Signs – Anna Martin

Seeing as June is suppose to be in support of the LGBT community, and allows me to have several books available at a discount or even free in celebration of this, I have decided to give a small review for a recent book I have read that hits on the genre.

Signs adds more than just the difficultly strong, young teenagers have at discovering who they are, and finding out who their real friends in life are. As the title alludes to, the main character is deaf. I have a strong support for the deaf community, as I grew up in a city that has a large population for the deaf, along with schools, and college. Though I no longer live in the city, I still commute there for work. Because of this, I have picked up on a little sign-language and was drawn into the book due to my curiosity.

I do love how Anna Martin shows the struggles the two characters have in communicating feelings, and how awkward it is when they first meet in person. I say in person, because with modern technology the two main characters met in the now typical fashion of social media via online.

Luc is a “goth” kid that doesn’t really see himself immersed with all the “goth” kids, and Caleb feels shunned from the outside world as well as the deaf community because he finds it difficult to express himself properly. Anna Martin tends to focus mainly on both character’s struggles with their social circles, and the disability of communication, and less on the acceptance and struggle of being gay. Part of me appreciates that the author dismissed, or at least didn’t emphasis, the lash-back teens face, or potentially face, in today’s world from being open on their sexuality. And part of me was disappointed. Of course, the book already had so much hardship and struggle with dealing with Caleb’s hearing loss, I can understand the author, and perhaps reader, being overwhelmed with any addition drama.

Books like “Signs” I appreciate because it consecrates on the characters more than the fantasy or sex many LGBT books seem to focus on. There’s a plethora of raunchy romance books that hit on the same genre, but few that really come with a deeper meaning.

However, I do enjoy my fantasy, as can be seen from own fantasy writing. And though I do not write, currently, for the LGBT community, I would like to pass on another book of interest. For the even of June, and the LGBT awareness for this month, many authors have written books free to read and download. One I am looking forward to, which is a Vampire novel, is Alex’s Surprise. Currently it is 99cents, due to Amazon not having it be free until it’s official release date. So feel free to join me on checking it out, and use this month as an excuse to get out of your comfort zone if you haven’t read this style before.

The Dark Earth Series

Delaying a blog post is something I highly regret but at the same time it has given me the opportunity of finishing a fantastic book which I recently discovered. For the most part I am a person with a high interest in light fantasy; magic which is dominantly the stereotypical Lord of the Rings style and not that of Twilight. This book is one of them.

The first book in the Dark Earth series gives you a free introduction of five chapters, and those sample pieces sucked me in. I ended up even signing up for the $9.98 a month membership to unlock the rest of the book as well as the other which follows it. Yes, it was that good. And that is considering I am one that looks down on books not printed due to the high pleasure of the physical copy in hand.

Over the past two days I have forgone sleep, depriving myself and surviving on just 3 hours due to this new adventure that has entered my life. Sadly, this work has also left me putting my own on hold while devouring it.

The main character is a youth of the age of 17 that finds himself in the backwoods of a small town that his family newly moved to. Aiden, the main hero of the story, with his flaming red hair and cream colored skin is automatically seen as someone non-human by the locals who have put it upon themselves to eradicate the Sidhe; magical, elven humanoids that also live nearby.

Asher and Severe are two of the Sidhe that find themselves drawn to aiding Aiden and claiming him. Together they save him multiple times from the dangers the town posses, teach him of his birthright and introduce him to the forbidden art of magic, which he possesses a natural talent of.

A warning though about this wonderful art of fiction, and that is it is filled with every sort of love that one can comprehend. There is heterosexual, homosexual, platonic, and incest.

For those interested in discovering the world of the Under Dark, the realm within our world that holds magic and all its creatures, I suggest looking into the first five chapters which are free. The following is the author’s descriptions of a few of her characters. Also, I wanted to mention that there is no editing and so there sometimes are areas with poor grammar or names reversed. For those that like graphic novels, they have created one following the story exactly, however I personally did not enjoy the art style, and I felt there was more understanding of the character’s thoughts and feelings in the actual books, but they can be found on amazon.

Adian Walsh

thedarkearth1Aidan’s adoptive mother, Anna, discovered him as a baby alone in the woods in Devil’s Ridge.  He knows nothing of his birth family and doesn’t care to, because they abandoned him. But circumstances force them to move in with Anna’s father, Grandfather Patrick, on the Ridge.  There Aidan meets Asher Vane, a leader among a mysterious people known as the Sidhe.  Asher claims Aidan is a Sidhe and is determined to take Aidan back to his people.  Will he go?

Asher Vane

thedarkearth2Asher is a Dark Prince of the Sidhe, an elven race that makes the Dark Earth their home.  He recognizes Aidan as one of his people and is intent on bringing the youngling home.  Though he tries to resist, Asher finds himself in love with Aidan and doing things that he should not to please the boy.  One of those things in interfering in human activities to save Aidan’s adoptive family from the depredations of the cult known only as the Clan.  These actions could lead to a terrible war.

Grandfather Patrick

thedarkearth3Grandfather Patrick is Anna’s father and the leader of the cult known only as the Clan who worships a dread goddess known as Cybella.  He hates the Sidhe with an unquenchable passion.  He recognizes Aidan as one of them and, despite his unnatural attraction to the boy, is determined to use Aidan to start a war between the Sidhe and the Clan.  But then Asher Vane comes onto his land, intent on taking Aidan and the war he wants may be within reach.







Dragon’s Tongue – Laura J. Underwood

Dragon’s Tongue is the typical magic wielding, overly powerful and charismatic book that I enjoy when it comes to fantasy. I am someone that likes my main character to be “special.” This is usually almost always the case, as one of the reasons most authors have their main character the focus of their story is due to them having that special quality. But more than just being special, I like my main characters to be secretly powerful, and their weakness being them not realizing it. This is the case in Dragon’s Tongue.

Laura J. Underwood centers her book on a young minstrel, or bard, that has joined an academy where he can learn magic, but of course, his knowledge of is very limited and he starts as being a somewhat weak caster. Alaric, the protagonist, is better known for his music and playing. He is considered one of the best bards of his time, and this draws the attention of those around him. Through his music and storytelling, Alaric gains an ally from a very magically powerful and political influential schoolmate who offers to be Alaric’s friend, and uses those musical talents to add to his own personal charm. Along with gaining the attention of Fenelon, his new-found friend, he managed to catch the interest of a demon, Vagner.

Dragon’s Tongue takes you on the forbidden adventure of a bond between a young bard, and a high-level demon. Together thye learn the secrets hidden deep behind the vile of magic in Alaric, and how to stop Vagner’s master in obtaining it. The story contains betrayal, secrets, dark magic, music, humor, and of course, a lot of adventure. Though Laura created a powerful main character, she left him ignorant of most of it, which I like, and created Fenelon as the main wielder.

This book is a treasure you wont find in the bookstore. Though the writing is topnotch, the details unique on their own (as using summoning magic is more of a rarity), this is published from a very small company. I personally have contacted Laura J. Underwood when it became difficult to obtain her second book, Wandering Lark, and she was quick with a reply and very nice. I do dislike “ebooks” and am lucky enough to have the actual physical copies of all of the works Laura has produced for this series. I enjoy authors that take the time for their fans and appreciate all her work. Hopefully she will produce more.

Along with the 2 main books for this story, Laura J. Underwood created another 2 short stories, which she gave an autograph copy of one to me when I ordered the second book in the series. I do feel that these two thick volumes aren’t enough though, and believe more should be in store for Alaric. Of course, I tend to have that feeling with most books I read where I develop a deep fondness for the character.

Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru – Manga

Betrayal Knows My Name

“Betrayal Knows my Name” is a manga with beautiful artwork, though it seems to hold more of the Korean style than the standard Japanese. By this, I mean the characters are dressed very trendy and with jewelry which doesn’t typically find it’s way in manga. Also, there seems to be a lot more detail in hair and the clothing in general, which is more common in Korean manhwa.

This story is boarder-line gender bender/shounen-ai but hasn’t really crossed into the BL department yet in the series, though it does come close. The only reason why it would even be considered shounen-ai is because the main character, Yuki, was reincarnated as a male when she/he has a female soul and all throughout his past lives was a girl. In both the anime (yes, there is an anime) and the manga thus far though, nothing romantic has happened between him and his past life partner.

If you’re curious about the anime, it only goes about midway of the English Volume 2 books. I have to differentiate between the English and the Japanese, because in order for them to catch up to the current release, they combined 2 volumes into each English release until Volume 6.

You get the impression that the Yuki in past lives was a bit more anti-social and meek, and that this is perhaps the reason she decided to be born male. And though current Yuki in the beginning does seem to kick a bit of ass, I am a disappointed that as you get further in the manga his martial arts and fighting capabilities stop being used and appears to have a bit less of a fighting spirit.

The main story revolves around a group of teenagers and young adults who work in pairs. Together, they exorcist those infected by evil spirits by first having one push them out of people’s bodies, and the other forming a cage. Basically the two work together as offensive and defensive; attack and entrap. Their powers have religious names, such as “Hand of God” and “Light of God,” but from what I understand of the story, the powers don’t come from any deity.

Between the battles of the “trash mobs” the secret of this long, drawn-out battle emerges. I don’t want to give too much away, and much of it still remains a mystery, but what you do eventually learn is that this millennium long battle is the struggle of basic human existence. Pretty standard in most shounens. While their souls are tired of constantly being reborn into battle, they continue to do so in the hope of victory and finally being able to rest.

For me personally, the main thing that grabs your attention is the artwork, which remains constant throughout the books. It looks as good as the cover art. The storyline does have some slow moments, but it is very captivating and detailed, which is probably why there are times when all that is going on is talking. The mangaka, Odagiri Hotaru, adds a lot of backstabbing, plot twists, and sorrow between the characters. This of course could be assumed from the title, but it’s nice to actually see it throughout the work.

If you are interested in the manga, you can read it here. Sadly, it hasn’t had any English release in a year, and I haven’t seen any scanlations in almost two. However, no research has been found by me indicating a drop in the series. The anime is a bit more difficult to obtain, and though I have seen YouTube posts of it, the quality leaves you wanting. I do have the downloads of though, so if asked nicely and truly interested, I am sure those can be shared.

Raksura Series – Fantasy


I am personally a huge fan of fantasy books that involve characters with the ability to morph; the magic from going normal to special. An example of this can be seen in the fact last week’s review was based on a Manhwa that created magicians with the power to change into their alternate selves. But most stories and authors that use this form of magic usually go from human to an animal based one. This can be seen as transforming usually into Dragons in the majority.

The Raksura series not only focuses on a uniquely designed species strictly the creation of Martha Wells, but also takes place in a very interesting world with a highly different social structure. The main story is based on a young Raksura that was lost and abandon from his kind, not knowing who or what he is, and simply trying to survive. Martha Wells for the most part seems content with her 3 books following Moon, the protagonist, while currently teasing readers with 2 books of short stories still being released.

In the primary 3 books, you discover a vast and very wild world. Hundreds of different species roam this world separated by simple geography, with few being widespread. There are those of every skin color under the sun, as well as those very primitive, and those industrial. The Raksura are a species of “groundlings” that can transform into a lizard creature. Half of the species become stout and hardy, focusing on hunting, gathering, teaching, childcare, art, building, and the basic needs of the colony. The other half of Raskura transform into tall winged creatures that mainly sleep and eat, while concentrating on the defense of their territory.

Queens run these colonies in a very matriarch, bee-hive, sort of way. Fertile males of the species are seen as pampered, protected, innocent, and sheltered sperm donors. It was a bit of a surprise reading a book that changed the stereotypical sex roles. Along with that, Martha Wells also opens up the door to polyamory and bisexual relationships, where there doesn’t seem to be love so much in the story, but a desire of friendship. It just so happens that friendship with Raksura involves the sharing of pleasure. The only acception to these open relationships is the fertile males, “consorts,” who can be with as many partners as they want, but only with one Queen.

The first book follows Moon as he struggles fitting in with other species while hiding his abilities, as they tend to mimic that of another species called Fell, whom are much like the Borg of Star Trek and highly feared. After learning who and what he really is, Moon then is forced to learn the ways of a society and role he never had to experience, and just can’t completely accept. Having been raised alone, for a consort, Moon has become very independent and adventurist; nothing like how he is suppose to behave. However, the small colony he finds himself with learn to embrace his unusual behavior while they strive simply to survive and relocate their home.

All three books of the Raksura series describe a world that reminds me a lot of what is seen in the Avatar movie; huge trees, tribal species, fight or die mentality. It gives off the vibe of a young planet where a dominate race hasn’t been decided upon; where the world is young and still creating small pockets of vastly different life, and anything and everything can kill you. It’s filled with super huge plants, floating islands, ancient magic, rough technology, minimal government and lots of eating. And though I was enthralled with all three of her books, highly anticipating each one, forfeiting sleep to complete them, her Stories of the Raksura leave the series lacking.

Not being much into short stories, I felt a little ripped off since not only is this book significantly thinner than her other work, or even that it was released ten months late, but because 1 of the 3 stories was free to read on her webpage and written several years prior. On top of that, half of the book was a short story about how the colony was started and so lacked any of the characters of the main trilogy. The first short story in this current release was interesting, but didn’t add anything to the actual story of Moon and showed no progress in him adjusting to the colony, or his station. I can only hope her next short story release isn’t as disappointing, as many readers including myself, felt she left the main books hanging and would really like to see Moon finally having the family he had been trying since book 1.

If you find yourself interested in exploring this new world of interesting creatures, Martha Wells has written and posted many short stories based on her series that can perhaps give you a feel of the books themselves. Forest Boy is published in her most recent print release of the Stories of the Raksura, and takes place as a prequel to the series. Adaptation also is before the main books, but may be seen as a spoiler as it is about a secondary character’s problem that plagues the colony from the very beginning and all throughout. Martha Wells has stopped publishing additional shorts on her webpage, which I find disappointing as she did promised more, but I will support her in the hopes someday she will continue them.

Black Haze – Manhwa


Following a new trend of publishing online, Black Haze is currently being produced weekly and is released every Wednesday. The translation group, B.A.P (not the band), sticks to a strict routine of a 24 hour translation update, which can be viewed on ManagHere.

This is a currently new Manhwa that I recently came across with a highly addictive storyline, assuming you are the type of person that loves the young main character that acts a bit reserved but comical at the same time.

Magicians in this world aren’t like the typical spell casting ones commonly found in fantasy books and movies. They are a special elite class of people gifted with the powers bestowed to them by “god” to fight and destroy demons. These powers are all based on defending and attacking. Nothing will be appearing from anyone’s hat in this Manhwa. Along with the magic being based on combat, the wielders first must call upon their magician’s true name which invokes them to change form and allows them to cast their spells. These magical alterations don’t typically look much different from the character’s normal form, except for obviously the magician this story follows.

Rood is the main character who is roughly the age of 14 and possesses extraordinary magical powers and talent. Thus far in the store (Chapter 74) how he has obtained those powers has only been hinted at and nothing specific has been mentioned. You do have the sneaking suspicion that they aren’t exactly ordinary, and possibly even were obtained through some dark methods. The prologue chapter hints that Rood himself doesn’t remember anything before waking up from this possible dark ritual. After reading to Chapter 55 or so, it may be good to revisit the prologue so that the hints and teasers about his powers come into light.

For the first ten or so chapters the story moves a bit slow, taking you through the introduction of the value of Rood and his Magician abilities, while at the same time showing you how the organization he works for is trying to keep him out of trouble and away from the spotlight. While these attempts obviously fail, the manhwa introduces it’s light humor consistently throughout the slow moving chapters that help build Rood’s personality. After the 1st full mission is completed, the storyline then proceeds to build momentum as it takes you to it’s main location of the Magician’s School Helios. Here Rood is to learn how to socialize with kids his own age for once, and hopefully make a few friends.

The school life shows how overly distant Rood’s life has been from people outside of his organization, Opion. As Rood navigates the school and tries to fulfill his mission, the story begins to build it’s true intentions of the magician’s training. Demons. From roughly Chapter 35 on, more combat is seen and the plot begins to thicken as multiple Magician Organizations are revealed and who is on who’s side is established.

If you can get past the poor art style of the first chapters and the slow beginning as the author sets the scene for Rood to enter the Magician’s School, the story will captivate you. Black Haze’s author makes every chapter a cliffhanger, which can be irritating but has you constantly looking forward to the next release. They do a fantastic job of giving just enough to excite you, and pull back before giving away too much. I only wish that this online manhwa had the author’s name available, because all you’ll find is that it was created by someone named “Dydyddl7” Yong Yong.