Saturday, November 28, 2015

Sassy Saturday: Kasile vs the Black Cloaks

Welcome to another week of the Sassy Saturday Blog Hop. Its purpose is to showcase excerpts from our novels about kick-butt heroines. Every Saturday is a new post. If you want to join, the link is here.

This week's post is from Journey to Chaos book 1: A Mage's Power, and it features a new heroine, Princess Kasile of Ataidar. Here she is fighting a group of criminals who crashed the Spring Joust that she was attending. Also a note - Eric is not with her at this time but is observing the event through her due to a plot point that is explained later in the story.

Eric was no longer standing in a pitch-black world, but running through it. Fear flooded his mind and tossed ideas. He looked over his shoulder and saw a pursuing swarm armed with a multitude of weapons. He picked up his skirts and ran faster. Skirts!?

Instead of looking down to check, his eyes searched the darkness in front of him. Pain exploded in his forehead. A hand clasped in a glove and gold bracelet traced the wall. Heart racing, he checked the length of the wall to the right and found more wood. Dashing—and almost tripping on his skirt hem—he checked the far side and found more wood. A dead end, and this made him relieved.

Perfect, I can force a two-on-one fight here . . .

Eric mentally scratched his head. He hadn't thought that.

Though the fog was thick, he could see a crowd two chests across and some heads deep. All of them wore black cloaks with hoods obscuring their faces.

“End of the line, princess,” one of them taunted. Princess? . . . Of course! That man sees Kasile, not me! Next question: why am I seeing and hearing what she is?

“It is indeed,” Kasile said regally. “By the blood of my veins, I charge you with disturbing the peace, reckless endangerment, vandalism, and a misdemeanor in fashion.” She gestured to her dress. “Don't you know? Silver-gold is the new black.”

One of the crowd stepped forward. “Your decrees are no good yet. We know your blood is useless until you come of age.” He pulled a length of rope taut.

 He reached for her arm, but she evaded and generated a claw of light on each finger. Amplified by the surrounding darkness, the flash blinded him. The princess drew the sword from his waist and, swiftly reversing the blade, stabbed his ankle. He yelped and hopped on one leg. Kasile pushed him over. His cohorts howled in laughter.

“Dark Blade, you loser!” they jeered. “You were outmaneuvered by a cheap light spell!”

The rogue called Dark Blade crawled, pathetically, back to the crowd. All the while, he muttered “royal luck” and “fluke.” He's never gonna live this down. Kasile pulled a knot that dropped her layers of formal skirt to reveal a short one. She assumed a fighting stance and beckoned.

 “Come! It's rude to make a lady wait!”

Two more rogues stepped forward, carrying an ax and a stabbing spear. Kasile gritted her teeth and tightened her grip on her new weapon. They moved within reach and she fired a light sphere at their feet. Expecting this, they closed their eyes and advanced. Dark Ax reached out and grabbed a gloved hand. Grinning, she yanked the body closer and grabbed the second wrist.

“No don't! Let me go! AHH!” Kasile shrieked as Dark Ax tied the two wrists together.

“Princess secure, Boss,” Dark Ax said.

Dark Spear's voice finally rose above Kasile's false distress. “You secured me you, moron!”

It was only then that Dark Ax opened her eyes and saw the back of her companion's cloak. The silver of Kasile's dress flashed in the darkness and she reached for it, only to be stuck fast. Her own wrists were tied together and then to Dark Spear's. They struggled uselessly while Kasile laughed. She disabled them and they crawled back.

            Their leader face-palmed. “I'm surrounded by idiots. Clearly we underestimated you, princess.”

The leader was an intimidating figure: tall, broad, and shrouded in a long black cloak. Kasile could smell his power; his bloodlust. She gulped and stood straighter.

“You have!” she said bravely. “Lay down your weapons and you will receive mercy. If I hear even a hint of a 'no,' you will face the Wrath of Fire!”

 The leader strolled forward, pulling off his hood in the process. Suddenly, all she could see were his eyes: big, red, and terrifying. Lances of fear and pain stabbed Eric's mind and soul. The feeling left just as quickly as it came and Eric could again see Kasile's surroundings. She was on her back and screaming hysterically. The leader pulled his hood back and waved his minions forward.

The next Sassy Saturday entry is "Danger of Dark Staff"

The previous Sassy Saturday entry is "Training Dummy"

To learn more about Kasile and A Mage's Power, visit Tvtropes at

A Mage's Power, and the rest of the Journey to Chaos series, are available for purchase at

Brian Wilkerson is a freelance book reviewer, writing advice blogger and independent novelist. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Sassy Saturday: Training Dummy

Welcome to another week of the Sassy Saturday Blog Hop. Its purpose is to showcase excerpts from our novels about kick-butt heroines. Every Saturday is a new post. If you want to join, the link is here.

This week is a day of typical training in the Dragon's Lair Mercenary company.

Eric didn't think he could train all of them; a battle mage, a healer, and a swordgirl, but Basilard was a master of all three arts; just like everyone else in Squad Five. The Senior told them to wait at the Training Hall while he made a stop at the Squad Two Lounge.
The Training Hall was the lowest level of the Guild and the only accessible by a twisting flight of stairs. Eric suspected the designer to be a sadist. Wooden training dummies and weights stacked by degree lay at the borders. Archery targets and big sacks of sand hung from the ceiling. Runes were carved wherever one looked. The Training Hall gave mages and warriors a safe place to practice new abilities. If something went wrong, no one else would get hurt.
Basilard returned with a wooden box. On the front were latches with runes carved into them. He put it on the ground and said, “Nolien, inside this cooler is a dead bird. Your task is to find out why he died and propose a spell that could have saved him. When you're done, we'll practice minor healing.”
Nolien nodded and picked up the box. However, he showed his reluctance in the way he dragged his feet and heaved it to a corner. Eric knew he wanted to work on living subjects-do real healing-but Basilard insisted he practice on dead things. Nolien chaffed at the restraints.
Next, their mentor pointed to a training dummy. It was similar in shape and material to the others, but specialized with runes. They made three circles surrounding Tiza's name.
“Tiza, this training dummy is a special order just for you; you and your limitless energy. The longer you fight it, the harder and faster it's going to hit. If you feel it's too much, just step back and it'll shut down.” Tiza's eyes brightened and Eric sighed. Tiza the Adrenaline Junkie, as he and Nolien called her, would love to fight a dummy that could fight back. “When you're done warming up, we'll spar.” Tiza nodded eagerly. Basilard turned to Eric and waved him toward the targets at the back of the room.
“All right, Eric, today you will learn elemental magecraft.”
“We've been busy, haven't we, Daylra?”
“Yeah, jousts are good for business.”
Eric read all about them at the library. They used to be solely for the nobility's sport and training, but over time, the rules were changed so anyone could participate. More joined and thus more were training. They were so focused on the prize that they didn't notice others making money off their efforts. While a jouster could win such grand prizes as fair lady's hand, tracts of land, or cold hard cash, a jouster's assistant was guaranteed payment regardless if their jouster won or lost.
It was also a good opportunity for horses to show off, or for blacksmiths and artists to show their wares. All these people worked on their craft and didn't have time for things like their laundry. The more Eric read, the more it reminded him of competitions back on Threa; businesses sponsored athletes in exchange for endorsements.
Basilard glanced over at Tiza, who was already having a blast fighting the training dummy. Her stance was firm and she struck with precision. “Jousts are also the biggest gathering of eligible bachelors all year,” he said over the sound of steel hitting wood. “A great opportunity for girls to get a husband.”
Tiza's stance changed and she started hacking. It responded in kind and hit faster, making her speed up and it responded until Tiza had to jump away to catch her breath.
“Anyway.” Basilard fidgeted once. “Let's start your lesson.”

To learn more about Tiza and A Mage's Power, visit Tvtropes at

A Mage's Power, and the rest of the Journey to Chaos series, are available for purchase at

The next Sassy Saturday entry is "Kasile vs the Black Cloaks"

The previous Sassy Saturday entry is "Battle the Cecri"

Brian Wilkerson is a freelance book reviewer, writing advice blogger and independent novelist. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Book Giveaway: Metal Boxes by Alan Black

This week I'm helping out another independent author by the name of Alan Black. This is a giveaway involving copies of his books along with a kindle and a gift card.

Metal Boxes

by Alan Black


Publication Date: September 20, 2013

Publisher: Alan Black

ISBN-13: 9781482774320

Genre: Science Fiction | Adventure | Space Opera

Print Length: 359 pages

Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Coming of age can be hard for anyone. But for Blackmon Perry Stone it is life threatening. At 15, he barely manages to graduate from the empire's cadet training by a talent for unusual problem solving. He has trouble settling into navy life, but life becomes harder when he uncovers a ring of thieves aboard the huge ship. Life becomes difficult when they killed him. Stone is ejected into hyperspace in an escape pod without hyperspace engines. Fully expecting to die, he reconfigures the sub-light engine to escape the inescapable. To his surprise it works, but only well enough to do little more than crash on an uncharted planet. It will surprise him if he can make the engine work again, but not as much as it will surprise everyone else if he can come back from the dead.


Metal Boxes

Trapped Outside

by Alan Black


Series: Metal Boxes - Book 2

Publication Date: August 24, 2015

Publisher: Alan Black

Genre: YA Science Fiction - Space Opera

Print Length: 313 pages

Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble 

The sequel to #1 best selling science fiction novel Metal Boxes. Blackmon Perry Stone hasn't gotten over his fear of being outside and he still hasn't settled into life in the Empire's Navy. After months of legal wrangling over his last assignment, he has been given a new assignment. He was looking forward to getting an new posting on a spaceship or a station. The problem is that his new job is on a planet. Worse, once there, the base is overrun by the enemy aliens and now Stone is trapped outside on a hostile planet, injured, and hunted by aliens bent of killing him.


What IS a Metal Box?
Here is the official definition gleaned from the words of Alan Black, himself
Metal Boxes: space stations, space ships, and intersystem freighters

WHY are they so important to these stories?

Blackmon Perry Stone never stepped into open air until after his twelfth birthday. His agoraphobia is rampant and ceilings are a must. When he joins the space navy he expected to spend his time inside navy ships. When he finds out he has to spend time outside of the metal boxes he is used to, he has more problems than just the people trying to kill him. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Alan Black is a multi-genre author who writes for young adults on up.

He's never met a good story he didn't want to tell.

I have been writing novels since 1997 when I started ‘Eye on The Prize’. My writing tastes are as eclectic as my reading preferences. I admit that I love writing much more than editing and the whole publishing process. Marketing of my novels leaves me as baffled as the whole string theory thing.

I was born in central Kansas, but grew up in Gladstone, Missouri, graduating from Oak Park Senior High School and eventually earning a degree from Longview Community College. I spent most of my adult life in the Kansas City area (with the exception of a few years in the U.S. Air Force), but my wife and I now live in sunny Arizona. The dry desert air stimulates my creativity more than the juicy air in Missouri (pronounced here as ‘misery’).

I am pretty sure my desire to write started in the second grade. I was given an assignment to write a short story about Greek mythology. My teacher took the time to call my parents. Although neither Dad or Mom remember the incident, it had an impact on me eventually leading me to finally write (and most importantly finish) my first manuscript. It took two years to complete ‘Eye on The Prize’. I have gotten faster since then, completing the last manuscript in three weeks.


One thing Alan LOVES to do is Connect with Readers Online and at Book Signings! Check his website for upcoming events ~ Chat him up at any of his links!



"What we think in our hearts is the very essence of who we are and what we will become."

Grand Prize – Kindle Fire 7" Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB, Black

First Prize - $25.00 Amazon Gift Card

Second Prize (US Only) – An autographed copy of ANY of my books

Third Prize (US Only) -  Autographed copy of Metal Boxes & Metal Boxes Trapped Outside

MORE books by Alan Black  



Chasing Harpo, Eye on the Prize, Other Times & Other Worlds Anthology

Metal Boxes, Metal Boxes - Trapped Outside (Metal Boxes Series)

Empty Space, Titanium Texicans, Chewing Rocks, Steel Walls and Dirt Drops,

The Friendship Stones, The Granite Heart, The Heaviest Rock and The Inconvenient Pebble, Jasper's Courage (An Ozark Mountain Series)

A Cold Winter


How to Start, Write, and Finish Your First Novel


Fourth Prize (two winners)(Intl) – E-version of any of my books.



Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sassy Saturday: Battle the Cecri!

Welcome to another week of the Sassy Saturday Blog Hop. Its purpose is to showcase excerpts from our novels about kick-butt heroines. Every Saturday is a new post. If you want to join, the link is here.

This week is Team Four's first live battle


Tiza spun to the sound, eyes bright with excitement. “What was that?!”

“That would be your monster,” Nolien said dryly.

A bird much bigger than the kind they had been messing with the past two days stalked the trees. Eric remembered it from his studies. It was called a “Cecri,” and the book warned its reader to hide as soon as they saw one. So this is why they hire mercenaries to collect poop.

Cecri stood on two legs and dwarfed Threan cars. Its feet were long talons, but it was the sharp beak that caught Eric's attention. These natural blades were so strong and finely honed that they were used as weapons in Tariatla's antiquity. Cecri were dangerous carnivores and this one spotted them.

“We should get the sergeant!” Nolien said. “We can't handle something like this.”

“Are you kidding?” Tiza asked. Her sword and shield were already drawn. “This is what I've been waiting for!”

“But—” Nolien protested.

“Too late!” Tiza shouted happily. “Here it comes!”

 Nolien groaned and reached for his staff. Eric pulled out his own, despite how much his hands shook. He was determined not to freeze and let his teammates do the fighting for him. The battle mage took a deep breath and prepared the barrier Tiza would need.

Tiza meet the huge monster's charge head on. With a yell, she slashed its stomach, but was parried by its talons. The beak came down on her and a screen of solid light intercepted it. Eric grimaced at the impact and fell to his knees; his barrier dimpled and broke. Nolien's, however, gave Tiza enough time to plunge her sword in the monster's leg. It reared in pain and tried to rake her with its other leg, but Tiza dodged and stabbed that one too. The Cecri squawked in pain and fell backwards.

Tiza lunged to finish it off, but the Cecri spat gooey liquid at her. Caught off guard, she took it full in the face and screamed in surprise. While she furiously rubbed the gunk out of her eyes, the monster stood on its injured legs and struck with both beak and talon. Nolien blocked the beak, but Eric failed to stop the talon. It tore through his wall and struck her shield, lifting her off the ground and throwing her across the clearing. Her head collided with a tree and she went limp.

“Eric!” Nolien yelled as he ran. “Keep that thing busy!”

 I have to fight this thing . . . alone!? Eric shook his head and steadied himself. He pointed his staff at the monster and concentrated. By channeling his mana through his staff, he could create a bolt far stronger than any he threw at Laharg. With a mental yell, he released the gathered energy at the monster.

 The Cecri was knocked off balance and squawked in confusion. It turned from the fallen Tiza and towards the new irritant. Nolien used the distraction to chant a healing spell. Eric fired another bolt and sent its head reeling. Feeling confident, he met the monster's eyes.

 Cold fear hit him like a tidal wave. He froze. Couldn't move, couldn't think; helpless. Forced to watch that murderous beak come slashing down—

--and clang on a barrier. Eric blinked and the fear was gone. A sigh of relief shook his frame and his legs gave out. Nolien's staff glowed faintly as he channeled his power through it. Tiza sat next to him, shaking her head. The monster continued to peck and slash the barrier, squawking in confusion when it couldn't reach its prey. The screen of light cracked under the pressure.

Tiza jumped on the monster's back and stabbed it. The Cecri let out a piercing shriek and all three dropped their weapons to cover their ears. The monster shook Tiza off its back and she dropped to the mud. It harpooned her. She rolled aside.

 Eric looked for his staff, but to his dismay, he saw three. The bird's shriek scrambled his mind. The Cecri stepped on Tiza's stomach to hold her in place. Eric lunged for a staff and grabbed air. In horror, he looked to the monster in time to see it strike.

“To protect this friend of mine, make that monster blind! Dark Eye!” Darkness shot from Nolien's staff and covered the monster's face. It stopped an inch from Tiza's neck and squawked in confusion. Tiza was again forgotten in favor of its lost sight. Tiza wiggled from under its talon and scurried to her feet. Is that how spells work? Eric retrieved his staff and improvised a spell.

“From its toe to its head make that monster dead! Death Spell!”

Nothing happened except the monster heard him and darted in his direction. A mana bolt knocked it off balance. It ran toward Nolien and he ran to a new hiding place.




To learn more about Tiza and A Mage's Power, visit Tvtropes at

A Mage's Power, and the rest of the Journey to Chaos series, are available for purchase at

Click here to read the next Sassy Saturday: Training Dummy

Click here to read the previous Sassy Saturday: Tiza's First Mission

Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Answering Review Request, "The Black, The White, and the Grinning Grey"

Jessica Reeves asked me to read her novel, "The Black, The White, and the Grinning Grey". It's about this girl who tumbles into a world of magi, and in doing so, sets in motion a prophecy that could lead to their arch enemy taking over. I will examine plot, character and polish, and then assign a grade.


The opening to the story is vivid. It is dank, it is smelly, it is painful; in other words, an exemplary case of the merits of Show, Don't Tell, because it establishes the leading lady's state of mind in a way that no amount of talking about it ever could.

After this great opening, the plot that unfolds is basically an Apocalypse Maiden thing. A prophecy (called here a "prediction") says that this girl from another world will lead to the end of their world by assisting the Big Bad's rise to power. The first part of the plot is confirming whether or not this girl is the real deal.

There's a lot of interesting world building in this story. It has some basic building blocks that I am familiar with but on a whole is not quite something I have encountered before.
--->For instance, the "white, grey and black" are not social markers. They are magical markers. The colors of a mage's robe will change by itself during their initiation, and by other factors throughout their life until they die.  All apprentices wear brown robes, and during their graduation, the robe will change from solid brown to any color on a gradient of white-grey-black. The qualities of the white are basically Lawful and black is Chaotic; it's not "good" and "evil". There's a fascinating discussion between two mages about the distinction between "black magic" and "dark magic"; the latter of which can used by any color, including the white.
--->The system of magic appears to be a mix of elemental and emotional. That is, practitioners are better called "magical empaths" or "magical psychics" then the standard robe and wand wizard. I would have liked to see more details about that, and Medlar was in training for this sort of thing at one point but plot happened.

The plot is one of the two major disappointments of this book. It's not bad in the first half where Eleusis is investigating Medlar's past. That part makes sense and follows a good progression. Also, Callac's increasing exposure to the unique supernatural nature of Medlar contributes to the other half of the investigation coin. It's the second half that is really disappointing.
-->Callac's turning of the tide against the Crow in a battle that she's already won feels more plot device-y than awesome. The Heroic RROD afterward mitigates this but it's startling how unprepared the mages could be against someone who has been acknowledged as a dire threat for a long time. Also, if she's as powerful as all that, why does she need the help offered in "The Prediction?"
-->The way Medlar remains undetected for so long is also puzzling. All the magic college is searching for her and she evades them by hiding out on their roof. Did Eleusis' grandfather train her in magic and then seal those memories? I don't understand why there was such a delay. Did Medlar have to put up a certain amount of "pain energy" or something before returning?
--> The resolution at the climax feels like an Ass Pull, and again it is because of Medlar's inexplicably greater ability and the professional's inexplicable incompetence.
--> The real Medlar, the one that Medlar (Hazel) was pretending to be, is not explained well. The narration says "The real Medlar " and she starts talking with the two male leads as if they didn't realize this, or didn't know. Then she doesn't appear again. She feels like a plot device for providing a twist and exposition.

In a nutshell, the second half feels sparse.

Finally, there are some plot threads about the magic college and ruling council politics. Class tensions and political corruption; that sort of thing. They feel like hold overs from a previous draft because they're mentioned and then they disappear. They are briefly alluded to in a indirect fashion at the end when everyone takes off their robes and celebrates but that's it.


Medlar is set up well and develops well. Starting off she's like this frightened kitten and gradually connects to her new friends and new world. She's has a mischievous streak when not in an Iron Woobie mode. Then she disappears for much of the later half of the narrative and her characterization goes with it.

Eleusis is this stoic logic guy. He's kind of like Spock from Star Trek, if Spock were a magic user instead of a scientist. Watching his internal struggles was interesting because it was well crafted.

Callac doesn't have much to him. He's a nice guy but that's about it. He's in the middle of the spectrum of white-black.

Kephal makes a good contrast with Eleusis because she is more of a Chaotic Good to his Lawful Good. She makes a big impression for such a small role.

The Crowe, the Big Bad,  has little characterization. There's some Vain Sorceress in her background and hints of a Fallen Heroine past but that's it. She is not described physically in the book, which I feel is a cop out. Callac can't have an epic battle against a big blank. "Beyond madness" and a few details about her face is all the reader gets. This is a big weakness in the book because The Crowe is the lynch pin of the entire plot. There's so little to her that the plot itself is diminished.


This is the worst of the three. There are problems with formatting, problems with spelling, problems with grammar. Numerous times there are missing words. There are more pages with these problems then there pages that do not have these problems.
Additionally, there many areas that feel rough or incomplete. Characterizations is sparse for all but a few characters, and those too feel it in the second half. There are many plot holes and many elements that don't feel fully established. There is a chapter that is only a paragraph long. All together, it reminds me of a first draft.

I imagine this book would be fantastic if it was fleshed out more and came to the attention of a proofreader. As it is, it is not.

Trickster Eric Novels gives "The Black, The White and the Grinning Grey" a D+

This has been a free review request. I received nothing in exchange except a free copy of the book.

Click here for the next review request: Alpha Hunter - Neurian Scriptures Book 1

Click here to read the previous review request: Hungry as a Wolf

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Sassy Saturday: Tiza's First Mission

This here is another excerpt from Journey to Chaos book 1: A Mage's Power. Team Four has been assigned a mission to collect bird poop as a medical ingredient. Tiza demonstrates her boundless energy.
 “You two will never finish that way,” their mentor drawled. “Your teammate has the right idea.”

He marked his place, got up, and showed them.

Their teammate was bent over a bird nest and steadily scooping poop. She had the resident bird pinned with one hand and shoveled its waste with the other. Two levels of shit stirring created an awful cloud of stink. The boys held their noses, but Tiza worked unbothered. She already had one bottle filled. Basilard pointed to a nest with snapping little birds in it. Nolien looked from the nest to his sergeant in confusion and snobbery.

“You want me to stick my hand in there!?” Basilard nodded. “That's crazy!”

“It's part of the mission,” Basilard said. He held Nolien's gaze until the healer knelt down and reached into the nest.


“Is there blood?” Basilard asked, pulling his book back out.

“No . . .”

“Then there's no problem,” Basilard said as he sat down.

“How come we don't get gloves for this?” Nolien complained. “Or shovels or nose plugs?”

“I bought these gloves myself,” Basilard said without looking up. “About the other two: the Guild subsidizes your room, board, equipment, and the supplies for their upkeep. You want specialized accessories too?” Nolien went back to collecting poop and cuts in silence.

Eric winced in sympathetic pain before glancing down at his own nest. The birds were sleeping. With any luck, he could reach in and grab the poop without waking them. If he had that kind of luck, he wouldn't be here in the first place. Just as he touched the poop, his hand brushed one of the birds. It awoke with a start. He screamed and furiously shook his hand, but it squeezed tighter.

“You're too timid!” Tiza grabbed the bird and pried its beak open. Eric sucked his thumb as Tiza returned the bird to its nest. “Pin with one hand, scoop with the other.” After pouring the poop into Eric's bottle, she shoved it into his chest. “Got it, Dimwit?” He nodded meekly. Tiza sighed in annoyance before going back to her own nest.

Nolien yelled as another bird bit him. “Having some problems, Tenderfoot?”

“Just razor beaks, milady,” Nolien called back. Tiza threw a glob of poop at him. He dodged.

“Nice to see the team bonding so soon,” Basilard muttered as he turned a page.

It was slow going, but with Tiza's method, Eric's bottles filled little by little. He gagged at both the touch and smell, but it was progress. Nolien didn't watch Tiza's demonstration so all he accomplished was angering the birds.

The team had arrived at midmorning and it was now early afternoon. Eric was tired, hungry, and somewhat nauseous. There was a reason Basilard told them not to eat breakfast. Tiza, on the other hand, worked steadily: pin, scoop, dump, repeat. Where does that girl get her energy?

“Wow, I didn't think any of you would finish this quickly,” Basilard said.

“It was nothing,” Tiza said with a falsely modest wave. “The boys are just squeamish. I thought only tents were like that.” Eric thought he saw Nolien twitch, but it could have been a bird pooping on him. “Not me! I can do anything!”

“Well then . . .” Basilard finally put his book away. “You should have energy left for training.”

“Bring it on!”

 Eric stared in amazement. Wherever she gets all that energy, I want it. He settled for lunch—right after he washed his hands.


Click here for the next Sassy Saturday post: Battle the Cecri!

Click here for the previous Sassy Saturday post: Meet Tiza Sprial

To learn more about Tiza and A Mage's Power, visit Tvtropes at

A Mage's Power, and its sequel, Looming Shadow, are available for purchase at

Brian Wilkerson is a freelance book reviewer, writing advice blogger and independent novelist. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Answering Review Request: Hungry as a Wolf

Elizabeth Einspanier requested that I read and review her weird (i.e. fantasy/horror) western story "Hungry as a Wolf". I have already reviewed the previous book, "Sheep's Clothing" and rated it highly. You can read that review here. I will assign plot, character and polish, and then assign a grade.


This book is written from the 3rd person perspective. This is a change from the first book, which was 1st person, and so provides a different reading experience. I like them both but this method is my preference.

Here, Crowie Wolf has been hired by the owner of a mine to investigate the disappearance of the staff in the mine and whether or not it is connected to the mysterious disease that has come to the town. He is joined by locals like the sheriff and (unwillingly) by his employer's daughter.

I would liken this book to a mystery because it starts with Wolf investigating. He learns about the mine from letters sent by the people working there, he talks to the locals about the deaths, and then uses his extensive knowledge of the human and supernatural to create a working explanation of the problem.

I like the continuity nods. Wolf's sidekick from the previous book, Dr. Nathaniel Meadows, is mentioned by him and others a couple times, and Wolf's new demon horse used to belong to the villain of "Sheep's Clothing".

The romantic subplot feels just a little off to me because of how it starts. It's a Naked First Impression, which is typically a comedy or lighthearted story thing. This story is neither comedic nor lighthearted. Wolf's thoughts immediately afterward are unusually genre aware. This tiny genre shift is jarring. The rest is better.

I'd say the climax falls a little flat but only because the previous event overshadows it. That particular event feels more climactic and holds more plot threads, so the climax itself feels more like tying up loose ends.

The ending is good. It resolves the main conflict while segueing into new adventures and a new conflict. It's like a shifting of weight. It's a deft handling of plot threads.


This book does much to expand on Wolf's personality. "Sheep's Clothing", being a first person narrative by someone else, presented him as this grizzled and stoic frontier hunter. Here we see more sides of him, such as the true extent of his sorrow from the loss of his first love and also his social awkwardness. I wouldn't have called him "adorkable" in the first book, but here? Definitely.

Susannah is Wolf's love interest in this story. On Tvtropes, we would call her a Spirited Young Lady. Generally well bred and well mannered but also possessing a good deal of attitude and adventurous spirit. She joins the team of heroes by eavesdropping and hiding herself in their supplies. She does this to find her brother, who worked at the mine; an admirable trait. She also knows her way around a gun, and can stay as calm as any civilian would in a shoot out with zombies.

The villain of this piece makes few appearances. The first half of the book's plot is driven by the mystery and its conflict is split between Wolf's personal problems and a jerkass named MacReady who is prejudiced against Wolf for being half Native American. When Wolf encounters the villain of this piece, it plays out in a As Long As There Is Evil sort of way that reflects the troubled relationship between the Native Americans and the Europeans of the time.


It looks good.I didn't see any problems with spelling or grammar. I'm impressed with anyone who gives their characters dialects and make it consistent.

Trickster Eric Novels gives "Hungry as a Wolf" a B+

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