On the Isle of Sound and Wonder – By Alyson Grauer

On the Isle of Sound and Wonder by Alyson Grauer

I have had the privilege of being collaborating with Xchyler Publishing Author, Alyson Grauer several times in the past and it is my pleasure to provide this review of her break out novel ‘On the Isle of Sound and Wonder’. An author of several published works of short fiction, Alyson take the next step in this long work and invites us in to a world woven with Shakespeare, magic, and steam.

On the Isle of Sound and Wonder by Alyson Grauer

On the Isle of Sound and Wonder (OISW) is, in a word, impressive.

From the very outset of the book you find yourself in an engaging world of magic and machines. Grauer leads you through the mystery of Mira’s peculiar past, and always toward the inevitable destiny one can’t help but anticipate with excitement.

On the Isle of Sound and Wonder by Alyson GrauerThe work is based around Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’, a work that I am not intimately familiar with. However, this novel stands quite well on its own two feet. Interwoven into the tale is a great deal of magic, and some rather fantastic creatures that complicate every step for Mira and her friends. On top of that, there is yet another layer of steampunk flavor where airships, automatons, and other instruments, classic to the genre, are applied to further enhance the unique style of the tale.

I’ve read a fair number of indie and breakout author novels. Miss Grauer really impressed me. Her world was vivid, her prose polished and engaging, and her characters were so well developed that you empathized even with the villains for the sake of the distraught back-stories that brought them to their sinister deeds. Most of the time, the book read like the work of a veteran author.

My favorite character’s were the monster Karuburan, and the wicked imp Aurael, though I was a little suspicious that his name was only one letter different from mine… The protagonist of the story is a true ‘strong female character’ if ever I saw one. She leads without either belittling, or emulating the opposite sex. Vulnerable and real, she does her acts of heroism simply because it is ‘the right thing to do’.

I won’t complain too much, since I collaborate with Miss Grauer occasionally, and you wouldn’t believe me anyway. All I will say is, while there are dirigibles and automatons aplenty I, was hoping the story would be more driven by steampunk. The major genre forces that drive the OISW are magic, which are great in themselves. However, I was hoping for something more steampunk motivated, like Grauer’s short story ‘Lavenza‘ where the plot is driven by the protagonists discovery that she is an automaton. It’s a petty stylistic preference really. My only other comment, and not even a complaint, is that the story, while never graphic or scandalous, has some elements that might be mature for very young readers. I will admit that I have an overly sensitive nature, and was really upset by some of the abuse the characters suffered, even if it was only evidenced in its repercussions.

I will certainly read OISW again, and that says a lot coming from someone with a long list of books waiting to be read! Take a read of OISW for yourself. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

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On the Isle of Sound and Wonder by Alyson Grauer

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On the Isle of Sound and Wonder by Alyson Grauer

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A Veteran’s Day Poem

Bear with me, I’m not a great poet:
Be grateful,

I do not know of that struggle, that fear and dread,
Never bombs at my feet, or bullets past my head.

Can I honor what I know not?
Little life, so quiet and fair,

Never felt damp dirty foxhole,
Nor hot sun and sand in my sole.

How can I thank you?
Say what I don’t know?

It is to you I owe my ignorance, that find this lack of words,
You bore the struggle for me, as on a cross once did my Lord,

Thank you, for standing for me,
These feeble words prove your work,

Let this pause to ponder all the pains I have been spared,
Honor the service the courage and danger that you dared.


Postmortem ~ An Excerpt from Jagerund

Some of you may have read this before,but I want to announce the publishing of  the followup to my short story, ‘The Death of Marcus Wells’ on my own blog. This piece of flash fiction is both the epilogue to my published short story and an excerpt of the novel I am working on titled ‘Jagerund’. Please enjoy!

It was late when Emily tiptoed into the room. Unlike most of the other rooms in the abandoned monastery, this one was well-lit. Several oil lamps surrounded the table on which the corpse laid and pushed back the darkness that seeped from the stone walls.

Marcus’ back was to her, his shaggy light coloured hair hung over his eyes as he bowed his head toward the table. So engrossed in his work was he that didn’t notice her enter. His forceps moved methodically, gently separating the human flesh from the parasite that had infiltrated the now deceased body.

She cleared her throat gently. Read more->


Legends and Lore an Anthology of Mythic Proportions – Blog Tour

Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions

Delve into myth and legend, where the Fates force post-modern man into a world of the unknown—a world long since dismissed as ignorant superstition.

The Brother-Sister Fable by Alyson Grauer: a young boy disappears into a realm where only his sister can follow.

Faelad by Sarah Hunter Hyatt: Claire Whitaker didn’t even know she was Irish, let alone The Morrigan, the goddess of war.

By Skyfall by Emma Michaels: a mer-couple from Atlantis find themselves in the middle of a human murder investigation.

Charon’s Obol by. R. M. Ridley: Jonathan Alvey didn’t believe in gods, until he helps a lost child find her all-powerful parents.

Peradventure by Sarah E. Seeley: a jinni must choose between the woman he loves and destroying the city that persecuted her.

Natural Order by Lance Schonberg: when Carlos Vasquez is kidnapped, he discovers powers within himself to change the world.

Two Spoons by Danielle E. Shipley: A little girl’s soul meets its match in the family diner’s most mysterious patron.

Grail Days by A. F. Stewart: Living forever has its drawbacks, especially when you spend it clearing away the messes of other immortals. Downward Mobility by M. K. Wiseman: they say love conquers all, but can it save a Valkyrie when she breaks all the rules? Continue reading


Conversation with A.F. Stewart – Author Interview

The recording device from which this transcript came was recently found on a church doorstep near Salem Massachusetts. It involves a conversation between J. Aurel Guay and author A.F. Stewart. The whereabouts of Dr. Guay are still unknown.

GooglePhotoAurel: Hello Ms. Stewart, it was so good of you to accept my invitation for an interview. Although I must say, your choice of setting here in this centuries old cemetery, under a full moon is a little… unorthodox. Fortunately, I’ve brought along a little picnic basket. Help yourself to a fruit tart and a glass of wine, and we will begin.

Stewart: Oh, blackberry and sour cherry tarts. My favourite flavours. I’ll pass on the wine, though, as I don’t imbibe. I’ve also brought something, my own little delectable delicacy, Deviled Egg Eyeballs (holds out a container of deviled eggs in the shape of bloodshot eyeballs). Care for one?

Aurel: Don’t mind if I do! As I understand it, you have just released a new work of fiction and are celebrating with gifts to your readers. What can you tell us about it?

Stewart: My new book is a Continue reading

Manuscript Accepted! Raise the Dirigibles and Bring on the Steam!

10660375_464697890339992_5856595183846179556_nI am simply elated right now! This past night, I got the official word from the ever illustrious and gracious Xchyler Publishing, that I will be published yet AGAIN! This time as an author in an anthology of steampunk stories inspired by great American literature. I am so pleased about this on so very many levels. I’ve been hinting about my story in progress on my facebook page and twitter. At some point in the near future, I will compile all the clues and hints to wet your appetite.

The short story is titled ‘A Princess of Jasoom’ and derives from the novel that inspired it, namely ‘A Princess of Mars’ by Edgar Rice Boroughs. As readers of  A Princess of Mars might recall, Jasoom is the Martian name for Earth, and I thought the inversion of the title fitting for my story based on Earth. I must confess that, while it is one of my best imaginations, as it stands the manuscript is certainly one of my worst executions, owing to the extreme time constraints under which I rushed to complete the project. Yet, in the end it seems to have been worth it. For, the editors of Xchyler must have seen through my basal grammar, and ragged prose, to the potential buried deep beneath.

10628500_464697883673326_5650381832943665180_nMuch work is yet to be done to bring this tale up to even my own standards, much less the high standards of my beloved editors. It was a delight to try to emulate the verbose and vivid writing style of Edgar Rice Boroughs. However, it will be a challenge to refine that style into the limited word count and restrictions on passive voice to which Mr. Boroughs was so given.

So what can you expect from this tale? It is not a retelling of the original story, but a thrilling story of mystery and action set in parallel to the historical work where two characters strive to prevent an evil warlord from conquering Earth by means of an ancient Martian technology. It comes complete with fantastic creatures and inventions that I hope give credit to the creative mind of Mr. Borough’s.

10612583_464697900339991_7591844242252676265_nSteampunk blends into the tale in the import of the many varieties of steam powered automaton that have arisen since John Carter’s second egress from Earth back to Mars. The cogs and boilers of these are the critical element that drive the story and, I hope, will likewise drive the steampunk fans on through its pages.

I can tell you that the heart of the story is a very old idea of mine I had that has taken many forms over the years. It started as an Indian Jones style tale of world traveling adventure and ancient artifacts, progressed to a science fiction tale (that you can read the beginnings of here), and finally evolved into a true steampunk tribute, first aimed at Jules Verne’s ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’, then later finding its better inspiration in the work of Edgar Rice Boroughs.

Be looking for more details in the coming months and be sure to sign up as an Advance Copy Reader in order that you might have the first peak at this wonderful collection of cog and steam driven tales.

(All image rights belong to their respective owners)10628308_464697887006659_1096093619983796145_n

Special Feature: J. Aurel Guay’s Postmortem


The epilogue to my published short story ‘The Death of Dr. Marcus Wells’ was shared on Dancing with Fireflies this weekend! Go have a read and find out what is in store for Marcus and Emily after their adventures in the short story.

Originally posted on Dancing with Fireflies:

Our friend, J. Aurel Guay, has a new special feature for DWF readers. His amazing anthology that came out last year: Shades and Shadows: A Paranormal Anthology  has been a success and now he is working on a new novel.  You can find more of this piece on Xchler Publishing’s website.  We have enjoyed his incredible talents here on DWF through the years and we are thrilled to give you another sample of his fantastic writing.

Please enjoy Postmortem.

~ C. ~

It was late when Emily tiptoed into the room. Unlike most of the other rooms in the abandoned monastery, this one was well-lit. Several oil lamps surrounded the table on which the corpse laid and pushed back the darkness that seeped from the stone walls.

Marcus’ back was to her, his shaggy light coloured hair hung over his eyes as he bowed his head toward the table. So engrossed in his…

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