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Review & Giveaway: A Witch’s Brew by Michael Scott Clifton

A WITCH’S BREW

Conquest of the Veil Book III

By Michael Scott Clifton

Publisher: Book Liftoff
Publication Date: April 14th, 2021

Pages: 318 Pages
Categories:

Sword & Sorcery / Magical Realism / Fantasy / Paranormal

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Intent on defeating the Dark Queen and destroying the Veil, Prince Tal and Alexandria arrive at Markingham to discover a city on the verge of collapse, its people starving, and children vanishing without a trace. Hopes of launching attacks from the city against the Dark Queen evaporate. To make matters worse, the tiny breach in the Veil allows only a trickle of soldiers and supplies to pass through.
Before the city’s defenses can be restored, the Baleful, a vast army composed of melded humans and animals led by a giant centaur, sweeps across the land like locusts, leaving nothing behind.
In the midst of turmoil and conflict, the love between Tal and Alex reaches white-hot intensity. But the leader of a ragtag militia group wants Tal for herself and will do anything to get him…even strike a bargain with a child-killing witch for a potion to make her irresistible.
But every witch’s brew comes with a price.

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Review

A Witch’s Brew by Michael Scott Clifton is book three of the Conquest of the Veil series, which I am very pleased to find is not the last book of a trilogy. In true Clifton fashion, this book manages to surpass even the first two brilliant books of the series as we are further entangled in the battle between good and evil.

 

While books one and two paint the line between the two sides more obviously, I love how this book has you pondering the meaning behind “a means to an end.” Is breaking a promise so bad when you do it out of love? And are you willing to break someone’s heart over honor? Those are just a few existential questions that come to mind when I mull over this wonderful story. The other questions I had: where is the witch and what’s in her brew? Those answers come just past the halfway mark of the book. Normally that type of thing would bother me, but I was so wrapped up in the story that I did not mind at all! Clifton’s gift for painting a complete picture of a fantasy world is so great that you forget where you are and become fully immersed.

 

Escape from the Wheel left me hopelessly in love with Alexandria’s character. So beautiful but kind, delicate yet strong. And this latest book confirmed that she is worthy of all admiration. Of course, someone is bound to be jealous of such a shining light. As someone who identifies as more of a best friend than a leading lady, I felt compassion for the brash Maggie. Oh, Sir Clifton, why do you torture us with yet another love triangle in this series? My heart can only take so much! To be completely honest, you could get by without reading the first two books. But why would you? You would miss out on so much backstory and this exciting build of adventure and love.

 

I know that I will need to toughen up for the next book because things are only getting harrier for our heroine and her brave prince. Each hard-won victory has been exciting but you know that the worst is yet to come. And Clifton’s magical way with the written word assures you that every detail will be unveiled and you will see all – both the good and the bad – unwind in a cinematic cyclone.

 

The vibe of this book was interesting – sort of Game of Thrones meets Hocus Pocus. I really look forward to reading the next book, especially knowing that it will be even better than this one. If you are a fantasy reader, you definitely need to pick up the first three books of the Conquest of the Veil series so that you’re ready for book four.

by Michael Scott Clifton is book three of the Conquest of the Veil series, which I am very pleased to find is not the last book of a trilogy. In true Clifton fashion, this book manages to surpass even the first two brilliant books of the series as we are further entangled in the battle between good and evil.

While books one and two paint the line between the two sides more obviously, I love how this book has you pondering the meaning behind “a means to an end.” Is breaking a promise so bad when you do it out of love? And are you willing to break someone’s heart over honor? Those are just a few existential questions that come to mind when I mull over this wonderful story. The other questions I had: where is the witch and what’s in her brew? Those answers come just past the halfway mark of the book. Normally that type of thing would bother me, but I was so wrapped up in the story that I did not mind at all! Clifton’s gift for painting a complete picture of a fantasy world is so great that you forget where you are and become fully immersed.

Escape from the Wheel left me hopelessly in love with Alexandria’s character. So beautiful but kind, delicate yet strong. And this latest book confirmed that she is worthy of all admiration. Of course, someone is bound to be jealous of such a shining light. As someone who identifies as more of a best friend than a leading lady, I felt compassion for the brash Maggie. Oh, Sir Clifton, why do you torture us with yet another love triangle in this series? My heart can only take so much! To be completely honest, you could get by without reading the first two books. But why would you? You would miss out on so much backstory and this exciting build of adventure and love.

I know that I will need to toughen up for the next book because things are only getting harrier for our heroine and her brave prince. Each hard-won victory has been exciting but you know that the worst is yet to come. And Clifton’s magical way with the written word assures you that every detail will be unveiled and you will see all – both the good and the bad – unwind in a cinematic cyclone.

The vibe of this book was interesting – sort of Game of Thrones meets Hocus Pocus. I really look forward to reading the next book, especially knowing that it will be even better than this one. If you are a fantasy reader, you definitely need to pick up the first three books of the Conquest of the Veil series so that you’re ready for book four.

Multi Award-Winning Author Michael Scott Clifton, a longtime public educator, currently lives in Mount Pleasant, Texas with his wife, Melanie. An avid gardener, reader, and movie junkie, his books contain facets of all the genres he enjoys—action, adventure, magic, fantasy, and romance. His fantasy novels, The Janus Witch, The Open Portal (Book I in the Conquest of the Veil series), and Escape from Wheel (Book II), all received 5-Star reviews from the prestigious Readers Favorite Book Reviews. The Open Portal has also been honored with a Feathered Quill Book Finalist Award. In addition, Edison Jones and the Anti-Grav Elevator earned a 2021 Feathered Quill Book Award Bronze Medal in the Teen Readers category. Two of his short stories have won Gold Medals, with Edges of Gray winning the Texas Authors Contest, and The End Game, winning the Northeast Texas Writer’s Organization Contest. Professional credits include articles published in the Texas Study of Secondary Education Magazine.
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nd & 3rd Winners: eBooks of A Witch’s Brew.
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Review & Giveaway: Escape from Wheel by Michael Scott Clifton

ESCAPE FROM WHEEL
Conquest of the Veil, Book Two
by
MICHAEL SCOTT CLIFTON
 
Genre: YA / Fantasy / Magical Realism / Sword & Sorcery
Publisher: Book Liftoff
Publication Date: August 4, 2020
Number of Pages: 302 pages
 

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New Life, New World, New Problems
Alexandria Duvalier’s new life on the magical world of Meredith takes a shattering twist when her father, the Duke of Wheel, pledges her hand in marriage to the cruel lord, Rodric Regret. Desperate to escape his clutches, Alex flees the city with the help of her friend, Tell Tollet, a handsome lieutenant in the city guard. But their freedom is short-lived when Rodric’s brutal brother, Stefan, joins in the pursuit.
Hotheaded Prince Tal, heir to the throne of Meredith, has but one goal: kill the Dark Queen and destroy the Veil, the enchanted barrier which has ensnared generations of his people. He discovers a breach in the magical wall and leads an army through, bent on completing his mission.
When an unusual and potent magic calls to him, he follows its trail back to Alex. Thrown together by circumstances and chased across the wilderness by the ruthless Lord Stefan, Tal and Alex are drawn to each other by the greatest magic of all—love. Now they just need to stay alive . . .

 
  
Review

Escape from Wheel by Michael Scott Clifton is one of those rare instances where book two outshines the first. Don’t get me wrong, The Open Portal, was a beautifully written book, but it could get so grotesque at times that I needed to stop for a moment and collect myself. Not to say that the sequel is all sunshine and daisies, but Clifton strikes a perfect balance of evil and suspense with love and hope.

In the first book, I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters’ strange names, but this volume had me wishing that Clifton took them a bit further. While the reader wouldn’t mistake Tell for Tal, the names were so similar that I expected Alex to slip up at least once. But perhaps our heroine is too clever to make such a rookie mistake. 

I love how the author portrays this young woman with so much duality: a girl from our world and time transported to this ancient fantasy world, yet fitting in very well; a girl who researches and plots her own way but must rely upon a handsome man to help her stay safe. Alex might be a damsel in distress at times, but she puts up a hell of a fight and has hidden talents up her sleeve as well. 

It’s been a while since I’ve read a good fantasy book, so one thing that stood out to me was Clifton’s vivid descriptions of, well, everything. While fiction books generally rely on dialogue to propel a story, fantasy books truly build worlds in your mind, and Clifton is a master architect and painter in one. You see the lay of the land, the buildings that tower above or crumble before you, and the colorful delights of the court set and fantastical creatures in nature. As someone who loves reading about food, I swooned over the descriptions of feast fare, as well as the roughing it recipes.

While the violence was my least favorite part of the previous book, I actually enjoyed the battles in this one. The gore wasn’t excessive and I particularly liked the cunning of various traps that were set up to help even out the unlikeliest of odds. The pace was just right, until I realized that I was super invested in the story and there were only a few more pages left. Alas, it appears I will have to wait again for the next installment of Conquest of the Veil.

I recommend this book to all you fantasy lovers out there. Definitely read the first book, The Open Portal, which has a George R.R. Martin vibe to it, and then follow up with this book that has an Arthurian legend meets Hunger Games groove to it.

Multi-award-winning author Michael Scott Clifton was a longtime public educator as a teacher, coach, and administrator. Professional credits include articles published in the Texas Study of Secondary Education Magazine. He currently lives in Mount Pleasant, Texas, with his wife, Melanie, and family cat. An avid gardener, reader, and movie junkie, Michael enjoys all kinds of book and movie genres. His books contain aspects of all the genres he enjoys: action, adventure, magic, fantasy, and romance. 

 
His fantasy novels, The Janus Witch and The Open Portal, received five-star reviews from the prestigious Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews, and he has been a finalist in a number of short-story contests, with “Edges of Gray” winning first place in the Texas Authors Contest. 
 
The Open Portal, winner of the Feathered Quill Book Finalist Award, launches the fantasy book series, Conquest of the Veil. Michael’s latest release, Escape From Wheel, is book two in this fantasy series. Visit Michael’s official websiteor google him @authormsclifton.
 
 
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Review & Giveaway: Edison Jones and the Anti-Grav Elevator by Michael Scott Clifton

EDISON JONES AND THE ANTI-GRAV ELEVATOR
by
MICHAEL SCOTT CLIFTON
Genre: MG-YA / Action & Adventure / Men’s & Boys’
Publisher: Book Liftoff
Publication Date: February 11, 2020
Number of Pages: 282 pagesSCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY! 

Twelve-year-old Edison Jones is a prodigy with a passion for technology and inventions. Paralyzed from the waist down since the age of five, he hasn’t let his disability slow him down. Then his world changes overnight when his grandfather, a billionaire tech company owner, decides to enroll him in a public school. Algorithms, quantum physics, and digital engineering are easy. Finding his way in the bewildering world of boys and girls his own age is quite another thing . . . the biggest challenge of his life.




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Review

I can’t lie, when I first heard of Edison Jones and the Anti-Grav Elevator by Michael Scott Clifton, my brain immediately thought of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. While both elevators travel much farther than any elevator known to man, that is where the similarities end. Not to mention, Charlie Bucket isn’t an adolescent genius who invented the great glass elevator.

Edison Jones is like the Iron Man of junior high boys. He has this incredible mind that he uses to create amazing inventions that tend to skew toward military or aerospace applications. And like Iron Man, Edison uses one of his inventions, his anti-grav chair, to improve his quality of life. So that’s where the Iron Man comparison ends. While any kid who hasn’t been to public school before has a similar fear of fitting in and not making friends, amplify that by a thousand when you consider that Edison has no friends or acquaintances of his own age. His struggle with social norms among his peers reminds me of Sheldon Cooper minus the immature quirks. Edison is like a 30 year old man in a 12-year-old body.

All of the junior high scenes played out like a teen movie in my head with each archetype represented. You’ve got Hondo the jock, Carly the cheerleader, and Bree the nerdy girl who is beautiful once the glasses come off. While in my own junior high experience, these four kids wouldn’t be friends in school, much less outside of it; I was able to suspend my disbelief and really came to enjoy their relationship. It was refreshing to see them act outside of their character type as well. Believe it or not, I would have liked to see the bully, Markie Franks, fleshed out more. One minute he’s yelling the typical bad guy, “You haven’t see the last of me!” to using words like “droll” while mimicking a fine art curator to flipping the bird. And then you see him get dropped off in front of a nice home with a perfectly manicured lawn. So many questions…

While the character interactions were very entertaining, I was most impressed with the science in this novel. Clifton really must have a background in science or at least did a lot of research to pull the technology together. I’m no science whiz, but you can just tell when a book has some fantastical gadgets in it that are a little too good to be true. I loved how Edison batmans from his bedroom (replete with goodies like Hunger Games/Sanctum Sanctorum panels) down to a lab that is connected to a Raccoon City-esque labyrinth of LogicTech’s top secret facility. I lapped up all the details and kept thinking, ‘God I hope this becomes a movie someday.’ I think my excitement over each new invention even rivaled Edison and Hondo’s enthusiasm. The only real bummer for me was one scene that was a little too similar to Big Hero 6. It not only used the same technology, but the fake out that led to victory was almost identical.

Overall, I found the book a great pleasure to read. It seems to be aimed at men and boys, but I think that girls would really enjoy it as well. I like that it shows how people are complicated and that there is so much more than what meets the eye. I also feel like it’s a lesson on trusting your gut and not making excuses when life is unfair. I don’t know what Clifton’s intention is, but this book felt like a setup for an exciting series. I sure hope there are more Edison books to come. If not, I will definitely be on the lookout for the next book by this author.

Multi award-winning author Michael Scott Clifton, a public educator for over 38 years as a teacher, coach, and administrator, currently lives in Mount Pleasant, Texas, with his wife, Melanie, and family cat. An avid gardener, reader, and movie junkie, he enjoys all kinds of book and movie genres. His books contain aspects of all the genres he enjoys: action, adventure, magic, fantasy, and romance. His fantasy novels, The Janus Witch and The Open Portal, received 5-Star reviews from the prestigious Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews, and he has been a finalist in a number of short story contests, with Edges of Gray winning First Place in the Texas Authors Contest. Professional credits include articles published in the Texas Study of Secondary Education Magazine. Clifton’s latest book, The Open Portal, won a Feathered Quill Book Finalist Award, and launched the fantasy book series, Conquest of the Veil. 



 
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Review & Giveaway: The Open Portal by Michael Scott Clifton

THE OPEN PORTAL
Conquest of the Veil #1
by
MICHAEL SCOTT CLIFTON
Genre: Fantasy / Paranormal / Magical Realism
Publisher: Book Liftoff
Publication Date: May 1, 2019
Number of Pages: 337 pagesSCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY! 

But with dreams, there can also be nightmares

Lonely and plain-featured, Mona Parker is just another faceless teenager at Spring Hill High School. One day she runs afoul of Lady Anne Golightly, a beautiful and arrogant classmate who turns Mona’s colorless life into a hellish existence. Bullied relentlessly and with nowhere to turn, Mona considers suicide. One night, Thaddeus Finkle, her guardian angel, appears. He offers her a way out—swap lives with another.


The choice seems easy, and Mona takes the angel up on his offer. She awakens on Meredith, a parallel world of Earth where magic has replaced technology. Mona discovers she is Alexandria, a woman of breathtaking beauty, and the daughter of a Duke complete with servants and riches.

Then she discovers the price of her bargain.

Trapped behind the Veil, an impenetrable curtain of magic, the Duchy of Wheel is the last major province still unconquered by Marlinda, the creator of the enchanted barrier. Known as the Dark Queen, Marlinda’s cruelty includes a singular fondness for melding men, women, and children, with animals…and she has special plans for Alexandria.

Tal, the Prince and Heir of the Empire of Meredith, burns with an intense hatred for Marlinda and her minions. The Dark Queen’s raiders regularly cross the Veil to prey upon the helpless citizens living near the magical boundary. Despite an elaborate system of Watch Towers along the enchanted barrier, it is impossible for the Empire to stop all the raids. Desperate to protect his people, Tal takes dangerous risks to prevent these attacks. Banished to a remote garrison for his reckless behavior, while on a routine patrol, Tal leads an elite unit that happens upon a group of raiders—one whose leader possesses the means for opening a way through the Veil.

Thus begins the conquest of the Veil.

 
“The Open Portal is packed full of action from the time it begins in our mundane world, to when it jumps to another. It has all the elements of a good fantasy: a cruel queen; a frustrated prince; and beautiful girl with a pure heart. There are brave boys, werewolves, white priests, and watchtowers. I can’t wait for the saga to continue.” — Abookanight

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review

Escaping a humdrum life to a world of magic is my favorite sort of fantasy book. Who doesn’t like the idea of leaving behind a place where you merely exist for a place where you can truly thrive and be powerful and super attractive? But where most books fail to address the price you pay for such a switch, The Open Portal lays it all out in the open and reminds you every chance it gets.

Clifton paints a very bleak portrait of a young woman who only has her brother and a few church elders to keep her sane. While other fantasy books might describe pretty tame bullying scenarios, this one has situations that are difficult to get past. If you took the grossest bullying scenes from ‘80s movies and multiplied them by 10, you would understand what Mona goes through in the beginning of this book. And just when you think that she escapes all of that by choosing a new life on the gorgeous planet of Meredith, you realize that she has just traded in her old, terrible life for a George R. R. Martin-type situation.

When I wasn’t cringing at the horrible things that happened to the characters, I was admiring Clifton’s descriptions of each character and the different settings. I feel as though so many books are either plot driven or character driven to the point that you have no idea what anything or anyone looks like. That is certainly not the case with this book. I can say that I was truly transported along with Mona and felt like I really got to meet everyone for the first time like she had.

As much as I adore things like shapeshifters and gritty survival situations, I had difficulty getting through the chapters with Tal and Razor. I promise it wasn’t because of their strange names. I actually wasn’t a fan of many of the character’s names in this book: i.e., Lady Anne Golightly and Rodric Regret. But that’s ok, because they didn’t keep me from being disappointed that the story ended so soon. Thank goodness for the sneak preview of the prologue and chapter 1 for the next book in the series. Those tidbits left me in good spirits and in anticipation for Book 2.