Book Review: On the Isle of Sound and Wonder by Alyson Grauer

Book:  On the Isle of Sound and Wonder
Author:  Alyson Grauer
Pages:   309
Format:  Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Kindle Unlimited
Publisher:  Xchyler Publishing
Book Source:  company project
Category:  Steampunk
Style:  Literary prose with complex characters, strong plot, and vivid world-building


All but alone, wild but resourceful Mira dreams of life beyond the shores of her mystical island. Isolated by her father, a dark sorcerer bent on vengeance, she has only his servants, an air spirit and a misshapen cast-off, to share her company. When Dante conjures a terrible storm to wash ashore his mortal enemies, Mira must chose between her loyalties to her father and what she knows is right.

Sail the skies and soar the seas surrounding this Isle of Sound and Wonder as Alyson Grauer masterfully retells William Shakespeare’s classic, The Tempest, bedecked in the trappings of Steampunk.

About the Author:  

Alyson Grauer is a storyteller in multiple mediums, her two primary canvases being the stage and the page. On stage she is often seen in the Chicago area, primarily at Piccolo Theatre, Plan 9 Burlesque, and the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Her nonfiction work has been published in the Journal for Perinatal Education for Lamaze International. Her short fiction can be found in Tales from the Archives (Volume 2) for The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences and in two anthologies from Xchyler Publishing, "Lavenza, or The Modern Galatea" in Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology (MMSA) and "The Brother-Sister Fable" in Legends and Lore: an Anthology of Mythic Proportions. Alyson is a proud graduate of Loyola University of Chicago and hails originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This is her first novel.

Author and Thespian Alyson Grauer

The Process:

I first "met" Alyson (by the interweb definition) when she won one of Xchyler Publishing's first short story competitions. Her "Lavenza, or The Modern Galatea" anchored MMSA. Besides being a brilliant writer, I found her witty, intelligent, and a delight to work with. I wanted to see more of her work.

Book Tour: On the Isle of Sound and Wonder by Alyson Grauer (Character Interview)

Neapolis, 1854

I am not a courtier, by any means, and so you can well imagine my desire to serve my king well when he gave me such a critical commission. He came to me in the nursery late one evening, when all the children were abed. I never retire early; Mira betimes stirs in the night, tormented with strange and curious dreams. Not until she is well and truly settled do I myself seek my humble repose.

Often times, when King Alanno Civitelli has come to the nursery to check the children before he himself retires, we have shared a quiet word, a cup of tea, a bit of consultation. I know he loves his children dearly, especially his son and heir, Ferran. It warms the heart to see a father so devoted, especially one so powerful as he, especially as he is so beset with the troubles of rule.

Perhaps this explains his choice of ambassador. Secrets never stay long at court, and I fear His Majesty knows not whom to trust in this affair, the matter of utmost delicacy. Who would suspect a lowly governess conducting important matters of state?

Thus, it breaks my heart to have failed him. I had hoped to find the answers he sought, but instead, I return empty-handed, my quest a failure. I could not find Psychoraxx. She has simply vanished, probably drowned with the rest of the ship upon which she was last seen.

Probably, but I cannot be certain, for my own dream continues to plague me. I have told no one lest they think me mad. Indeed, I cannot, for once or twice I have attempted to tell the king, but the words will not come. As if by some enchantment, I find myself back in the nursery without knowing why, having never uttered a word to His Majesty. Perhaps if I commit it to paper, it may purge my torment.

Book Review: Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions

Author:  Alyson Grauer, Sarah Hunter Hyatt, Emma Michaels, R. M. Ridley, Sarah E. Seeley, Lance Schonberg,  Danielle E. Shipley, A. F. Stewart, M. K.Wiseman
Pages:   404
Format:  Paperback, Kindle, Kindle Unlimited
Publisher:  Xchyler Publishing
Book Source:  personal project
Category:  Fantasy, Paranormal
Style:  Broad range of styles from Aurthurian fantasy to darker paranormal elements.


     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?

My Take:

One of the most fun and most difficult aspects of filling the role of editor on an anthology is getting to choose which stories to include. Three times a year, Xchyler Publishing holds short story contests, including Steampunk, paranormal, and fantasy genres. For each contest, we provide a theme; in this case, Mr. and Mrs. Myth. Time and time again we get asked the same question: what do  you mean by that? Our answer is always the same: what do you mean by that. This year, over forty authors decided they wanted to tell us.

Narrowing the field down to these nine titles was extremely difficult. It entailed reading every story, rating it, filling out a 92-question evaluation form, averaging the sum of scores from a number of editors and marketers, and then figuring out how many stories we could fit in and still stay within our target word count. It's not as easy as it sounds. However, the end result is worth it.

Then, the work begins.

Book Feature & Giveaway: The Accidental Apprentice by Anika Arrington


Author:  Anika Arrington
Pages:   220
Format:  Paperback, ebook
Publisher:  Xchyler Publishing
Book Source:  responsible for project
Category:  Young Adult to Adult fantasy
Style:  Easy, conversational style, added depth to appeal to mature readers


Brilliant and ambitious, Rezdin the Wizard has one goal: impress the king, but he answers to Baron von Dappenshien who refuses him access to Court. Before Rezdin can maneuver himself into the limelight, the king charges von Dappenshien for treason, and Rezdin goes to ground. The wizard finds himself dependent upon the wits and good will of a starving street urchin. But what can he offer little Tommy in return? When old dangers and new alliances rear their menacing heads, Rezdin must decide where his true loyalties lie, and what to do with his new-found entourage of one.

My Take:

Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology
Anika Arrington first came to my attention when she submitted her short story, "Sense and Cyborgs," to Xchyler Publishing's first Steampunk anthology competition requesting extensions of classic literature. Anika's writing so delighted me, I placed her offering as the leading story in the resultant book, Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology.