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The Story Hunter by Lindsay A. Franklin (Book Review)

(Whoops, had a glitch there when I tried to post this at first. Hopefully this works better!)

Hey! I have a review to share today! (I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to post, due to not having internet at home right now, but I’m excited to be able to get a post up for this series finale which I just finished last night!)

Title: The Story Hunter

Author: Lindsay A. Franklin

  • Date read: June 4, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: older YA
  • Year pub: 2020
  • Pages: 368
  • Series: The Weaver Trilogy, #3 (Book 1: The Story Peddler — my review. Book 2: The Story Raider — my review.)
  • Fave character: Kharn
  • Source: Amazon
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

What a majestic conclusion to this fantasy trilogy! I’m not sure quite what I expected, but I quite enjoyed THE STORY HUNTER, for the most part!

It was somehow cozy and familiar to be back in this world for the finale of this series, even with my near-panicked uncertainty of AAHH WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN? (You know, like coming into watching Endgame for the first time. XD) I was so curious to find out what was going to happen to these characters — after waiting all this time for the last book to release — and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would!

Which . . . sounds wrong, when I put it that way. But I was bracing myself for a lot more darkness and sadness, on par with the second book, and was pleasantly surprised with how things wrapped up. Don’t get me wrong — this book is definitely somewhat dark and grim, in some ways more than book two (although book two had all the middle-book-darkness-without-any-victory-to-offset-it feel which is, I suppose, why I enjoyed this one more). The stakes also ramped up a bit for the finale, and there were one or two darker parts that weren’t my favorite. But there was also much hope and light sprinkled in, a lot of triumph and unexpected twists, and even a proper eucatastrophe moment, to use Tolkien’s word. So I guess I would say it balanced itself out.

There’s heartache and loss but also love and light, and it wrapped up everything in a mostly-satisfying way and made me pretty happy. ^_^ It did give me all the feels (laughing at banter, shedding a tear or two but in a good way at the beautiful legacies left behind) but it didn’t tear my heart out like I was afraid it would, and overall, by the end, it left me . . . uplifted. Which is something that’s good to feel at the end of a series. 🙂

I quite enjoy the unique world and it just felt cozy to be back in it, like I said. It’s colorful and unique, even shrouded in the darkness that’s fallen across it as of book two. All the caverns and strands were particularly cool! And I loved following the large cast of characters — all well juggled, although I wanted more of Kharn but I suppose under the circumstances that wouldn’t have worked out so well. XD

I’m not mentioning everyone by name because I don’t want to give anything away (awk, trying to write book three reviews without spoilers is hard!) but I will say I was glad to see how several of the characters’ arcs ended, and some of them make me smile. I also loved the beautiful tribute near the end to those lost along their journey, which made those sad parts a little more worth it, somehow.

There were one or two things and/or character actions that seemed to come totally out of the blue and left me kind of bewildered and going “wait, what?”, but I rolled with it and things turned out better than I expected in some cases, so I’m cool with it, mostly. XD (And to be fair, it could just be the fact that I read the previous book a year ago, and the first book two years ago, and I may have just missed certain connections or not remembered seeing things before — like Celyn, who I’m not complaining about AT ALL but had no memory of meeting before.) And, again, a couple of the darker parts I wasn’t fond of, but there you are.

Still, on the whole, I absolutely LOVED how it drew so many elements from the previous two books and wove them together, all the strands weaving into a beautiful, if sometimes scary, tapestry. Everything connected for the finale, in a swirling crescendo of color and characters — I absolutely loved how everything came together for the end! It made me so happy. The adventure definitely kept me on the edge of my seat, worried for everyone at every step, not able to put the book down and reading until midnight to finish.

Overall, I’m so glad I finally got to read the end of this saga, and while there were a few stumbles along the way (and I don’t really recommend the second and third books to younger or sensitive readers), it’s still been quite a journey — an often-fun one, with laughter and tears and a reminder of the good and the light in the world, even amidst the darkness.

Because the light wins and “winter will not last forever.” A magnificent, fitting end to the Weaver Trilogy. ^_^


More reviews!

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Orphan's Song Songkeeper  Seahorse Kindle Cover copy THE SUNKEN REALM KINDLE COVER SEPT 2015


Have you read any in this series? Thanks for reading! 🙂

Cry of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse (Review)

I’m thrilled to be sharing about my latest favorite read — and the book that was my most-anticipated read of the year! IT’S SO GOOD! Read on for my thoughts! 🙂

Title: Cry of the Raven

Author: Morgan L. Busse

  • Date read: February 4, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars (All of the stars!)
  • Genre: Fantasy / Epic Fantasy / Christian Fantasy
  • Year pub: 2020
  • Pages: 380
  • Series: The Ravenwood Saga, #3
  • Fave character: Damien! And all the others!
  • Source: Thanks to Bethany House Publishers and the author for the influencer copy.
  • Notes: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s WebsitePublisherBarnes & Noble

Aaaahh! This book was so amazing! A new favorite, and an epic, suspenseful conclusion to the Ravenwood Saga! I loved it so, so much! I’ll try to keep this review spoiler free. 😉

I’ve loved each book in this trilogy, and each one has gotten even better than the last—difficult to imagine, since they’ve all been top favorites. CRY OF THE RAVEN was my most-anticipated read of the year, and wraps up the series, and totally delivers! IT. WAS. INCREDIBLE.

New twists and secrets come to light and there’s SO MUCH EPICNESS and it’s all on such a grand scale. I was blown away. The inspiring journey of these beloved characters, in this amazing world, with so many things that I love and have been excited to see since I first started the series, has just been so thrilling to experience! It makes me so happy! I’m sitting here grinning, trying to come up with words to do justice to this delightful book.

I just had to dress up as Lady Selene Ravenwood again! ^_^

I absolutely love the characters, and how real their stories are, with their struggles, relationships, and growth. It’s been amazing following Selene through these books and seeing where she is now (I love her character so much, and even cosplayed as her at a writers conference last year!). Damien is my favorite, and he has quite a story in this one too! He is just the best. I love them together as well and seeing how their relationship plays out! All the love for these two! Reading their adventures and seeing the end has been so rewarding and I will love them forever. ^_^

So many of the side characters are favorites of mine too—and everyone is so real that they practically step off the page! I especially liked to see more of Caiaphas, Lord Leo and his brother, Lady Bryren and Reidin (who are EPIC!), and other characters like Taegis, Karl, and wise Renlar, who is new but awesome. Meeting new characters and delving deeper into ones we had met previously and seeing how they change was one of my favorite things!

I also love the worldbuilding! Aaahh! Definitely one of my favorite fantasy worlds. The powers/gifts, and all the different cultures and places we get to visit. I was so excited to get to see more of this world! *beaming* I stepped right through the page into this fascinating place—so happy to return one last time, and sad when it was over. I’m going to miss these books! *hugs them forever* But it was such an epic and satisfying conclusion that it’s also hard to be anything other than elated. 😀

I love the writing, too—how it’s not sparse by any means, but at the same time there’s nothing “extra” and it shows just exactly the right things, everything important that we need to know, drawing you right into the action and emotion. It felt so clean, well-written, and masterfully crafted together, with inspiring words in there as well. The spiritual journeys, redemption, and healing, and parts about the Light, were very well done.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to fangirl about more of my absolute favorite things, besides the characters and world, because there is SO much to love about this book. Apologies for any incoherency, but aaaahhhh! CRY OF THE RAVEN had so many amazing things that I adored!

  • Firstly, seeing more of the wyverns! (Yesss! I was totally hoping for that!)
  • I also absolutely loved how the dreamwalking was an even bigger part of this one and how it fit into the plot! (No spoilers, but aaahh!)
  • In the previous books, we’ve seen Selene’s dreamwalking gift and Damien’s water-manipulation gift, but only briefly touched on the other gifts in this world, so I was SO EXCITED to finally learn more about and get to see some of other Great Houses’ gifts in action a bit! (*muffled shrieking*)
  • ALSO! A couple of things about the ending were my absolute favorite! No spoilers, but you’ll know when you read the end. 😉 (The scene with the flower!! My heart! Aaahh! I don’t even know why I loved it so much but I ADORED THAT PART and it makes me smile and tear up. ^_^)

MARK OF THE RAVEN and FLIGHT OF THE RAVEN have been building up to this one and it’s everything I ever wanted! Nearly everything that I hoped to see was brought to light, and so many things that were good surprises, too! It was the perfect ending to this trilogy which I absolutely adore. I whole-heartedly recommend this series! If you are a fantasy fan, you need it in your life!


Read my reviews of the first two books:


Aaahh! It was just so good. Have you read this series yet? Let me know what you think! Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dark is the Night by Mirriam Neal: Tour/Review!

(image credit: Morgan Farris)

GUYS. A NEW MIRRIAM NEAL NOVEL IS RELEASING THIS WEEK AND I. CAN’T. STOP. SCREAMING! 😀 I’m super excited to be sharing my review for it as part of the blog tour! (Also, is it not GORGEOUS?)


Title: Dark is the Night

Author: Mirriam Neal

  • Date read: October 12, 2019
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy / Southern Gothic / Christian Fiction
  • Age: Adult
  • Year pub: 2019
  • Series: Salvation, #1
  • Fave character: Skata and Angel!
  • Source: the author
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this book from the author as part of the blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. (No vampires, werewolves, hunters, or shifters threatened me into saying nice things about them. XD) All opinions are my own.

Attention, world! Author Mirriam Neal has a new book out and it. is. spectacular. (Of COURSE.) I love this author’s writing so much (Paper Crowns being one of my top-ten favorite books ever), so I was ecstatic when I heard she had a new book releasing! *muffled screaming*

I don’t exactly read vampire books so imagine my surprise when I read this one and genuinely enjoyed it. I actually beta-read an earlier version of it several years ago, so I’m DOUBLY excited about this book being released to the world, because now I get to shriek about some of my favorite characters and y’all get to read about them—finally! 😀

So, this one is what you might call a Christian vampire-novel.

(I just reeeally wanted to use this gif. XD)

That may seem odd, but this author did a stellar job weaving themes and deep discussions through a paranormal adventure/mystery set against the Southern Gothic setting of modern-day South Carolina. And it’s delightful Urban Fantasy (small town . . . rural fantasy?), too. It features the small town called Salvation, inhabited by vampires, werewolves, shifters, and other people/creatures, fantastical or otherwise.

This is a story about PEOPLE. The multi-faceted characters totally make this book. I LOVE THEM SO. It features a fairly large cast, and every one of them has their own story, some merely hinted at but all totally real. Trying to wrestle out everyone’s motives and secrets and relationships was the best.

For the main characters, we have Skata (vampire-hunter), Angel (vampire house-mate; ooh, awkward), Colton (epic-est preacher of all time), and Easton (who I can’t really describe but she’s the best, okay). They are MY FAVORITE, especially all their interactions/relationships/banter/pasts.

Okay, but ANGEL AND SKATA, THOUGH. Skata is a tough, no-nonsense vampire-hunter on the path of revenge, who ends up stuck in this little dead-end town. Enter Angel, who is the sassiest, snarkiest vampire ever, and happens to have a huge mansion that Skata ends up staying at.

THEY ARE HILARIOUS TOGETHER. I love buddy stories so much, and this is like the ULTIMATE one. (No, I will not stop screaming in caps about them. You can’t make me.) Their snark-offs are my absolute favorite. Angel is so full of himself and his favorite thing is baiting Skata or simply Not Caring. It’s so hilarious.

Meanwhile, Skata is Totally Done with Angel and it’s a miracle neither of them kills each other the minute they meet, let along through the plot. XD I JUST LOVE THEM, OKAY. They are the best thing in this book. 😀

(Skata being Totally Done with Angel 110% of the time)

I love how Easton is sometimes confused about stuff, sometimes tolerates their shenanigans, and at other times is Total No-Nonsense. Simultaneously sweet and also watch-out. Everyone needs an Easton. And a Colton! He’s the most fascinating preacher character ever and I love how he has words of wisdom one moment and a shotgun or a stake to help out with, the next, and he’s not afraid to tell it like it is. He’s unassuming and helpful, but can snark alongside Skata with the best of them, and may have a bit of an anger problem occasionally, but he’s the solid one in the middle of the uncertainty, and let’s just say the bad guys better watch out for this man of God.

There are also FASCINATING side characters, who you spend some of the book not knowing whose side they’re on or if they even have a side, which makes it terribly interesting. But they’re all such vivid characters! A certain… erm… well, Skinner, who’s spoilery but OH BOY; Gideon and Jackson (hothead), vampire brothers (Gideon being the Most Refined But Can Totally Snap Your Neck If He Feels Like It gentleman-vampire of all time); Rukiel, who is mysterious; Cassis, gentle part-vampire who is Too Precious For This Earth; Shannon, the sheriff’s shotgun-wielding daughter; Spencer, techno-genius kid and energy-drink-aholic (energolic)… The list goes on. Seriously though, I love these characters so much! I mean, even the scary ones are fascinating. They are SO ALIVE. (Even the dead ones. *cough*)

Angel and Skata and their banter are my number one favorite thing about this book. (Shhh, I know that’s three things.)

There is so much snark and banter in this thing (I’m pretty sure I highlighted half of the book in my Kindle app because it is SO QUOTABLE) and if there’s one thing I love, it’s hilarious books. XD The snark and sarcasm in this book is A+ and MAKES MY DAY. Everyone just has the best lines and it’s great. 😀

The plot itself is full of twists and mysteries (including murder-mysteries) and totally keeps you on your toes. The shadowy, mysterious “feel” of the book, just a bit gothic and spooky, but not too over-the-top, is pretty cool. Also, the different classifications/levels of vampire was really interesting. Things get kind of gruesome occasionally and there’s a very real, gritty feel, but it never gets to be too much, because of the humor balancing it out, and all intertwined with themes of faith or redemption that fit together perfectly.

I never would have thought that a book could be so dark but funny but inspiring all at once, with a good dose of feels thrown in on top. Even if I wasn’t sure about a thing or two, and want to know what happens with some loose threads, I still absolutely loved it! It left me with a feeling of “I just read a really good book” and that’s all I can ask of any story—aside from laugh-aloud humor, and characters I just want to HUG. Which this book definitely delivered!

Content warning: lots of blood/violence, a smattering of recent-Marvel-movie-level language, and general scariness.

Conclusion: This is a dark book (I mean, it has it in the title. ;)) but there’s humor and redemption and other good stuff to set that off. Nothing felt there “just” to be creepy—it all fit well into the plot and the feel and the impact. And, I mean, SKATA AND ANGEL. I had a total blast reading this and couldn’t put it down. Even if you’re not into vampire stories, this is a genuinely good, if gritty, book, which is tons of fun. Now WHERE is the next one? I have some suspiciously loose strings that need to be explored and I NEED more with these characters! *grabby hands*


About Dark is the Night

Skata only has one goal in life—to seek out the vampire who turned his wife and kill it. When he finally tracks the vampire to the small nowhere town of Salvation, South Carolina, he realizes he has stepped foot into something bigger than himself.

He’s going to need help—and that help may come in many forms. Between the vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, and an unusual preacher, Skata may be in over his head.


Book Links

Don’t forget to head on by Mirriam’s blog for all the tour stops!


About the Author

MIRRIAM NEAL is an author frequently masquerading as an artist. When she’s not scrubbing paint off her hands, she’s thinking about writing (actually, if she’s being honest, she’s always thinking about writing). A discovery writer, she tends to start novels and figure them out as she goes along and likes to work on several books at the same time—while drinking black coffee. She’s a sucker for monsters, unlikely friendships, redemption arcs, and underdog protagonists. When not painting fantasy art or writing genre-bending novels, she likes to argue the existence of Bigfoot, rave about Guillermo del Toro, and write passionate defenses of misunderstood characters.

To learn more about her fiction and art, visit her website: https://mirriamneal.com/, where you can find a full list of all her social medias, or join the Citadel Fiction newsletter: https://www.subscribepage.com/b1h5v9


Well, what do you think? Let me know in a comment below! Thanks for reading! 🙂

Strayborn by E. E. Rawls: Review/Giveaway/Tour!

I’m so excited to be on the blog tour for this gorgeous fantasy debut from E. E. Rawls today!

Read on for my review of this delightful book, and make sure to scroll to the end of the post for more info about the book and a giveaway!


(Isn’t it GORGEOUS?? *dies*)

Title: Strayborn

Author: E. E. Rawls

  • Date read: October 17, 2019
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Christian Fantasy
  • Age: Middle Grade and up
  • Year pub: 2019
  • Pages: 349 (Kindle)
  • Series: Draev Guardians, #1
  • Fave character: Nephryte
  • Source: the author
  • Notes: I received a complimentary e-ARC of this book from the author for the blog tour and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

That was delightful! A unique and thrilling MG adventure, which I enjoyed very much despite being older than the target audience. I think readers of all ages will find this Christian Fantasy story a delight, especially if you like academy stories! (Think Harry Potter, Knightly Academy, Ewan Pendle, etc.) It’s exciting and not without its bouts of tragedy, but it’s also full of heart and fun and it makes me happy. I keep smiling just thinking about it! 🙂

I loved getting to know Cyrus (our quiet heroine who has hidden strength) and the other misfit students at the Draev academy, a school for those with Ability. Their different Abilities/powers were so intriguing, though I don’t want to give anything away about them. 😉 The characters also struggle with very real issues, like Cyrus’s weak wrists, the prejudice against the people who are different, or the issues between the different races—humans, vempars, faeryns, etc. And there is a Christian element at the center, providing a moral compass and direction for the characters.

Speaking of characters . . . Master Nephryte is THE COOLEST. I love the young magical mentor type character. He gives me slight Chrestomanci vibes and I love how he puts up with his students despite their shenanigans and is such a wise, sturdy character, but still with a sense of fun. Plus, I mean, wind powers. He’s so epic and just the absolute best!

The characters were all so real and such a delightful misfit bunch. Cyrus, of course, and Aken, the other main character—who sometimes could be annoying but other times I loved. But he’s a troublemaker, so. 😉 I especially loved Mamoru who is so fascinating and mysterious. And others who would take too long to list here. I love all the character-growth going on! Character arcs are my favorite. Even some of the side characters I didn’t think I liked ended up becoming very intriguing. I can’t wait to read more in the series and find out more about all the characters and their secrets and backstories! Aaahh! I’m sooo curious. 😀

This world is Eartha, a sort of alternate fantasy world that’s somewhat like Earth but different. The blend of modern times and old-fashioned feel, with fantasy and a dash of almost-steampunk-but-not-quite, was so unique, as were the twists on things such as the “vempars” who are like vampires but . . . not. The worldbuilding was a delight and I was utterly drawn in and fascinated to spend time in this world. I can’t wait to come back to it someday!

The plot kept me on my toes and even while mixing familiar elements—like a magical-ish academy, a contest to determine who would enter the Duel, and a heroine pretending to be a boy—I never suspected what was going to happen next and it was all delightfully fresh and so much fun. It stole my heart. An excellent beginning to a new series, and a splendid debut novel!

If you’re on the lookout for a unique Christian Fantasy tale, perfect for middle-graders or any lovers of fantasy, full of twists and mysteries and a cast of characters who quickly grow on you, STRAYBORN is your book. 🙂 I enjoyed it so much and I need more!


About Strayborn

Elemental Manipulation is a tricky business. Only those with the power can train to become a Draev Guardian.

Cyrus Sole hates life. She’s only half-human, with weak wrists, and not a day goes by when someone doesn’t say something mean about it—especially her step-mom. But when the forbidden power to manipulate metal awakens inside her, she finds herself on the run as the Argos Corps is sent to kill her…

Aken is a Scourgeblood, the last in a line of monsters. But all he really wants is to gain wings and be free. Until a new power suddenly awakens, changing the course of his life…

The Draev Guardian Academy is their only sanctuary. But training to become a Draev won’t be easy. Cyrus has to hide her human side, as she gets placed in Floor Harlow with the outcast students, and nightmares of her deceased mother keep returning.

With creepy Corpsed on the prowl, and whispers of Cyrus possibly being a reborn Hero, both she and Aken find themselves caught up in a web of secrets, racial tension, and an old legend with enemies that could spell their untimely demise…

—This book is a good fit for those who’ve enjoyed the Percy Jackson series, Brandon Sanderson’s fantasy world-building, and the fun of J.K. Rowling.


Book Links

AMAZON | KINDLE | BARNES & NOBLE | GOODREADS

FREE prequel story


Author Bio

E.E. Rawls is the product of a traveling family, who even lived in Italy for 6 years. She loves exploring the unknown, whether it be in a forest, inside a forgotten castle, or within the pages of a book.

She runs on coffee, cuddly cats and the beauty of nature to keep the story wheels of her mind running, as she writes tales that will both entertain and inspire others, giving them worlds they can explore and become lost within.

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM


Giveaway!

Prizes are:

First place: One hardback copy of Strayborn, and one Percy Jackson soy/vegan homemade candle by A Court Of Candles.

Second and Third place: One ebook copy of Strayborn.

Ends on Monday, October 21.

ENTER HERE!


Free Prequel Ebook!

Also, be sure to check out STORM & CHOICE, a free prequel short story before Strayborn, which gives a quick taste of this world and these characters!

Cyrus Sole, a girl who can manipulate metal, and Aken-Shou the last Scourgeblood, must learn to survive in a world that is determined to either destroy them, or use them…

This ebook is available FREE at Rawls’s newsletter: eerawls.com


What do you think? Make sure you check out the rest of the tour! Thanks for reading! 🙂

5 Thoughts on Battle for the Throne by E. J. Willis

Title: Battle for the Throne

Author: E. J. Willis

  • Date read: May 23, 2019
  • Rating: 3.5 stars, rounding up to 4 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Christian Fantasy
  • Age: Young Adult
  • Year pub: 2015
  • Pages: 248 (Kindle)
  • Series: Tales from Falyncia, #1 (followed by Into the Wildlands)
  • Fave character: Hugo
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free ebook copy of this book from the author. All opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

5 Thoughts on Battle for the Throne

  1. I’m always up for a Christian Fantasy novel! This one didn’t quite hit all the marks for me, personally, but I still enjoyed it for the most part. 🙂 It was fast-paced and exciting—sometimes almost too fast-paced, but made for a fairly quick and mostly enjoyable read! There was a lot of action, which was well-written and kept me absorbed. I definitely didn’t want to put the book down! And the romance was really sweet and I loved it. 🙂
  2. I was quickly drawn into the fantasy setting, with castles and forests and mountains and kingdoms. The “feel” of it was one that I thought was really neat. I especially loved the winged wolf spirit guardians! Sort of like guardian angels, though it’s mainly the heroine who can see them. There’s a bit of a spiritual battle going on between the wolf guardians and the demons. Malachi, the main wolf, was awesome. 😀 I also thought it was cool that there are giants in the book! Somehow giants don’t seem to be in fantasy as much anymore and I loved seeing them in this, particularly their enigmatic role in which sides they’re on (if anyone’s). And there are mentions of others like dwarves and goblins, and a griffin appeared right at the very end (yesss!), so I’m curious to continue reading this series and see more of this world!
  3. And then there are the characters. I liked our heroine Alaina and her spirit of determination, and wanted her to succeed, though I’m not as much of a warrior-princess-trope fan as some—but anyone who is will love this! I also loved our energetic prince Thaddeus! He was a great character, and I loved his relationship with Alaina. 😀 Other side characters were interesting (particularly Malachi, as I mentioned), and there was an awesome gladiator character who was my favorite! (Yes, Hugo, you’re awesome.) Also, a couple of the side-villain characters had really interesting arcs, so that was well-done.
  4. The book at times felt like younger-YA in a sense (particularly since it started with a ten-year-old and then skipped to when she was seventeen), but in another sense it . . . wasn’t. It was kind of dark and gruesome, a bit more on the gritty side than I personally enjoy, which seemed slightly at odds with the rest of the fantasy-adventure type feel of the book, but that could just be me. Just be aware the heroine goes through a lot and there’s torture and fantasy-demons and some disturbing scenes. But otherwise it’s great fun.
  5. Overall, for some reason it wasn’t one of my top favorites, but it definitely kept my interest and I loved the world and characters, and I’m definitely curious to read more in this world!

I received a free ebook copy of this book from the author (thank you!). All opinions are my own.

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Thanks for reading!

Mardan’s Mark Fantasy Series! (by Kathrese McKee)

Today I’ve got some small reviews of two books and two novellas in an exciting fantasy series I’ve been enjoying lately!

Mini Reviews:

The Mardan’s Mark series by Kathrese McKee

(Find Kathrese McKee online: WebsiteAmazonGoodreadsFacebookTwitterInstagram)

Mardan’s Mark (#1)

  • Date read: May 29, 2019
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Christian Fantasy
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2014
  • Pages: 384 (paperback)
  • Source: Won in a giveaway
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazon

An exciting tale of pirates and princesses, friendship and siblings and romance, survival and adventure! I thoroughly enjoyed myself reading this book. 🙂

I feel like there’s a lack of sibling stories out there, and it was neat that our heroine, Princess Srilani, ends up on this adventure with two sisters and a brother. I also particularly loved the friendships—really good, believable ones which start out rocky sometimes. There are so many relationships in this, which I loved seeing develop over the course of the story of these young people on a journey of survival together, from a pirate ship through the wilderness. Just—FRIENDSHIPS.

Aldan is my favorite character—he’s the absolute best—and I loved him and his “brothers,” Sam and Linus. I also really liked how Srilani and Aldan both take charge in their ways and are such strong main characters, but also have to learn to work together and lean on each other’s strengths. And the tension between Srilani and Sam was so well done, too! I just love aaaall the relationships in this—siblings, friendships, buddy-stories, and of course an adorable romance in there somewhere. My favorite thing is definitely the characters and dynamics—and how there’s a bit of humor slipped in there sometimes!

I also loved the journey and survival and just what a solidly good adventure it was. There’s always some bit of tension or excitement or danger, drawing the reader breathlessly along through the story. Whether it’s pirates or the villainous “temple guardians” in pursuit, or simply the question of what the characters will eat next, it kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.

A Christian Fantasy story, the world feels nearly like Kingdom Adventure, without any usual fantasy elements (though there is miraculous healing, a vision of an angel-type being, and a couple things like that). So if non-magical fantasy or adventure stories with a dash of Christian allegory are your thing, you need to check this one out. The world had such a unique feel to it, too; a little more tropical than usual fantasy stories, with pirate ships and rivers, swamps and alligators, prairies and forests and dusty towns and castles! With just a dash of politics and an almost-18th century feel, at least to me. It was neat and felt fresh.

It’s a bit long, which is the main reason I put off starting it for longer than I’d care to admit, but I was totally pulled in once I did start. The continued over-stressing of being “proper” for a princess, not being allowed to be around guys (but I mean, it’s a survival story, so hello?), and all of that, got a little tiresome, just because it was such a big deal in the story. And I had one or two other quibbles (like a bit of grittiness and my problem with healer-stories and being squeamish. XD), but these were very minor.

On the whole, I had a blast reading this! I finished it in just a few days and as soon as I read the end, I started book 2! I’m definitely hooked on this series!


Mardan’s Heir (#2)

Date read: May 29, 2019
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy / Christian Fantasy
Age: YA
Year pub: 2018
Pages: 207 (ebook)
Source: I received a free advance reader copy from the author; all opinions are my own.
Links: GoodreadsAmazon

As soon as I finished book 1 (Mardan’s Mark), I immediately started reading this book, and read the whole thing in one sitting because I couldn’t stop. I finished it the same day as the first, and ended up staying up until midnight to do so, and I have zero regrets! (Okay. I have one. Which is that I don’t have the next book yet and I got smacked with a delicious cliffhanger! Aahh!)

This one is much shorter than the first one, but so, SO good! No spoilers, buuut I love missing-heir type stories and fantasy-type political maneuvering around palaces and all the sort of delightful stuff. 😀 I loved the first book, featuring surviving in the wild and a journey as the characters got to know each other. But I really love the setting of this second book, being back at the palace and all of the intricate plots going on there. It was fascinating!

Aldan is still my FAVORITE, and I adore all the other characters too—Srilani and her sisters and Prince Jamson (he had such a vivid role in this), and Aldan’s brothers Linus and especially Sam. There’s also a lot about characters introduced in the companion novella, Healer’s Curse, which made me super happy! I loved seeing Lady Elilan and Captain Raymon, as well as Judge Elison and Queen Yolani, etc. (I recommend reading Mardan’s Mark and Healer’s Curse before this one, but of course it still works well if you haven’t read Healer’s Curse.)

Srilani seemed a lot different than in the first book, and while I don’t think I minded, exactly, it was different to have her more of a usual princess than her tougher self. It was unique to address the question of how life would be different after the adventurous danger of the first one once the heroine is home again! Like. Whoa.

I have mixed feelings about a few of the happenings like all the complicated mess of the king and queen etc., so I haven’t totally decided how I feel about those, and it ends on a cliffhanger, but those are my only complaints, and both might be fixed with a third book—who knows! 😉 Speaking of which, the plot is gearing up for exciting things! :O And adorbz romance things and continued friendships and just ALL THE YES. I loved getting to continue following these characters I’ve come to like so much, in this new setting.

So, did I mention there’s a cliffhanger? BECAUSE OH BOY. I need the next book yesterday! *grabby hands* I can’t WAIT for the next book (Mardan’s Anointed, I believe) to release so I can devour it!

If you like non-magical Christian Fantasy, or Kingdom Adventure (which this almost feels like), I totally recommend these! I love this series and I need to find out what happens with Aldan and co.—I love them all so much and they feel like my friends! *hugs them all*


Healer’s Curse (novella)

  • Date read: May 8, 2019
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Novella
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2015
  • Pages: 118 (paperback)
  • Source: Won in a giveaway
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazon

I loved this novella! It’s a sort of classic story of a healer and an enemy captain, but it had its own twists. It features first-person narration by Lady Elilan, a widowed 18-year-old healer with a sometimes-miraculous healing gift from El. Having lost her husband to a plague, she has turned away from her gift, other than normal healing, and she is somewhat apart and alone since many people shun her and think she’s cursed. But I love her quiet strength in the face of all this, and her heart to help others—and her sassy side. XD I loved her story!

Captain Raymon is an interesting character, who at first seems to be simply a soldier who risked his life to save the queens of two kingdoms and comes under Elilan’s care. But aside from his loyalty, he has unexpected depths—including a secret in his past and a new path for his future. And of course I loved a certain blossoming romance. 😉 It was sweet and lovely! Raymon is the best. 😀

Several other characters who feature in the other Mardan’s Mark books featured in this, which I loved, and the secrets and political things going on were so interesting. It completely pulled me in, and I loved the exciting ending and satisfying conclusion!

I’m slightly squeamish about healer-related books in general (personally), just because, I mean, I don’t want to know the details. But otherwise it’s a delight!

I think this one might work best if read between Mardan’s Mark and Mardan’s Heir (book 1 and 2), but I read it before either and that worked fine too. Lady Elilan and Captain Raymon, as well as Elilan’s grandfather, Judge Elison, feature strongly in Mardan’s Heir (which made me so happy!), so it might be most fun to read this one before book 2, at least.

All in all, this was a delightful novella which I enjoyed immensely! The perfect way to pass a couple of hours one evening, and a delightful more-or-less-introduction to the Mardan’s Mark series!


Pirate’s Wager (novella)

  • Date read: February 19, 2018/May 30, 2019
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Novella
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 107 (ebook)
  • Source: I read a free advance copy of this story through the author’s newsletter. All opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazon

This was my first introduction to the Mardan’s Mark series, and I ended up reading it again after I read the first two books and the other companion novella, because now that I’d met the characters elsewhere, I wanted to re-experience this as their backstory.

It was a fascinating introduction to some of the main characters of Mardan’s Mark, in this case Sam, Aldan, and Linus, as well as the pirates of the ship “Cathartid.”

A very quick read, Pirate’s Wager is a novella that introduced me to the world of Marst and Norland and definitely left me intrigued to read more. It follows young Samazor (“Sam”), as he ends up a slave on a pirate ship and forms a friendship with fellow slave lads Aldan and Linus. I loved getting to meet them (my first read) and get to remember where they started out (my second read)!

The good writing drew me in, and the detail totally immersed me in the story. I loved the characters and almost-Caribbean-esque fantasy port/ship setting, though it was a little gritty and stressful at times, because nautical story with pirates enslaving our hero. (There actually were no fantasy elements in this particular one, so it felt more like Kingdom Adventure!)

If you want a small taste of this world, it’s a good place to start, and if you’re already a Mardan’s Mark fan, it’s delightful to have the backstory on how these unlikely friends become a band of brothers! (I lurve them. Especially Aldan. That is all. ❤ )


So there you are! I need the third book NOW! *flails around* Do they sound intriguing to you? Let me know in a comment below!