Archives

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!

Advertisements

The Fatal Tree by Stephen R. Lawhead (Bright Empires Series)

I’ve got a long-overdue review to share with you, and a giveaway!

Title: The Fatal Tree (Bright Empires, #5)

Author: Stephen R. Lawhead

  • Date read: May 18, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Historical Fiction / Fantasy / Sci-Fi / Time / Christian / Contemporary
  • Age: YA and up
  • Year pub: 2014
  • Pages: 340 (hardcover)
  • Series: The Bright Empires, #5 (final one!)
  • Fave character: All of them. ❤
  • Source: Amazon
  • Notes: Definitely be sure to start with book 1, The Skin Map.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleAuthor’s Website

Review of The Fatal Tree

review

5starrating

In the immortal words of Bilbo Baggins (at least in a certain film), “I’ve put this off for far too long.”

I was waiting for the right words, but I’ve realized that there’s simply no way to do justice to this book in a review, and so instead of waiting for a time that will never come, I’m simply going to say something about it, even if it’s not enough.

You see, the Bright Empire series (of which The Fatal Tree is the fifth and final book) meant so much to me that I can’t quite put it into words.

I enjoyed it, loved it, and it had a profound influence and effect on me. The series worked its way into a deep part of me that makes it hard to get at to explain. I’m not sure if you’ve had this experience, but sometimes you read something that becomes a part of you. It changes you. And so you can’t really talk about it—not really, not in a way that could explain to anyone why it happened to reach you at that soul level, because if it didn’t do the same for them, then they just won’t understand. And that’s all right, because every book affects people differently, if at all. It just makes it difficult to explain.

So it’s seems silly to attempt it, and I won’t try, but I will say that this series is a part of me, like several other book milestones along the way through my younger life—I won’t go through those here. It’s enough a part of me that I don’t really think about it, but it is and it’s there.

So here are a few things about the series that made it something special, at least for this literary traveler.

For one thing, there’s Mina. She was the first female role-model I’d met in a book since I was very young. I want to be her. (More on that in My Tower of Fantasy.) Heroines never interest me in fiction much; I don’t know why, but I’m usually more drawn to the heroes. So Mina was something new and different. She showed me it was possible to do oh-so-many things. She’s the bravest character I’ve ever read about, but she started as a stressed, tired young woman from our modern days. Literally plucked out of her life and thrust into another one, she refuses to give in and transforms her situation into something incredible. She is clever and heroic and rather more brave than I think I’d ever be, but she is so incredibly loving and steady too, and she shines. She makes a way in the world, and is loyal to her friends, and capable, and an entrepreneur, ready to try new things whether in a bakery or fearlessly treading the roads between worlds, but she’s still human and shows that it’s okay to wish you could be home taking a hot shower to avoid the world at times. And, I mean, who wouldn’t want to go visit her and Etzel’s joint Kaffeehaus in 1600s Prague? It’s the most amazing place! I think what I’m trying to say is that I didn’t really have role-models in fiction, and that we need those. I’ve had plenty of fictional heroes, and I needed those too, and I had Eilonwy and Princess Irene and Eowyn and others, but I hadn’t met a modern heroine I could look up to, and I think in a rush to write “realistic” characters (read: dull and flawed, or fake and artificially “strong”), people just don’t write truly heroic characters anymore. Not the ones who can actually be looked up to, and show a blueprint of what might be, and meet me where I am and inspire me and show me that I can be something more and do things. I won’t ramble on about her more than that, but Mina is one of the best things that ever happened to me.

The series also firmly embedded into my mind that whole “there are no coincidences” thing, which as much as I always knew in theory I didn’t really believe if you know what I mean, until reading this fascinating series. If there’s one thing I took away from these books, it was that, and I adore it.

O’er earth we see Thee, and Thy footsteps trace / Through the Bright Empires of unbounded Space

Then there’s how I’ll run across things in life, or in other literature, or in a song, or history, and I’ll see it echoing back to this series—whether it’s a name, or a place, or something else—and I’ll go “Aha! It’s like Bright Empires!” and I’ll do a little dance of intrigued joy. (For example, I stumbled across a translation of a Welsh song called Adra (Home) by Gwyneth Glyn and it so strongly fit this series I thought “What a coincidence! Oh, that can’t be right . . .” ;)) Aside from simply being great fun to find things in life that remind me of a beloved series, it opened up a whole new world to me—and how could it not, with such a broad canvas of times, places, people, and thoughts painted together with such intricacy and skill?

And also with beloved characters and humor and enjoyment, because that’s the important bit that makes the rest stick in your mind. Because there’s the thing: you can have the most interesting or enlightening book in the world, but if it’s not fun, it’s not going to stick with you—or with me, at any rate. And you can have an enjoyable story, but how much more enjoyable is it if, amidst the fun, it stretches your mind far afield and shows you a whole new world and makes you think? I love how this series did all of those things for me, and all in a mind-bending, genre-defying, completely new sort of way.

But aren’t you going to talk about this book, not just the series, then? you ask.

Oh, very well.

I see the series as a whole and so I don’t have terribly much to say specifically about the final book, other than as the end of a saga. (Especially not without massive spoilers, which nobody wants because you must discover them on your own when you read the books; and you ARE GOING TO, right? *stern but loving look*) But there are a few things, so I’ll mention them.

I don’t know how I feel about a few things that happened, and at least at one point I wished that some of the characters could have come in at the end with the others and they didn’t—but then I realized that they were perfect where they are. Several pairs of people are THE MOST ADORABLE THING. (I’m sorry, I’m a romantic. XD)

Familiar places (like Black Mixen Tump) swirl back into the story, and continue to be fascinating. Desert sand in Egypt to frozen ice and the Stone Age, with Prague and Constantinople and all the rest in between. I love the richness of all the different countries and times we get to visit in this series, and how vivid they are (even if some can get downright frightening!), and especially the good hearts of many of the people we meet. Everything’s so genuine, laced with a thread of nobleness and light.

I still adore all of the characters, fiercely. Mina, Kit, Etzel, Cass, Giles, Tony, Haven, Gianni, the members of the Zetetic Society, and all the rest. They’re my friends now. ^_^ I was so delighted to get to finally complete their story in this book, and I absolutely love how all of their tales intertwine and fit into the book so neatly but with threads trailing afterward to the future. And I love all of their interactions SO MUCH. They make the book. 😀

Even the villains are interesting, and far from straightforward. Burleigh’s plotline is one of the two most skillful ones of its kind I’ve read in my life.

And, of course, there’s a time-related thing or two that finally happen in this book, which I’ve been waiting for since the first one. One in particular made me SO HAPPY. (Looking at you, chapter 11.) Speaking of timey-wimey things, that sort of thing always makes my head spin (in a good way) and I think I filled a couple of pieces of paper with diagrams of different people’s timelines and where and when they crossed and it was still dreadfully confusing and I love it so much. XD Someday I’m going to carve out the time to read the whole series again, and I’m looking forward to that with relish. (And maybe then I’ll finally fully understand the ending, which tied my mind in knots. :D)

Then there’s that whole having-to-save-the-world thing, what with the whole universe about to end and everything, which is as serious as it sounds and just as exciting—and there may or may not be some death in there, and I’m not saying I totally understood how everything turned out (I like a good goes-slightly-over-my-head-and-requires-a-rereading ending—just look at Diana Wynne Jones), especially with science-y things going over my head, but everything came together from the previous books and on the whole I was terribly pleased with how The Fatal Tree wrapped up the series. (I’m also so glad we got a what-happens-next bit at the end too! *collapses*)

It was an experience, and one it’s taken me nearly two years to get around to finally externalizing and typing up in the form of a “review” (or shall we call it an essay?), but I can safely say that the Bright Empires is one of the most delightful series I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Even if only as an enjoyable adventure, I recommend them highly to anyone who cares to try their luck. Or, since there is no such thing as coincidence, let’s say that luck is the wrong word and leave it at that. 😉

I’m deeply indebted to Mr. Lawhead for penning such a—well, brilliant is the only word for it, in so many ways—series, and I look forward to delving into more of his books very soon.

(Also . . . THE SPOON. :O WHAT. DOES. IT. MEAN. I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS.)

Read my reviews for the previous books in the series:

10SkinMap 2bonehouse 3spiritwell

GIVEAWAY!

I happen to have a spare paperback copy of the first book in the series, The Skin Map, and I want to share the love!

Visit the Rafflecopter HERE for a chance to win it!

(USA addresses only. Runs 4/11/19 through 4/17/19. Winner will be contacted by email and announced here shortly after.)

[Edit: Giveaway is closed! The winner is Grace T! Thanks for entering, everyone! :)]

Have you read any of these? And do you have a favorite Lawhead book? Thanks for reading! 🙂

Retrieve by Sarah Addison-Fox

I’m joining in on the blog-tour for Sarah Addison-Fox’s latest book, the first in her new Stormers series!

Title: Retrieve (The Stormers Trilogy, #1)

Author: Sarah Addison-Fox

  • Date read: December 23, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Kingdom Adventure?
  • Age: YA (slightly gritty)
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 170 (Kindle)
  • Series: The Stormers Trilogy, #1
  • Fave character: Kade!
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received an e-ARC from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

WHAT. AAHH. There was a HUGE plot-twist near the end that had me gobsmacked, staring at my screen, and then that cliffhanger! I need to know what’s going oooon! Book 2, I need you ASAP. *collapses*

Ahem. I’m getting ahead of myself. 😛

This is a super enjoyable fantasy/kingdom-adventure type story, with a hint of Mulan and just a smidge of Prince of Persia. Our heroine, Hadley, pretends to be a boy and joins up with our hero, Kade, who has been sent as one of the Stormers—a sort of secret special missions group—to rescue a princess from a hostile nation.

I liked Hadley and how the POV switched back and forth between her and Kade so we could see how they were reacting all the time. She’s tough and determined at times, which I loved, but I also appreciated how she was still very much a young woman lost in this rough world, and how it’s okay if she needs to cry or wish for a bath or want to wear a dress and be feminine, without in any way detracting from her grit and determination. It was just cool, okay?

Kade was pretty awesome and you can’t help but like his stubbornness and how he just keeps going, and how he doesn’t let anything stop him—and sometimes his thick shell cracks a little and he’s nice to Hadley in his brusque way and she doesn’t realize it. XD He’s so dedicated to his mission and always looking out for those he loves, in his own way. Kade’s the best!

These two were so fun to read about on their journey together, and their relationship from not trusting each other and arguing all the time turns into something more and they learn to work with each other—ish. I love them and totally ship them and need to see where their story goes. 😀

It’s very exciting and there’s a lot of traveling in deserts and through either ghost-towns (plague, yay) or a colorful market town in enemy territory, with ambushes and fights and arrows and knives and sneaking around and climbing walls and ALL the survival. The writing sometimes made me wish it had been edited one more time (though I did read an ARC, which means it wasn’t the final version) but it’s very punchy writing and could just be the style—and like I said, was very exciting!

The world was cool and I’m curious to learn more about the countries and what’s going on. The semi-desert-y setting for a lot of it was unique and neat, and I loved how the mysterious Numachi people and their culture kept us on our toes. So intense!

It could get a little brutal sometimes and there’s a little language and the usual awkwardness connected with a gal trying to pretend to be a boy for part of the book. So if any of that bothers you, it might not be your cup of tea. But it’s much tamer than, say, Six of Crows, and it’s a really good book and so exciting and I enjoyed it a ton! ^_^

And like I said, there was this enormous plot twist that I totally didn’t see coming and turned everything on its head and just alkdljk! That was pretty awesome. 😀 It was a solid four-star read but that twist totally made me bump it up to a five-star because I was impressed. XD (Plus I just love Kade and Hadley. *cough*)

Butbutbut I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. It’s not, like, a horrible cliffhanger, but it definitely left me wondering what on earth is going on and where things are going to go next! :O

If you need me I’ll just be over here watching the calendar until the release date of the sequel, because I love these characters and need to know what happenssss. O_O


About Retrieve

Retrieve (The Stormers Trilogy #1)

By Sarah Addison-Fox

What if the job you took to stay alive might be what kills you?

Kade knows what it is to suffer. He knows what it’s like to lose everything and everyone around him.

His job in a Stormer Unit guarantees not just his survival in the decimated country of Azetaria, but his sister Meg’s. Even if it means facing the Numachi warriors baying for his blood, he’ll do what it takes to keep her safe.

Hadley is alone and surviving the only way she knows how. By hiding where predators won’t find her and scavenging enough just to keep her alive.

When desperation drives Hadley to search for her missing brother, she mistakenly accepts the offer of recruitment into the Stormer’s camp, only to be partnered with Kade and sent as a scout into Numachi territory.

The intimidating young Stormer may just know where her brother has gone. But can they stay alive long enough to find him?


Find the book:

Goodreads

Amazon


Find the Author Online:

Facebook

Instagram

Website

Twitter: @saddisonfox

Facebook Fangroup

Blog:


Blog Tour

You can check out all the stops on the blog tour HERE!


GIVEAWAY

The author is giving away this FANTASTIC pack of epic things, so make sure you go enter HERE!


You may also enjoy:

    wolftower kingswarriorcover

Thanks for reading! 🙂

King’s War by Jill Williamson (Review)

Time for a long-overdue review of King’s War — and be sure to check out an awesome Blood of Kings paperback sale going on through December 15th! (Details at the end of the post.)

Title: King’s War (Kinsman Chronicles, #3)

Author: Jill Williamson

  • Date read: June 21, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Epic Fantasy
  • Age: Adult
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 659 (paperback) (Yes, it’s nearly a doorstop. XD)
  • Series: The Kinsman Chronicles, #3
  • Fave character: Kalenek, Trevn, Oli, and Grayson and Hinck
  • Source: The publisher
  • Notes: Thanks to the author and Bethany House Publishers for the free copy of this book. I was not required to write a positive review, and these opinions are entirely my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

KING’S WAR by Jill Williamson is the conclusion to the Kinsman Chronicles—which is a prequel series to one of my favorite fantasy series! This sweeping epic fantasy novel takes place in the land of Er’Rets (which made me super happy, because I love the Blood of Kings Trilogy. ;)).

The first book in the Kinsman Chronicles, KING’S FOLLY, was good—if rather dark for my taste; but I adored some of the characters and it was exciting.

The second book, KING’S BLOOD (man, I should have known from that title…), got way too dark for me and left me utterly devastated over a character death I still haven’t recovered from over a year later. *cough* I was kiiinda disappointed—and therefore worried about the next one.

However, I’m thrilled to say that KING’S WAR, book 3, was the best of the trilogy, and I really enjoyed it!

I particularly loved how it took place in the same land as the Achan books (as I call them), and how it started linking up to so many things that I knew from that world! Names, places, history, cultures, magic, etc. And the “feel” was much more like the epic fantasy that I enjoy, and less of the darkness and grittiness of the first two books. (There’s still grittiness in this one, but it’s just much more enjoyable otherwise, somehow. XD)

There were several months between my reading the second book and this one, so it did take me a little while to pick up all the threads and characters—I’m pretty sure there are still a few things that I never quite remembered. XD But once I got back into it, I was sucked completely into this fantasy world and its wonders and politics and characters’ adventures.

I loved the writing. Some of it was funny. The characters were enjoyable (other than the ones we properly loathe. :P). I was surprised by new and different things, and felt at home with familiar ones. It was huge, but pretty worth it in the end. ^_^

Particularly those characters I mentioned. 😉 A certain happening from book two is still very much Not Okay. But I was able to get over it and enjoy the story all the same. 😛

I still love Kalenek, and Trevn—usually. XD Oli as well, and his character arc, which was fantastic. I started liking Grayson more—he really does a lot in this one. And Hinck—who I never really cared as much about as I might have for some reason—I finally decided was pretty cool! One of my absolute favorite scenes featured him and Princess Saria (also a cool character) in a library and just YES. I loved it! 😀

I also loved all the veil stuff and the bloodvoicing and doing all the excitement around the castle. ^_^ So exciting! I remember being a little unsure about some of the conclusions, and it still is a little more gritty/adult at times, but not as much as the previous two books. On the whole, it was a great book, and they fight giants and against evil, and there’s epic battles and basically it’s a thrilling adventure. 😀

Overall, it’s rather long, and you have to get through a lot of long, dark pages to get to it, what with the two previous books (though they had their good moments too!). But if you do, it’s well worth reading this one—especially if you’re a fan of Blood of Kings. Another excellent read from Jill Williamson!

Now excuse me while I go put BY DARKNESS HID and its two sequels on my TBR for a long-overdue re-read…

(Also, THAT COVER. ❤ )

[A note on the “books” in the Kinsman Chronicles. The paperbacks are three books: King’s Folly, King’s Blood, and King’s War. The ebooks are nine ebooks, and three of each of those are collected in each of the paperback volumes. I know, it’s kinda confusing. XD If you’re curious about the series, you can pick up the first of those nine ebooks (Darkness Reigns, the first third of King’s Folly) for free on Kindle to try it out.]


SALE!

I’m pretty excited about this one because I love these books so much!

The Blood of Kings trilogy by Jill Williamson currently has a special sale going on Amazon, but only until the 15th, so check it out if you haven’t! 🙂

(If it says temporarily out of stock, that seems to just be because it’s not printed through Amazon, so go ahead and order anyway. ;))

Here’s what Jill said about it:

It’s a book sale! My publisher has put the Blood of Kings paperback books on a special sale. On Amazon only, By Darkness Hid, To Darkness Fled, and From Darkness Won are each only $9.99 for a limited time. That’s a little over 40% off the cover price!

There is a bit of a trick to this. Right now, a third party seller has the “buy” box on Amazon, so I’ve made special links so that you can find the seller with the $9.99 new price (who is oddly Amazon itself).

This sale runs through Saturday, December 15.

Here are the links:

By Darkness Hid: https://amzn.to/2QDceRt

To Darkness Fled: https://amzn.to/2QlOWjV

From Darkness Won: https://amzn.to/2L4LJzd


Check out my reviews of the first two books in this series:

kingswarriorcover

Have you read any of Jill’s books yet? Do you have a favorite? Thanks for reading! 🙂

5 Thoughts on Armor of Aletheia by Ralene Burke

Title: Armor of Aletheia

Author: Ralene Burke

  • Date read: October 31, 2018
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Christian Fantasy
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 268 (ebook)
  • Series: Sacred Armor Trilogy, #1
  • Fave character: Tristan (eventually. ;))
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this book from the author. I was not required to write a review, and all opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

Such an enjoyable book! It seems like it’s been awhile since I’ve read a really classic-feeling Epic Fantasy quest novel, so this one hit the spot nicely! I love how it felt classic, but also had some new twists that I didn’t see coming. I particularly loved the world in this one! There are elves and dragons and shapeshifters and a griffin and a talking (ish) horse, and scary wolf-like things called lupens. I also loved the wintry feel and the different places, both gorgeous and scary, that the characters visited.

Karina, our heroine, could be a little frustrating at times, but on the whole she was great—and I loved Dom the horse! 😉 I also loved a certain shapeshifter elf (so feisty and cool!), and a guard captain who was awesome. But my favorite—eventually—was Tristan! At first I wasn’t sure about this bounty hunter, but as I suspected, he quickly became pretty awesome. 😉 I won’t give anything away but I’m all here for the character-arcs is all I’m saying. The banter between Tristan and Karina is MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE. 😀 I love them so much. ^_^ Tristan particularly is rather quotable, and I always love that. (Also, how cool are their names!)

Sometimes it seemed a little rushed or confusing (to me), some of the wording felt a little odd (maybe just me?), and it could maybe have used an extra edit (though I did read an Advance Reader Copy, so I don’t know if it was the final version). But those things didn’t detract from the story too much. 🙂 It took me a little while to get really into it, but by about a quarter through I was loving it. 😀

It was neat reading about this world of three kingdoms (including Aletheia) and following Karina’s quest! Like I said, there were some twists, and even though it had a classic fantasy quest feel, it still felt fresh—and suspenseful! Also, the parts where the Creator guided them and where Karina met basically an angel were cool, and the element from the title—the armor of the Creator, including the belt of Truth and the shield of Faith—is a really neat concept to explore in a fantasy world, and I’m looking forward to where it goes.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable read and I’m so glad I picked it up! Perfect for fans of Christian fantasy. I’m already looking forward very much to the sequel and seeing where Karina and Tristan and their companions end up next! 🙂

~ ~ ~

What do you think? And what’s the latest great fantasy you’ve read?

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer / Deborah O’Carroll

Review: Song of Leira by Gillian Bronte Adams

Look! Birdie seems to be singing a dinosaur through a hedge! (Creation Evidence Museum) #SongofLeiraContest

I’m back on the Song of Leira release blog tour to share my review! And also some snazzy photos I took for Gillian’s Take Your Book on an Adventure photo contest (details at the end of this post — but it ends in just a couple of days, so be sure to get in on it!).

I took Song of Leira on an adventure to the Creation Evidence Museum, and the Dinosaur Valley State Park with dinosaur footprints in the riverbed (both in Glen Rose, TX), so that’s where these pictures scattered through the post are from!

(There mayyy not be dinosaurs, exactly, in this book, but there are definitely some big scary critters, so close enough!)

Enjoy the pics and review, and thanks for reading. ^_^

#SongofLeiraContest


Title: Song of Leira

Author: Gillian Bronte Adams

  • Date read: June 5, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Epic Fantasy
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 411 (paperback)
  • Series: The Songkeeper Chronicles, #3 (Book 1: Orphan’s Song. Book 2: Songkeeper.)
  • Fave character: GAH. How can I pick? Cade, Birdie, Ky, Amos, Gundhrold… so there.
  • Source: The publisher
  • Notes: I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher (thanks!) and was not required to write a positive review. These opinions are entirely my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

There’s some kind of beastie footprint down where Birdie sang the water away! (Dinosaur Valley State Park) #SongofLeiraContest

The sweeping, epic conclusion to the Songkeeper Chronicles trilogy, SONG OF LEIRA far exceeded my expectations and does not disappoint! AAHH! My heart is so full. ^_^ *hugs book* I’m not using “epic” lightly—it really is that.

I haven’t read a book with such overwhelming hope in a long time. Yes, there’s darkness and war and death and sorrow, but in the midst of it, the light and the Song pour out hope and peace and strength. It’s full of those times when you feel like everything’s lost, but then there are moments of eucatastrophe and those good surprises (particularly near the end!) that make everything right.

After the darkness and shattering despair of the dark-before-the-dawn middle of the series, Songkeeper, I was worried this final installment wouldn’t live up to my hopes, but it rallied and brought me soaring through the conclusion on wings of exhilaration like a griffin. 😀 Twice, SONG OF LEIRA had tears pricking my eyes—at a certain death (still broken up over that one, though at least there was peace and purpose to it) and reading the beautiful final paragraphs of the novel. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful all at once, and still dark much of the time (there are a few side characters I could have wished survived), but the overall feeling I came away with was hope and joy. 🙂 It just stirred my soul so much. ❤

The book started out a little quietly but it soon pulled me in and swept me away on the adventure. We’re in the mountains in this one, with Ky and the runners of the Underground, Birdie and the griffin, and many other characters we meet along the way, both friends and enemies, new and old, and so many places… but I don’t want to give anything away! The world is so vivid and I love it. ^_^

I also loved following Birdie and Ky on their journeys, as they fall and get up again over and over—as they doubt and find their way, and make mistakes and grow and learn, and become so much more than they could have imagined. Becoming heroes worthy of legend and song. And Gundhrold the griffin and Amos and—gaah, I love them all! There are new characters too—I particularly love Frey, the beast from the cover!

Is it the River of Song? (Dinosaur Valley State Park) #SongofLeiraContest

All the characters are so HUMAN (I mean… except for the actual non-human characters. *cough* But you know what I mean!) and we bleed and struggle and triumph along with these broken but determined souls. I love them so much! ^_^ These are definitely some characters who’ve wrapped themselves around my heart. (Yes, including Cade. He may be arrogant at times, but I still love him! He wasn’t in it much, but I was so glad he got to come in near the end like that! 😀 He’s still one of my favorites despite everything, and I will not apologize. 😛 CADE.) Even the villains are written in such a compelling way that they seem human too. There was one in particular I hoped for a better ending for, but… ah well.

Another thing I found delightful was the Song and what the Songkeeper can do—it was such a unique thing and made me love this fantasy world even more! A unique “magic system” for lack of a better term (gift?) helps set apart a fantastic series from a merely good one. I just love all the stuff about the Song, and it was wonderful to see Birdie come into her own at last! Also her humility in not taking the credit to herself but pointing it back to the Master Singer. Christian fantasy done absolutely RIGHT. ❤

Some of it can also be fun, too! The little moments of humor or wonder made my day. ^_^ The writing, too, is gorgeous—effortlessly drawing the reader along and painting everything so vividly, in soul-stirring moments of near-poetry at times. Gillian Bronte Adams is definitely a talented author, and this is her best book yet. (Sometimes I was reminded of another of my favorites, Lloyd Alexander, at his best—which is high praise from me. :))

The plot was exciting too! It brings so many threads together from throughout the trilogy and ties most of them together so that everything falls in place in an utterly right and satisfying way. I’m not going to spoil anything, but WOW. That ending! So epic and thrilling! (And I got a slight Arthurian vibe, which is always welcome. ;))

SONG OF LEIRA is a breathtaking, fulfilling, and so rewarding conclusion to what has been a beautiful journey of a fantasy trilogy, masterfully penned and threading its way through my heart.

It brings you through the darkest shadows of night and on to the glorious rays of dawn.

This—THIS—is what epic fantasy with echoes of truth is meant to be.

Just imagine Song of Leira being printed on this Gutenberg press replica! (Creation Evidence Museum) #SongofLeiraContest


The Song bids her rise to battle.

Reeling from her disastrous foray into the Pit, Birdie, the young Songkeeper, retreats into the mountains. But in the war-torn north, kneeling on bloodstained battlefields to sing the souls of the dying to rest, her resolve to accept her calling is strengthened. Such evil cannot go unchallenged.

Torn between oaths to protect the Underground runners and to rescue his friend from the slave camps, Ky Huntyr enlists Birdie’s aid. Their mission to free the captives unravels the horrifying thread connecting the legendary spring, Artair’s sword, and the slave camps. But the Takhran’s schemes are already in motion. Powerful singers have arisen to lead his army – singers who can shake the earth and master the sea – and monsters rampage across the land.

As Leira falters on the verge of defeat, the Song bids her rise to battle, and the Songkeeper must answer.

Find Song of Leira online: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD

Add Song of Leira to your Goodreads Shelf


NEED TO CATCH UP ON THE SERIES?

Orphan’s Song (Book 1) Her solo is a death sentence. When Birdie first hears the Song coming from her mouth, her world shatters. She is no longer simply an orphan but the last of a hunted people. Forced on the run, she must decide who to trust: a traveling peddler, a streetwise thief, or the mysterious creature who claims to know her past. With war threatening to tear her homeland apart, Birdie discovers an overwhelming truth: the fate of Leira may hinge on her song.

Songkeeper (Book 2) War ravages Leira & the Song has fallen silent. Desperate to end the fighting, Birdie embarks on a dangerous mission into enemy territory, while Ky returns to his besieged city to save the Underground runners. Legend speaks of a mythical spring beneath the Takhran’s fortress and the Songkeeper who will one day unleash it. Everyone believes Birdie is the one. But can she truly be the Songkeeper when the Song no longer answers her call?


TAKE YOUR BOOK ON AN ADVENTURE CONTEST

To celebrate Song of Leira‘s release, Gillian Bronte Adams is running a contest to show that reading and adventuring go hand in hand! Snag a picture or video of you adventuring with your book, tag it #SongofLeiraContest and post it online. Winners will be announced on June 22 at the “Song of Leira and King’s War Facebook Party.”

To see the prizes at stake and the official contest guidelines, head over to Gillian’s website.

Lightporter by C. B. Cook: Superheroes! (Review)

Lightporter, sequel to Twinepathy by C. B. Cook, is releasing this weekend! I’m so excited to be a part of the blog tour today and share my review for this fun book. 😀

Title: Lightporter

Author: C. B. Cook

  • Date read: June 7, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Superheroes / Contemporary / Sci-fi
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 173 (ebook)
  • Series: IDIA, #2 (Book 1: Twinepathy)
  • Fave character: Blaze and Anvil!
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free ARC of this book from the author (thanks!) and was not required to write a positive review. These opinions are entirely my own.

Featuring superheroes with unique abilities, mysterious plots, and laugh-aloud humor, Lightporter is sheer fun. It’s a blast following the telepathic twin heroines and the rest of the agents at IDIA, as they face new threats—and secrets among themselves. A fun, thrilling read!

I’ve been looking forward to this book ever since reading Twinepathy, the first in the series. Lightporter was so much fun! In many ways it improved on several things from the first book, especially since all the beginning/setup is behind the characters and we can settle into the adventures. 😀

There were a bunch of mysteries which kept me curious and flipping pages, and I can’t wait for more books in the series to find out more about the hints that were teased at, about… well… things. 😉 (Like Blaze! And a certain new character who seems really cool and I can’t wait to find out more about him. :D) Essentially, these books feel like a really awesome superhero TV show and I love it.

It’s fast-paced and exciting, and I enjoyed getting to go a little further into this world of superheroes. Speaking of which, the superpowers are so cool and fascinating! I would love to be able to teleport like Blaze, or move a remote (and other things, of course) with my mind like Maddie. I also liked that we got a bit more about the twins’ telepathy in this one. 🙂 So cool! And the other abilities were super neat! The story also travels all around the world, which was so fun.

Really my only complaint is that some of it rushed by a little quickly and it was over a little suddenly—like I said, kind of like a TV show, waiting for the next installment. 😉 Which isn’t bad, exactly; I just was a little surprised it was over so quickly and left quite a few things hanging, and just—I want MORE! Heehee. 😀

My favorite things, besides the cool superpowers, was the humor—which had me grinning or laughing several times—and the characters! I’ve become super attached to them (no pun intended) and I loved getting to read more about them. ^_^

Albany has grown quite a bit and I like her so much more! I don’t even mind that it’s in first-person-present-tense. 🙂 Brooklyn is still sweet, but we see more of her unexpectedly solid side too. Jen/Data is fabulous as always—it takes a strong personality to run a superhero agency and she’s definitely got it! 😀 I liked getting some more of Keller too—she’s still a grouchy, tough cookie, and I like her. XD Speaking of cookies: we get more Anvil! I was extremely pleased about this. 😀 Anvil is one of my faaaavorites! ^_^ The intimidating guy who also bakes cookies, I loved seeing more of him in this, as Data’s right-hand man, and also his nice side occasionally. 😉 And then Blaze! I loved how he takes center stage just a little more in this, with a lot of the questions revolving around him… so I won’t say more about that, but I love Blaze! Even though he was a little grumpy sometimes, I still love his banter and humor and essential Blaze-ish-ness. 😀

Anyway, between everybody (especially more Anvil and Blaze!) I was SUPER happy with all the character stuff going on in this! There are tons of little tidbits hinted at, which only make me more desperate for another book… even though this one JUST came out. Heehee. Anyway, I’m hooked and I love these precious characters at IDIA! ^_^ *hugs them all*

There were also a couple of new characters, who are very interesting… Spoiler guy: OOH! 😀 Ember: Iiinteresting… Singe: AAAHH! 😀 And some others. 😉 You’ll just have to meet them yourself!

Overall, I definitely recommend checking out this series! If you want a fun, fast-past, clean YA contemporary read with superpowers, this is the place to find it. You should probably start with Twinepathy since you might feel a little confused jumping in on this one, but know that it’s totally worth it and that there’s another awesome book awaiting you after Twinepathy! And if you’ve already read that one… well, what are you waiting for? Lightporter is waiting, and it’s AWESOME. 😀


Favorite Quotes

My version of walking quietly is like a little kid banging pans together compared to Anvil’s silent steps. Good grief.

***

“I want you back here. Immediately. No stopping for food.” She pauses. “But since I know you will anyway, I’d like a chocolate milkshake.”

Blaze gives her a weak grin.

***

Jen is sitting behind her desk, as usual, and she looks up, surprised.

“What are you four doing here so early?” she asks, frowning.

“Time zones,” Blaze informs her.

Jen rolls her eyes. “Again, Blaze? Sorry, girls.”

***

Blaze disappears. A second later, he reappears, but he hits his elbow on the table and yelps.

“Did you move that table?” he asks Anvil suspiciously.

I swear Anvil’s hiding a grin. “What have we told you about teleporting in here?”

Blaze sighs. “But walking’s so… tiring!”

“Drama queen,” Anvil mutters so quietly that I almost don’t catch it. “Here.” He gives Brooklyn, Maddie, and Blaze boxes. “Blaze, take them to Jen’s room, the tiring way.”

***

“What would be the worst that could happen?”

I frown. “Jen would be mad at you.” That’s one of the scariest things I can think of.

***

“You really should stop heating up doorknobs. It’s not good for them.”

***

“We’re officially going to die!” Ember yells. “Just so you guys know! And I blame you!”


About Lightporter

Albany and her twin sister, Brooklyn, have gotten more comfortable in the superhero world. But when Blaze starts acting secretive and weird monsters attack, the girls realize there is more going on that they still don’t know about. Before long, they discover that Blaze is hiding something—or someone. With FOE still hiding in the shadows, the girls must decide who they can trust… before it’s too late.

Add to GoodreadsPre-order on Amazon


About the Author

C.B. Cook is just a girl trying to find out where her King is guiding her, while writing the stories of the people she creates, the worlds she wants to live in, and the adventures she dreams about. Also known as a mysterious creature called an “author.” She’s a Christian and a home school graduate dedicated to changing others’ lives through the power of the written word.

Links

Blog • Goodreads • Pinterest • IDIA Group Pinterest Board • Amazon • Twinepathy on AmazonLightporter Pre-order


Tour Schedule

Monday, June 11th

Tuesday, June 12th

Wednesday, June 13th

Thursday, June 14th

Friday, June 15th

Saturday, June 16th (Release day!)


Similar Reviews Under Superheroes:

twinepathycoverKINDLE 


Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer / Deborah O’Carroll