The Collar & Cavvarach by Annie Douglass Lima – Krillonian Chronicles Book 1

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The collar around Bensin’s neck announces to all that he is a lowly slave, downtrodden, abused by owners, and sold as those owners see fit. There is no going out in public without a Pass from the owner. Clothing, used or very used, is at the discretion of the owner. Meals are also dictated by them. There are almost more rules than one can count. In fact, there is even a rule book on slaves for these owners.

Bensin’s sister, Ellie, is only five years old. They have always been together and he can’t imagine a life without her. They are purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Creghorn. Bensin works the yard, runs errands, and does housework. Young Ellie babysits their infant, which she is very good at, keeping Baby Creghorn happy most of the time.

When their mother died, Bensin promised her that he would obtain freedom for Ellie. Slaves are expensive to purchase and it will take years to buy her freedom. So, Bensin hatches a plan to set her free, even though he will still remain a slave. One night, they sneak out of the house, walk a long while, hiding behind cars and in alleys. Still, they are caught by the Watch officers. They’re hustled to a station, where punishment is meted out: thirty lashes for being a runaway. At fourteen, Bensin is used to being beaten by Mr. Creghorn, who is as short-tempered as a person can get. On top of his thirty lashes, he knows he will get more by his owner once he returns. Bensin realizes life is about to get even harder, but he knows he can take it if it means freeing Ellie from slavery.

Soon, Bensin discovers that the Cleghorns are selling him and he will no longer see his sister. They are both devastated at the thought, but his owners have run out of patience, dealing with a runaway, and want him gone. He is sold to Steene Mayvins, who coaches cavvara shil skills. Since he has been trained in this sport, Bensin hopes to make money for his new owner by winning matches. This is just the tip of the iceberg in the tale of Bensin and Ellie.

This story caught my interest immediately. Bensin is an engaging character with a strong personality, which must be hidden to survive in this life of slavery. Just when I thought he is an adult in disguise with all the answers, he does some ‘kid’ thing and I was reminded of his age and the strong spirit within. There is a lot that goes on in each chapter; never was I left with a ho-hum moment. I did find Ellie to be a little overly mature for her age; I have some difficulty seeing a five-year-old carrying an infant or managing to get him into his crib. Also, for being a slave, I thought she was rather unaware of the danger they were in when they tried to make a run for it.

This book is about a youngster learning a life lesson: be patient, persevere, work through your fear, and do your best. Bevin has some struggles, but he always returns to his goal of freeing his sister. Once he is owned by Steene, he becomes even stronger through the adult guidance he receives. As he is coached to physically prepare for competitions and mentally prepare for his adversaries, he becomes an admirable boy that I took pleasure watching become a mature athlete who sometimes made the right choice, and occasionally the wrong. I believe most readers will enjoy this book.

The rating:

  • Genre & general reading age – YA fantasy, but readers of all ages will appreciate it.
  • Level of sexuality: None.
  • Is there graphic language: Very little.
  • Did I cry? No.
  • Did I laugh? No.
  • Is this part of a series? The Krillonian Chronicles book one.
  • Level of character development – I enjoyed all of the characters, even the ones I thought of as ‘bad’. They were very well presented.

I give this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars.

Available here on Amazon

Featured Author: Michael McLellan

 

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Michael’s love of books began with Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle when he was seven years old. Later influenced by the works of John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, Stephen King, and Cormac McCarthy, Michael developed his style of storytelling. A self-proclaimed blue-collar writer, he draws on his experience and observations to bring relevant and compelling topics to life.

Michael lives in Northern California and when he’s not writing, he can usually be found wandering around the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges.

His body of work includes the 2014 novel After and Again, the 2015 novel American Flowers, and the shorts In the Valley, Joe Price, and Anywhere But Here. Michael’s newest novel, In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree, was released April 2017 by Sweet Candy Press, and is available now at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and other book retailers.


1. When did you start writing?

I’ve been writing songs, music, and poetry since I was in my early teens. Through the years I also accumulated a binder full of half-hearted attempts at novels; most of which were only a handful of pages and not very good ones at that. Finally, in 2011 I had what you might call a life-changing experience. Shortly after that, the floodgates opened.


2. What is your inspiration?

Definitely social issues. More specifically, how human beings treat each other.


3. How did you come up with your stories?

They just appear. I have new ideas all the time. Mostly the ideas fade away after a few hours, or days, but sometimes the ideas stick, and the story will start piecing itself together while I go about my daily routine.


4. Where is your favorite place to write?

I have a nice easy-chair with my butt imprint in it. It faces a window where I can look out at our fruit trees.


5. Do you plan your stories before starting?

(Laugh) Nope. I couldn’t write an outline to save my life. I’ll chew over an idea until I’m certain it’s not going to go away, then I’ll sit down with my laptop and start telling myself the story. That’s my process. I wouldn’t have it any other way because it’s exciting not knowing how things are going to unfold until they do. Sometimes I’m every bit as surprised as a casual reader when something unexpected happens.


6. When did you first consider yourself an author?

After my second novel, American Flowers. I stopped feeling like an imposter.


7. Do you see writing as a career?

Absolutely. It’s the path I’ve chosen, and I don’t foresee myself doing anything else.


8. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Keeping stories fresh is always the most difficult challenge—at least for me. Pretty much every conceivable topic has already been written about. Sometimes every idea that pops into my head just makes me roll my eyes and think: Well that’s been beaten-into-the-ground a million ways already. I finally decided my quest isn’t to break new ground. It’s simply to tell a story in a unique voice and, hopefully, from a unique standpoint.


9. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Research. I feel that good fiction shouldn’t feel like fiction when you’re reading it, so I go through a lot to make sure that details are accurate.


10. Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I’m currently working on two novels. One is based on a post-apocalyptic short story I wrote last year. You can read the short here: http://michaelamclellan.com/short-stories/ The second is a contemporary drama about a fourteen-year-old named Sean Pennington, whose parents both die in tragic accidents, less than three years apart. Sean is sent to a group home because he has no other family except for a grandfather he’s never met, and who no one can reach. The book follows Sean from his comfortable, semi-affluent life to his troubling experiences in a broken social services system, to his desperate attempt to strike out and find his only living relative.


11. Do you have advice for other writers?

Be wary of advice from other writers;) Just write.


12. Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

Yes. Thanks to everyone who has read my books. I’d be lying if I claimed to write strictly for myself. I’ll leave that to others. Because for me, touching someone else’s life, even for a moment, is what makes it all worth it.

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Read our review of In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael A. McLellan

Upcoming Release: The Spirit Mage – Book 2 of The Blackwood Saga by Layton Green

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THE SPIRIT MAGE

Release date September 15, 2017

Promotion during release week September 15-22 each book only $2.99

Valjean Blackwood thought about how impossible it seemed that there was another world out there from which he had narrowly escaped. A world of manticores and cave fiends, magic swords and potions, spirit mages and necromancers. Wizard-monks who could shatter walls with their fists, a city of colored spires so beautiful it took his breath away . . . and a world in which Val’s brothers were still trapped.

Desperate to help his brothers, Val Blackwood manages to return to the world of Urfe. After landing in the dangerous underbelly of New Victoria, he concludes that the only way to find his brothers is to enroll in the Abbey—the school for wizards—and somehow gain entrance to a portal called the Pool of Souls. Yet to succeed, he will not only have to pass the wizards’ entrance exam and survive the hardships of the school, considered the most demanding in all the Realm, but also avoid a lethal assassin targeting students.

As Val struggles to survive, his brothers undergo an even deadlier trial. Reeling from the loss of Mala, an adventuress trapped in the mysterious Place Between Worlds, Will and Caleb and Yasmina are captured by slavers and taken to the mines beneath Fellengard Mountain. Even if they somehow manage to escape, a feat no one has ever accomplished, they must still find their way through the vast and untamed caverns of the Darklands—a place even the wizards fear.

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Read our review of The Brothers Three by Layton Green