as Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel, but also Disney characters like Mular and Merida and characters from the books Alice in Wonderland, Frankenstein, and Peter Pan, to name a few.

Throughout all the stories, one character who plays a major role is Rumpelstiltskin (known as Mr. Gold in Storybrooke), played brilliantly by Robert Carlyle (a Scottish actor, whose accent sometimes comes through, if you listen hard enough.). He’s probably the most interesting character in the show because he vacillates between the gold-skinned Dark One of the Enchanted Forest to a man trying hard to be good for the woman he loves.

I was captivated through the first six seasons. Season seven took a different turn. Using a subset of old characters joined by some new ones, it follows an adult Henry Mills in Seattle under another curse, where everyone has forgotten who they are. (Sound familiar?) I felt it was just a rehash of Season one with the same characters in different roles and cannot really recommend it. However, if you make it through to the end, there is an amazing and fitting conclusion to the series.

I had a lot of fun with this show, enough that I’m ready to go back to the beginning and do it again. I’m sure you will, too.

Sinner: The Epic Continues

Sinner by Sara Douglass is the fourth book in the Wayfarer Redemption series, but in many ways it’s the beginning of a second trilogy. The story begins forty years after the previous book, Starman. Axis and Azhure’s children are grown, and eldest child Caelum is ruling over the land of Tencendor as Starson.

But all is not well. There is dissension between the princes of two kingdoms under his rule, Caelum’s hated brother Drago who tried to kill him as an infant is accused of murder, and the criminal Wolfstar is up to no good. Add to this an underlying threat to the very existence of Tencendor, and you have quite a tale.

Sara Douglass has done it again. The book now contains elements of both science fiction and fantasy, since part of the outside threat has arrived by spaceship, and Douglass blends them brilliantly. While maintaining some of the same characters from the first three books, she has introduced new ones who are nuanced and interact in exiting ways. This new generation has its own incredible story to tell. Fantasy fans who enjoyed the first three books, or haven’t even read them, will enjoy Sinner .

The Ruin of Kings Will Entertain

The Ruin of Kings is a new fantasy novel by debut novelist Jenn Lyons. Kihrin is a teenage boy who has been raised in a brothel in the Capital City of Quur, the madam acting as his mother and a blind musician as his father. Though his “father” is training him as a musician, Kihron makes most of his money as a thief, a job he is very good at.

However, one day he witnesses something he shouldn’t, is attacked by a demon, and discovers he is related to nobility. This leads to a very long road, along which he experiences capture and abuse but is trained in both weaponry and magic. He also finds out more than he ever wanted to about his own heritage and the nobility of which he is a part.

The story is told in two voices: Kihrin, who starts in the middle of the tale, and a shapeshifter, who starts several years earlier. It makes it interesting to try and figure out what Kihrin knew when, and to sometimes know more than he does in the shapeshifter’s story.

It is also more interesting (though some would call it confusing) because there are immortals who have changed their names more than once, people who have been reincarnated, and those who have simply been raised from the dead. It makes it harder to keep track of everyone but it helps to keep the surprises coming. As more and more secrets are revealed, Kihrin comes closer to understanding what he must do to conquer evil in Quur.

Read The Ruin of Kings. You will enjoy it. Let’s hope Lyons has a lot more books in her.

Strange Grace Compels

Strange Grace by Tessa Grafton is the story of a village blessed with seven years of prosperity and health. But in the seventh year, a young man (known as a “saint”) must spend the night in the Devil’s Forest being pursued by demons, dead animals, and the devil himself. Most never return. Of the few who have, all but one have left the village, consumed with nightmares.

Mairwen Grace is the daughter of the next-to-last saint and the village witch, and is studying to one day replace her mother. Unfortunately for her, Rhun Sayer, the boy she likes, is deemed by all of the villagers as the most likely to be the next saint. All but one, that is. Their friend Arthur Couch believes the honor should go to him.

But Mairwen is not looking forward to the ritual this year and not simply because Rhun may lose his life.  Only three years have passed but things are going wrong in the village, something which has never happened before. Also, Maitwen believes something is wrong with the legend of how the ritual began and that the village has been lied to for years. Though it goes against tradition, she is determined to do what is necessary to discover the truth about the ritual and stop young men from dying.

Strange Grace is an excellent YA fantasy. The interactions of the three main characters are complex and there are surprises galore. If you like YA fantasy at all, this is the book to read.



My book TIME CHANGES EVERYTHING was recently professionally reviewed on I’d like to share it with you here.

“We’ve all been there—that moment as a teenager when you get so fed up with your parents for not understanding you. It’s a universal experience that author Jane Craig Sebok captures brilliantly in Time Changes Everything.

“Caitlin has always been on the outside. Add that her best friend moved away in middle school and her father left two years ago, and Caitlin feels like the most lonely, uncool kid around. It doesn’t help that she’s always at odds with her mom. When she reaches her breaking point, Caitlin decides to go to North Carolina and live with her dad. At the bus stop in the middle of the night, she meets a Mr. G, who tells Caitlin he can help if she trusts him. Not knowing quite why, Caitlin does.

“The next thing Caitlin knows, she’s a college student in the 1970s with her nineteen-year-old mother as a roommate. Caitlin can barely believe this smoking, swearing girl is her mother, but doubts aren’t her biggest problem. Mr. G sent her back in time to learn something, and Caitlin’s only got a week to figure out what it is.

“I absolutely loved this story. Caitlin’s emotions and struggles are ones I can vividly remember dealing with in my teen years. Having survived high school, there were many times I found myself talking to my Kindle while reading this, telling Caitlin to realize she’s making a poor choice or that she shouldn’t do something. Like my mother’s lectures during my teen years, my advice fell on deaf ears.

“This book’s concept is one that will stick with me for a long time. I can’t be the only person who’s ever wondered what her parents were like as teenagers. It’s easy to picture one’s parents as entities who popped into existence as adults. While my parents have told me stories about reckless choices or nights where they just shouldn’t have had one more drink, this book put the parent-adult child relationship into perspective for me. I loved watching Caitlin realize that her mother was once a teenager who made poor choices. Even better was Caitlin yelling at her mom for the same bad choices Caitlin got yelled at for in the future. It was role reversal at its finest.

“This book is full of important lessons for teenagers, especially those feeling lonely and scared. Caitlin’s character arc is beautifully illustrated. Without spoiling, I loved that, even toward the end, she was still waffling about what to do. It was a perfect example of how decisions aren’t always so simple. It’s not always clear what the right thing is, and even if it is, there are lots of factors that can cloud making the right choice.

“At first glance, this looks like a book aimed at teenagers, which, in a way, I suppose it is. In my opinion, it’s much more than that. While Caitlin’s experiences are ones teens could benefit from reading, I think those same experiences might turn teens away from this book. I know there are exceptions, but what geek in high school wants to be told “don’t be cool?” I feel like the teenagers most likely to connect with Caitlin’s story are the ones that don’t need the lessons. That said, I would absolutely recommend this to readers as young as thirteen or fourteen, girls especially. More so, though, I think adult readers who want to look back at their teen years and have the fictional experience of meeting their parents as young adults would really enjoy this.

“The book was edited well. It’s written in third-person past tense, but a large chunk of the narration is put into Caitlin’s direct first-person thoughts. While there was more of this than I would have liked, it didn’t detract from my overall reading experience. It is with great pleasure that I award Time Changes Everything 4 out of 4 stars. My specific reader recommendations are outlined above, but I encourage everyone to give this book a try. Not on board yet? In Caitlin’s English class, the teacher asks what the main themes of Romeo and Juliet are, to which one kid replies “Uh, if you love something too much, you die?” There’s an example of the humor accompanying all the deep emotions. If that doesn’t convince you this book is the real deal, I don’t know what will.”

desantismt17 –

Starman: A Fitting Conclusion

Starman by Sara Douglass is Book 3 of The Wayfarer Redemption. The story continues as Azhure and Faraday both continue to understand their new powers and their roles. The Starman Axis has made gains but must still defeat his remaining half-brother, regain the lad of Tencendor, and return the lost lands to the beings once known as the Forbidden.

Douglass has not missed a step in the continuation of this saga. Indeed, the characters continue to grow, and although one enemy might be defeated, another will crop up, increasing the tension. It is a fun run to follow the protagonists in fulfilling their prophesized destinies while coming to grips with personal issues that may not work out as they would wish.

This conclusion of the Starman story will not leave you wanting. Make sure you read it.

To Ride Pegasus: A Psionic Adventure

I know Anne McCaffrey mostly from The Dragonriders of Pern series, so when I spotted a book of hers at a yard sale, I snatched it up. What I found was a book called To Ride Pegasus, and while it sounds like it might be another fantasy novel, it’s something much different – a science fiction book about people with psionic abilities, people known as Talents. 

To Ride Pegasus is written in four sections, and although it is a continuing story, each could really stand alone. The only exception is the first section, entitled “To Ride Pegasus,” like the entire book. It is the origin story, which is necessary to understand the rest.

A machine developed for a different purpose is found to be able to track psionic abilities, and one man, Henry Darrow, makes it his mission to gather these people together, use their powers for good, and protect their civil rights.

The rest of the book details incidents with one or two people who have these powers, how the powers get out of hand, and what the institution founded by Darrow does to help.

I enjoyed this book. It reminds me of much of the classic science fiction written in the 1960s and 1970’s and holds its own. However, having said that, I much prefer McCaffrey’s fantasy. For people who enjoy this book, there are two more to follow: Pegasus in Flight and Pegasus in Space. As for me, I’m going back to Pern.

The Eye of Night: Give It A Look

The Eye of Night by Pauline J. Alama is a fantasy novel about ex-priest Jereth who meets two unusual women and joins them on their quest. Both women are more than they appear, as Jereth discovers during their travels. One appears to be simple and the other soon reveals latent magical powers. Their quest is to deliver an object of magic, the Eye of Night, up north. Neither Jareth nor the reader know the true reason behind this object or why it must go north. What is known is how dangerous the quest is. The North is a place most people are fleeing, not heading towards. Environmental disasters, disease, and ghosts make it a horrible place to be. But the three travelers are determined.

Alama weaves an epic tale of these three travelers who move through the countryside meeting people, some friends, some enemies, trying to achieve their goal. She has a writing style which kept me engaged throughout. I did not want to put it down and often read into the night. Pick it up today.