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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Book Review of Alex in Wanderland by Linda Workman-Crider

Book Review: Alex in Wanderland by R.J. Hore
Review by: Linda Workman-Crider

Sci-Fi meets Fantasy meets Monte Python meets A Comedy of Errors and now all shall bow before the (fake) Goddess or face impending doom, destruction, despair, and, of course, death by dragoons and dragons.

In this comedically exaggerated tale, an unhappily married couple, Alexis, a financial advisor and past D&D geek, along with Alexander, an unemployed literary writer and poet, are mistaken for the Twins of prophecy and transported via Alexander’s new gadget to an unknown universe where they are greeted by priests, placed in group with three others, and sent off on a quest before the couple can figure out that they aren’t, in fact, just dreaming. The group, now known as the Five, must play their divine parts and journey to Illyrium to speak to the King (whose name I deeply love but refuse to share) and towards their own deaths in order to free the people from the oppressive rule of the greedy barons.

The author, mostly through the character of Alexander, takes jabs at the plot-line of this novel which purposefully uses totally unbelievable exaggerations of formulaic plot devices. As unsuspecting as poor Alice, we find ourselves drawn down into the rabbit hole where believing the unbelievable is possible. More than likely, some element of your favorite novel can be found peeking out somewhere behind this story’s weave or shoved abruptly without warning right under your nose, whichever way works best for this particular story.

Alexis is a honey blonde business woman with a body and mindset to go with the attire. It doesn’t seem too farfetched, to me, that running the Dungeons and Dragons scenarios and reading sci-fi was a portion of Alexis’s life in the past. The creative thinking skills and the imagination required in her career may have even stemmed from these experiences. In her adult life, she can be viewed as demanding, cold, aloof, decisive, maybe even a bit narcissistic, but, like most humans, she never stays completely within any molded ideas of her character and we sometimes see a warmer, more imaginative side within current happenings. Even her strength shows many faces, such as the ability to persevere though adversity and the ability to take charge of a situation when necessary. Her resume worthy weakness is being driven toward success, which makes her a rounded character and a valuable asset as one of the Five.

Alexander’s unruly brown hair is a match to his life in which nothing seems to ever go the direction he plans. He comes across as an almost-broken man, which can possibly be blamed on his career choice of becoming a literary writer as much as being stuck in an unhappy marriage. We are given an unreliable view of Alex that is of a lazy, irresponsible, and unemployed man but in the opening chapter we are also given a glimpse of a man working toward his own dream and a man willing to lower himself even further in his wife’s eyes in his efforts to achieve it. There is still some spark left in him yet and we see it even through his vivid complaints or silent sulking. Sadly, I think Alexander’s value to the Five doesn’t stem from his character’s character, but moreso, that life’s directional wind planted him there, and a Goddess enforces his continued membership.

R.J. Hore thankfully keeps the dysfunctional couple away from each other as much as possible and while we are aware of their need for couple’s counseling, we are never stuck uncomfortably between them during long drawn out rants of relationship woes, spouting blame and defensive responses. The discomfort level for the reader is more like having two friends, in a group of friends, having had a spat that no one is obsessing over. While the occasional jab and comment is made, for the most part the couple simply avoids the other by remaining slightly outside the group or by attaching themselves to the others in the group. In this way, we are able to get to know their characters as individuals, through interactions with others in relationship that are fresh and new. Knowing their history, however, I was left feeling sorry for Alexander. He was clearly in my mind an underdog who deserved someone to cheer him on through the trials presented in the book.

World-building is an area where I am going to repeat myself because none of it seems believable at first, the arrival, the new world, the people, the religion, the reasoning behind the quest—none of it really makes sense. Somehow R.J. Hore uses comedic exaggerations as textualized incantations that turn us all into Alice, fallen down the rabbit hole with no way back. However, I think I can say that the most believable aspect was the government and that many forms of interrelationships were created and explored. So, I suppose that even if one was immune to magic and stood outside the rabbit hole, the world would seem strange but it would hold the required dimensions and substance to be considered a planet with an environment and ecosystem. So yeah, this world is well built.

Reading an author for the first time is like becoming dance partners. The author is the leader and the reader has to follow. With that said, it took me about four chapters of reading before I became comfortable with R.J. Hore’s style and rhythm. It took me that long to understand that Hore was purposefully taking unbelievable leaps and was having fun with this and up until that point I had been too stiff and rigid. I relaxed and our dance and the reading flowed smoothly in step. It was in chapter four that I fell into the rabbit hole, laughing all the way down. My mind is still adjusting to being forced out of Wanderland by the ending of the book. I am seated now back within reality, but still being twirled around on the inside, eagerly awaiting the next book and our next dance.

Alex in Wanderland is available at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and the Champagne Bookstore.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Review of Caves in the Rain by Kelli Keith

Book Review

Name:
Kelli Keith

Date:
October 14, 2017

Book Title:
Caves in the Rain

Book Author:
Bob Bickford

Date of Publication:

2 January 2017

Number of Pages:
352

Main Characters:

Mike Latta recently divorced after the unexpected death of his daughter, Abby. His pain brought him to the isolated Echo Island where he planned to restore a summer cabin for permanent residence.

Molly Bean is the not-quite-divorced neighbor who develops an instantly comfortable relationship with Mike.

Other Important Characters:
Ronnie “Ron” Baptiste- the seemingly nice real estate agent that moonlights as a psychotic murderer.

Abby- Mike’s daughter that died from exposure on his watch.

Woman in Black (Lisa Baptiste) - the ghost of Ron’s wife who, along with the Girl in Pink (Stephanie Baptiste), haunt Echo Island.

Setting:
Hollow Lake, Canada; present day.

Synopsis:
Mike Latta is hiding from the pain of his past. He receives a summer cottage, and all the acreage of Echo Island, in his divorce settlement. With the intent of isolating himself from the world and his problems, he sets out to live on the harsh island year round. He quickly realizes his memories are not the only things that haunt the island. Motivated by fear, and the need to exonerate himself from past mistakes, he is driven to solve a decade old murder that could cost him everything.


Key Points/Conflict:
Mike Latta blames himself for the death of his daughter, Abby. He attempted to drink away his pain and guilt, eventually, driving away his wife. In the divorce settlement, his wife agreed to give him a tiny summer cottage on the secluded, seven acre Echo Island. Mike purchases a boat and supplies with the intent of turning the summer cottage into a year round residence. Assigning himself one year of banishment to the island, he quickly loses himself in the renovation process.

Odd things begin to happen when he repeatedly sees a woman dressed in black accompanied by a verbally acidic little girl dressed in a pink winter coat. The encounters become increasingly bizarre and suddenly he realizes, the pair are ghosts, unable to cross over. Piece by piece, the story of their demise unfolds, showing Mike that their deaths were not accidental, as had been reported 10-years earlier.

As Mike delves further into the mystery, bringing new evidence to light to the local sheriff, the murderer takes aim at his new target. Ron Baptiste is beloved and respected by (almost) everyone in the small community; his charm and wit ensures his true nature goes undetected. He is calculated, intelligent, and will stop at nothing to obtain the goal in his sites.

With the onset of Fall, the lake becomes abandoned and Mike is alone on the lake. When he awakes one morning to find his boat missing, he realizes he must come to terms with his own death. Ron tracks him like a wild animal, forcing Mike to face his demons and make peace with his past.

Analysis/Evaluation:
The first chapter described, what I consider a child, murdering his stepmother out of pure self-preservation. As an opening scene, it set a tone that allowed the reader to understand that sometimes, murderers aren’t just born, they are made. My only critique of this initial introduction to young Ron’s character—the outcome was not further explained. Did Ron go to foster care? Was he every suspected or implicated in her murder? Were his later murders symbolic of killing his abuser over and over again?

The descriptions and details allowed me to build a clear picture of each scene. (The addition of the map in the beginning was a very nice visual aid to accompany those descriptions.) The characters were well developed and had believable interactions that aroused feelings of like, love, or loathe; when the emotion was appropriate.

Sometimes, supernatural fiction can be challenging to read due to the far-fetched nature of the topics. About 20-percent into the book, I seemed incapable of putting it down, excited to know how the story would end. That doesn’t happen to me often and I was pleasantly surprised. I began to question which characters were living, breathing beings; whether Mike may have become stuck in some sort of self-imposed purgatory until he (allowed himself to be) atoned for his sins; or whether Ron would claim another victim and avoid punishment once more.

At the end, when the ghosts of Lisa and Stephanie said, “Other mothers … Other daughters”, Mike knew the sin behind his actions were far out measured by the elimination of a predatory monster. By allowing Ron to die, seemingly allowed the ghost duet obtained closure and were released from their earthen purgatory. I did question the necessity of Abby’s presence during the final scenes. Was she really present the entire time or did Mike imagine the smells and coins? Was her soul doomed to roam the earth until Mike came to terms with his involvement? Did she only return to collect Aruba? Maybe some questions are not meant to be answered.

Caves in the Rain is available for purchase at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and the Champagne Bookstore.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Savvy Saturday: My Favorite Scene from Unbalanced by Courtney Shepard


My favorite scene from Unbalanced is when the sisters with elemental power unite for the first time. Asha is Fire. Mere is Water. Ivy is Earth. Avia is Air.

Ivy has located Mere and Avia, but they haven’t been able to find Asha.

Asha was captured by the Order, and before she is tortured again, she is smuggled out. She is dressed up as a soldier and travels with Clay and his brothers on a mission outside the Order. Unknown to Asha, Clay’s mission is to take her sisters. Sisters she doesn’t even know she has.

Chapter Nine excerpt – battle

Asha found it rather odd to track ‘most wanted’ villains to
such serene and lovely surroundings, but she understood better than
most, appearances meant nothing. She’d found scum in the most
beautiful places, as well as the expected slums and undergrounds.
Someone, she assumed it was Paul since he was on point,
called the order from the other end of the line, and a rocket squealed
and launched toward the cabin. It struck the roof, and the ground
shook. The house exploded in flames.
After being without her power, Asha had to fight the urge to
control it and spur it on. The fire burned hot and contained, and the
connection swept over her. She was back. Hypnotized she reached
out to touch it, just for a moment to reassure herself
“She has power.”
The voice was low, the pilot. The only one of Clay’s
brothers who hadn’t spoken earlier. Oh, shit. Wait…how?
“I know,” Clay snapped.
He knows? Asha scanned the field. Just go now. The battle
chaos was her only chance for cover. The ground shook again, harder
this time.
Clay swiveled to his brother. “Rio?”
“It’s not me.”
Forget cover, go now.
With a crack and rumble, the ground surrounding the cabin
broke apart, and water burst from the earth. It sprayed as strong as
any fire hose up and over the cabin. The pounding force was like a
waterfall in reverse, and the flames sputtered and died.
She had never seen anything like it, an enormous water
fountain extinguishing fire burning that hot. The cabin door, charred
and still smoking, flew off its hinges and onto the flooded grass.
Three figures ran out into the early morning glare. Asha took
off her helmet and slouchy hood, but her eyes weren’t playing tricks.
She could see them clearly, even across the distance, and her
stomach dropped. They stopped short, facing an army with guns raised. No.
“Fire.”
“Stop!” Her scream was too late; the soldiers fired. She
didn’t have time to act; they were sitting ducks. She prepared for
their thrashing bodies, but like a swarm of hovering locusts, the
bullets stopped in mid-air and dropped.
What? She couldn’t get her mind around the scene unfolding
before her. She’d lost control of her body. Her muscles wouldn’t
move.
“Hold your fire,” Clay shouted, but the soldiers continued
shooting. His brothers were the only ones not attacking. They had to
be as shocked by the falling bullets as she was. She couldn’t blame
them. She was as still and as useless as a rock, unable to move or act,
only watch in growing disbelief. Three young women stood against
an army.
“Asha,” yelled one of the girls, her eyes were even brighter
green than Clay’s. “We’re your sisters. We’ve been looking for you.”
Sisters? Black hair and blue eyes fired a small pistol
dropping two soldiers. Green eyes stomped her foot, and the ground
lurched. The snow rolled like a wave across the ground toward the
soldiers. Stones and boulders erupted in front of them, stacking
magically into a huge wall blocking the offensive.
Asha shook her head.
“I’m Ivy, and this is Avia and Mere. You belong with us, but
we have to get out of here.”
Asha’s feet finally moved, one step and then another, but a
deafening crack echoed from behind her, and she spun back. The
wall, cracking and splitting, opened to reveal Clay behind it, his
shaking hand outstretched.
He pushed through the shattered wall, and his brothers
climbed over the debris after him. Soldiers followed, halting in side-by-
side formation.
They opened fire once again, but black hair and blue
eyes…Mere, shot back, emptying the clip. Throwing the useless gun
at the enemy, it sailed into the air and hit one of their targets,
knocking him to the ground. She whooped and clapped her hands.
They were facing an army out in the open, but they were giving them
a fight.
“Thanks for the boost, Avia,” Mere shouted, a grin clear on
her face. She was enjoying herself.
Avia, her white-haired sister, threw her hands out, and the air
waved and glimmered in front of her. The bullets stopped again and
dropped silently. It’d been her. Avia continued to block the soldiers'
constant fire somehow. Beside her, Mere raised her arms as water
swelled from the ground. She lowered her hands in front of her face.
The geyser bent, sending thunderous pressure against the line.
Water battered at the soldiers, and they fell and slammed
into each other. The water sprayed and flooded the ground.
The geyser had caused the break she needed, and Asha took
advantage of the lapse. Sprinting toward her sisters, she sent one of
her smaller fireballs at the soldiers. The men still standing swung
their guns to her and opened fire again.
Clay yelled as she ran, and the ground lurched again, so
violently it knocked her off her feet. Soldiers fired wildly, with their
fingers still on the triggers as they fell. Thankfully they did more
damage to each other than to her.
The moment Asha hit the cold, wet ground, she sprang up,
sprinting again for her sisters. Clay commanded the men to stop. But
back on their feet, the soldiers held their positions, firing as before.
Asha made it to them just as Avia went to her knees.
“I’m draining,” Avia said.
Asha scanned her enemy. They had lost a few soldiers, but
there were still so many left. Her confusion had spiraled into anger
and now peaked into rage. She sent flames racing along the ground
with her left hand, and more fireballs from her right, taking out three
or four at the same time.
The field rippled again, and mud and water gathered and
formed an enormous wave coming from the opposite side. It crested,
and met the fire, extinguishing it just before it reached the line.
Steam billowed and rolled back across the field toward them.
Raging, frantic, screamed commands came from the trees
behind the soldiers.
Asha hurled more fire at them as the bullets kept coming.
She hesitated a moment. Clay would die if she went any further…but
he was with them.
She shook her head. What’s wrong with you? He’d captured
her, killed her friends, and he was fighting on the side of those trying
to kill her. They’d already tortured her, and it was a miracle she’d
survived it. Now it was her turn to hurt him back.
Doubt and fury battled within her. He’d seduced her into
caring for him, and he was the enemy. He’d been part of a massacre
killing her friends, he’d kidnapped her, and he’d been her jailer in
that horrible place. Why did she need to keep reminding herself of
those things?
The dream of the man in the cave returned like a warning she
must heed. She couldn’t trust him, and even though she’d always
understood that, she was behaving as if she’d forgotten. Filled with
fresh strength, she sent another blanket of fire, but this one rose
effortlessly into a wall toward him.
“Stop,” Clay yelled in the distance. The fire sped forward.
Wind pushed and slowed the flames, more water rose again to meet
it, but couldn’t stop it completely. Her fire engulfed their right flank,
and thirty soldiers fell burning.
The remaining soldiers kept firing. A familiar squeal rose
above the din. Christ. “Rocket,” she cried, warning her sisters and
swept her hand in front of her. The rolling fire sped back toward the
line. But the rocket was already coming; she couldn’t stop it. She
braced, but nothing happened. It got eerily quiet; she opened her
eyes, and blinked and blinked again. Her eyes couldn’t be seeing
what was right there before them.
A massive, thick wall had risen silently between the two
sides, but the wall was made of water, stretching across the field,
clear and still as glass and at least fifty meters thick. She could see
the rocket floating within, defused and immobile.
Even the soldiers had stopped shooting and stared. It was
Mere, her grinning, clapping sister, who’d called it and held it, her
arms outstretched in the thick, pulsing silence.
The water started to move and swirl, frothing inside the wall,
“I can’t…guys. I can’t hold it, get ready.” The wall dropped soaking
into the field, and Ivy sent the ground rolling and knocked the men
off their feet again. Mere swayed, falling, as a shot rang out in the
silence and fresh blood sprayed across the soggy grass.
“No,” Ivy screamed. She lunged and dropped beside Mere.
Avia’s shield came up, catching the new onslaught, but a
second too late. One bullet got through and hit Mere in the shoulder.
Buzzing pounded in Asha’s ears; her vision tinted red, her
pain and fear forgotten, replaced by fury. It rolled, building until she
feared she might blow the whole place away and kill her newfound
sisters in the process.
A dirty root, thick as a baseball bat, surged from the ground
across the field and whipped in the air curling and winding until it
hovered, pointing at the soldiers. Snapping forward as fast as a
cobra’s attack, it speared Mere’s shooter through the chest, lifting
him into the air. He struggled and fought, his arms and legs flailing
as he slid down the long root, like a bead on a thread. Ivy guided it
on with her finger, and it shot through the line, impaling the soldiers
one by one and sewing them together.
It was gruesome but effective, and it distracted Asha from her
spinning frenzy, letting her focus on the battle at hand. Clay plunged
his hands into the mud as the root sped toward him and his brothers.
“Clay, look out,” Asha screamed, now warning her enemy.
Ivy dropped her hand, and the branch fell at his feet. Soldiers
still twitched and squirmed on the branch like fish on a line.
Avia threw her hands out, and the remaining soldiers blew
back into the trees.
Ivy laid both hands over Mere’s shoulder applying pressure
to stop her bleeding.
Mere gasped and opened her eyes. “Ouch,” she whispered,
her voice hoarse.
“Hold on,” Ivy said. She pushed her right hand into the
ground and pulled out bright green and red weeds, squeezing them to
mush. Ivy lifted her hand; the blood had slowed enough for her to spread
the weeds over the wounds. She pulled three long thin vines
poking from the ground beside her and laid them over Mere’s
shoulder.
Mere tilted her head toward Ivy with a questioning look, but
she jumped as the vines stretched and wrapped over her shoulder and
under her arm like a bandage.
“Too tight?” Ivy asked. She stood, reaching out to Mere.
Asha caught her breath.
Mere shook her head, “It’s perfect.” With her hand on her
shoulder and Ivy’s help, Mere got to her feet, testing the vine
bandage. “Amazing, thank you.”
Asha turned back to the trees, Clay had flown back with the
rest, but came sprinting out, running toward them. She shifted
forward, compelled like a magnet to go to him.
“No, don’t,” Avia yelled.
Her sister’s voice stopped her and shook her from her trance.
Clay charged.
What on earth was she doing? He was the enemy, and she
moved toward him like a ship to a siren.
“Take her!”
The command was shouted from the trees. Clay reached out,
but light shimmered between them knocking him back. It was Avia’s
shield, and he battered at it like an angry bee bouncing off a window
but still fighting to get through. He was going to take her again, take
her back there.
Ivy grasped her hand, towing her over to Mere and Avia.
“Hurry, we need to hold hands,” she said.
Avia’s shield fell.
Clay ran toward them.
“It will be okay. I promise,” Ivy said. The earth opened up
beneath their feet, and they dropped below ground.

**

This scene was my favorite for the pure fun of it.

When you have four powerful sisters as the story’s main characters, showing their powers off was always going to be the best. Preparing for this scene didn’t take much, I just had to bring the characters together in the right setting and let them take over. And they did.

Asha is there to fight with the Order or to escape, she isn’t entirely sure which. But after the first rocket hits the cabin and she sees her sisters, she knows who they are and where she needs to be. Asha knows them as soon as she sees them.

I love the battle-primed expert soldier, Asha, frozen in shock at seeing her sisters. The moment Avia stops the bullets with air it sinks in, Asha is not alone. She has sisters, and they have power too.

Asha’s solo mercenary life is over. She has a family, a family in danger, sisters she needs to protect. This is the moment Asha’s character turns from self-sustaining soldier to protective sister.

I wanted this scene to show the abilities of each character with a bit of their personality. Asha is the only true soldier of the sisters. Mere, Ivy, and Avia can fight back, impressively even, but they don’t have the training Asha has had.

Mere is very powerful, but her skills are rooted in defense as are Avia’s. Avia must use all her focus and power to push the bullets back with her air shield. Ivy is the least battle-ready, that is until Mere is shot. Seeing Mere fall forces Ivy’s true nature to come out, and her vengeance is vicious.

Asha would normally wipe out the enemy with little effort and less remorse, especially in defense of her new found sisters, but infuriating feelings for Clay smother her rage. This is the moment she knows she is in too deep with Clay.

Clay is the one who initially captured Asha. During the battle, Asha discovers Clay and his brothers have elemental power too. The first men to ever hold such power.

And Asha is shocked again.

How much fun did I have writing the sisters in battle? Too much. (I almost wish I could write their battle scenes forever.)

Interested? Check out Unbalanced on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and at the Champagne Bookstore.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Review of Amulet of Fate by Kelli Keith

Name:

Kelli Keith
Date:
October 8, 2017
Book Title:
Amulet of Fate
Book Author:
Angela Ashton
Date of Publication:
June 2006
Number of Pages:
284
Main Characters:
Alicia “Ali” Cameron (Alina Munroe) – a newly-graduated veterinarian who is searching for true love in a world full of scoundrels.  In her dreams, the perfect man begs her to “remember”.  Her mystery man calls to her assuring no mortal man can live up to her expectations.

Zachariah MacKintosh (Chief, the cat) – A warrior dubbed “The Black Panther” who rules the MacKintosh Clan of 14th century Scotland.  His strength of body and character make him irresistible for Ali, no matter what century they meet.

Other Important Characters:
Marcus MacShaw (Conner) – loyal guardian and confident of Zachariah, in the 14th century and modern day.

Lord Simon Mallory (The Englishmen) - Alina’s husband and greedy, narcissistic sociopath bent on getting revenge over the The Black Panther.

Sandy (Monique) – Ali’s best friend and possibly Conner’s love interest in 1333.

Gwenyth (Angus) - The shape-shifting sorceress who repents her sins by assuring Zach and Ali will be allowed to fulfill their love, even if it is 600 years in the future.
Setting:
Modern day, South Carolina; England and Scotland 1333.
Synopsis:
Ali sees the perfect man in her nightly dreams and struggles to find someone to fill his shoes in the land of reality.  A fateful trip to Scotland, and a chance encounter with a stranger, quickly reveal that Ali’s future lies six centuries in the past.  Will Ali be able to remember her past life in time to save her future?
Key Points/Conflict:
Ali has a reoccurring dream that features the perfect male specimen, begging her to “remember”.  Accompanying her grandmother, Jenny, back to Scotland—best friend Sandy in tow—she meets Marcus MacShaw.  Marcus instantly recognizes Ali from his past—600 years earlier, to be exact.  Marcus is an expert in past life regression and entices Ali to attempt a session, and she agrees in hopes it will explain the contents of her dreams.  She envisions her own demise, seemingly at the hands of her mystery man, and Ali is crushed.  Marcus cannot give up until she remembers all the details of her former life; time is running out. He agrees to guide Sandy and Ali on a tour of the famed MacKintosh Castle ruins, in hopes her memories will return.
There, she encounters a human-like cat, an emerald amulet, and the smell of heather, unlocking forgotten memories. Ali is thrown back to 1333, where she awakens as “Alina”, a Scottish heiress newly-wed (by proxy) to a vile Englishman.  While shopping for a wedding gift, Ali kidnapped by Zachariah MacKintosh’s brothers, by mistake.  A forbidden love blooms between she and her captor as the secrets of her father and proxy-husband are unfolding in the background.  Neither Mallory nor Munroe have any desire to see Alina live past her usefulness as a pawn in their sick games. Unknowingly, Zach releases Alina and sets forth a chain of events that will continue for the next 600 years.
Analysis/Evaluation:
Shifting between modern day and the 14th century, the story of Ali and Zach is told with well researched details.  At times the Scottish Brogue was difficult to decipher and some scenes felt longer than necessary, using well-crafted paragraphs of superfluous details to keep the reader from getting to the conclusion.  Although Ali says that Zach is the hero, as a reader, I feel the true hero is Conner/Marcus.  The character’s loyalty and bravery span the centuries to protect a love that isn’t his own.

Ali’s character is strong willed, believable, and loyal—even if she doesn’t want to be.  Her fears of becoming a wife and mother seem realistic for someone who has witnessed the death of many child-bearing women.  Her idea of a perfect man is someone who cares whether she lives or dies—this is what makes her character loveable—not giving up her virtue in the past, or the present, for anything less.
The surprising twist at the end felt both required and unnecessary.  Simon’s character sold his soul at the last moment so he could exact revenge in the future.  The author didn’t state whether he dwelled upon the earth for 600 years or reappeared only once Ali’s memories had been restored.  This feels like a bit of an oversight, deserving further explanation.   
The final reader question revolves around the narrator:  At one point it feels like Sandy is telling the tale, then suddenly it changes to another’s thoughts, and once more, to another person’s point of view entirely.  Maybe the reader is not meant to know!

Overall, the book was somewhat enjoyable.  Those who enjoy period pieces with a splash of the romance genre’s descriptive flare for intimate moments, it will certainly delight.

Amulet of Fate is available at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and the Champagne Bookstore.