(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
In Tainted Luck, Levi Kast dealt with problems associated with teenage life: dating, insecurities, and parental issues. He, unlike other teens, also had to deal with paranormal situations: spiritual body swaps and spirits.
This story did have some creepy moments in it and a few moments that will make your skin crawl, especially the maggot scene.
It also touched upon a sensitive subject matter… teen suicide.
It’s difficult raising a child because you wonder what going on in your kid’s head. I can’t imagine the mental and emotional toil raising Taylor James had on her parents. She had powers, thoughts and intentions that would be difficult for any caregiver to process. I can understand why her mother, teacher, and classmates were leery/afraid of her. Trust me, you’ll understand why once you read the book.
Tainted Luck is a book worth reading. Whether you believe in paranormal/supernatural world or not, certain sections might freak you out. It sure did me.
Cynthia Austin is a multi-published author who lives in Northern California with her husband, two boys, and Olde English Bulldogge named Count Dogula. They love all things horror, gothic, and Victorian which prompts her friends to dub them as “The Adams Family.”
She is an avid reader who may be slightly obsessed with music. She hears music in a way that she believes the artist intended it to be heard: visually, with a storyline that follows. Listening to the songs by her favorite artists, she was inspired to write her first series titled “The Pendant.”
Elusive billionaire and sea dragon shifter, Murdoch Rudraige lives in the shadow of his successful twin and is tired of not being taken seriously within the Clan’s international shipping conglomerate.
Until Annalisa Bartello, an employee from California, crashes into the front gate of his seaside estate and assumes Murdoch is his twin brother. She is risking her life to bring them proof of a corporate traitor and he is lying to her.
Murdoch knows immediately that she’s his mate – but how can she love him after she learns he’s the screw-up twin and a sea dragon?
Until it’s settled, Murdoch isn’t willing to let her out of his sight. Not until he’s certain she is safe, and he has had time to figure out how to explain dragon shifters to the curvy human.
Devlin’s predictable life was about to implode… Thanks in part to a mystery woman’s New Year’s Eve kiss. And a competitor’s unprecedented appeal for help.
Sea Dragon shifter Devlin was comfortable with the routine of his Tokyo-based shipping executive job and his solo existence. Until the unexpected events of New Year’s Eve tipped his entire life on edge. Was he ready for the challenges? Was a crash course in drastic change a bad thing?
Like discovering the feisty human female is his fated mate?
And working with her, a virtual stranger, to track down a bomb toting madman?
You’ll love this book because everyone enjoys watching an odd couple become a team and work through their issues together.
Whenever his Sea Dragon chieftain called, Liam’s life went to shitte…
Hunters attacking the Druid’s secret island?
No sweat. Call a Zodiac Shifter Guardian.
Just not him…
Sea Dragon shifter Liam Rudraige was up to his eyeballs managing Muirdris’s shipping business at the Port of Dublin, plus the Port of Cork expansion, and all the while dodging stalker salesmen.
Until the boss called…and Liam was forced to swim the fastest undersea route to the Druid’s magical island sanctuary.
NY public relations guru, Heather Daniels, despises belligerent sales reps. Seriously, what could be worse?
Transferring to Ireland to discover she’s expected to clean up after her stalker-zilla predecessor. The aggressive jerk left a real mess. And the first executive listed on her make-amends-inventory, Liam Rudraige, has disappeared.
Note from the author, Jeffrey L. Kohanek: A Kingdom Under Siege is available now through the Wardens of Issalia boxed set (see link below). It’s also available to purchase on its own in print format (see link below). Mark your calendars because on May 14th, you can download it to your e-readers.
~~ On sale for only $0.99 until May 10th! ~~
1,300 pages of MAGIC, SECRETS, INTRIGUE, and BETRAYAL ________________________________________________________________________ An enemy nation rises, fueled by subterfuge, assassinations, and fire-powered weapons. A team of young agents must infiltrate and eliminate this threat before all is lost.
Includes the COMPLETE Wardens of Issalia series — novels that combine forover 75 5-star Amazon reviews and 150 Goodreads 5-star ratings.
An enemy threatens the kingdoms of Issalia, bent on conquest with the desire to vanquish Chaos magic forever.
The Empire has returned. Assassinations, subterfuge, and betrayal have fueled a rapid rise to power – a rise backed by fire-powered weapons. This enemy army swells with superior numbers and threatens the western kingdoms of Issalia.
With King Brock gone, the domination of Issalia is merely a matter of time.
The wardens, agents from a clandestine organization known as ICON, work in secret to stop this radical enemy. Trained as spies, warriors, rangers, inventors, and magic-users, the wardens have successfully reduced the enemy threat, but by doing so, they leave the Empire no choice.
War is certain. The attack is coming soon.
The kingdoms must stand against the Imperial Army’s advanced weapons and superior numbers. The wardens and Chaos magic offer slim hope, but a leader is required to achieve victory – a legend whom many believe is dead.
Join the battle. The fate of Issalia hangs in the balance.
The ship continued to rock from side to side, the motion beginning to affect Brock as nausea set in. He opened his eyes, folded the map, and slipped it into his pocket as he made for the door.
Stepping outside, he found the sails filled with the gusting wind and the snow changed to a steady drizzle. Two ships ran even with the Razor while the other five in the armada trailed behind. To the port side, Brock then noticed another fleet nestled in a protected bay.
Brock turned and climbed the quarterdeck as sailors scurried about the distant narrow-bodied longships. “Ri Star? What are they doing down here?”
The Ri Starian crafts raised anchor, the oars at their sides moving the longships toward deeper water as the Razor and the trailing armada sailed past. Tenzi called for another sailor to take the helm while she dug out a tube with glass on each end. She aimed the tube toward the ships, looking through it as the Ri Starian vessels unfurled their sails.
With shock, she gasped. “Flash cannons! They plan to attack!”
Considering what he knew of Ri Star, Brock recalled his previous interactions with Queen Olvaria. In his two decades as King of Kantaria, he had only met Olvaria three times. Despite her polite exterior, Brock had always sensed a hard edge to the woman. She often argued that her queendom was small and lacked resources. If not for their diamond mines, Ri Star had little bargaining power when it came to trade.
With Ri Star consisting of nothing but Ilsands nestled in dangerous waters, they had naturally developed Issalia’s premier navy. Manned by tough, experienced sailors and a crew of oarsmen below deck, Ri Starian longships were the fastest in the world. Having those vessels armed with flash cannons was a frightening prospect.
A flash of green fire and a puff of smoke billowed from the lead Ri Starian ship. A boom followed, and a projectile hit the trailing vessel of the Torin armada, sending a blast of splinters into the air.
“This is bad.” Brock’s tone was grim. “Queen Olvaria has thrown her lot in with the Empire.”
Another longship fired, also striking the trailing Torin ship, this time near the waterline. The wounded vessel rocked, tilted to one side, and turned toward shore, but it was too late. The ship was sinking while sailors and passengers scrambled for the lifeboat.
“We have to stop them!” Brock put his hand on Tenzi’s shoulder. “Slow down so the rest of the armada can pass us.”
She turned back toward the enemy fleet. “Once we are in range, they are going to fire at us.”
“I know, but I don’t have a choice. Just trust me.”
“Fine.” With her face in a scowl, Tenzi bellowed out orders, sending sailors up the masts to lower the upper sails.
Brock leaped down to the main deck where he spotted Stein. The man stood at the rail watching the trailing ships, his attention shifting toward Brock as he drew close.
“Stein! I need you to run below deck and instruct the other arcanists to begin applying Reduce Gravity augmentations to the deck. I want a large rune drawn near the bow, one in the middle, and one near the quarterdeck. Have them stack augmentations.”
“Stack them? You know what will happen.” Stein’s expression revealed his doubt.
“Just do it.”
As Stein ran to the stairs and disappeared below deck, Brock darted back to Tenzi’s cabin. He burst in and searched the room, his gaze falling on the small, round table bolted to the floor. With his boot heel against it, he gave it a shove but it didn’t move. He then picked up the chair and swung hard. The chair smashed into the table, scattering broken wood pieces onto the bed and across the floor. Brock gripped the tilted tabletop and lifted, tearing it off the base with a loud crack. He then set the tabletop on the floor and began to carve a symbol into the wood with the tip of his dagger. Once finished, he picked up the tabletop and ran back outside.
The drizzling rain continued, driven by the wind and leaving the deck slick. Razor had fallen behind most of the fleet, and the last remaining vessel was nearly upon them. Stein and the nine other arcanists were on deck with a group at the bow, a group in the center, and a group right beside Brock, near the stern. A man in the nearest group hurriedly traced a symbol with a chunk of coal. The diameter of the rune was half the width of the ship.
“Be sure to get the symbol exact!” Brock warned. “A misdrawn rune will kill us all!”
Still clutching the three-foot diameter table, Brock scrambled up the stairs to find the Ri Starian fleet less than a quarter-mile behind them.
“Tenzi!” he hollered. “Raise the sails the moment you see this rune activate!”
Without waiting, he closed his eyes and embraced the anxiety of the moment. The raw and angry energy of Chaos surrounded him, and he drew it in as easily as drawing a breath. Within seconds, a raging torrent of raw power surged throughout his body, threatening to tear him apart. Brock opened his eyes and gazed upon the rune he had etched into the table. It flared to life with a fiery glow, and Tenzi commanded her crew to raise the sails.
Brock ran across the quarterdeck and, with a grunt, threw the tabletop toward the Ri Starian fleet. It spun like a disc, the charged rune etched in the wood pulsing and fading as the tabletop struck the water.
A boom and a blast of green flame burst from a cannon on the bow of the nearest enemy vessel, launching a metal ball toward Razor. The projectile hit just below the quarterdeck with a massive crack that sent Brock, Broland, and Tenzi stumbling. It smashed through the rear of the captain’s cabin and emerged out the other side, destroying the quarterdeck stairs in a burst of splintered wood.
“No! Not again!” Tenzi roared in frustration.
The floating tabletop then turned pure white and the churning ocean around it began to freeze. A thunderous crack came from the ice and it expanded in a roar of pops and snaps. The air over the center turned the drizzle to snow that thickened into a swirling localized blizzard.
Razor rocked and began to rise out of the water, sending those on board stumbling as the craft lifted upward. Brock leaned against the rearmost rail and watched the expanding ring of ice race toward them, far faster than the ship sailed. He glanced backward to see the Reduce Gravity runes on the deck, again pulsing with the next augmentation about to take hold.
“Come on. Just a little more lift,” he urged, nervous that the ice would reach them too soon.
The ship lurched and rose up higher, tilting as the hull came out of the water and the wind pushed against the sails. Broland fell into Brock, both of them rolling across the quarterdeck until they wedged against the port side rail. Tenzi held tight to the wheel. The sailors and arcanists toppled to the deck, many sliding across it before slamming into the rail. A sailor on the main mast slipped, spun, and dangled by a rope briefly before falling into the ocean.
Brock pulled himself up and peeked over the rail. The ice ring had expanded beyond their position, the ocean now a white, choppy, uneven surface of frozen waves. The trailing fleet crashed into the ice in a massive collision, damaging hulls and launching crew members overboard. The sailors who landed on the ice did not move.
As the Razor floated away, tilted at a hard angle a hundred feet above the ocean, the ice continued to expand. In the distance. Brock spotted a lifeboat from the sinking Torin vessel, fighting the churning waves as it headed toward land. Between him and the ship, the sea had become an island of ice, two miles in diameter. Ten Ri Starian longships were locked in the ice and would remain there until the augmentation expired. Even then, Brock suspected that most of those vessels were too damaged to make it to shore. Those ships will no longer be a problem.
“That was too close,” Broland said.
“I can’t steer!” Tenzi spun the wheel with no response. “The rudder is useless! We are drifting toward the cliffs!” She cupped her hands to her mouth and bellowed, “Lower the sails!”
Tenzi leaped off the quarterdeck and ran toward the main mast, which was unmanned. The sailors in the other two masts worked frantically to lower the sails while Tenzi scaled the main mast. Brock climbed his way up the angled deck to the starboard rail and looked down. They had passed most of the fleet with only the lead ship still ahead of them.
“Broland, follow me.” Brock leaped over the broken stairs and landed on the main deck, almost falling on the slippery, tilted surface.
With Broland following, Brock bolted to the closet beside the galley and opened the door to reveal three ballistae, three-foot long bolts, and long coils of rope. As the sails came down, the deck began to level, making it easier to stand.
Joely appeared beside the door. “What can I do?”
“Both of you, help me with this,” Brock said as he lifted one of the heavy ballistae.
Once the weapon was out the door, Brock returned to the closet, grabbed two coils of heavy rope, and threw one over each shoulder before scooping up a ballista bolt with a grappling hook on the end.
“Broland, Joely, Stein,” Brock said as he moved past them. ”Carry the ballista to the bow.”
As the trio scrambled to pick up the ballista, Brock looked up to find only the lowest sails still unfurled. The ship had slowed and leveled but was still headed toward the cliffs.
With Broland, Joely, and Stein in tow, Brock led them to the prow. The Razor was now even with the leading ship – the craft a few hundred feet to the starboard side and a hundred feet below them. Kneeling, Brock tied the two coils of rope together and then tied one end to a massive cleat normally used when docking. As he secured the other end to the eyelet on the ballista bolt, he issued instructions.
“Rest the ballista on the rail and hold tight.” He turned to Joely. “You know this weapon. We only get one shot. Make it count.”
Joely nodded, eyeing his target while Brock cranked the launch mechanism back, inserted the bolt into the ballista, and held on tight.
Joely tilted the ballista upward and moved it slightly to the right. He pulled the release trigger, and the bolt launched, the recoil sending Brock, Broland, and Stein stumbling to the deck. The coil of rope rapidly unwound as it slid over the rail, chasing the projectile.
Brock scrambled to his feet and watched the bolt fly toward the other ship. It hit a sail, tearing it. Reaching the end of the rope, the grappling hook recoiled and leaped backward, spinning around the main mast before latching on. The rope drew tight and the Razor lurched, causing everyone on board to stagger.
Razor’s prow dipped and tilted toward the ship towing them. Their direction altered slightly, but the cliffside was approaching fast. The cliff drew close…too close to avoid. A deep grinding sound came from the hull. Razor lurched and shook as it scraped across the cliff face. Moments later, the sound ceased and the ship slipped free.
A glance over the rail provided a wave of relief. They had cleared the obstruction and were now heading toward open waters. Brock wiped his brow and turned to find Tenzi glaring at him, her fists on her hips.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I have a hole in my ship, thanks to you.” She gestured back at her cabin and the broken stairs.
Looking through the opening, Brock was able to see the cliffs behind them, slipping into the distance. “Yes. I’m sorry about that.”
Tenzi crossed her arms and stared north, toward the trapped longships, now appearing as dark specs in a field of white. After a moment, she sighed. “I know you did your best. I just wish they would stop firing flash cannons at my ship.”
Brock moved closer and put his hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry, Tenzi. However, look around you. We are a hundred feet above the water. You may have a hole in your cabin, but I am willing to bet that Razor is also the first flying ship. Ever. It should make a great story next time you’re having drinks with other sailors.”
A conflict of ideals – magic versus fire-powered weapons. The fate of Issalia hangs in the balance.
A new Empire has risen to power. Already in control of the east coast, the Imperial Army sets its sights on Issalia’s western kingdoms. Tensions rise as both sides prepare for war.
What deadly weapon will the Empire develop next?
Brandt and Quinn are espions – part spy, part thief, part assassin. Under false identities, these spies find themselves deeply entrenched within Empire headquarters. There, they gather information, seeking a means to foil the Empire’s plans for conquest.
One misstep by either warden could result in death – their own and thousands of others.
They are joined by a small squad of fellow wardens:
Wildcats – warriors trained to fight while powered by magic
Rangers – experts in nature, these archers scout enemy forces
Gadgeteers – engineers who invent magic-powered machines and weapons
Arcanists – those who can wield Chaos – a destructive, rune-based magic
Driven by the core belief that Chaos magic is evil, the Empire seeks to stamp out this scourge. If victorious, Chaos will be outlawed. Those who can wield it…will be executed.
The game is afoot – a game like no other. The world is my Ratio Bellicus board. The game pieces are real people with hopes and dreams and lives they believe they control. I know the truth of it – a truth my peers don’t even acknowledge.
While my enemy hides their pieces from me, I know the hand that moves them. In that knowledge, I have an advantage. My opponent’s motivation remains clear and they believe in that clarity. They see Chaos as evil. I see it as a tool, not so different from a knife. A knife can carve beauty from wood, slice an apple, or stab someone through the heart. How the tool is used defines its purpose. Magic is no different.
To my opponent, my hand remains hidden – my game pieces and their abilities unknown to them. Within this subterfuge, I study and consider, and I scheme. I shift a game piece here and move another there. The game pieces used are as important as the schemes guiding them.
My prodigy and her counterpart now dwell inside enemy headquarters, feeding from a well of misguided trust as they prepare for an act of betrayal. Sometimes, piercing your opponent’s heart actually becomes the knife’s purpose.
There may soon come a time where I become an active participant rather than simply the hand that directs others. When the time comes, my enemy best beware that I am well versed in knives and betrayal. Beware the hidden assassin, for a successful Imperial Gambit hinges on the placement of such a game piece.
From the journals of Master Espion, Delvin Garber
Natasha, Amazon Customer, 5⭐: OMG this series by is so good! It just keeps getting better and better. Idk how he does it but Kohanek is able to create such vivid imagery that I just get lost in his books. And I love all the characters! Quinn is by far my favorite though. I admire strong, loyal, brilliant women and Quinn is a character every girl and woman should look up too. All the other characters are wonderfully dynamic and admirable too so there’s never a lack of of that hopeful feeling. The world building is perfectly balanced and there’s enough action to keep things interesting but enough intrigue to keep me guessing. I wasn’t able to predict any of the big moments about this book which is so refreshing. I can’t wait to continue this series and read everything else Kohanek writes!
illidia, Amazon Customer, 5⭐: Jeffrey Kohanek has written another gem in An Imperial Gambit. The books in this series just keep getting better and better. I loved reading about the continuing adventures of my favorite characters and seeing them grow. I can’t wait for the next book in the series!
Megan, Goodreads Contributor, 4⭐: Another great one in the series
This book is another great addition in the Wardens series. It is the best book so far and I like that the books keep getting better as the stakes for the characters keep getting higher.
This book focuses more on missions for various Wardens as well as some development of weaponry at the Ward. The story strikes a very good balance between these with all the events being directly related to the overall plot. There are no filler missions or filler characters which I really liked. Most of the book focuses on Quinn and Brandt. Their story is extremely interesting and somewhat unpredictable. The banter between. Them as well as Chuli and Jonah is quite entertaining. This book definitely builds up the tension between the Empire and everywhere else and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Fiona, Goodreads Contributor, 5⭐: As always another awesome adventure written in glourious wide sweeps of imagination. A world full of all sorts of people who are fighting to end the rule of a corrupt section of people. The characters are well written and described. The world of Issalia rocks. I love all of Mr Kohanek’s books. I highly recommend grabbing a copy of this series, curling up with your favourite beverage and lose yourself in a fabulous series.
The Tarka chuckled and shoved her away. She stumbled a few steps, dropped the sticks and unsheathed her blades. Her fingers gripped the smooth leather wound around the hilts. The power vibrated against her skin. The electrifying blue energy danced along the shafts and whined, begging for blood. She whirled around and her hood fell back. The wind pushed her hair across her face.
The Tarka remained expressionless and drew his second sword. He now wielded two blades like her. “Ah. Now we see the true you.”
She lunged. He parried. The power of the swords pulled at her. She fused with them, merging into one, as if the blades became extensions of her arms as she danced. The light reflected off the metal and she became a flurry of sharp edges. Each slash propelled her faster and she spun, transforming into a whirlwind of blades.
~~ Excerpt 2 ~~
The Tarka held perfectly still, gray gaze flashing, white-blond hair shining under the setting sun. He looked like a warrior angel sent to Earth to smite the pest-like humans.
She clutched her staff and brought it up with numb fingers.
He raised a dark eyebrow. “You plan to fight me with a stick?”
“I can hand it over and tell you what to do with it, if you promise to follow directions.” She moved the stick slowly. Not fast enough to give away her skill, but enough to warm her wrists and get blood flowing back into her limbs.
“I’ll take option number one, thank you,” he said.
“Fine with me. I’d prefer anything to becoming your next sacrifice.” They’d never confirmed the Arkavians were responsible for the bloody sacrifice they’d stumbled on, but no crazy magical beasts had roamed the forest since the portal opened, so they made an assumption. She glanced behind her at the trees and George’s exposed foot. What the hell had the Tarka done to him?
“He’s incapacitated. You won’t find any help from him.”
Taya snarled while her mind raced. The man hadn’t used any magic yet. Maybe he didn’t have any. Maybe only some of the blondes had power. Could she outrun him? She wasn’t fast, but he was bulky with muscle, and wore lightweight armour and a heavy cloak to stave off the damp cold.
Where would she run to? She couldn’t lead him to the others, and she couldn’t survive long in the woods without supplies.
The man cocked his head, studying her and probably reading every thought screaming through her head. “Sacrifice? Exactly what kind of fantasies have your kind concocted about us?”
“I would hardly call them fantasies.”
“What would you call them, then?”
He nodded. “Is this where you tell me my evil ways are done?”
“I’m not sure. Is this where you make some grand speech about ridding the world of my kind or do you plan to preach about the superiority of your race and how you deserve to leach off our planet?”
“I’m waiting for you to finish warming up so we can get on with it.”
J.C. McKenzie is a book-loving, gumboot-wearing, unapologetic science geek. She’s the author of the Carus Series, an urban fantasy five-book saga published by the Wild Rose Press. Born and raised on the West Coast, J. C. sets the majority of her books in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada. She writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance with sassy heroines and brutish, alpha-type men.