Artist: Guild of Ambience
Genre: Ambient, Soundtrack

Track: Enchanted Lands Volume I 
Lyrical/Instrumental: Instrumental
Language: None

Try it with: A dreamy fairy tale or a fantasy set in the misty, enchanted mountains.

Guild of Ambience is a Youtube channel run by a single artist who creates high quality environmental ambients and animations with a DnD-esque backstory for each video. I’ve featured his channel before several times, but today I want to feature his musical talent.

Tranquil and ethereal, Enchanted Lands Volume I is described by its creator as “A 60-minute atmospheric journey drifting through contrasts of light and dark, evoking imagery of realms both ancient and mystical.” It delivers exactly what it promises, setting the stage for any ethereal mountain fantasy you may be reading.

Today I’ve got a very special Literary Find post, in celebration of Dan Fitzgerald’s Hollow Road debut. (Please note that this is not part of the blog tour for the book that I’m participating in. I would have gotten permission for this post to fall under the tour’s umbrella, but I spontaneously decided to write this entry today and felt it was rude to harass the blog tour coordinators, who already work so hard to coordinate scheduling.)

Readers will know how nutty I am for environmental ambiances, and the fact that I use them very often for reading–sometimes even making them myself if I’m unable to the find the proper audioscape for a book’s mood.

But whenever I can, I also look for other ways to immerse my senses into a book while I read it. Hollow Road, with its adventuring, woodland themes, has proven an easy book to find all kinds of compliments for, from cooking to candles.

Consider these great, foresty accompaniments as you travel down Hollow Road, which goes on sale today.


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Hear: Guild of Ambiance – Forest Sounds
This quiet forest ambiance is the perfect audio compliment for adventures around Hollow Road.



Drink: Juniper Ridge – White Sage + Wild Mint tea
Wild harvested white sage and mint from the forests of the American west coast create a simple, foraged herbal blend as brisk as the snow-capped mountains of Silver Hills.



Eat: Far West Fungi – Dried Organic Cultivated Mix
I’m lucky enough to have access to this company’s fresh embarrassment of mushroom-y riches. I often buy a mixed box of their produce and saute it with some thyme and butter, then toss it with pasta for a simple but deeply complex, earthy meal. With Far West Fungi’s amazing and easily reconstituted mix of dried mushrooms, you can make your own delicious meal that even a maer might approve of.



Smell: Illume – Balsam & Cedar candle
Deep foresty notes and a rugged metal container make this a candle that might fit right into the window of a house in Brocland.

Welcome, regular readers and new visitors! This is my very first blog tour, and I feel lucky to have found Justine and Timy’s excellent Storytellers on Tour company to join. They’re fantastic ladies and such a pleasure to work with. For full details of this tour and all the wonderful bloggers participating, head over to the Storytellers on Tour page for Hollow Road.

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Thank you to Dan Fitzgerald for providing me with a review copy of Hollow Road.

[Regular readers may note that my standard review format is slightly pared down here. Don’t worry, all the information is still there. I simply condensed it for length purposes.]

Hollow Road (Maer Cycle book 1) by Dan Fitzgerald (goodreads page)
Publish date: September 17, 2020
Genre, sub-genre: Fantasy: low
Pages: 243
Avaliable: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Notable aspects: LGBT, ace rep

Summary
Legends describe the Maer as savage man-beasts haunting the mountains, their bodies and faces covered with hair. Creatures of unimaginable strength, cunning, and cruelty. Bedtime stories to keep children indoors at night. Soldiers’ tales to frighten new recruits.

It is said the Maer once ruled the Silver Hills, but they have long since passed into oblivion.

This is the story of their return.

Carl, Sinnie and Finn, three companions since childhood, are tasked with bringing a friend’s body home for burial. Along the way, they find there is more to the stories than they ever imagined, and the mountains hold threats even darker than the Maer. What they discover on their journey will change the way they see the world forever.

Travel down Hollow Road to find out which legends are true, and which have been twisted.


My rating: 91%/100%
1 sentence review: A unique ‘slice of adventure’ novel that’s full of realistic, intimate charm.


What kind of novel is this?
This novel is what I would personally deem a ‘slice of adventure’ novel, in a nod to the ‘slice of life’ writing narrative. When I initially read the summary, I didn’t understand what the story was. I thought it was about three people who find bigfoot. The discovery itself didn’t seem to be the whole story, but it seemed there was little indication of what happened beyond that.

Once I read the book, I came to understand why it was so hard to summarize. Unlike typical epic fantasy stories that encompass a single big conflict, Hollow Road seems to be a series of adventures. It lacks a “plot,” in that there’s no single confrontation that the whole story is building up to. It’s simply a tale of three people who discover something, which leads to something else, which leads to something else, and so on and so forth.

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For literary finds, I usually feature things that someone can buy. Unfortunately, this item is no longer made. But it’s part of my own indie perfume collection, and I wanted to share it.

In honor of Self-published Fantasy Month, I’m featuring independent artists for all my ‘literary adjacent’ posts. This box set of sample perfumes was made by a San Francisco-based independent perfumer who runs a company called INeKE. The box mimics an ancient-looking book, and the inside reveals it to be an ancient library book, with perfume samples sitting in velvet. It comes complete with old-fashioned faux calling cards, each of which describes one of the perfumes and the history of the flower that each one is named after.

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The First of Shadows (The Riven Realm #1) by Deck Matthews (goodreads page)
Published: 2019
Genre, sub-genre: Fantasy: epic, high
Pages: 143

Notable aspects: disabled rep
Warnings: light gore

1 minute summary
Caleb Rusk, a crippled young rigger, meets a stranger on the road that will pull him into a conflict that threatens everything he holds dear.

Meanwhile, in the Capital of Taralius, a string of inexplicable deaths have captured the attention of the Ember Throne. Second Corporal Avendor Tarcoth is tasked with uncovering the truth behind a danger that could threaten the very fabric of the Realm.


My rating: 4/5 – an excellent read
1 sentence review: ambitious and complex for its small page count, The First of Shadows delivers a surprisingly epic, action-packed magical punch.

Pros: great world building, good characterizations and action.
Cons: magic system was a little more complex than the page count could do justice to.

Good for readers who: love big, epic fantasy and magic systems, in the style of Brandon Sanderson.
Not so great for readers who: are attracted to the novella format for smaller, contained stories.


I randomly saw Alex of Spells & Spaceships recommend this on this twitter account, and I was overjoyed. I had been scrambling around for several days attempting to find a short self-published novel or novella to round out my reading list for Self-Published Fantasy Month. I set about reading it that very day, and it did not disappoint. Read More