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Book Reviews

Review: Ten Years of Darkness by Kristen M. Chambers and Viktor H. Strangewayes

Color palette here is carefully selected with a feather radiating magic. Nicely done cover.

SDMcKinley.com completed this review via a free copy in cooperation with StoryTellers on Tour and the author’s blog tour.

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Westveil Publishing
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S.D. McKinley
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FEBRUARY 9TH – THE ENCORE
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For more about this tour visit Storytellers On Tour.

Blurb:

A darkly humorous mash-up of time travel and dark fantasy, in which our heroes discover there is more to our history than we’ve been led to believe. Discover a world of demons and dark Magic, of ancient civilizations and unexpected alliances, hiding just out of plain sight…

A demonic plague carried by time-traveling bats, a dripping mechanical construct from ages past, and a talking quill which gleans the truth from a person’s blood. A few months ago, that would have been enough to make Kristen question her sanity, but after everything she’s seen, they seem pretty par for the course.

After a brief encounter with a mysterious stranger leaves Kristen with an unusual Magical artifact, she begins to realize there is far more to our world than she’s been told, and the very future of humanity may just rest in her hands. Joining forces with some rather unlikely allies – a nervous neighbor whose dreams of Magic are quickly turning into his nightmare; a diminutive yet feisty Lumynar, who may be the last of her kind; and a wisecracking demon who happens to share the moniker of a fictional spy – Kristen sets out on the journey she had always dreamed of, but may not be prepared for.

With potential horrors looming on the horizon, access to Magical resources obstructed by powerful forces, and more questions arising with each encounter, our heroes must band together and fight for their world and the fate of humanity. But for every question answered, many still linger: Have they chosen to support the right factions? Are their goals worth more than those they are fighting against? And worst of all, have they gone through this entire process before?

From the group who founded the Vaal’bara Historical Society, Ten Years of Darkness is a prequel which can be read before Volume One or after Volume Five. The prequel takes place in an unsettling time before many events transpired, yet is simultaneously affected by their outcome, following characters both new and familiar, and bringing as yet untold details to light while also exploring others from a unique perspective. Those seeking to learn the true mission of the Society may very well choose to start here, while other readers who have already traveled the timeways at our heroes’ side will find many clues to further their journey as they look toward the future.


Ten Years of Darkness presents originality in form with handy visual-graphic hints at progressions in story line with visual clues as to what kind of scene transformation is taking place such as time transformation, portal, written document or vision. This element works well and added value.

In regards to further specifications on format, each chapter is professionally titled and paragraphs are separated by a double-carriage return, being non-indented in the print book and indented in the eBook format. While I didn’t mind the double spaced paragraphs in the print book, the indention and spaced paragraphs did bother me slightly in the eBook as a violation of too-much-wasted-white-space. Albeit the former were small offenses in my vouch for criticism regarding form in writing. All things matter.

Unfortunately, most events or thoughts in the book come in quick passing. It’s fast paced adventure through space and time with magical elements of time crystals, talking quills and a transformational, riddle giving knife. In my readings, I found it difficult to decipher what was important in the book and what wasn’t, being there not much accentuation toward important things and non-important things. Although, with all these details spinning at me I still found escape into a meta-world where things are surreal and interesting in a way that we do not find in our present reality, which was great in seeking escapism and food-for-thought. The writing itself, on a small scale was executed well with little-to-no typos or sloppiness in regards to grammar and punctuation.

“May the quill prove mightier than the blade.”

Page 101, Ten Years of Darkness

I have mentioned before that what I look for most in a book is complete immersion, being enveloped in a proverbial wrap of feeling, giving me emotion ( whether good or bad ) and instilling a sense of complete atmosphere which I found mostly lacking in this book. This is why I believe that happened: there’s not much further explained and proves to be too verbose with not much poetic nature and the writing seems cut short both in character elements and setting when thoughts, actions and setting could be appropriately, even slightly expanded upon to give us a little more background and feeling about what is happening and most importantly: why . . . in order to give my imagination some taste. It could use a good rambling re-cap in spots to tie everything up nicely. This begs the argument against imagination vs too much information, but what I am seeking here is just a little more in regards to setting, character and thoughts to feed that imaginative construct in my mind. It seems that this book might be a product of all the advice online about writing and that presents dangers in itself of lacking soul and individuality that is needed to encompass a complete personal thought as paragraph and a complete feeling as form and book. I feel as if I know nothing about these authors through their writings – neither good or bad in itself.

Now the flip side of this is we are given plenty of room to appreciate the premise of the book being that reality is more than meets the eye, exploring the concept of worlds interacting with our own in ways we cannot presently understand. Then, we are presented an option to decipher importance of specifics on our own – as a feat of imagination and grasp for something more than simply what is presented in front of our face, in the writings. I absolutely loved those magical touches including naming demons after elusive cartoon characters that I personally grew up with via media, thus inciting a correlation previously not thought about, ending in personal amusement.

Recommendation:

Ten Years of Darkness presents originality in form and function, while delivering fun themes surrounding time and magic with comedic characters and mischievous events; even not normally animate characters such as knives and quills that interact with the fictional world. But, it lacks depth in regards to the reader deciphering what is important in the story and what isn’t with little-to-no back tracing or reasoning to why things happen or even thoughts. However, I would imagine telling a story that resides outside reality, but delves into meta-reality, might present the same exact problems because it would lie outside common reasoning. Ten Years of Darkness – definitely worth the read @ ★★★☆☆ three stars out of five.

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

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USA Giveway: Ten Years of Darkness by Kristen M. Chambers and Viktor H. Strangewayes

To be honest and not for any other reason than just because I don’t want to, I won’t be doing any more blog tours after this one, at least not for a long while. This is a USA only giveaway for the hard back hand-out. Be on the look-out for my review of this book, coming Feb. 8th, here in just six days.

Tally-ho.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here is a direct link to the Ten Years of Darkness giveaway ( seems the embed code is having some trouble ).

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

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Memories On Art Opinion Resources

Bookshelf #1 and Beef with Potatoes

Welcome to the post for Bookshelf #1, where I’ll show you the top row of my book shelf just after some tidying up. Then, later I will continue onto the next shelf. There’s several different places to store the books, here, there, everywhere. Things make it onto the bookshelf, of course that aren’t books. 🙂 This is something of a natural order.

Speaking of natural: You ever try to eat a raw potato? It might make sense, right? You can get a whole sack of potatoes for five dollars and then your hunger is raging for nice, nutritious treat to fill your stomach, but then, it doesn’t agree. Something similar to birch bark. It never does settle.

The potato shall be cooked. It is written.

Instead, I’m vouching for some Pepperidge Farm toast with butter and year old Christmas jelly that settles greatly:

It’s a little shaky standing up in the chair, where the tripod won’t reach, something of wariness.
Left Side, continuing to the right . . .
And, the right side.
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Book Reviews

Review: The Long Guest by Jennifer Mugrage

[ Image Source: OutofBabel.com ] This is a fairly well done cover. I’m getting a school or library artwork-type vibe from this, which is great and that yellow lettering on the author name is a excellent choice for color palette.

This review was done as an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Hrm, let’s see . . . what do we look for in books that isn’t mentioned a whole lot? That’s it! You guessed it – immersion. The Long Guest by Mugrage is exactly that. The story immerses you in an environment from long ago, around 10000 B.C. where chaos reigns down from the sky, creating a language barrier to prevent the continuation of building the Tower of Babel. Only 17 pages before the story dropped for me, which came in way under my 100 page threshold mark.

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A.M. Justice’s Woern Saga Prize Bundle

A very special shout-out to the team at Storytellers On Tour, partnered with Rafflecopter and fellow author A.M. Justice for sending out these two great looking prize books. I briefly scanned a review on A Wizard’s Sacrifice: Book Two of the Woern Saga, and coincidently, it seems right up my alley from blurb on the back:

Victoria of Ourtown believes two things: that the bright, wandering star in the heavens is an abandoned spacecraft which brought her ancestors to this world and that destiny and the will of gods are nonsense. Vic used to scoff at stories of wizards too, until she acquired their powers. Once a warrior, now a secret wizard, she just wants to live an ordinary life and find a way to atone for the mistakes she’s made.

Ashel of Narath knows that the wandering star is the god who created humanity, but this difference of opinion doesn’t stop him from loving Vic. All that keeps them apart is a thousand miles and a tragic loss.

Lornk Korng needs Vic and Ashel to execute his plans for conquest. The fact both want him dead is but a trifling snag in his schemes. A bigger problem are the world’s indigenous aliens and an ancient enemy whose victory could wipe out humankind.

As plots and counterplots clash across time, Vic and Ashel must choose their allies carefully, or risk losing not only each other but everything they know.

A gripping tale of wizardry, warfare, and moral dilemmas unspools in a breathtaking blend of fantasy and science fiction.

[ Source: GoodReads.com ]

I’m focusing on book number two, instead of book one of the series, as book two, A Wizard’s Sacrifice was just released this month ( November, 2020 ) and could use a little more attention. I can tell you as first thoughts from the prologue, this story kicks right off with some gritty, bloody action and there is an onslaught going on. Perfect first impressions. Let’s see if it holds up? 🤔

Guys, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley

Categories
Book Reviews

Review: Darke Awakening by Lee Hall

Soft edges, again we have a form of bokeh with the snow flakes and that hand along with these forest elements makes for a great cover that rivals really anything I have seen. The finish on the paperback is a glossy one which I didn’t favor as well as matte.

I read the first book in this series titled Open Evening and I can tell you that this writer ( Hall ) has evolved. Toward the beginning of the book, with the rocks and the lake, it reminded me of lofty, floaty feelings I got when reading Storm Constantine’s The Ghosts of Blood and Innocence and while Constantine holds that feeling through her whole book, Hall deviates and moves onto other atmospheric feelings of epic battle scenes and neat accentuation such as secret labs, government agents, supernatural puzzles with pentagrams and a conundrum of imbalance that a slew of different kinds of monsters can bring that includes vampires, witches and other abominations along with vampiric transformations.

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Nov. 2020 Book Haul

October is almost over and the horror reading will be winding itself down, here shortly. It was a great month for reading and writing, but it will be a nice change of pace because now I have several cobwebs growing in my brain. I didn’t quite read everything I meant to with Corpsepaint by David Peak and Wytches Vol. 1 by Scott Snyder sadly taking a bench seat on the Halloween 2020 reading list.

Remember, kids. The horror reads you. You don’t read the horror.

But, pay no mind, because November is practically here and we will have a wide variety of things to read. These books listed here are all paperback book haul here in November. Don’t even ask me about my eBook Haul. 🤣

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Book Reviews On Art Other Reviews

Review: The Crow: Midnight Legends Vol. 1: Dead Time

After a ten-year hiatus, James O’Barr returned to The Crow with Dead Time, a story he envisioned as a new Crow film. A tale of grief, reincarnation, and long-sought vengeance, Dead Time is adapted by John Wagner and illustrated by Alexander Maleev. ( Extracted from Amazon )

Let me start this off by stating I absolutely love The Crow. Ever since I saw the film, it forever changed the way I knew a movie could be and is undoubtably my favorite movie of all time. I recently purchased it on Blu-ray and watched the special feature interview with James O’Barr, the creator of the original comic book. I found the interview quite interesting. You may view it below:

Before I read this digitally, on Kindle Unlimited I was largely unfamiliar with James O’Barr’s work ( other than how it is portrayed in the movie ), but this time O’Barr is only writing the story and leaves the script to John Wagner, the art to Alexander Maleev and the lettering to Dan Burr.

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Book Reviews

Review: The Sandman Overture Deluxe Edition

Wow. That is all.

Summary:

“#1 NEW YORK TIMES Bestseller and winner of the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story!

Twenty-five years since THE SANDMAN first changed the landscape of modern comics, Neil Gaiman’s legendary series is back in a deluxe edition!

THE SANDMAN: OVERTURE heralds NEW YORK TIMES best-selling writer Neil Gaiman’s return to the art form that made him famous, ably abetted by artistic luminary J.H. Williams III (BATWOMAN, PROMETHEA), whose lush, widescreen images provide an epic scope to the Sandman’s origin story. From the birth of a galaxy to the moment that Morpheus is captured, THE SANDMAN: OVERTURE will feature cameo appearances by fan-favorite characters such as the Corinthian, Merv Pumpkinhead and, of course, the Dream King’s siblings: Death, Desire, Despair, Delirium, Destruction and Destiny.”

( Extracted from Amazon )

Evaluation:

In it’s first release in 25 years, The Sandman: Overture feeds a story in lofty dream spaces of the universe starring a character named Dream. Philosophy is sometimes mixed with how this story unfolds and setting warps these common variables in time and space. This story is the prequel to the comics that started release in the late 80s that redefined comics and this book does the same; is sometimes lucid other times not so much and in effect, creates the atmosphere, breaking the bounds of what we are used to in normal life, but still often we can relate. It is beauty in less context while giving curious wonders at the same time:

WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS IN THE FORM OF PICTURES
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Book Reviews

Review: The Dark Tower II: The Drawing Of The Three by Stephen King

This cover, on the paperback version of the book is well put together. We have another photoshop type collage image, but is certainly convincing. I like the wider format, although the dimensions of this book are a bit odd: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.38 inches.

Summary:

Evaluation:

So far I have a couple of other Stephen King reviews here ( really just one, because the other is a graphic novel adaptation with other artists ) on SDMcKinley.com that aren’t so great. 🙄 Well that’s okay. Let’s go ahead and even that out here with The Drawing of the Three as this is one of my favorite books I have ever read.