Posts tagged “fantasy

It’s Two for One Time…As in Two Covers in One Post and a Little Extra

What do the names Kenyon and Jones have in common? Fantastic covers, that’s what!

I recently became insanely addicted to the Charley Davidson mystery series – seriously, how awesome is that name? – by Darynda Jones. The woman is a prolific writer, and good one, and the wait between novels has been short enough that I can devour read after read without feeling guilty. If you haven’t started the series, or are debating the wisdom of doing so like I did not so long ago, you can read a free short story called For I Have Sinned on Heroes and Heartbreakers. (Be warned, you do have to be registered member and logged in to read. Registration is free and easy, however.)

The next book of the Charley Davidson series, Seventh Grave and No Body, releases this year on October 21st but we already have the title, blurb and cover for book eight – Eighth Grave After Dark.

 With twelve hellhounds after her, pregnant Charley Davidson takes refuge at the only place she thinks they can’t get to her: the grounds of an abandoned convent. But after months of being cooped up there,  Charley is ready to pop. Both metaphorically and literally since she is now roughly the size of a beached whale. Fortunately, a new case has captured her attention, one that involves a murder on the very grounds the team has taken shelter upon. A decades-old murder of the newly-vowed nun she keeps seeing in the shadows is almost enough to pull her out of her doldrums.

Charley’s been forbidden to step foot off the sacred grounds. While the angry hellhounds can’t traverse the consecrated soil, they can lurk just beyond its borders. They have the entire team on edge, especially Reyes. And if Charley didn’t know better, she would swear Reyes is getting sick. He grows hotter with every moment that passes, his heat scorching across her skin every time he’s near, but naturally he swears he’s fine.

While the team searches for clues on the Twelve, Charley just wants answers and is powerless to get them. But the mass of friends they’ve accrued helps. They convince her even more that everyone in her recent life has somehow been drawn to her, as though they were a part of a bigger picture all along. But the good feelings don’t last for long because Charley is about to get the surprise of her crazy, mixed-up, supernatural life…

Eighth Grave After Dark releases May 19th, 2015.

But we promised you two for the price of one, so here’s cover reveal number two!

Sherrilyn Kenyon has been her usual busy self, and we have a cover, title and blurb for the next book of the Dark-Hunter (or Were-Hunter if one wants to get technical) fantasy series, Dragonbane:

Out of all the mysterious boarders who call Sanctuary home, no one is more antisocial or withdrawn than Maxis Drago. But then, it’s hard to blend in with the modern world when you have a fifty foot wingspan.

Centuries ago, he was cursed by an enemy who swore to see him fall. An enemy who took everything from him and left him forever secluded.

But Fate is a bitch, with a wicked sense of humor. And when she throws old enemies together and threatens the wife he thought had died centuries ago, he comes back with a vengeance. Modern day New Orleans has become a battleground for the oldest of evils. And two dragons will hold the line, or go down in flames.

Max’s book hit bookstores – though not literally – on August 4th, 2015.

So there you have it…two amazing covers for the price of one. How’s that for whetting our appetite? Sadly, we’ll have to wait for next year for the full enchilada.


CHAOS: Whoa, whoa, whoa…hang on! Aren’t you going to tell them about the giveaway?

ME: Oh, right…okay, fellow readers, here’s the deal. We will be doing a giveaway very, very soon  – our first ever actually – and you’ll have a chance to win a copy by one of the amazing authors featured in this post. But you’ll have to wait to see which one. Stay tuned on the blog and on Twitter for more news.

Okay, so that was actually three for the cost of reading one post. Yes, we really can’t count here on Rika’s Musings, but aren’t you glad we failed elementary school Math? 😉

Rika Ashton

(aka “Signing off for real this time.”)


Cover Reveal: THE SHADOWS by J. R. Ward

For Black Dagger Brotherhood fans out there, we finally have a cover for The Shadows by J. R. Ward and it’s a good one!

Two brothers bound by more than blood discover a conspiracy that will change their destiny in the astonishing all-new novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, the “frighteningly addictive” (Publishers Weekly) series by #1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward.

This is iAm and Trez’s book and, after the plot twister that was The King, this one promises to reveal even more secrets from the Black Dagger Brotherhood universe – and I for one, can’t wait!

Unfortunately, we all have to wait until April 7th, 2015 for this book to release in bookstores around the world. Till then we’ll all have to continue to speculate on all the possible routes this book could take and wait with baited breath for any teasers the Warden deems worthy of sharing.

Rika Ashton

(aka “I thing this is one of the best covers yet!”)

Does This Count as a Blurb Reveal? Terry Goodkind’s SEVERED SOULS

Richard and Kahlan…pretty much the epitome of power couples in the fantasy genre…and one of them might be dying?!

After Terry Goodkind revealed on both his Twitter and Facebook feeds the teaser slogan for Severed Souls, my heart plummeted to the ground, and catapulted back into my throat.

“A hero will die.”

It was/is my fear that Mr. Goodkind’s pulling a Richard Castle/Nathan Fillion and killing his hero – Richard. But then, I started to calm myself down and thought about how the Sword of Truth universe has many heroes – and that maybe it’ll be one of the minor ones that I won’t miss seeing go.

And that was when Mr. Goodkind released the next teaser:

“Her hero will die.”

The second teaser was accompanied by the picture of the woman holding the bloody sword on the Severed Souls cover, which got me back to thinking that it might be Richard after all. But of course, some readers on the internet are more optimistic than myself and think it might be the husband of Magda Searus – the First Confessor – the Mr. Goodkind is referring too. And, gods, I hope they’re right!

I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to hunt down anything else I could find about this upcoming book, but only have a short teaser blurb and an excerpt (below) to show for my efforts. Which means that we all have to be impatient until this book releases on August 5th, 2014.

Teaser Blurb:

From the far reaches of the D’Haran Empire, Bishop Hannis Arc and the ancient Emperor Sulachan lead a vast horde of Shun-Tuk and other depraved “half-people” into the Empire’s heart, raising an army of the dead in order to threaten the world of the living. Meanwhile, far from home, Richard Rahl and Kahlan Amnell must defend themselves and their followers from a series of terrifying threats, despite a magical sickness that depletes their strength and which, if not cured, will take their lives…sooner rather than later.

Here’s a snippet from the previous novel, The Third Kingdom, which I initially thought was from Severed Souls because it was listed under the book on Goodreads, but a HUGE thanks to Tristan for catching my mistake:

Richard saw the point of a sword blade sticking out from between the man’s shoulder blades. He spun back toward Richard after throwing the woman out of the opening, ready to attack. It seemed impossible, but the man looked unaffected by the blade that had impaled him through the chest.

It was then, in the weak light from the fire pit off to the side, that Richard got his first good look at the killer.

Three knives were buried up to their brass cross-guards in the man’s chest. Only the handles were showing. Richard saw, too, the broken end of a sword blade jutting out from the center of the man’s chest. The point of that same blade stuck out from the man’s back.

Richard recognized the knife handles. All three were the style carried by the men of the First File.

He looked from those blades that should have killed the big man, up into his face. That was when he realized the true horror of the situation, and the reason for the unbearable stench of death.

I think I’m going to have a very hard time sleeping till this book is released.

Any heroic book deaths that have you panicked or made you crazy? We would very much like to know. Comment and share!

Rika Ashton

(aka The Very Panicked)

Film Review: How to Train Your Dragon 2 Takes Flight!

Disclaimer: We apologize for the corny blog post title, but it seems that despite the fact that both Chaos and I co-wrote this post, our minds have been temporarily turned to mush after witnessing the masterpiece that is How to Train Your Dragon 2, and this title was unfortunately the best we could come up with under the circumstances. On another note, we will try to avoid spoilers whenever possible.

Many films can be considered visually stunning or narratively superior works of art, however few films can boast to being both a visual and narrative masterpiece yet How to Train Your Dragon 2 is exceptional on both levels.

Admittedly, both Chaos and I were disappointed with the lack of an original title for this film, and Chaos especially didn’t have high hopes for a sequel that at first glance didn’t bother to distinguish itself from it predecessor…yet we were wrong on both accounts. This film is very different from the first, with its own tightly packed story line, new characters, and new perspective on the relationship between vikings and dragons.

Now, if you’ve been following the Dragons television series (on Cartoon Network, or Teletoon in Canada), you won’t be surprised by the new peaceful coexistence between the vikings and dragons on Berk. The television series explores the pitfalls and obstacles that had to be overcome to achieve the new relationship we see between vikings and dragons in this film, but it is not 100% necessary to watch because, as mentioned before, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is still a distinct, stand-alone film.

But you don’t have to believe us, just watch the first five minutes of the film below, courtesy of the How to Train Your Dragon 2 animation team and see for yourself:

Dreamworks has improved their animation for the second film and the characters are more expressive than ever, which adds a whole new level of emotional involvement for the audience. And, like its now grown-up cast of characters, this film takes on a darker tone than the first. While the previous film only touched on some of the darker themes like danger and death, this one asks for a greater emotional sacrifices from the characters and audience.

But the darker themes in this film are still balanced by the light-hearted humour between the characters, the bonds of friendship, and the romantic elements.

Speaking of romance, although neither Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Astrid (America Ferrera) directly state it, it’s pretty obvious that they’re an item now, and the seriousness of their relationship is balanced by the banter within the budding “love triangle” between Snotlout  (Jonah Hill), Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig), and Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). We also get to see the rekindling romance between Stoick (Gerard Butler) and Valka (Cate Blanchett), so Dreamworks has made sure to cater to both the older and younger audience members.

And for those who enjoy a bit more action and rampaging bloodshed in their films, How to Train Your Dragon 2 has plenty of that as well – in fact, this one’s got a full-on war!

Finally, this film adds another strong female character to the story line. Though, Astrid has to take a bit of a backseat, because Valka – being Hiccup’s mother – is more essential to the destiny/fate themed narrative, both women have a chance to shine in How to Train Your Dragon 2. (It always saddens and astonishes us that we see stronger female characters in animated action films than in live action ones – though there is a bit of a change underfoot.)

But, at it’s heart, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a coming-of-age story nestled in a beautifully animated landscape and executed with near-flawless perfection. The alternately hilarious and serious plot is a nostalgic reminder of our childhood dreams of discovering adventure and soaring on the back of a dragon!

Rika Ashton and Chaos Ashton

(aka Film Reviewers Who May or May Not Have Cried During the Screening)

P.S: How to Train Your Dragon 2 releases in theatres this Friday (June 13th).

Cover Reveal: INSTINCT by Sherrilyn Kenyon

So the next novel in the Chronicles of Nick series by Sherrilyn Kenyon has a title and a cover. Instinct hits stores in April 2015 and I’ve pasted the gorgeous cover and blurb below:

Zombies, demons, vampires, shapeshifters— another day in the life of Nick Gautier– and those are just his friends. But now that he’s accepted the demon that lives inside him, he must learn to control it and temper the very emotions that threaten the lives of everyone he cares for. Something that’s hard to do while trying to stay off the menus of those who want his head on a platter. And no one wants him more than the dark gods who created his race. Now that they know where he is, they will stop at nothing to reclaim him. And without knowing it, Nick has just embraced the one person he should never have trusted. The one person who will hand him over to his enemies to get back the life they lost.

Nick has finally accepted his fate, now he must learn to defy his destiny, and the dark, deadly forces that will stop at nothing to destroy everyone he loves so that they can again return to the world of man and own it.

Get the preorder links for the novel here.

What do we think? Love? Hate? Not rocking your boat?

Rika Ashton

(aka The Insider)

Cloak and Dagger: Cover Lover Edition

So as I was working on DOTS yesterday, my mind wandered to the different kinds of covers I might want for my novel. I was looking at covers with real models and some animated ones…and of course, it’s no secret that I LOVE the work of Larry Rostant and Jason Chan. For fantasy novel covers, these two artists have a wide array of art and samples to browse…not to mention they are uber-TALENTED! But while I was browsing through some covers for this post, I also found some more great artists! (Go ahead and check out their sites, links are in the post.)

One of my favourite themes for fantasy cover art is the “cloak and dagger” art. And I thought I’d explore the various ways its been used for some of my favourite novels:

Cover artist: Larry Rostant

This one’s got a unique cloak and mask idea.

Cover artist: Jason Chan

Cannot tell you how much I love this book! And Jorg is seriously wicked! Chan did an amazing job for this cover – the tattered cloak and all the fallen/dead corpses is eerie and perfect!

Cover artist: Paul Youll

First time I’ve seen a characters back turned to you on a cover. Usually the character faces front or at least part of their face is shown, but cover feels like we’re coming up behind the character and approaching the city with him.

Cover artist: Mark Winters

Not only a cool cloak, but this one’s got a jewelry! Yay!

The cloaked covers allow a reader to imagine what a character looks like and lend an air of mystery. And they all look amazingly BADASS!

And then there are the covers with the partially cloaked character. Still badass, but with less mystery:

Cover artist: Jason Chan

Another of my all-time favourite novels! The character’s unconcealed face means we get to see her fierce expression clearly.

Cover artist: Jason Chan

The flaming dagger is what attracted me to this cover by Chan. I’ve always though that it if the character was wearing Ancient Greek clothes, and if her hair was a bit longer, it would be the perfect cover for DOTS. 😀

The “hooded man/woman” might be an overdone for the fantasy genre, but I think that it still works. And each cover is unique or adds something to the traditional image. And it still remains one of my favourites!

What’s your favourite fantasy cover art theme? (Or artist?)

Rika Ashton

(aka The Cloaked One)

The Kraken King by Meljean Brook: A Review of Parts 1 and 2

Disclaimer: I received the first two parts of this serialized novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Also, because this is a serialized novel, there may be spoilers about part one in the part two review. 

Got my hands on my first every Meljean Brook novel – or rather I should say serial novel – a few weeks ago.


The Kraken King and the Scribbling Spinster is the first part of a eight part serialized novel, set in an alternate universe with steampunk elements:

A former smuggler and thief, Ariq—better known as the Kraken King—doesn’t know what to make of the clever, mysterious woman he rescues from an airship besieged by marauders. Unsure if she’s a spy or a pawn in someone else’s game, Ariq isn’t about to let her out of his sight until he finds out…

After escaping her fourth kidnapping attempt in a year, Zenobia Fox has learned to vigilantly guard her identity. While her brother Archimedes is notorious for his exploits, Zenobia has had no adventures to call her own—besides the stories she writes. But when she jumps at the chance to escape to the wilds of Australia and acquire research for her next story, Zenobia quickly discovers that the voyage will be far more adventurous than any fiction she could put to paper…

The first part was exiting and mysterious – a lot of secrets to go around. As the reader, we know a few that Zenobia is keeping, but Ariq is almost completely in the dark. We know that Zenobia is travelling as Geraldine, a widow, though of course she’s actually a spinster who pens novels. Zenobia agrees to the journey, thinking it’ll be dull, but it actually morphs into an adventure like the ones she writes about.

And in comes Ariq. He rescues Zenobia, who wants nothing more than to stay off his radar, but that only makes Ariq more determined and intrigued.

Zenobia and Ariq have amazing character chemistry right of the bat and are pretty much on the same level when it comes to all the banter in the novel. (I swear when they one-up each other during some of the dialogue, I channeled Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory – “Bazinga!”)

But basically, the first part of the novel served as a teaser for all the great things to come in the later parts…and, boy, am I ever excited!


The second part of the novel, The Kraken King and the Abominable Worm, was equally as entertaining:

As they continue their expedition across Australia, Ariq is determined to stay close to
Zenobia and figure out what kind of game she’s playing—even as his admiration for the enigmatic woman starts to override his suspicion.

For Zenobia, revealing her identity to a man who once made his living outside of the law is out of the question—even though Ariq’s dashing looks and blunt manner are distractingly appealing.

But before anyone’s secrets or desires can be exposed, an unexpected attack threatens to destroy them all…

OMG! The world building in this series! My inner escapist geek couldn’t have been more delighted.

We also get to learn more about the characters in part two, such as how Ariq earned the nickname of “The Kraken King” and Zenobia’s quick wit and bravery. And I was actually starting to like Helene, Zenobia’s travelling companion, by this part of the novel. And the lust between Zenobia and Ariq continues to scorch.

The only complaint I could possibly have about The Kraken King is that it is a serialized novel and the wait for part three is going to be killer. Not that it’s going to stop me from rereading parts one and two again and reliving the adventure we’ve been introduced to. I give parts one and two of The Kraken King 5/5 – they were a strong start to an original story and I can’t wait to see what the next parts have in store!


And to see all the animated covers go here.

Rika Ashton

(aka “I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to read a novel by Meljean Brook!”)

P.S: To learn more about the new review policy and how to make a request, go here.

Dagger of the Sun Update!

Hi folks,

I’ve finally got some time to write yesterday, so I thought why not post another short teaser from DOTS?

The city center, marketplace and all, was burning – flames ravenously engulfing the landscape. The agora itself was a pit of bright, orange fire. Smoke, that hadn’t been visible from within the alley, was rising into the air like a dark cloud.

And there were more reptilian creatures.


Behind her, Delphyne heard the clatter of a sword being tossed aside, which prompted her to action.

She had to find Apollo; if anyone knew what was going on, it would be him.

Unfortunately it was easier said than done.

More of the smoke was beginning to rise, mixing with the summer heat, making her eyes water as she ran blindly towards where she had seen Apollo land earlier.

As always, feel free to make predictions about what you think will happen next by leaving a comment below?

Rika Ashton

(aka “I’m so happy to be writing again!”)

P. S: I found a picture of Delphyne the Gorgon – this comes from the Marvel comic book, Incredible Hercules.

Dark Lover by J. R. Ward: Hardcover Reissue

A little birdie – or rather, blogger (Reading in Pajamas, to be precise) told me that Dark Lover, the first Black Dagger Brotherhood novel is being reissued in hardcover format.

In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other – six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing more than Wrath, the leader of The Black Dagger Brotherhood.

The only purebred vampire left on earth, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But, when one of his most trusted fighters is killed – leaving his half-breed daughter unaware of his existence or her fate – Wrath must usher her into the world of the undead – a world of sensuality beyond her wildest dreams.

It’s releasing on March 4, 2014 – just in time for the release of The King on March 25, 2014 (also in hardcover). Since I still have to buy the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, I can not get a matching set – with the same cover model on both of the Wrath/Beth stories! 😀

Rika Ashton

(aka The Very Pleased)

Time for a Teaser: Apollo

Once again, just to prove that I’ve been keeping on top of my editting, I’m going to post a short teaser. The new teaser is Apollo’s description from my novel:

Delphyne had been in the hidden glade not far from her home, practising the sword-fighting manoeuvres her Spartan father had recently taught her, when the god had landed in front of her. He’d looked magnificent with his wings, of not feathers but light and flame, as if he’d forced rays of sunlight to take shape at his back. His wind-tousled hair had transitioned between the shades of pure white and the deepest of gold. A laurel wreath snaked around one wrist, while the other was left bare by his sleeveless white tunic.

But it had been his eyes that had started her, more so than even the soft golden glow, the perfection of his face – with it’s high cheekbones, and smooth skin that lacked her father’s scruffy beard – or his incredible height. The pale blue of the winter sky, they were like chips of ice in a torrent of fire. Those eyes had stared at her with an intensity that scared her.

As you can see, my Apollo is blond which is contradictory to what Pierre Grimal writes in The Concise Dictionary of Classical Mythology, where he notes that Apollo was “especially distinguished for his long, curling, black hair” (49). However, as I am the author of this novel, which is a work of fiction and not an biography of Apollo, I decided to take a little – or a lot, depending on how you look at it – creative license. While I like to stick with the facts when it comes to Greece, its environment, foods and clothes, I don’t intend to follow any of the myths too precisely.

Also, I’m fairly certain the original Apollo didn’t have wings, but mine sometimes conjures them when he needs to travel long distances. (He’s too young yet to just appear where he needs to go.) Here’s what I imagine Apollo’s wings to look like:

My current motto is, “I will own this myth!” So that means I’m sticking to a new, original retelling and not just the facts.

Rika Ashton

(aka I’m-still-astonished-that-Apollo-was-a-brunette)