Review: The Wielders of Arantha; Book Two, Queens

Queens (The Wielders of Arantha Book 2)Queens by Patrick Hodges

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Truth in advertising. I was a huge fan of the first Wielders book. It was a natural for me to read the next one in the series. As the book begins, we see where Maeve and Davin are left off at the end of the last book. Dav is anxious about his unconscious mother and she is in need of medical attention.

The magically gifted ‘Wielders’, as they are known, are connected to powerful stones which gives them powers of one kind or another. It is only after Maeve, an earthling, and her son Davin make their way to an alien world that they find out about their latent powers. The question facing the reader is this, what happens if someone controls all the stones?

Not wanting to spoil anything, there is an advancement of a whole love story … perhaps two. Armies will clash, people will die, and ‘sisters’ who are not natural warriors will pick up arms to stop their foes. I hate spoilers so I will stop there.

The Wielders series is personality driven in the sense that it focuses on some very strong and complex central characters. He makes you see the characters by making them three-dimensional. When something happens to one of your favorite characters, you feel it in your gut and that is the mark of a great author. I would be remiss if I did not point out that Patrick is one hell of a world builder as well. You are sucked into the world he builds and it carries you though the story.

As far as continuity is concerned, it is easy to see where the first book ends and the second begins. I I will always argue that you should start with book one before reading book two, but that is just me. If you happen to read book two first you would miss some of the initial world building, but you could read book two without book one. But you would, after reading book two, go back and read the first one, I guarantee it.

Patrick is a solid and seasoned writer such that the prose flows off the page cleanly. You find yourself unwilling or unable to put down this page-turner.

I can whole-heartedly recommend Wielders, book 2 (Queens). If you read this one before reading book one, I will warn you that you probably should just order book one at the same time. Trust me, you will read it.

-Your Humble Servant,


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Why I Write, by Hurricane Irma

A small part of me hates flying. I know I’ve said that before, but it came into sharp focus today while the airplane I was on flew through the remnants of hurricane Irma. The woman, sitting across the aisle from me, was visibly terrified of every bump and sudden increase or decrease in altitude. I had to pat myself on the back a little though, while I wasn’t thrilled with my impromptu rodeo lesson, I wasn’t scared. Turbulence, even extreme, is part of modern air travel.

M80 Jet
Ready and bounce!

Bouncing around in the sky has a way of making you take more of a philosophical look at your life. At the same time we were gaining and losing 100 or more feet of altitude with little or no warning, I was reading a book about writing. I am really enjoying it. It is by Crystal Lake Publishing and is called, Horror 101: The Way Forward. The book is a collection of advice from other horror writers about the industry. One of the authors pointed out something I hadn’t really given any thought to. So, today, I want to give it a little thought. The question they asked was so deceptively simple it snuck up on me. What do I hope to get out of writing?

I know it is hard to believe, but writing a novel does not make people magically show up at your door with wheelbarrows full of money and a limousine waiting to take you to a book signing. As a matter of fact, so far I have spent more than I make as an author. So, why put up with the headaches and frustrations of writing?

I gave it some thought and the answer came to me in a flash! I do it for you. You … yes you. I am a firm believer that if I keep plying my trade I will ultimately be successful as a writer. For now, I am going to be content for things like what happened to me this week. I saw, on someone’s Twitter feed, a quote from one of my books. One of my books!

It is a small thing, but it made my heart sing in a way few things can. I grinned stupidly from ear to ear and got that wonderfully buoyant feeling I get when someone tells me they liked my story.

So no, you are not likely going to see me sneaking out to an expensive steak house and hob knobbing with the rich and famous. But, I really don’t want to. I would much rather work on stories which people enjoy.

Just some thoughts from 30,000 feet up. Have a great rest of the week everyone and if you haven’t liked me on Facebook, I will cry. I swear I will. Great big crocodile tears!

-Your Humble Servant,


Horror in Real Life Just Sucks! Help!

Horror is a wonderful word. It can mean so many different things. It evokes in the mind images of serial killers and clowns enraged, chasing campers down by a lake. Horror can also be mysterious, romantic, technical, science fiction, or just about any other genre you can think of. It is a wonderfully flexible world to live in and an exciting time to be a writer.

Entertaining horror has its limits, though. For example, horror in a novel this great. The horror of somebody losing their home in real life is incredibly sad. I think that’s an important distinction because horror writers (and writers in general) live primarily in their minds. We see the world in an almost cartoonish measure. Where normal people see a dark alley and try not to think of the fear it instills in them, a horror writer likely thinks of that same dark alley and all potential others he or she can build into it.

It would be easy to see how someone who works in the horror genre can look at the flooding in Texas and build something terrible around it. I would argue that no additional horror is needed. This is as bad as it gets. As a matter of fact, most writers would ask ourselves what it is that we can do to help.

Unless you’re enormously rich or tremendously powerful, it would be easy to get the impression you have little to give. And there’s where you’d be wrong.

No matter how you look at it, the events in Houston were unique. It was truly an unusual storm system kept in place by another unusual set of circumstances. The storm was basically forced into a holding pattern while the rest of the high pressure systems moved out of the way so it could continue on its path. Circumstances beyond anyone’s control, to be sure.

I’ve been sharing information on my Facebook pages about what can be done to help. I myself donated a little bit of money for the relief efforts through the American Red Cross. I’m not rich and I donated what I could. I’m asking each of you to do the same.

It’s very simple, you can donate through the American Red Cross or just about any other organization which has ongoing efforts to raise money for the relief efforts. We, individually, aren’t rich and powerful. We, collectively, are essentially unstoppable.

It’s a dirty little secret that most charitable organizations aren’t funded by the rich. That’s not to say that they don’t care. But it is usually the people in the middle and lower class who raise the most money. Think about it. If we all gave a little, that adds up quick. One rich guy or gal can’t keep up with our overall charitable power. $10, $20, $50, or $100 is all it takes to make a little bit of a difference.


Like I said, I gave to the Red Cross. I’m not gonna tell you who to give your money to, but I do highly encourage you to donate something. Many organizations can take a little bit of money and turn it into a lot of good.

-Your Humble Servant


Do you want a free Kindle book?

Good, now that I have your attention, I am going to actually give you one. That’s right, I am going to give you a free copy of my newest book, Riapoke, on Kindle. All you have to do is go get it. Starting the 21st of August through the 23rd, you can download it for absolutely nothing.


However, your obligation doesn’t stop there. I’d like to ask a favor of you. It is an easy favor, I promise. After reading it, can you please leave a review? Seriously, I’m giving you a years worth of my work for free and the least you can do is leave a review. It is simple and will mean more to me than you can imagine.

You see, reviews are the grease of the author world and it really does make a difference. You may not think one short review would be important, but it is. Something as simple as, “I really enjoyed this book. Can’t wait for the next one,” actually counts at Amazon for something.

I know people hate to leave reviews because they don’t think they have anything substantial to add, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be short and sweet.

Thank you so much for downloading and reading, Riapoke.


There is not a moment of my writing life that I am not more than a few inches away from these same sentiments! Any writer who is great on Monday will be horrible on Tuesday when the edits make it back. Such is life. As I walk slowly toward my inevitable writing life I know the rules will change in the blink of an eye. Or is it in the blink-of-an-eye? I can never remember.

All we can do is just keep on keepin’ on. 🙂

lucinda E Clarke

I am feeling quite depressed at the moment. Why? Once upon a time, I thought I could write. Not as well as Tolstoy, or Shakespeare, but the average, everyday stuff. This is a good thing, I thought I’m not particularly good at anything else. Don’t ask me to draw a smiley face, or cook gourmet meals, I plant, nurture and watch the green leafy things die, I’m best in the back row of the chorus (or off stage altogether) and … I could go on and on about my lack of accomplishments, but I’ll spare you.

At least I can write, pop words onto paper in reasonable order, tell stories and the extra bonus is I can do that as long as I have wiggly fingers and the mental capacity – unlike those super sporty people whose career is on the downward slope by the time they’re 25.

My belief in…

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I love vacations; however …

I was put recently in the unenviable position of having to take a vacation. *gasp* I know what you are thinking, “Bryan the Writer, who really thinks vacations are bad?” Well, as much as I like seeing new things, I am really more of a home body. Leaving the confines of all I know and love can be traumatic for me.

That being said, I wanted to let you all know why you have heard so little of me lately, I’ve been out and about cruising the world. Well … maybe not all of the world.

1st stop, Indiana. I know, you are likely unimpressed with the state of Indiana, but if you are me it is a salve to my wounds. We go to a place where literally time stopped in like the 70s. I jokingly say it is God’s Midwestern waiting room and the median age is like 473 years old. Nothing happens or even changes. I love it. While we were there we caught up with family, swam, watched grass grow, complained about mosquitoes. It was awesome!

Chillaxin’ in my favorite part of Indiana

Likely, it is one of the only places on this planet I can go and truly feel like I am rested afterward. There is nothing to do, no expectation there will be anything to do, and a complete lack of desire to do anything. I need that. As a highly sensitive person (HSP), I need time to let my emotional armor hang on a hook for a while and maybe rebuild the damaged pieces for what comes next.

I proudly say I am half Hoosier. I spent about half of my childhood there.

If Indiana is the place to send in my emotional suit of armor for repairs, the next stop on my vacation is essentially the reason it needs occasional repairing.

New York City is the wrong place to be if you are a HSP. It is a bundle of nerves, wrapped up in irritation, surrounded in a thick coat of grumpiness and wrapped up in too many people! It is energy, constant and unending. While some people find it invigorating, an HSP can easily be overwhelmed by it. Try taking on the emotions of all of NYC for 12 hours a day. Yeah, I actually yelled at someone the other day. I never do that. I was past my proverbial edge. However, it is not as bad as it may sound. The people around me were also irritated at this jack-ass. They just weren’t fed up enough to yell at him.

NYC Time Square

I really enjoyed seeing Central Park. It is beautiful! We stopped to chill out on a couple of park benches throughout the day and just watch New York wander by us. We stopped by a castle in the park which is now part of the National Weather Service. You can tour the castle. It is kind of neat to see.

We toured Ellis Island’s abandoned hospital, the Statue of Liberty, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, and had some amazing Irish food in this off the wall place we found. And that was on the first day!

My daughter wanted to see “Trump Tower” so, while on 5th Avenue, we made our way to the building. I posted this on my personal Facebook account but I want to reiterate, it’s kind of a hidden jem. First off, the building interior is gorgeous. Downstairs, they have a great café with reasonable prices. REASONABLE PRICES IN NEW YORK! You can also buy sandwiches and burgers, which looked really good. It wasn’t mealtime for us, so we didn’t eat. In NYC, it is almost impossible to find anything reasonably priced to eat, but Trump Tower actually has them. Take the escalator down. Most people don’t do that, they just head inside, snap a photo, and then leave.

My two favorite ladies!

There are the traditional things to do in NYC, like catch a show, etc. However, if you really just want to wander around a bit, there are tons of things to see and do.

I literally was forced to take a vacation … no lie. I had too many vacation hours at my full-time job and I needed to burn a ton. There is a sick part of me that is excited to get back to my work schedule which is highly regimented; albeit self-imposed regimentation. There is comfort in a schedule. However, I have to say, this is been interesting. And, as a fellow writer pointed out, you need to take these little trips occasionally to fuel your imagination.

My point to this blog is simple, get out and see NYC. Lots of cool things to see. Yes, I can’t wait to get home but it has been a pretty great trip overall. As for visiting my secluded corner of Indiana? No … stay away. It’s mine.

-Your Humble Servant


Book Review: Villains Rule

Villains Rule (The Shadow Master #1)Villains Rule by M.K. Gibson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Heroes are great! But, the villains have way more fun! Thus it goes with M K Gibson’s “Villains Rule”. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be the power behind the power. M K Gibson explores this idea in this massively entertaining book.
The book breaks through the fourth wall very successfully, bring the reader in at points with some excellent internal dialogue. Witty and hilarious, the interplay between the characters is enough to keep any reader fully engaged. The book itself excellently written, with a story line that moves along at an good pace.

“Villains Rule” attains what I consider my highest praise. It is an airport book. What I mean by that is this, a book you would be very glad you brought along on an extended plane trip. At points, I chuckled at the witty humor and the amazingly well-written dialogue.

I can highly recommend “Villains Rule” to anyone who is looking for a smart read without all the heaviness that some adventure books seem to keep on the reader. Just when you think the story has had a dark point the villain, Jackson, says or does something to elevate you to a place where you can laugh at the situation.

One warning. This book is addictive and will have you sneaking away from moments to continue the adventure.

-Bryan the Writer

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