Category Archives: Fantasy

Fiction with strange or other worldly settings or characters; fiction which invites suspension of reality. Includes: fantasy (Dungeons & Dragons, High Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy), fables (mythical creatures, like unicorns, faeries, ghosts, Greek and Roman gods, vampires, zombies, werewolves and other were-animals), non-Biblical angels and demons, and other non-sensical or magical creatures or characters.

Salvage Trouble by Morin

From the publisher: Carl Ramsey has a starship to run. Down on his luck, struggling to pay the cost of fuel, he’s just looking for some quick, easy cash. While looting the wreck of a passenger ship, they discover that one escape pod never ejected, and the passengers are still alive. A routine salvage job turns into a rescue mission, and a good deed never goes unpunished. With two refugees aboard, Captain Carl Ramsey finds that his ship, the Mobius, has a target painted on its hull. Someone is after the new passengers, and willing to stop at nothing to get them back.

Salvage Trouble
Black Ocean #1
by J. S. Morin
Magical Scrivener Press
October 2015

My take: Interestingly, Morin calls his books, “episodes” which makes a ton of sense because each story, really novella at about 150 pages or so, are very much like what you’d expect to see on TV, especially the golden age of SyFy’s in-house shows like Lexx, Dark Matter, and Farscape. Add magic to science fiction space ship based television and this is what you’d get. And it’s not bad, but it’s also not deep.

In this story, we meet the crew, especially Captain Ramsey, as they attempt to salvage a ship that had been attacked. They thought it was empty, but it turns out that there was one escape pod left on the ship with a Barbie doll-like priestess and a teenager who may not be who he seems to be. Turns out the priestess kidnapped the teen to save him and to shed light on the genetic experiments going on at their school. The normal obstacles come up – the galactic authorities board them, hirelings attack them, and so on – until an all too quick resolution involving magic, subterfuge and quick talking by the Captain. I said “of course” in my mind so many times during that sentence. This isn’t epic, or dark, or hard science fiction. But it’s fun. So I’ll keep reading the series and see if it develops more.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Twain

I haven’t read many Twain books. In fact, this may be the first time I’ve read one all the way through. And I have to admit that it wasn’t easy to get through. The beginning was interesting enough, but the loooooong middle section was so uneventful that even Twain jumps forward a few years at one point.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
by Mark Twain
1889

I was struck by the fact that this book wouldn’t work with today’s audience for another reason as well: he just knows too much about things that we don’t. For instance, he creates a telegraph and phone line system, wires for power, creates factories and schools, manufactures bicycles and other tools. How many of us today know how to do any of those things? We get stuck with King Arthur’s court and we, what? Argue about political correctness on a Twitter made from stone carvings (there isn’t a printing press, no one can read, and paper as we know it doesn’t exist.) We’d be killed. I mean the guy knew the date of the eclipse from that year hundreds of years before his time. I don’t even remember the exact date of the one that happened here last August. Was it August?

The story ends in an unexpected and stunted way. I had to go back to the end and the beginning to make it all make sense. It’s not that it’s bad, but it’s just so abrupt. And sad.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

A Trap for the Potentate by Atamanov

This is book 3 in the Dark Herbalist series with Amra, the goblin herbalist, and his plotline testers. Continuing after book 2, Amra has turned his sights to defeating the challenging quest to go to the end of the river Styx – a challenge that no group of players have yet won. Along the way, several plotholes open up very wide as Tim has to deal with real world enemies as a local gang takes out a hit on him and he loses his girlfriend early in the book when she completely disappears from the story. The ending – and so far there isn’t a fourth book, but it can’t possibly be done – is far too quick and leaves a lot to be desired.

A Trap for the Potentate
Dark Herbalist #3
by Michael Atamanov
Magic Dome Books
January 2018

Now that I’ve read three LitRPG books, all from Michael Atamanov, I’ve decided on two important conclusions: First, I really don’t think Atamanov is doing a good job writing a story. It’s completely possible that the fourth book will solve many of the outstanding issues, including, importantly, why Amra wins at everything. But I’m not sure that’s the case. He writes women like caricatures of Instagram models. They are there to be beautiful (every woman is) and interested in him (every woman is), while whining and complaining (every woman does) the whole time. There isn’t a three dimensional character in the book. Maybe his AI online girlfriend, Tiesha. Maybe.

Second, I like LitRPG and am totally feeling the itch to play RPGs. I’ve started another author’s LitRPG and am looking for others. There has to be a good LitRPG author and story. I’m a huge fan of Sword Art Online (season 1, especially), so I know this is possible.

If there is a fourth book, I’ll read it just to see if things wrap up. But I have low expectations right now.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

Stay on the Wing by Atamanov

This is book 2 in the Dark Herbalist series with Amra, the goblin herbalist, and his plotline testers. This story picks up right where the first one ends with Tim (Amra’s player’s real name), his sister, his girlfriend and friends playing an online VR MMORPG.

Stay on the Wing
Dark Herbalist #2
by Michael Atamanov
Magic Dome Books
June 2017

In part two, other players who watch Amra’s video stream become upset that Amra, a small, weak new player, somehow gets a unique flying mount in the game so the game company decides to put the mount up for grabs to any player who can hunt and kill Amra. The majority of the book is the story of Amra running from the other players, including a large portion of the book where Amra becomes a pirate captain with an orc army. Like the first book, Amra continues his long trek towards awesomeness as just about everything works out for him.

The first book in this series was my first experience in LitRPG or GameLit a sub genere that tells a story through the perspective of a game player – usually a VR player in the near future. Books like Ready Player One or other books with VR as an integral plot device aren’t the same thing as LitRPG. The focus on LitRPG novels is the game playing and RPG leveling aspects. In fact, in this series, the plotline tester aspect of the books was all about the company showing people that playing a goblin herbalist was fun and worthy of their time. The story is constantly interrupted with skill updates, character leveling, experience, game notifications, and other aspects of RPG gaming that gamers know and appreciate. I’m not sure other readers will understand as well or appreciate things. The biggest thing that non-gamers need to know if that the vast majority of how this “game” goes is wrong. No one wins as much as Amra does. Nothing goes wrong for him. Nothing. Even when he makes a mistake the game somehow adapts what he did and makes it a win for him. Real games as grind, loss, playing, fun, loss, grind and loss.

I bought books 2 and 3 at the same time. Otherwise, I’d likely not finish these fun but vapid stories.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant by Hayes

The book’s title is, unfortunately, accurate.

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant
by Drew Hayes
REUTS Publications, LLC
July 2014

The book is a collection of stories that introduce the characters, one by one, and show some adventures that work out because they do. I almost didn’t finish the book. I set it aside and didn’t come back to it while I read several others. I did finish it and when I was done I couldn’t see myself reading more of this. But there are three books in the series. Three utterly uninteresting and unadventurous books.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

Wee Free Men by Pratchett

I’ve been a fan of Pratchett’s from the time I read him for the first time; in fact a fan from page one. That book was Going Postal. Not only was it part social commentary and (a large) part comedy, but it was brilliantly written. When Moist finally gets the stone free from his cell it comes out with a “slightly inappropriate” twinkling noise. It’s been more than a decade and that scene is etched in my memory.

Wee Free Men
by Terry Pratchett
HarperCollins
July 2006

Since then, I’ve read many more of his books. The Colour of Magic and early books are good enough, but the guards and capitalism series are where I really latched on. I really wanted to read his last book – ah, that hit me in the feels just now – but I didn’t want to until I read the other Witch books with Tiffany Aching. So I started with this one.

It’s one of Pratchett’s children’s books. The difference, in my opinion so far, is that there isn’t as much commentary and even the hints about sexuality aren’t there. Otherwise, it’s still fun, comedic, adventurous and definitely worth reading. I’m looking forward to the next three so I can finally get to the final book. Looking forward and dreading.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by Rowling

One of the best books of the last couple decades!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
by J.K. Rowling
Thorndike Young Adult
November 1999

I’ve been listening to the audio books of several series with my boys (ages 8 and 11) and was excited when we finished up the first Narnia book (chronologically, the Magician’s Nephew) and started in on Harry Potter. While my older boy and I have both read this book previously and seen the movies multiple times, re-reading was a great joy! There were many parts that I’d forgotten about or remembered the movie version instead of the book’s original version.

The reader, for the audio book, is excellent as well. We are very much looking forward to book two as we make our way through this, Narnia and the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings series.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

Video Game Plotline Tester by Atamanov

Timothy needs a job. He’s good at MMORPGs. So when the biggest VR online role playing game advertised “tester” jobs, he saw a perfect fit. And it was in so many ways.

Video Game Plotline Tester
Dark Herbalist 1
by Michael Atamanov
Magic Dome Books
January 2017

He is given the job by the corporation of playing as a rare combination of race and job and then blogging (with video) how to play as that character. His combo? A goblin herbalist. Not exactly a great combo. Furthermore, he can never change it. Even if he quit the job. Timothy makes it work, along with the help of his sister, who also plays, and soon finds that he is making a ton of money and rising in stature at the company. He also moved out of the slums, and has an incredibly attractive (and important company programmer) interested in him. Everything he does works out for him. Every. Thing.

And that’s the weakest part of this book. It’s not the detail that only RPG games may understand. It’s not the plot, which goes almost no where. It’s that everything works out. This book is like a dream the author had about a game he played. In that dream, he got everything he wanted: some online personality, money, stature, the girl. It’s just too much success to be believable.

Still, it’s fun. It’s fun to imagine the same things happening to a character I’m playing. This is a series that has three books so far and I’m most likely going to read the others. Completely for fun. With my brain peacefully at rest.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

The Green Ember by Smith

Can you imagine rabbits and wolves with swords fighting? Unbelievable!

The Green Ember
by S. D. Smith
Story Warren Book
December 2014

This is the story of an entire army on the attack and a scared little rabbit becoming a hero. The author has a vivid imagination and I thoroughly enjoyed his book. Recommended very highly to all. I’m actually looking forward to reading more of their books about these little furry creatures that were amazing soldiers. Who would believe it?

From the publisher: Heather and Picket are extraordinary rabbits with ordinary lives until calamitous events overtake them, spilling them into a cauldron of misadventures. They discover that their own story is bound up in the tumult threatening to overwhelm the wider world.

Kings fall and kingdoms totter. Tyrants ascend and terrors threaten. Betrayal beckons, and loyalty is a broken road with peril around every bend.

Where will Heather and Picket land? How will they make their stand?


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “an 88 year young great-grandmother and an avid reader.”

Year One by Roberts

A strange interesting post apocalyptic novel where a devastating virus kills a massive amount of people in the world and at the same time magic awakens in the world. I’m looking forward to the next novel.

Year One
By Nora Roberts
St. Martin’s Press
December 2017

FYI: NSFW at times, with strong language and a couple of brief accounts of sexuality. Very brutal at times. Lots of apocalyptic violence.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.