Thursday, June 13, 2013

Review & Author Interview: The Cypher (Guardians, Inc. #1) by Julian Rosado-Machain

The Cypher (Guardians Inc., #1)Title: The Cypher
Series: Guardians, Inc.
Author: Julian Rosado-Machain
Release Date: February 26, 2011
Pages: 238, Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 4.00 stars
My Rating: 3/5 stars
Content: Rated G

Summary: A chance reading of a newspaper ad will send 16 year old Thomas Byrne into a world within our world.  Following the ad he will find Guardians Incorporated, a seven thousand year old organization charged with protecting the balance between Magic and technology. 

Through their guidance, technology has kept Magic at bay since the Renaissance, but the balance is shifting and soon all those creatures we’ve driven into myth and legend will come back with a vengeance. To protect the present, Guardians Incorporated needs to know the future and to unlock the future they need a cypher.


This book was an interesting read for me because I had no idea what to expect.  The story centers around Thomas, a 16-year-old boy who discovers that not only does magic exist, but it is only being kept from overtaking the world because a company called Guardians Incorporated has been working to keep Magic and technology in balance.  But, Magic has slowly been gaining the upper hand and the Guardians need a special person who can find and read the Book of Concord, a book foretelling the future.  This book is the only thing that allows the Guardians to stop Magic from overtaking technology.  Thomas is the only person who can save humanity.

What I enjoyed:
  • The world building.  Rosado-Machain did an excellent job of creating this world within our world.  This book had some really unique ideas and tons of interesting human and non-human characters.
  • The Library.  This is actually part of my last point, but I wanted to point it out specially because it was so fun!  Much of the first half of the book takes place in a supernatural library where lost books (and many never-heard-of editions by famous authors) can be checked out by those who have clearance.  There were some fun and witty scenes where you see someone checking out a magical book and then returning the book looking rather worse for wear.  You are given some clues as to what went wrong, but a lot of it is left up to your imagination!
  • The sidekicks. There were some really fun characters in this book, including an android and a crazy New Yorker who added a lot of color to the book.

What needed work:
  • The editing.  After reading this book, I read that Rosado-Machain is not a native English speaker and that explained a lot of things.  I kept wondering how someone who was obviously well-read and intelligent author could make so many grammatical mistakes (his numerous references to fantasy books were peppered throughout the book in a way that I loved!).  Unfortunately, he book needed a much more thorough editing job.  Often words were used incorrectly or there were obvious grammatical errors.  I have to tell you that this is something that REALLY bothers me when I'm reading a self-published book and it's usually a deal-breaker that causes me to give the book a very low rating.  In this case, though, I thought that the story had real potential and that the concept and ideas were great, so I was able to overlook the grammar and enjoy the book for the most part anyway.  I really feel like Rosado-Machain's editors let him down.
  • The lack of emotional impact.  As I said, I enjoyed the story that was being told here.  My one problem was that, while great detail is given about what Thomas sees, hears, smells and touches, the author very seldom gives us a glimpse into what Thomas is feeling.  This caused a disconnect for me.  I didn't get a true sense of awe, fear, hope or pain from Thomas (even though incredible things are happening all around him).  Since the story is told from Thomas' point of view, I want to really understand how he is being impacted by the events in the story, but I felt like I had to supply that for myself for the most part.  This is especially noticeable when it comes to the romance portion of the story.  It is just never believable to me that Thomas finds himself "in love" with Tasha and then when things go terribly wrong (I won't spoil how), I felt like he barely reacted. It was very odd.
So, overall, I thought that this book was a fun read with some truly unique ideas, but the grammatical errors and lack of emotional integrity took away from my enjoyment.  I would give this book 3/5 Stars.

***Disclosure: This book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own***

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – YA Fantasy / Adventure
More details about the author & the book
Connect with Julian Rosado-Machain on Facebook

Author Interview

What is your favorite quality about yourself? I don’t get angry easily, and even when I do, I forgive and forget very quickly and don’t hold grudges.

What is your least favorite quality about yourself? I get distracted very easily and then I tend to digress…I drives my wife crazy!

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Albert Einstein

This quote from arguably the top scientist ever changes, in my mind at least, the whole concept of how we look at science and how we should look at the world, with an open mind and with imagination leading us.

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life? The relationship we have in my family. It takes work, patience and love to have a great family.

What is your favorite color? Grey. In all its various shades.

What is your favorite food? Sushi!

What’s your favorite place in the entire world? Florence. I love places full of history and Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance. Everything in the city has a long and colorful history.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing? I was taught never to see everything as an absolute, in my home and at school. There are always two sides to all stories and that bleeds into my writing, life is never black or white and even the best of people can have dark moments.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? It’s always been there, but I began as a kid storyteller, I was the kid in 3rd grade that turned a cops n’ robbers game into a full Sherlock Holmes–Moriarty caper! I remember that my friends seemed to like it and they would even ask me for names for their imaginary friends.

When and why did you begin writing? 6th grade, my first story was the fan-fic sequel to “The Last Starfighter”…I continued writing for me and my friends until I moved into the U.S. and then one of them, Francisco, convinced me to self-publish Guardians Inc. about a year and a half ago.

How long have you been writing? Practically forever, but I started writing in my native Spanish, English is still daunting for me and I’m sure that I’ll never get the hang of it completely and it shows. Needless to say that I consider editors angels sent directly from heaven.

When did you first know you could be a writer? After seeing The Cypher in print and reading the reviews it got from people that have no connection with me other than the book itself. Reviews, good and bad, allow me to know that my stories are engaging the readers.

What inspires you to write and why? Nature, Science, History, Mythology. I always read a lot about these themes and there is always something to explore about them, some hidden connection between all of them that should be brought to light.

What genre are you most comfortable writing? Fantasy and Scifi in equal measure. They are the perfect genres to let your mind wander and explore your imagination.

What inspired you to write your first book? A Conspiracy Theory! The what if Magic was real and a select cadre knew about it and  what would a teenager do if he somehow learned about all this? From there everything else came into being: The seven thousand year old company, the elves living in our national parks and the balance between Magic and Technology that has to be preserved to keep humanity alive and well and Magic in check.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? Letting go of the fear of being read. That fear that we are not good enough to tell a story. Everyone has a story to tell.

Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? All the time… but the only thing to do about the writer’s block is to keep on writing through it. To do away with it I turn off the imagination and write about anything I can see or have seen, I describe a picture, a place, anything until that spark some call a muse comes back and imagination takes over again.

Can you share a little of your current work with us? I am beginning Book Four of the Guardians Inc. Series, and starting a graphic novel project with my friend and partner Francisco Trueba completely unrelated to Guardians Inc.

How did you come up with the title? The story named itself, I actually didn’t have a title through the first months of development.  The title of the Series came naturally from within.

Can you tell us about your main character? Thomas begins at almost 16 years old, he is a typical kid from a small town. He doesn’t see himself as a superhero, and he can’t see why he could be so important for Guardians Inc. and the world. He actually believes that being the Cypher is kind of lame.

How did you develop your plot and characters? Before sitting down to write the Cypher I spent about a year and a half plotting the storylines of the series, the characters and where I wanted each one to appear and where the storylines should close.  Then I wrote a rough “map” of the different books that would make the series.

Along that map the plot can “wiggle” a little bit, the characters grow by themselves as they live the story.

Who designed the cover? My partner Francisco and I are Graphic designers, so we threw in a couple of sketches around and once we had a scene from the book that we thought would make a good cover we gave it to the actual illustrator, Fabian Cobos.

Who is your publisher? I totally skipped the search for a publisher or literary agent, I did send a couple of emails just to say I did, but my friend Francisco and I wanted to do Self-publishing from the beginning. Maybe I was wrong, but I am happy with the results so far.

What was the hardest part about writing this book? Not going overboard! Since I already had all the story arc of the series I wanted to make it longer and explore more of the Guardians Inc world in this first book, but the cooler heads of my editor and beta readers prevailed.

In its totality, Guardians Inc. is a complex story, with many characters and factions and The Cypher is the glimpse into the beginning of the journey for Thomas, making it longer would have only been overkill.

Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it? I learned a lot! The process of writing is not what I thought it was and bringing out a book should not be just the “There it is!” thing! Writing must be engaging, and I learned that the writer must think in a real sense about the reader while composing and writing the story.

How do you promote this book? Book bloggers are the best outlet for promotion and reaching out to the audience, they are also the best thermometer and reviewers a writer can have. I have concentrated on Book Tours and Netgalley for the Cypher.

Will you write others in this same genre? The Cypher is the first of a series, Book two: Thundersword is already out and Book three is in the revision phase, I already have the ending of the series. I made the whole Guardians Inc. outline and story and character arcs before writing The Cypher and I am now filling in the blanks.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Those shades of grey that exist in everything humans do and to avoid the absolute point of view and embrace comprehension for the other side. The other big theme of the series is in regards to humanity protecting our natural resources, we need to use them consciously.

How much of the book is realistic? All references of historical places and persons are real, all references to technology and science are rooted in the real world, I do a lot of research while I write. Thomas and Morgan are exploring that “World within our World” full of Magic and Mythology that we perceive but is hidden from normal people by Guardians Inc.

Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot? Yes I have. Friends, family, places, but most of all, little allusions to authors, shows, or scientists I admire, some references are hidden, others not so much.

How important do you think villains are in a story? A hero is only as heroic as the villain he’s facing, so villains are one of the most important aspects of any story.

Can we expect any more books from you in the future? They are underway!

Where do you see yourself in five years? Doing other projects, mine and from other writers, my plan is to begin my own small publisher house and I‘ve already put that plan into motion.

What are your current writing projects now? I’m revising Book three of Guardians Inc. and I already started Book 4. The end is near though and the series ending is already written and locked up in a disc.

Are you reading any interesting books at the moment? If you meet the Budda on the road, Kill him!  by Sheldon B, Kopp.  Very interesting, and I’m not saying anymore until I finish it.

Do you have any advice for writers? Writers write, so get to it! These words come directly from my father…

What do you do to unwind and relax? The usual I guess, read, watch TV. play with my sons and daughter. I am very fond of the short afternoon nap too!

If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be? One word of wisdom…. Persevere.


  1. I think all authors put personal experiences into their work, even create characters of people around them!! Great interview, and the series sounds very interesring!! Thanks for sharing!

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace

  2. I love the series and hope he writes more (cant wait for book 3!) I myself am 13 and I want to be writer, and much like I love to read, I was reading the first one to my sister and my parents overherd and I had to read 1and 2 my whole family, so lets just say I'm not the only one in my family who loves these books