Tag Archives: Reviews

A Quest of Heroes by Morgan Rice | Other Indie

A Quest of Heroes is a 2012 high fantasy novel written and published by Morgan Rice. This is the first novel in The Sorcerer’s Ring fantasy series by Rice, which has produced sixteen sequels to date, with her latest entry, The Gift of Battle, having followed in November 2014.

This book takes its cues from the works that cemented the “heroes journey” storytelling technique into the modern culture. There are shades of Tolkien and George RR Martin noticed and appreciated, but more importantly there are elements of the authors which inspired them: there are strong hints of influences of the epic Greek poems, strong hints of affection for the Odyssey,  and iconography like the Dynasty Sword allude to Arthurian legends and folklore. There is a lot to unpack with this book from even just a meta-textual perspective, so much so that I’m genuinely shocked it hasn’t gotten more critical attention than it has: it’s a gold mine of world-building lovingly pieced together from fragments of the epic fantasy worlds that came before it, from an author who recognizes how those elements can fit together to make something fresh and new. Continue reading A Quest of Heroes by Morgan Rice | Other Indie

Ana Paulin: The Cardboard Kid

To our minds, there’s no better way to celebrate International Women’s Day yesterday than to celebrate the youngest creative woman in our circle of authors! The wonderfully energetic and talented Ana Paulin, daughter of Ink’d Well Comics founder and Engen Books contributor Jay Paulin, has started a YouTube channel The Cardboard Kid to review board games: from a kid’s point-of-view!

Great work Ana! We can’t wait to see what you do! 🙂

Cinders review by Amanda Labonté

Cinders - novel“Set in the extreme heat of a Los Angeles summer, Cinders fairly sizzles with mystery and crime drama. With great attention to detail, Matthew LeDrew tells a tale that deals not only with good and evil, but also the gray area in between. Weaving through multiple perspectives, the story culminates in a satisfying conclusion that leaves the reader wanting more from these characters. A great addition to any thriller library.”


Amanda LabonteAmanda Labonté lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where she gets much of the inspiration for the characters and places about which she writes. Though she knew she wanted to be a writer since the eighth grade, it was many years before she finally walked into a creative writing class and found a new home. As the co-owner of an educational business and mother of two she spends much of her day with kids of all ages. They give her some of the best reading recommendations.

15 Minutes by Jill Cooper | Other Indie

15 Minutes is a 2013 science-fiction thriller by Jill Cooper and published through the Amazon CreateSpace platform, which allows original work to be published in a print-on-demand format. This is the first novel in the Rewind Agency series, of which there are currently four titles (three novels, one novella), and stars the character of Lara Crane.

Right on the cover, this book promises that “Every time-travel law is about to be broken,” and this is both true in the sense that — within the context of the novel — there are set laws governing time travel that are broken during the course of the narrative, but also in the metatextual sense that there are unspoken rules to how an author tells a time-travel story, which Cooper gleefully breaks from page one, making for a dynamic and interesting read for anyone who has grown up on stories of chronological displacement that have followed the same stagnant formulae.

Continue reading 15 Minutes by Jill Cooper | Other Indie

A full series of Black Womb reviews

Okay, this is weird. We do weird things here at Engen Books: sometimes if our fans do cool things, we’ll post it up here. Highlights have included “Block Womb,” and “Balloon Womb.” And every so often someone will post a review of our books on GoodReads, and we love GoodReads. GoodReads gives us just instant access to what we’re doing right and what people think about our books: as well as the books of our rivals, which is also nice ;).

But this week, a reader named Kelly who picked up the Black Womb series at Sci-Fi on the Rock 9 reviewed each of the books in kind, which we’ve (possibly strangely) decided to repost here as “The Black Womb Series: the Kelly edit.”


Black WombBlack Womb by Matthew Ledrew
Kelly’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Very interesting. All joking aside, it was a really enjoyable book to get into and I honestly couldn’t put the book down until I finished it. Matthew has a way of drawing you in and keeping you engaged to the point where you don’t realize how long you’ve been reading until the book is finished.”


Transformations in PainTransformations in Pain by Matthew Ledrew
Kelly’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Had to deal with a lot of strong emotions while reading this book. Matthew really knows how to create not only villains that you hate with a passion but also main characters that you feel so much for their plight that you can’t help but envision them as real people. Was thinking about this book and all the things that occurred in it for quite some time after I finished reading it.
Enjoyed it from beginning to end, well besides the burning hatred I felt for the bad guys.”


Smoke And MirrorsSmoke And Mirrors by Matthew Ledrew
Kelly’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The trial of Genblade. This book was a roller coaster of a story with plenty of twists and turns that keep you wondering how things are going to change and surprise you next. With fresh murders to keep you guessing who’s the cause of it all and the high emotions of the trial, it’s the kind of book that keeps you on the edge and makes you wonder if you actually know what’s going on, or if you’re falling prey to the tricks of a psychopath.”


RouletteRoulette by Matthew Ledrew
Kelly’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Things take quite the interesting turn here. Despite terrible things happening, for once a lot of it seems to be in the background and hint at things to come later rather then throwing the main characters for a loop time and time again. You get a better feeling for the people who have been struggling all this time and a new appreciation for the strength that some of them possess. It has a feel as though it’s the calm before the storm. ”


Ghosts of the Past (Black Womb, # 5)Ghosts of the Past by Matthew Ledrew
Kelly’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Like how Matthew says in the From the Author section, this book goes to such an incredibly dark place. This is the storm that was hinted at coming in the last book and it doesn’t disappoint. It is not a long book, but the timeline that is given keeps you turning pages and devouring the story to try and figure out how things end up the way they do before you get to the ending that is briefly viewed at the beginning of the book. Parts of it make you want to weep for the loss of innocence, but then there is at least one major part that keeps you crying out for blood as the climax reaches an amazing high. I feel it leaves you with a need to find out how things go from here and I have to admit I was left with tons of questions that require reading on in the series to find the answers for.”


Ignorance Is Bliss (Black Womb, # 6)Ignorance Is Bliss by Matthew LeDrew
Kelly’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

In a way this book encompasses a lot of things I was expecting, but then introduces more elements that I had no idea were on their way. Xander goes on to enjoy what he has and then ruins it for himself, that was expected, but then what I wasn’t expecting was for other things to work out so smoothly. I don’t want to go into detail as it is the kind of thing that is more fun to read for oneself rather then hear it from someone else.
Really interested in seeing what happens with the new element that was added and honestly curious as to how it fits into the overall story. Also, the very end of the book hinted that I may be right in a few assumptions I had, but still didn’t give enough to confirm anything. Can’t help but continue with the series now that I’m well and truly hooked. Over halfway through and still unable to put the books down.


BecomingBecoming by Matthew LeDrew
Kelly’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finally some answers to questions that have been bugging me for a couple books now. Though for how pleased I am to have been proven right in some of the assumptions I had, how this book plays out made me incredibly sad. It was painful to see what happens to some people who honestly do not deserve it, but then in a way this ending was coming for a while now and it cuts into Xander far more then someone just reading his story.
I feel for the characters here so much that I actually found myself tearing up as I finished the last page. This book has a lot of powerful emotions tied into it, so be careful how much of your heart you put into all the present characters as you read on in the Black Womb series.


Inner ChildInner Child by Matthew LeDrew
Kelly’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Even though I’ve been spacing my reading out so as to read one novel a week, after the last book in this series I couldn’t help but keep going right away. Matthew signed this book for me and wrote “And here Black Womb gets even weirder” and when I first read that I did not realize how true a statement it was. The universe of Black Womb has given hints that there is a lot more to it then just the events happening to the main characters and this book dives into that. It begs the question of how do you deal with danger when it is not the usual story of people having chosen to kill and commit crimes without caring how they hurt people, but rather something outside of humanity?
Then there’s Xander. Someone who wants to be a hero but keeps losing that which he cares about the most the more he tries to do the right thing. Watching Xander struggle with loss in the form of addressing someone who is no longer around is an interesting take on his character and in a few cases made me smile through the sadness I felt after the last book.


Gang WarGang War by Matthew LeDrew
Kelly’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was a trip. Trying to figure out exactly what is happening and who is behind it all before anything could be revealed by the end of the book was difficult and I found myself surprised by the truth regardless. Although this book did make me start to consider that perhaps Mike could easily make a main character in his own way. Mind you he seems like he would fit better into a detective novel rather then a horror one.
In any case I’m not going to say too much about this one as I feel I would risk ruining it for anyone who wants to work on figuring things out for themselves as they read it.


ChainsChains by Matthew LeDrew
Kelly’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

At last everything draws to a close. This novel contains more then any other book in this series and ends in a way that may seem disappointing to some, but I couldn’t help but love how appropriate it is. Flowing from one event to the next, it keeps you tense as you try to find the hints of what is about to happen before it can surprise you. I found myself on the edge of my seat and unable to put the book down as I devoured the story.
In a way I don’t feel as though anything I could say about Chains would do it justice. So I will leave it at this: If you’ve enjoyed the story thus far then this book will bring you a lot of enjoyment as you draw closer to the end of Black Womb.


Kelly, buying the first 5 Black Womb books at Sci-Fi on the Rock 9, along with Cubecraft Steve.
Kelly, buying the first 5 Black Womb books at Sci-Fi on the Rock 9, along with Cubecraft Steve.

Jay Paulin gives a tip of the hat to Legacy of the Full Moon!

Jay Paulin
Jay Paulin

Many of the Engen Authors are active on the literary social-media platform GoodReads, where users can rate, review and discuss books as well as interact with their favorite authors. One such author is Jay Paulin, author of Gristle While You Work, a short story in the light|dark collection, as well as multiple comics from his company Ink’D Well Comics, including Messiah, Super Galactic Space Explorers, and a series of anthologies whose proceeds benefit various children’s charities.

This time around, he chose to review the Steve Lake short story Legacy of the Full Moon, first printed in the now-out-of-print original Sci-Fi from the Rock anthology.

Steve Lake’s Legacy of the Full Moon introduces us to Ryan Murphy, a vampiric, preternatural investigator. In comics, we have John Constantine and Cal McDonald providing hard-boiled, hard-edged paranormal entertainment but Murphy isn’t given similar room to breathe. The tale is fairly straightforward: he is hired by Liam O’Connell, the last of his family’s line, and is requested to visit the hermit’s ancestral home. After some dialogue and a completely unsurprising revelation, there is some brief action but I simply wasn’t pulled into the world. On the bright side, Lake’s ending was intriguing to the point that I await more of Murphy’s adventures. This is just a tiny morsel but next time, I want a full course meal.

Note: This was my introduction to characters I’ve since encountered a handful of times, and I count myself as a fan. Do yourself a favour and — if nothing else — download the eBook. You’ll probably become a fan as well!

Be sure to sign up to GoodReads and join the conversation! As the original volume of Sci-Fi from the Rock is currently out-of-print, Engen Books has made the 19-page short story available for free on the GoodReads website, and we encourage everyone to download, read, enjoy, rate and review!

Legacy of the Full Moon (Full Moon Series, #1)Legacy of the Full Moon by Steve Lake
My rating: Sci-Fi from the Rock

Click to go right to the GoodReads page for this title!