Saturday, May 21, 2016

Saturday's Series Spotlight: Land of Mystica by Michelle Murray

Series: Land of Mystica #1-3
Author: Michelle Murray
Genre: Young Adult, Middle Grade Fantasy

The Dream Walker #1
Miranda is having vivid dreams of a world she's never been to. A world full of castles, Forests, Ice Caves, and Dragons. She goes to a bookstore to see about these dreams, and discovers she is a Dream Walker. She has been called to save this mystical, magical world. On Mystica, the evil wizard Midnight has been released. Midnight is gathering an army, and preparing for war. Miranda needs to find and release the white wizard Lightning from his stone prison to save Mystica. Follow Miranda as she travels through Mystica. Can she find and release Lightning and save Mystica?

The Dream Walker Returns #2
The Darkness has waited a long time to return to Mystica. Now, with the help of the wizard Shadow it has found a way back into the land. It will stop at nothing and no one to darken all of Mystica. Miranda is called to Mystica to help fight the Darkness. Her friend Brian follows. Does he mean to help or hinder her? Can Miranda stop the Darkness and save Mystica, and if so at what cost?

Dream Walkers Destiny #3
The last dark wizard Spyder has been freed from his stone prison. His one quest is to find the last white wizard's stone. Spyder recruits the pirates from Dead Man's Island to help him. With the magic out of balance of Mystica, the land starts to rumble and shake. Tremors are felt throughout the land. Miranda is called back to set things right. Miranda and her companions travel to the Lost Islands to find the same stone. The Pirates are not far behind. It is a race to see who will find Polaris first. Miranda needs to bring both wizards safely back to Mystica before the Red Mountain spews its lava. Danger awaits her at every turn. The fate of Mystica rests in Miranda and her dreams.

The Dream Walker #1
Once there were six wizards who lived upon Mystica. Three of these wizards wore white robes and worshipped the Goddess of the Sun. Lightning was the oldest and strongest white wizard. Wrinkles lined his face. His bones showed through his skin, making him look frail. Silver lightning streaks decorated his robe. White hair laid atop of his head. Blue eyes peered through his wrinkled face. He often carried lightning streaks in his hands, ready to strike at any minute. He traveled through Mystica in cloud or smoke form, keeping the dark wizards in check and the magic of Mystica in balance. When he wasn’t wondering the land, he slept in the clouds. If there were no clouds, he made them with his magic. Lightning was followed by Silver. Silver was the middle white wizard. His skin sparkled like his namesake. Silver trim highlighted the hem and cuffs of his robe. Silver streaks ran through his white hair. He made his home in the dwarf mines when not battling the dark wizards. If the dwarf mines were not available, he would find a location that had minerals or stones embedded in the rocks. The youngest of the white wizards was Polaris. His skin was etched with the stars on it, almost like tattoos. The shape of the bear constellation with his namesake in it was stitched in gold and silver on his robe. It shone at night, twinkling in and out just like the stars. He slept in the open, preferring to see the star he was named after and daydream. Building things out of the land occupied his time when he wasn’t battling the dark wizards. Though, the dark wizards often destroyed his creations for fun.

The dark wizards wore black robes and worshipped the God of the Night. They liked to cause trouble and havoc, which the white wizards often had to fix. They would cause fights among the people of Mystica by playing tricks on them. Farm crops would be stolen. Horses and cows would be released from their pens. Fires would be started in villages and towns. They would do this tricks in the dark of night, and the people would blame each other. If the white wizards caught them, they would fix the tricks before anyone woke up and no one was the wiser. Fires were put out. Horses and cattle were returned. Farm crops would be replaced. It was often a game of cat and mouse. The wizards chasing each other across Mystica.

The oldest and strongest of the dark wizards was Midnight. He often caused the most trouble. He especially liked seeing and hearing the screams and terrors of the villagers. Midnight’s skin was dark like his name and sky at midnight. His eyes were an icy grey. Pictures of galaxies and clouds embellish his black robe, like you were looking at the night sky. Lightning and Midnight often had grand duels of magic being the two strongest wizards which often ended in a duel.

After Lightning and Midnight, Shadow, the middle dark wizard, had a special unique magic. Shadow could create and control shadows. He had a special robe that was embodied with grey shadows that danced around it, and moved with it. Tufts of shadow were entwined in his black hair. He used this magic to frighten people and animals. It took all light and hope away, and replaced it with fear, hate, and anger. It made for fun games to play on the people of Mytica. When not playing games with his shadows, Shadow had an inquisitive nature and liked to find out the “why” of things. The other wizards made fun of him for this, so he often hid his quests of finding out answers from them.

The last of the dark wizards was Spyder. Spyder was the youngest dark wizard. He was tall and skinny with long arms and legs, like a spider. His hair looked more like a spider web than hair. His skin resembled the coloring of a black widow, black with red streaks. Spiders crawled all over his robe, and in his hair and beard. They were his constant companions. His eyes were white with spiders on the irises. As the youngest, he was often ignored. This made him yearn for attention, and he would do anything to get it.

One of the wizards of the black robes grew weary of the constant battles with the white wizards. Midnight wanted more power. He wanted to defeat the wizards of the white robes once and for all, and claim Mystica for himself. He grew especially weary of his magic battles with Lightning, the only white wizard that could defeat him in a wizard duel.

He was deterred from outright killing the other wizards for, if the wizards died, so did the land of Mystica. Mystic and the magic of the wizards were connected in an odd way Midnight could not figure out. It was no use ruling a dying land. He had to find another way to defeat the other meddling wizards.

The Dream Walkers Returns #2
Kate had watched Miranda on her first journey to Mystica, and knew just how powerful she was. Yet, Miranda did not know or seem to understand the power she held. Kate had been a watcher her whole life, watching for people with magic powers. Watching them change, and shape the world. She was tired of watching, she wanted to be doing. Yet, she had no magical powers of her own, so she had to find people to do her bidding.

Finding someone to trust her, and say a spell for her was the tricky part. Then, she remembered a boy she met last summer named Brian. He had magic powers he didn’t even know he had, and a streak for the dark side. She started supplying him with candles, potions, and spells. He tried each and every one, and reported back to her on his success or failure.

Now, with a Dream Walker in her midst, it was time to work with him even more closely. Together, they would bring her over to the Dark One. Kate had a spell as backup in case Brian could not seduce her. She had no doubt with his good looks and charm, he would succeed, but it never hurt to have a backup plan.

Kate and Brian met at the park by the local college. It was night, and the full moon was shining. The yellow light reflected off the leaves of the trees. The dirt path they were standing on twisted and weaved between the foliage. Kate had looked and searched in her archives for a spell to stop Miranda. She found this one:

Darkness Hides
Darkness Thrives
Come out and Play
Come out from your hiding place
Magic Beckons
Magic Calls
The wizard will be your means
Use him and stay away from the one who dreams

Brian though it was just another practice spell. He didn’t realize he had released the Darkness upon Mystica, and he probably wouldn’t have cared if he did.

He wanted to use his powers. He wanted to do big things. He wanted to leave a difference, good or bad in the world. Now, he would have his chance.

Dream Walkers Destiny #3
Spyder’s stone traveled a long way from Mystica. A single dark black stone crashed, tumbling over the waves of the Ocean of Mystica. It went with the crests of water following the currents of the ocean. It bobbed along the white foam, carried further and further away. The tides took it with them to the Ice Island, named because it was all ice and snow. The moment the waves hit the shores of Ice Island, they turned to solid ice. Fissures opened where the warm waves of the ocean hit the cold shores of Ice Island. The stone rolled onto these fissures. It was like a marble in a wooden maze, rolling along where the cracks created a patch in the ice.

The stone landed in a ceremonial circle of the Valerie. The Valerie were inhabitants of the land. The Valerie had blue skin and white eyes. White furred robes adorned their bodies. Icicles formed their hair; even their eyebrows were a frozen ice of white.

The Valerie did not notice the black stone as they were in the middle of chanting and praying to the Ice Volcano, which they worshipped. Around and around the ceremonial circle they went, dancing, chanting, and beating the ice drums. To them, it was a sacred ceremony to keep the Ice Volcano from spewing its frozen ice all over their village and prey. They took it very seriously and let nothing, no animals, lightning, or a strange stone disturb the ceremony and make the Ice Volcano angry.

The Valerie lived a simple life, hunting and gathering. They learned to make many things out of their ice surroundings, including homes, drums, arrows, spears, and even bowls. The chosen Valerie who had demonstrated strength and wisdom by killing prey and protecting the women and children participated in this ceremony.

The chanting of the Valerie grew more intense, and the drums beat louder and faster. It reached a crescendo of music and energy. The energy reached the black stone, and it cracked open in a puff of black smoke. When the smoke dissipated, the wizard Spyder was in the midst of the Valerie ceremony!

Spyder was the last dark wizard of Mystica. He had long skinny arms and legs, like a spider. He was tall and skinny with spiders in his hair and beard. He wore a black robe with spider webs and spiders crawling all over it. He had white eyes with pictures of spiders on the inside of the irises. His skin was black like a black widow, and his hair was white where the spiders were not nesting. It looked like a spider web instead of hair upon his head.

Both the Valerie and Spyder were in shock at this turn of events. Spyder had no idea where he was, or how he had gotten so far away from his homeland of Mystica. The Valerie thought he was a god come to save them.

The drums and chanting ended as all of the Valerie kneeled down to Spyder. Trying to get his bearings, Spyder saw in the distance the Ice Volcano. Spyder wanted to find out where he was, and how to get back to Mystica. Seeing the volcano gave him an idea. Perhaps he could mind speak to his brothers or his father through the volcano.

Spyder’s father was the God of Night, and he lived under the Red Mountain, which held a dormant volcano in Mystica. The God of Night was a tricky one, who thrived on deceits, lies, and trickery. The God of Night wanted to find his last son. As out of his two sons, one was dead, and one was now human. His hopes lay with Spyder, the last dark wizard. Yet, the God of Night’s magic was limited outside of Mystica. Without the magic of the wizards, it was growing scarce on Mystica. If it had not been for Shadow and Silver giving up theirs, Mystica would have no magic at all.

Author Bio:
Michelle is a married working mother of two fine young men (her children). She lives in Wisconsin. When not writing, she enjoys reading especially science fiction/fantasy and classics.

Her favorite authors include Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Margaret Weiss, and Colleen Houck.

She also enjoys doing painting and crafts, and spending time with her family. She enjoys going for walks, and swimming. She has been known to jump in Lake Michigan with no life jacket!

She has been writing since high school. Michelle took a break from writing to concentrate on raising her children.

She has an app on her IPad that gives her a word of the day and poem of the day.


The Dream Walker #1

The Dream Walker Return #2

Dream Walkers Destiny #3

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Praise Her, Praise Diana by Anne Rothman-Hicks & Ken Hicks

Title: Praise Her, Praise Diana
Authors:  Anne Rothman-Hicks & Ken Hicks
Genre: Thriller, F/F Romance
Release Date: October 16, 2014

***Content Warning: Mention of rape, castration***

A woman going by the name of “Diana” has started to kill and castrate men in New York City. Her modus operandi is sweet seduction and then a knife to the heart at his moment of climax. These tactics imitate the recent novel by Maggie Edwards, a famous author of women's fiction who was raped a few years before but had never disclosed that traumatic experience. Diana becomes a heroine to women who have suffered sexual violence or the threat of such violence and these women fight back in imitation of Diana while the police try desperately to find out Diana’s identity. Jane Larson, a high-powered New York attorney, represents Maggie and a feminist group called Women Protecting Women. Jane makes the mistake of falling in love with her client and soon finds herself at the center of the action.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Diana. You may have heard of me. The Huntress. Goddess of the moon. Beloved of virgins. Never been kissed.

So anyway, I met this guy in a bar near his apartment in New York City. He thought it was by chance—two people locking gazes across a crowded room. I knew better.

It was a dark, dirty place filled with the smell of all the stale beer that had been spilled onto the wooden floor over the course of a half-century or so. When I arrived, his eyes were already bright from several drafts, although he probably would have fought you if you told him he was drunk. He liked to fight. He played rugby just for the fun of hitting people and being hit, and wore his cuts and bruises like trophies.

All the same, he had a surprisingly engaging smile, marred slightly by a cap on one of his front teeth that didn’t quite match the rest. Too bad. His hair was brown and medium length. Slightly tousled, it fell in a cascade over his forehead. His skin was very white, nearly blemish-free, except for a swath of freckles across his nose and cheeks that added to his boyish appearance. You would have liked him at first. I’m sure of that.

He patted the seat next to him at the far end of the bar and bought me a drink. I was wearing a short skirt, high leather boots, and no stockings. A long down jacket was draped over my shoulders like a cape, reaching to the floor. He looked me up and down without apology, weaving this way and that, just a little unsteady on the barstool. He liked what he saw, apparently. With all the beer that had passed his lips that night, he didn’t notice I was wearing a blond wig. I was also wearing my blue contacts. He didn’t notice that either.

He told me a joke about dumb blonds and his hand slapped me on the naked part of my thigh as I pretended to laugh. A minute later, his hand returned to the same spot, tweaking me a little higher up the inside of my leg, like a mischievous child who is sure his antics will be forgiven. I pushed his hand away and he started describing his job and his boss, and I remember thinking, ‘I don’t care about your life, tooth-boy.’ And then there was that hand again, creeping upward along my thigh, and he was chattering away and grinning roguishly at me as though that five-fingered appendage was operating independently of the rest of him, finding its own way in the world.

“What’s with the coat,” he asked me.

I moved my shoulders as if I were shivering.

“I’m cold,” I said, hunching over the bar and pulling my arms together. This had the effect of pressing my breasts upward against the unbuttoned top of my shirt. His eyes were glued to that triangle of soft, inviting flesh. There was no subtlety in him.

“I could warm you up,” tooth-boy said, obviously proud of his wit.

“I’ll bet you could,” I said, and stood up.

The air was cool and the pale clouds of our breath were caught by a light wind and dispersed as we walked down a deserted side street, westward into a neighborhood of small buildings, passing a row of worn brownstone stoops that extended onto the pavement. I had put on my down coat with its neutral unmemorable color, and I now had a similarly nondescript knitted cap pulled low over my ears. I liked the anonymity of it—the sense that a person passing would see just a slightly drunk guy leading a girl to his apartment and that, if anyone were asked, no essential part of me would stand out to be described.

His arm was around my waist, and he leaned against me to steady himself as we walked. At one point he stopped and pulled me to him, kissing me with his open mouth and wet lips and thick rancid beer breath. His left hand pawed at the front of me but couldn’t get past the armor of my coat. “Not here, you animal,” I said to him and he laughed because he thought I was joking.

We lumbered along, trying to match our steps. There was no one on the street but an occasional rat skittering among the garbage cans. Soon we turned up the front stairs to his building and through the dingy foyer with its soiled carpeting and then up one flight where he struggled to get his key in the lock. Here I thought that if I wanted to leave I should do it now. Once I got inside, I knew I would not be able to stop myself. I was already thinking about a certain sunny meadow off a winding backcountry road on a beautiful spring day—the first really warm day of the year—and what was taken from me.

What Others Are Saying:
Praise Her, Praise Diana is a thought-provoking, gripping ... -- By Pat D.Verified Purchase
Praise Her, Praise Diana is a thought-provoking, gripping, suspenseful book. The characters are well-rounded and the turn of events keeps the reader on the edge of their chair until the last word on the last page. Set in NYC during present-day, Praise Her, Praise Diana explores the issues of rape, justice, and revenge in a touching, thought-provoking fashion. There aren't very many novels out there which cause the reader to think deeply about such important, relevant issues. This is an extremely interesting book which should be read and discussed by many. If I could give it 6 stars I would!

Gripping! -- By JB Johnstonon 
Praise Her, Praise Diana is one of those books that shocks, mesmerizes and makes you go 'ohhhhhhhh' all at the same time! Its definitely not a book for the faint-hearted with some pretty graphic scenes. The book covers such topics as rape, abuse, feminism, sexuality and of course love. Diana is killing men in revenge for being raped. She isn't just killing them though. She is hunting them. Stalking them. Murdering them without mercy or remorse. And, she appears to be copying the murders in a book that author Maggie Edwards is writing. Diana is obsessed with ridding the world of abusive men and her call to fellow feminists seems to spark interest in an extreme feminist group who appear to take her at her word and become her 'followers'. The book plays host to many strong female characters.

The book is interesting in that it explores Feminism to the extreme and makes us question what justice actually means. How far should one person go to get that justice? Is the punishment justifiable? Does it fit the crime? This is a gritty book that sees female vigilantes taking a stand against men who have committed sexual crimes against women. Are they doing the wrong thing for the right reason? That is the moral dilemma the reader will face. An intriguing read and one I really enjoyed. Definitely a book that will make you sit up and take notice and will have you thinking about it long after you have finished it. This book is food for your brain and I love books that make me think about my own views and question what I would do if faced with a similar circumstance. My only gripe is that there are a host of characters in the book to get your head around but that was more to do with me than the book. Highly recommended but only for readers of 18+.

A daring new thriller! -- By Amanda O'Hara
...I really enjoyed Praise Her, Praise Diana, as you may have already guessed. It has such a unique and twisted plot, and the development of the characters was really well considered. As a young woman who considers herself a feminist and, like most women, all too aware of the rape culture we live in, I can’t say that I didn’t absolutely love the idea of certain role reversals taking place between men and women in this book and having men be inflicted with constant fear. It wasn’t women who were scared of walking down the streets alone at night or encountering strangers now – it was men! And I think the play on that can really open up a lot of important discussions we as a society should definitely be having. With that said, and keeping in mind how extreme some of what I just described might sound, I honestly felt like the subject matter of this book was dealt with both respectfully and boldly all at the same time. Again, it’s definitely the sort of book I can totally picture both women and men having some really animated and frank discussions about...

Author Bio:
Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks first started writing books together while Anne was a student at Bryn Mawr College and Ken was a student at Haverford College— a long time ago, when, as their children like to say, dinosaurs roamed the earth.

In 1973, they came to New York City while Ken attended law school at Columbia University and Anne worked as an editor in publishing. They have lived here ever since and do not intend to leave voluntarily.

They wrote their first novel together in 1976, hoping that it would be a success and Ken would not have to even start working as a lawyer. Alas, that book is still in on the upper shelf of their closet, but they kept at the writing business. In 1984, they published Theft of the Shroud, a novel, through Banbury books, distributed by Putnam. That same year they also published a series of 10 books based on the most popular names for boys and girls, as well as a book about the stars for children. Following these successes, Ken quit law for two years as he and Anne devoted themselves fulltime to writing and their children. However, children need to eat and be clothed and go to school, and these things all cost money, so Ken resumed the practice of law. Still, they continued to write, and rewrite, and rewrite some more.

Prior to the publication of Weave A Murderous Web, Ken and Anne wrote Praise Her, Praise Diana, (Adult thriller) Melange Books LLC, 2014, Kate and the Kid, (Adult mainstream) Wings ePress 2013, and Things Are Not What They Seem (Tween fantasy) MuseItUp Publishing 2014. Anne and Ken have also self-published two small-format photography books, which are available on the Apple iBookstore – Hearts (no flowers) Signs of Love in the Gritty City and Picture Stones.


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