Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT THE MAGICIAN’S WORKSHOP by @HansenFehr #YA #Fantasy

Today’s Team review is from Jessie, she blogs at

#RBRT Review Team

Jessie has been reading The Magician’s Workshop by Christopher Hansen and J.R Fehr.


Having loved fantasy for many years I’m often startled by people who complain about books that dump them into a new world without explaining things. Personally, jumping headfirst into a new mysterious world is one of my favorite ways to start a book.  But the authors of The Magician’s Workshop understand that not everyone (particularly young readers) may enjoy such a thing.  So they start with a bit of a disclaimer as the preface, likening trying a new book to starting summer camp. It might seem scary and uncertain, and you might not know if you’ll like it but you should try it because chances are good you will love it!

Sadly, no doubt because Mom suggested she read it, it didn’t sway my daughter.

Which is too bad because, for a young girl who likes reading books with magic in them, I still think she’d like this one.

The Magician’s Workshop dumps you straight into a pile of characters living in their crazy island world where everyone can work magic. And as the characters go about life projecting magic images, flavors and smells, the authors slowly start to introduce some of the difficulties that come in such a fantastical world. What do you think? Would you bother eating real fruit if you could eat something that tasted like fruit instead?

Would I recommend it? For a magic loving pre-teen/teen audience these books could be just the ticket. And, although I have no credentials to back it up, (remember me? I’m a woman with three daughters) I think that boys would really like these books too.  Fair warning, as it says in the beginning, this is the first of a series of books that is more like a television series. Which is true, at the end there is no real conclusion or even a cliff hanger, just a fade out until you start the next book (which is okay because volume two is available on Amazon already!).

Book Description

Everyone in the islands of O’Ceea has a magical ability: whatever they imagine can be brought into existence. Whoever becomes a master over these powers is granted the title of magician and is given fame, power, riches, and glory. This volume of books follows the journey of a group of kids as they strive to rise to the top and become members of the Magician’s Workshop. 

Layauna desperately wants to create beautiful things with her magical powers, but all she can seem to do is make horrible, savage monsters. For years she has tried to hide her creations, but when her power is at last discovered by a great magician, she realizes that what she’s tried to hide might actually be of tremendous value.

Kai just wants to use his powers to have fun and play with his friends. Unfortunately, nearly everyone on his island sees him as a bad influence, so he’s forced to meet them in secret. When one of the creatures they create gets out of control and starts flinging fireballs at their town, Kai is tempted to believe that he is as nefarious as people say. However, his prospects change when two mysterious visitors arrive, praising his ability and making extraordinary promises about his future.

Follow the adventures of Kai, Layauna, and a boatload of other characters as they struggle to grow up well in this fantastical world.

About the authors


The first glimmering Chris Hansen had that there was far more to reality than he had ever imagined occurred six days after his ninth birthday. “Christopher!” cried a wise, old sage. “Life is full of deep magic. Miraculous things happen all the time and all around us, if you know where to look for them.” Full of expectation and childlike optimism, Chris began searching for this magic, prepared to be surprised and amazed by it. And he was: he found Wonder! Now he’s chosen to write stories about it.


When J.R. Fehr popped out of the womb, he knew there was more to the world than the four boring hospital walls that he was seeing. “Zango!” his newborn mind exclaimed as he saw people appear and disappear through a mysterious portal in the wall. As a child he found life wowtazzling, but as he grew older the cold water of reality hit him, and the magic he once knew vanished. After spending some wet and shivering years lost in a joyless wasteland, he once again began to see magic in the world. He writes because the Wonder of true life is far grander than anything he ever thought possible.

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THE FOWLER’S SNARE by @CMTStibbe #AncientEgypt #HistFic #Bookreview @tmsanders2014 @readreviewroom

The Fowler's Snare: A Novel of Ancient EgyptThe Fowler’s Snare: A Novel of Ancient Egypt by Claire Stibbe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Fowler’s Snare is book #2 in this ancient Egyptian trilogy. Two sons, attempted to poison their father, King Ibada of Alodia, they escape to Egypt with a small army and plot to take over Thebes.

Pharoah Kheper-Re discovers that Kanjo and his men are more than mere merchants, he suspects they are Princes on the run and decides to test them in a dangerous challenge facing great hardships across the desert. A team lead by his commander Shenq will race Kanja and his selected men.

This period of history revolved very much around the gods, seers, prophets and dreaming with magic and omens believed at every turn. Many a priest or sorcerer lost their life if they didn’t predict the right outcome. In this book everyone’s lives revolve around the predictions.

There is a large cast of characters, twenty five helpfully named at the beginning of the book which is useful as many are hard to pronounce. I did struggle to keep them all separate as, for me, few had distinguishing dialogue which made them stand out.

I do like the book cover artwork and I enjoyed the first half of the book, the descriptions of the ancient world were very enjoyable. However I felt the race across the desert was too long and drawn out and lacking in connection back to the Pharaoh and the original story theme, it didn’t keep my interest in the storyline, instead it introduced yet more characters who diluted the race plot. A few times there was a bit of head hopping leaving me wondering who was talking and sometimes action seemed to jump in time from one paragraph to the next with no real page break in the storyline. It may have been just the formatting of the book I read, or it may need another check with editing.

All in all a good story premise, but a good trim of the number of characters allowing the reader time to form a relationship and empathy with the main ones, a check on the dialogue to make each person really stand out as an individual so that the reader can clearly picture them. And content, for instance, Pharaoh conveniently having Kanja’s army all slaughtered on the night of the race, with no fight, comebacks or survivors, and making sure every person or action takes the story forward at a good pace.

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I reviewed this book for ReadersReviewRoom

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT BELTANE by @AlysWestYork #UrbanFantasy

Today’s team review is from Shelley, she blogs at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Shelley has been reading Beltane by Alys West


#BookReview – Beltane by Alys West

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I received an ARC of Beltane in exchange for an honest review via Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT

One of my favourite places to visit here in the UK is Glastonbury in Somerset.  This stunning place is full of unique characters, beautiful scenery and mystical stories that greet you at every turn.  When I first saw the blurb for Beltane and read that it was set in my favourite place I had to grab a copy – I wasn’t disappointed.

Beltane begins in the thick of the action when a Druid named Finn falls foul of a spellworker.  The prologue sets you up for a novel that rushes along at a frantic pace.  West does a fabulous job of keeping up the tension as she unfolds her story.

Zoe Rose is an illustrator who is struggling with her creativity.  At her friend’s recommendation, she books into Anam Cara, a healing retreat in Glastonbury, to try and help her clear the blockages in her imagination and complete a commission for a book about King Arthur.

Unfortunately, Zoe isn’t as enamoured with the healing center’s hostess as the other guests and takes an instant dislike to Maeve.  Within the grounds of Anam Cara, Zoe finds an old tree with a carving of The Green Man, unknowingly she releases a spell which unravels a string of events leading to Finn’s return, and the revelation that Zoe isn’t what she seems.

West paints the perfect picture of a healing retreat and clearly knows her stuff when it comes to the finer points of how the establishments are run and the background into alternative therapies.  The setting is magical, and West takes us on a visual trip through the winding streets of Glastonbury, Wells and to the wilds of Dartmoor.  Even if you have never visited these places, you will be able to feel the magic.

Finn and Zoe are likeable characters, and I look forward to their story evolving in future books.  I did like Winston, and I hope he has a rich story just waiting to be unearthed.  West creates a complex antagonist in Maeve, who bends the laws of good to meet her evil needs.

You will be hooked until the very end as the witchcraft and sorcery unfold in this gripping urban fantasy.  A very well told novel; thoroughly enjoyable.

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Marked For Magic by Daisy Banks

Maeked for Magic lMarked for Magic is an adult fantasy. It does contain sensual sexual encounters. Nin has been thrown out of her village because she has the mark of a witch. The villagers have sent her to a Mage called Thabit to be trained as his apprentice. At first he doesn’t want an apprentice, but he is soon attracted to her and finds she does have magical skills. He would rather her be trained at the castle of Lord Farel by the Lord’s sister Cassandra.
Whilst at the castle Thabit foretells of a darkness which will consume the land unless he can find it’s source. Thabit and Nin share an ability to communicate telepathically and Nin must rescue Thabit when his spirit is captured, and together they must become a strong power to defeat the evil.
A well written book and I enjoyed the details of the magic.
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Desprite Measures by Deborah Jay

Desprite Measures (Caledonian Sprite, #1)Desprite Measures by Deborah Jay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Desprite Measures has a terrific book cover for a start. This is a fantasy tale set in Scotland. Cassie is a water sprite an immortal element who has chosen to form a human existence in the last few hundred years. She enjoys the interaction with humans and they in turn help her exist.

We first meet her trapped in a dangerous and confusing situation in the hands of a magician, using her relationship with water she saves the situation and makes a lucky escape, but finds herself and her friends are in danger as the magician pursues them and their energies.

The first half of the book built up slowly, introducing us to the characters and teasing us with hints of what was to come. For me the book took off in the second half with lots of action. I liked the different witches and their covens. Gloria and Alistair both had great roles and I really enjoyed the astral plane and my own imagination filled in unanswered questions at the end as to who Michael could have been.

A fun slow burner with potential for a sequel.

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Guest Author Mark Giglio

Please welcome Mark Giglio to the blog as he talks about his book Alchemist Gift.
Book description.
Time Travel to the Age of Alchemy. Alchemist Gift is an historical novel set in the present day and Renaissance Italy and Bavaria. The story is one of lost love, self-realization and redemption told through the relationships of five different love stories as the book unfolds. There is an element of spiritual fantasy in the novel, grounded in, let’s just say miraculous occurrences along with a light peppering of just good old unexplainable magic.
Mark Giglio Interview
1)      Where is your home town?
I was born in Troy, New York .I have been a California resident since 1959.
2)      Tell us what genres Alchemist Gift fits into, I believe it is adult rated too?
The genres would include Historical Fiction, Magical Realism, Spirituality, Elements of Romance, a bit of Renaissance style Sci-Fi, and a touch of time travel.
3)      How long did it take you to write?
A little over three years to complete the novel. It started out as a screen play that evolved into the novel.
4)      What was the one idea which sparked off the book?
I was inspired by a piece of art furniture I made, the Alchemist Cabinet, that you can see at
5)      Introduce us to some of the characters in your stories.
Roland Hughes is the hapless protagonist and a noncommittal grad student in his late twenties . Rene Hermes is a court physician in hiding and an alchemist. Sofia is Rene’s foundling daughter and Roland’s unrequited love interest. Lady Rosanera, is a fem fatale and tragic figure and the other leg of the Roland-Rosanera-Sofia love triangle.  Cesare Lippo master furniture maker and philosopher (could that be me?) along with Marcella Andano are the father and mother of Sofia. There are many more colorful characters who populate the Italian and Bavarian countryside.
6)      Which story is your favourite and why?
I think my most favorite section of the book to write was the engagement feast scene at Casa Bella Villa. It is quite a gastronomic extravaganza, along with pomp and circumstance and a coming of age for Rosalba, Rosanera’s mother.
7)      Tell us about your favourite part of the research for this book.
I have always had a love of nature and often wondered about the birds and plants that appear in Medieval and Renaissance paintings. It was satisfying to study the medieval and Renaissance symbolism concerning the natural world, such as birds, trees, and flowers and find out what they mean.
8)      Have you written any other books?
I’ve written a few children’s books pretty much for my kids and their families. Also a few  abandoned novels from the distant pass that shall remain in their dusty little realms. (thank God I knew when to jump ship).  I am working on the next installment of the Alchemist series called “Curious Journey.” Some of  the same characters make appearances. The new novel deals with a spiritual journey, redemption and personal peace.
9)      Tell us about your book launch party that you are holding today.
The party was fun. Family, friends and well wishers joined us for a great feast. We are planning another party on December 20, 2014 (a Winter Solstice Weekend).  We’ll have more food, fun, art, and readings from Alchemist Gift and other poets who will attend. We will be able to communicate with our viewers via the internet during the party.  Be on the lookout for more details and join us.
10)   Where else can readers find out more about you and your book?
The novel’s website is  and for personal correspondence,
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Primordial Dust by Sarah Daltry

young pretty kissing wedding couple against sky

Primordial Dust is a fantasy book. Set in the Kingdom of Anora with magic and mages, plus a destiny to fulfil. Princess Alondra finds herself on a battlefield in command of the military with no experience after an attack on the kingdom. The book is set in five parts. Part one goes back and forth between then and now, before the battle and after. We are told that Alondra was a bored Princess, disobedient and unhappy about a planned marriage to Seamus. But after the attack, few are left and she must turn to Seamus for friendship and protection.

They head for some caves and safety, where they find other survivors and her parents. In part two, Seamus and Alondra are sent to another world to find answers and a way to save the kingdom. They meet Alusia, a keeper of secrets and are given a diary with a magical spell. Alusia tells them a bit of history about Alondra’s mother, The magic Circle, the land of Livonia and The Accords, rules to limit the use of magic. She also finds out about her brother who disappeared years ago. This section was in danger at times of being a bit long winded with information.

In part three Seamus and Alondra travel to another world using folds in time, they find Layla an assassin and discover more about the Trinities. However Tevlin, a mysterious and dangerous thief catches them. Their destinies are linked and in part four Tevlin, Seamus and Alondra meet the first mages who created the worlds. I found the magical veils which hid worlds and created others complicated and for me the storyline hard to follow at times, Alondra was confused by it all and so was I. In part five she is given the role of finishing the destruction and creating a new world from the ruins.

If you are a big fantasy fan this book could be just your thing, I don’t mind a bit of fantasy, but I just couldn’t get my head around this one. Just scrapes a 4*.

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The Road To Yesterday by Randy Mixter

The Road to YesterdayThe Road to Yesterday by Randy Mixter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m a big fan of Randy’s books he writes all sorts and I really enjoy the ones I’ve read which have a little magic as they cross the thin veil between this life and the next. In this book we meet Dave Burke, grieving husband and father. It’s been two years since he lost his family in a house fire. He lost it all and turned to drink. He’s now been dry for seventy-eight days, he has changed his job and he goes to friends who are “safe”.

There are still huge social mine-fields that Dave avoids and he’s not ready to let go and move on. The trouble is, his family come to him in his dreams, every-night he sees them and Laura his wife says, “You can still save us, you can bring us back”. When he wakes Dave is at a loss as to what to do.

In the end he goes to see a psychiatrist, revealing that he also sees a white deer in his dreams. The white deer keeps turning up, the more Dave can remember. He’s desperate not to forget any moment from the past which involves his family, and he writes down all his memories.

I loved the ending, I didn’t see it coming at all and that made it even more magical for me.

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Guest Author Dr. Gary M Vasey

Today our guest is Dr. Gary M Vasey author of yesterday’s book The Last Observer. Here is a link to the post if you missed it.


Let’s find out more about Gary.

1) Where is your home town?

I’m not sure I have one to be honest. I am originally from Hull and I am a rabid Hull City supporter but I have not lived there since 1978! The last 26-years I have lived in Houston and Dallas, TX and then Brno and Prague, Czech Republic. I constantly have itchy feet and so I could be moving again soon. I have never put down roots and I am sure I never will – until I do literally push up daisies.


2) Can you tell the readers why you wrote this book?

I am fascinated by the nature of reality and also very interested in the esoteric and magic. My son and I were in a pub and discussing how science and metaphysics seem to coming together and the idea was born right there over a beer or four. The idea was that some people observe reality better than others and that if you could kill these people off you might be able to hijack reality. We thought what a great idea and wouldn’t that make a great movie! After we had finished casting it the idea died for about 4-years until my son asked me if I had written it yet. I hadn’t but I started the project right there and then.


3) Please briefly explain how magicians think the Universe is formed?

Gosh – that’s not an easy answer and I am not sure I can purport to represent others in my answer either to be honest. We would in simple terms, see a world of ideas or thoughts as being behind the physical world – its been called the astral plane by some. There thoughts take on form and can become reality. It is really much more complex than that but we would see the Universe as mental.


4) Stan has a wonderful gift, how does he see an ordinary cup of tea?

He sees or tastes an ordinary cup of tea as like a second best version of tea he can imagine! I guess the idea I was trying to get across there is that we can and often do imagine something as being so much better than the actual reality of a thing.


5) When in Yorkshire, your characters went to a stone circle, did you base this on any particular circle in Britain today?

No – just a generic stone circle but I wanted it to be in the Moors and I naturally thought of the North Yorkshire Moors as I am familiar with them. There is just something about The Moors isn’t there? Raw, natural and yet beautiful.


6) In the book the characters discuss “Sleepers” can you briefly explain to the readers the definition of a “Sleeper”?

It’s not a nice term is it? It’s akin to being a muggle really and that’s not a nice term either is it? It means asleep to the reality or actuality around them. They are sucked in to the realism of the material and physical world and all of their focus is on it as opposed to the spiritual world. We are all asleep for most of our lives I think and when we awaken its probably through a spiritual experience or an initiation in which suddenly we realize we have been lied to all of our lives. You start to look harder and question harder and not just accept what you are told.

I actually think you can sleep on multiple levels. For example, you can be so occupied with worry that as you walk through a city you really see nothing of it at all. At the other extreme, you are asleep to what you really are and what is really around you and you fail to see the spiritual side of reality. In the book of course, it is used in a derogatory manner because the person who is making the observation is essentially full of herself….


7) Zeltan is angry with the world of science. Does he believe that science is stumbling towards revealing secrets of the universe to the mass population?

Yes – Zeltan believes that Science is creating an easy route to making magic and that it is on the very verge of understanding the basis of magic. In essence, science is about to prove what philosophers have proclaimed about reality for more than 2000 years. He doesn’t want ordinary folk – sleepers – to have access to such power especially when it has been hidden for centuries. I can’t say much more without giving away the plot I am afraid.


8) What talent does Alison bring to the group?

Alison is a polar opposite to one of the protagonists but in character she feels superior and she is vain. Not quite the right qualities for a super magician…


9) The 4 elements; Fire, water, air and earth are important in the balance of the universe. Which characters match these elements?

Again, I fear if I answer this question it gives too much away… Let’s just say that the elements are the building blocks of reality and each is counterbalanced by the others. Similarly, the elements within each of us dictate to some extent the kind of person we are and so we work upon the elements and metals within us as the Great Work in order to perfect ourselves.


10) Where can readers find out more about you and your work?

They can visit one of my blogs at or and there they will find masses of further reading.

The Last Observer: A Magical Battle for realityFind a copy of this book here from or

Thank you Gary.

The Last Observer by G. Michael Vasey

The Last Observer: A Magical Battle for realityThe Last Observer: A Magical Battle for reality by G. Michael Vasey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Last Observer is a short novel written around the different schools of thought which revolve around the universe. Science versus magical manifestation.

Edward Bright has been collecting data on unsolved crimes relating to suspicious deaths of people with magical abilities. Edward is a magician himself and believes he’s found the next victim.

Stan lives alone and loves his books. He gets absorbed in reading and has a great imagination which at times he’s put to good use when he finds a situation that he’d like to change. Edward contacts Stan and persuades him that he is in danger from a group of people who want to make a different reality. He explains that because of Stan’s amazing imagination he is what is called “An Observer”.

In Houston, Texas, Alison has been in contact with an man called Zelton from London. He runs a school of Elements and offers to help her with her psychic awareness. He invites her to London, paying her fare and hotel.

Stan soon finds himself under attack and goes on the run with the help of Edward and Jo, a lady that Stan is instantly attracted to. Stan learns that “Imagination is the engine room of creation” and begins to understand the danger he is in.

The story opens the reader’s eyes and echoes many teachings. Just what is reality and what is imagination? Just a couple of questions which this book may leave you thinking about.

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Gary will be our guest author on the blog tomorrow, come back and read more about this book and Gary’s writing.