Category Archives: Best Fantasy Books

Fantastic Journey Cover

Fantastic Journey Book Cover A
Fantastic Journey Book Cover B

Calling all imaginative fiction readers and speculative fiction and fantasy aficionados’!

I thought you might like to weigh in on the book cover for “Fantastic Journey – The Soul of Speculative Fiction and Fantasy Adventure.”

My cover designer did a splendid job on both samples, but which do you like best?

A. journey4 – the cover with the ship between the two title words
B. journey3 – the cover with the ship forming the “A” in Fantastic

Then I can let my designer know which is your favorite, and we will finalize the cover!
Just reply in an email to me at fantasticjourney.dynamospress@gmail.com.

Your chance to apply to join a select group of readers on the Fantasy Adventure Team for reviewing the ARC for a signed print copy and other reading delights will be coming soon.

Thank you so much, and have a great week!

Azalea Dabill
Crossover – Find the Eternal, the Adventure

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Speculative Fiction and Fantasy Escapes

20 Author Fantasy Round Up

(Round up announcement.)

Few successful journeys begin alone.

The road to publication for Fantastic Journey is no exception.

This is a joint venture. The seventy authors and their inspiring adventures we explore are beacons of extraordinary story. Most of them are lights by contrast, guiding us to enchanting lands of danger in the ocean of fantasy. With them, we learn how to identify true gems and sell them not. How to discern enemies, friends, and endless possibilities with our inner eye: to touch and to taste the truths of life in all realms near and far.

-Fantastic Journey The Soul of Speculative Fiction and Fantasy Adventure

Of the 70 authors I approached, some quoted in Fantastic Journey and some I simply invited to a signed book giveaway coming in September – October to celebrate my book launch, twenty of these Imaginative Fiction writers have graciously joined us.

The gems these intrepid adventurers bring forth for our delight are:

  1. How has fantasy or speculative fiction impacted your experience of the world?
  2. Why do you think fantasy adventure is important to us as human readers?
  3. In what ways are great fantasy and imaginative fiction vital to our future?

Here is the line-up for these authors’ fascinating answers to our Q and A Round Up. (Only some of each author’s works are listed beside their names. Once the Q and A begins, their answers will be posted on this blog, with links to their pages or websites, etc.)

RJ Anderson – No Ordinary Fairytale trilogy, the Flight and Flame trilogy, Swift

Kathleen Baldwin – The Stranje House series, A School for Unusual Girls

Morgan Busse – The Ravenwood Saga, Mark of the Raven

Chuck Black – Wars of the Realm series, Cloak of Light

CJ Brightley – The Lord of Dreams

Sigmund Brouwer – Merlin’s Immortals series, Martyr’s Fire

Patrick Carr – The Darkwater Saga, The Shock of Night

Serena Chase – The Eyes of Everia series, The Ryn

Katie Clark – the Enslaved trilogy, and The Rejected Princess

DM Cornish – The Monster Blood Tatoo series, Foundling

Azalea Dabill – the Falcon Chronicle, Falcon Heart

Melanie Dickerson – Fairy Tale Romance series, The Peasant’s Dream

EJ Fisch – The Ziva Payvan trilogy, the Ziva Payvan Legacy, and Fracture

Victoria Hanley – The Seer and the Sword

Kathrese McKee – Mardan’s Mark series, Pirate’s Wager, Mardan’s Mark

Sharon Hinck – The Sword of Lyric series, and The Dancing Realms, Hidden Current, Forsaken Island

Ashley Maker – Under the Trees

Rachel Neumeier – The Griffin Mage trilogy, and The Floating Islands

A. A. Radda – The Numin U’ia series, Numin U’ia

J.F. Rogers – The Ariboslia series, Astray

Jonathan Rogers – the Wilderking trilogy, The Bark of the Bog Owl

Anna Thayer – The Knight of Eldaran series, The Traitor’s Heir

Chris Walley – The Lamb Among the Stars series, The Shadow and Night, The Dark Foundations

KM Weiland – Storming, Dreamlander, Wayfarer

In my last newsletter, I mentioned “posting the Q and A’s soon.” I apologize that things were delayed. But as long as my launch team’s advice is a go, posting these generous Authors’ answers should begin regularly in the next two weeks!

Until then, here is a sneak peek into RJ Anderson’s wonderful introduction to the Q and A’s:

Q: How has fantasy or speculative fiction impacted your experience of the world?

A:

As a child, fantasy was hugely important to me as an escape from loneliness and the bullying I experienced at school. But for me the best fantasy stories were not just the ones that transported me to another world, but the ones that reminded me in some way of the Great Story found in the Bible. It meant a lot to me that the best fantasy books depicted the heroes’ sufferings and struggles not as senseless cruelty but as part of a greater Purpose, and affirmed that no matter how terrifying and even unconquerable the darkness might seem, light and truth would triumph in the end. 

As an adult I no longer feel the need to retreat into fantasy worlds, but I still love to visit and explore them. Fantasy is one of the few genres left that celebrates the triumph of goodness over evil and insists that there is a real division between them — even if, as Solzhenitzyn reminded us, that line cuts through the heart of every human being and it’s important to remember that as well. A fantasy that pits sinless saints against irredeemable sinners can be just as false as a fantasy that pretends there’s no difference.

Q: Why do you think fantasy adventure is important to us as human readers?

A:

Good fantasy inspires us to dream of and seek after better things, and also to see our own everyday world with new eyes. I often think of C.S. Lewis’s quote about how he wrote the Narnia books to steal past the “watchful dragons” of people’s false and jaded notions about Christianity, and I think fantasy has tremendous potential to show us truth from unexpected angles and help us to understand ideas that we may struggle with or even outright resist in real life. So I try to find ways to bring that into my own storytelling.

Q: In what ways are great fantasy and imaginative fiction vital to our future?

A:

Our present world has a desperate hunger for love, happiness and purpose, and people are searching wildly in every direction to find it. But the shabby idols propped up by the entertainment industry and the muddy cisterns of modern “realistic” storytelling inevitably leave them feeling cheated. Many people these days are embarrassed to want happy endings, let alone believe in them, and I’ve heard a lot of snide remarks about the “toxicity” of stories that claim villains can be redeemed and not just beaten. But that just shows how far we’ve wandered from the truth of the gospel, which offers hope to every human heart. 

I really believe that telling great imaginative stories that acknowledge we are fallen creatures who can’t save ourselves, but which also point us to One who is worthy and who can offer us the redemption we long for, will resonate with people in ways that no other stories can. But we have to learn how to tell those stories well enough that people who don’t already agree with us will listen, and that’s not a skill that can be learned overnight. If we want to see great fantasy stories being written in the next few decades, we don’t just need to support young authors and praise their efforts, we need to encourage them to seek out thoughtful criticism and use it to make their stories truer and richer and better. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, as Hebrews 12:11 reminds us, but the harvest it yields can’t be produced any other way.

This will be re-posted along with a bonus Q and A to a personal question I had about Knife, on the coming Q and A’s. Until next time!

Crossover – Find the Eternal, the Adventure

P.S. None of these launch things would be going as smoothly as they are without the help of my trusty assistant, Susana. Thank you, Susana!

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June Jubilee

Dive 1.0 ~ The Soul of Imaginative Fiction and Clean Fantasy continued …

This is a joint venture. The seventy-seven authors and their inspiring adventures we explore are beacons of extraordinary story. Most of them are lights by contrast, guiding us to enchanting lands of danger in the ocean of fantasy. With them, we learn how to identify true gems and sell them not. How to know enemies, friends, and endless possibilities with our inner eye: to touch and to taste the truths of life in realms near and far.

Never underestimate the power of anything we invite inside our mind and heart, in our world or elsewhere. False or true, foolish or wise, corrupt or clean, it transforms our inner world and our ideas and colors all that we become. We must take heed, for our journey, though fantastic, is full of danger.

From birth we carry a journal of knowledge, waiting for us to fill its pages. But knowledge can cut both ways. It can protect or destroy. For our book of knowledge to be a blade of truth that rightly divides, we must temper it with understanding gained from experience, experience written in our hearts with the living, willing ink of our blood. The experience, the wisdom, our blood and book—all begins in our Creator.

Before we embark upon the perilous realm, read what the wise who have gone before us scribed in our book in bold, glimmering hue of opalescent green, pink, and blue.

The Hidden Gems:

A Treasure to sail for:

We will open many books of fantasy to find the elusive gems. The journey is dangerous, hunting by land and sea, but such jewels leave us with a greater grasp of truth, hopeful of life, with deep empathy and a sense of wonder over treasures heaped on endless shores.

A Diamond to steer by:

The best fantasies are about change by conflict, where powerful truth transforms the familiar. As we walk among jewels of clean fantasy we find ourselves beckoned “higher up and further in” as C.S. Lewis so aptly says, to another world. A liberating world of transcendent beauty, mysterious wonder, and adventure beyond compare.

A Zircon to know:

The secret of purely great—not utterly boring fantasy—is contrast. How evil is portrayed and for what purpose creates soul-destroying or soul-inspiring adventure.

An Emerald to watch for:

Our definition of “clean fantasy” is that evil is not glorified, is not subtly admired by the story as a whole, is not wallowed in for shock value. Good and evil, beauty and ugliness are drawn into battle in great fantasy, and there they show their differences in a way that make us want to stand up and cheer or knuckle down and fight with all we are.

A Topaz to see by:

Morally base fantasies that glorify deception, ugliness, and futility leave us wanting to cry. The beauty of truth, the conflict of good versus evil, and the sword of justice weave through the best imaginative fiction, calling us to leave desolation behind. Though these bright threads may wind through strongholds of deepest evil, it is never a journey of deception, muddling through injustice to exalt despairing fate. Rather, they call us to fight it in the light of a sure hope. Great fantasy on a spiritual level helps remove the cloud of hopelessness from one lens we see life through—our imagination. Goodness shines the clearer as it beats back darkness.

A Thought of Gold:

Fantasy is a weaving of power that transforms a tapestry into a tale, a mirror into a portal, a string of runes on a page into a living, breathing world. Where do we gather great fantasies so we don’t waste time on fool’s gold and fatally flawed stories? How do we sort adventurous, inspiring fantasy from the insipid, the bad, and the destructive? We dive into the waves of the sea and explore the mountains of fantasy, but read a page or few of our prospective wealth before we bring it home or on deck.

Silver to seek:

Every clean fantasy holds vast secrets for brave hearts. Listen to those who sail the waves, to experienced salts who search the epic depths and chart the islands. They will be the first to tell there are undiscovered ocean vaults beneath the surface. Entire islands of mystery and danger await every adventurer seeking riches, who yearns for jewels of strong and precious story. When the dive is done and the fight is fought, what precious things will we bring to light?

A Pearl to hold:  

The alluring glamour of the forbidden, which promises life-giving water but offers a goblet of hemlock, will not draw seekers to their deaths on this Fantastic Journey. The fantasies we depict do not paint scenes of immorality, where the sweetness of stolen water conceals death. There are battles, perils, and conflicts of every description, but true intimacy stops at the chamber door, where we leave it with a nod, a knowing smile, and respect for a precious thing.

A Ruby to remember:

Epic fantasy adventure benefits us on three levels: the spiritual arena, the wide world of ideas, and the sphere we breathe in. The realm of fantasy touches all three. It conveys life deeper than sand and sea, breathes into being lands nearer than we know, shows us the adventure of love in all its facets, and transfers truth from thought and experience to our heart’s grasp.

The ocean of fantasy adventure broadens our horizons and enthralls our hearts with crystal joys and enchanting beauties on a voyage across a perilous realm. Each subchapter dives for jewels of its own. Will we discover that which is the wealth of souls?

Note: This Blog 2 Book title is coming 2020 – Fantastic Journey – The Soul of Imaginative Fiction and Clean Fantasy Adventure

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New Books to Read

Here are some fantasy and other reads new to me and maybe to you. My most recent clean fantasy adventures have been Jeff Wheeler’s The Hollow Crown, Morgan Busse’s books, and I’m working on getting K. M. Weiland’s Wayfarer and Jeff Wheeler’s The Silent Shield.

The Silent Sheild Fantasy Adventure

And Morgan Busse has a new release coming February 4 2020. The first two in the series, Mark of the Raven and Flight of the Raven were excellent, now the third is coming, Cry of the Raven. Don’t miss it! Great fantasy adventure.

Cry of the Raven Morgan Busse

But there’s more. I’m part of a giveaway for a $30 Gift card and free ebooks thru January 30th.

Some of them are rated moderate for fantasy combat, like mine. Others you will have to use good judgement whether they are clean or not. There are a couple of these I’m looking forward to checking out.

I committed to this giveaway believing it was for pretty clean reads only. I’m keeping my word to share it now, not realizing beforehand what genre some of the books would be. In future I will stick to clean genre giveaways only. Enjoy the clean reads included!

I’m can’t wait for Cry of the Raven! This author I know is good, a great writer of adventure.

Crossover: Find the Eternal, the Adventure

All the best to you,

Azalea

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150 – 175 Best Fantasy Books or Your 2017 Guide to Epic Fantasy: Post 1

Fantasy and the 7 Senses

You know the five senses that we all use.

And we explore fantasy adventure with all of them: Sight, scent, taste, hearing, touch. (Inside our minds, of course.) And of course intuition, the 6th sense, is never far from reach in a great fantasy story.

But I think there is one more sense.

Fantasy brings together the six senses into a whole and creates a 7th. The seventh sense is one you can discover often if you dive deep into fantasy realms and keep your eyes open.

The greatest fantasies create at moments a unique experience, a kind of sense not to be found anywhere else in the universe we can see. Except in bits and pieces; a kind of joy-filled truth caught in goodness or day dreams or dreams of the night, where odd things that strangely fit are often found.

This 7th sense grasps gleaming facets of truth that we could not see before. It touches them, tastes them. Not first examined by our reason, but felt deep in the actions and reactions you experience while captured within fantasy characters. Inside the kind, the evil, the young and the old, the weak and strong men and women and creatures of fantasy. It happens without your noticing it, while you are enthralled by the hero or heroine you find in many hearts, sometimes growing from a single weak seed. It makes you revolt against evil, also often growing unseen, battling within.

We are so often blinded by our familiar world it usually takes a moving deed, a circumstance, or a state of being in an unfamiliar setting or against a stark backdrop for us to see truth clearly. Such clearness can be startling.

Such was the case for me. Not long ago, I was moaning that there were not very many good fantasy fiction books from the faith sector of our world. Not that I dislike general fantasy, far from it, I admire their authors’ skill very much. I only wish more of us imitated the high bar of storytelling without deserting high moral quality.

I was shown how wrong I was to moan. Patrick Carr’s Shock of Night, Anna Thayer’s Knight of Eldaran Trilogy, Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga, C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters (a novel delightfully re-read) all kept me up late into the night. Sure, there is definitely room for more faith-based fantasy where adventure is never sacrificed, but I’ve discovered treasures everywhere over the long years—from epic fantasy to dieselpunk and beyond. If your heart is hungry . . . 

I want to share my otherworldly discoveries on my lifelong venture into best fantasy novels with you.

Join the quest, and find your next adventure! There will be at least 70 posts in this series, and who knows what we may find?

If you don’t want to miss a single grand adventure, sign up in the side bar, where special treasures are reserved for those who seek them.

We’ll venture into worlds unseen where your heart will beat fast at necessary sacrifice, thrill with the triumph of downtrodden hearts against overwhelming odds, and draw lines of right and wrong in blood. You will laugh in side-splitting humor, cry with loss, fight against evil and rage against its seeming victory. But in the end you will come back to peace, hugging gems to your breast. And for those who can see, there is a light going before you.

Follow it.

Let no wall of ignorance, busyness, or other unworthy reason bar you from your next journey to unearth . . .  what, I cannot tell. Prepare to use your seven senses.

Crossover: find the Eternal, the Adventure.

 

Here’s a minute taste of one journey waiting for us on my best books shelf, seeking its place in future posts like The Romance – Exploring Treachery and Trust.

From Victoria Hanley’s The Seer and the Sword:

Torina looked at the boy, at his heavy curling hair and remote, wild eyes.

“If he is my slave,” she asked, “does that make him my own?”

“All your own.”

“I can do whatever I want with him?”

The king nodded.

The princess shivered. “What is your name, son of a king?” she asked.

“Landen.” The boy’s manner, still that of a prince, contrasted oddly with his dusty rags and bruises.

“Vesputo,” Torina said.

“Princess?”

“Cut his ropes, please.”

The commander looked to his king, who inclined his head. A blade was drawn. Vesputo severed the ropes carelessly, trailing fresh blood. Landen rubbed his wrists as Torina stepped closer to him.

“My father fought your father.” She said it very softly, speaking as if no king or soldiers looked on. For her, they must have been forgotten.

Landen looked at the ground. A pulse in his neck beat, like the heart of a newly hatched bird.

“Landen,” she whispered. “I never had a slave.”

The boy stood quietly.

“And I never will,” she continued, lifting her chin. “Papa,” her voice rose. “You gave him to me. I set him free.” . . .

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75-100 Best Fantasy Experiences Blog-to-Book Overview

Shelley Hitz of Author Audience Academy suggested in a FB session that I post this question about my blog-to-book plan for 2017-2018 and ask your opinion. I decided to include the whole layout, so you can get a general idea what I’m planning to share with you. And you can tell me if it’s something you’d love.

So thank you for your opinion, if you’d give it at the end!

I decided to come up with some serial blog posts/stories with lasting meaning for readers, not for writers. Not because I have anything against writers, (I’m one) only because most of you are YA, fantasy, and speculative fiction buffs. And so am I, and this is something I treasure. I’d love to make a book with you!

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Ruthlessly slash What??

It’s summer, and the game is afoot!

If you’re an author or reader, you’re either furiously creating or relaxing in your favorite warm spot with a book. Or you may do both consecutively. That’s two blessings of the land we live in, the USA, and I hope you’re enjoying reading or some equivalent summer fun. This is the time to be out of doors!

And we never quit learning, it seems. I enjoyed these interesting editing tips, Kristen Lamb’s article on what to ruthlessly slash, passed to me by a bestselling writer, KM Weiland, who wrote Storming, a great steampunk historical. I loved (still do) this daring air pirate adventure.

There’s more. It’s time for The Clash of The Titles, and I’m voting for Jenn Roger’s new release Astray, book one of the Ariboslia series. If you want to vote for her or your favorite title, go here starting Wednesday, June 22, 2016.  Page is not live until Wednesday.

There are many great reads and blessings – what are some of yours, if you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comments. It may take me a little time to get back to you, but I will!

PS. If you would like inside news and special offers on my books and coloring book projects and you are not yet on my list, join my blog letter in the sidebar. I won’t give your info to anyone else, and you’ll get the inside scoop bi-monthly or less.  🙂

Have a great summer!

Azalea

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YA Treasure Hunt and FB Birthday Party

I’m so glad you’re thinking of joining the fun!

If you love YA reads, from fantasy to urban adventure, you’re in the right place. If you enjoy free books, even better. And if you crave adventure without smut, you’re on your way!

Not to mention finding new friends and fascinating characters, from authors, terrifying villains, tough heroes, and scrappy heroines to prizes galore!

This Tuesday, May 31st, 2016, join 14 YA authors, Indie and Traditionally published, from 2:00 to 10:00 pm Eastern time, or 11:00 am to 7:00 pm Pacific (my time). Click here for the party on May 31st!

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2016 CJ Redwine’s The Shadow Queen

A riveting retelling. Snow White has grown a backbone and a half to save her kingdom. And she doesn’t do it alone.

When Lorelai’s parents are murdered, she wants to save her family and her kingdom. Ravenspire is in the throes of death, the earth of the kingdom itself drained by Queen Irina’s lust for power. When Queen Irina comes for Lorelai and her brother Leo, the princess discovers strengths greater than she knew through her struggle to tame shape-shifting dragons, defy an evil queen, and do the right thing. Continue reading

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