Archive for the ‘fantasy’ Tag

Review of the Shard by Victoria Simcox   Leave a comment

 

 

The Shard, Victoria Simcox’s fast-paced, intricately woven sequel to The Warble, takes Kristina Kingsly and her schoolmates back to Bernovem…and into a thrilling, often dangerous adventure.

Kristina’s stay at summer horse camp is horrible to say the least, and it’s all because Hester and Davina are there, too, making her life miserable. When Hester’s cruel prank goes terribly wrong, it’s actually what sends the three girls back to the magical land.

In Bernovem, Kristina is excited to see her former friend, Prince Werrien. When he invites her to sail with him on his ship to his homeland Tezerel, putting it simply, Kristina can’t refuse.

Reunited with her gnome, dwarf, animal, fairy friends and best of all, Werrien, things seem like they couldn’t get any better for Kristina. But when Werrien becomes fascinated with an unusual seeing stone, the “Shard,” Kristina is haunted by a ghostlike hag.

Struggling against suspicion, guilt, illness, and ultimately the one who wants to possess her soul, Kristina will see it’s in her weakest moment that she will encounter more strength than she has ever known.

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In the Shard, we return to the delightful world of Bernovem and its inhabitants of talking animals, fairies, and dwarfs. Kristina, our hero from the first book, is older now, and at times, she feels like the entire time she spent in Bernovem was a dream. A stay at summer camp soon lands her back in the magical realm where she gets reacquainted with old friends, as well as the charming Prince Werrien for whom she is developing feelings for. And while things couldn’t look more idealic, there is a subtle danger growing. Kristina can’t understand why she is getting sick so often, and Werrien has become enraptured with the Shard, a crystal that allows him to see into other places. And in the shadows, a malevolent creature is plotting the demise of not only Kristina and Werrien, but all of Bernovem.
It’s a tale of adventure and faith, whimsy and magic. Open the door to the next chapter of this enchanting story. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

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Review of The Wounded Shadow by Patrick Carr   Leave a comment

 

The kings and queens of the northern continent lay siege to the Darkwater Forest, desperate to contain its evil. But rumors of gold and aurium have lured deserters and the desperate into its shadow, creating a growing army held in its sway. Desperate after the death and dissolution of their greatest ally, Willet and the Vigil seek the truth of what lies at the heart of the evil they face. They delve the mind of an old enemy and find an answer far worse than they could have imagined.

Danger stalks the cities of the north, striking at the rulers of the kingdoms. As Willet and the rest of the Vigil seek to find answers, the group is scattered with an ever-growing darkness around them. Will they discover a path to keep their land safe, or will an ancient evil reclaim the world it once called its own?

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To say that I was excited for the third and final book of the Darkwater saga by Patick Carr is an understatement. I practically kept my eyes peeled on my inbox for the email from Bethany House listing the book up for review, then hoping I’d make it on the list. And we’ll skip the part with me doing a victory dance once it did. 😛
Anyway….
Though the series has had its rough spots, overall, it’s been a great adventure. The world-building, the characters…. Honestly, I need to read it over again because I miss it. I’d highly recommend reading the first two books in the series, so you have a proper grasp of what is going on.

The story starts with Willet and the other members of the vigil racing to halt the evil of the Darkwater forest that is sweeping over the continent. With people lured by rumors of gold and precious aurium in the forest’s depths, Cesla is building a powerful army with abilities to rival even the gifted. The solution to their defeat? Locked in a vault within the tortured mind of Willet Dura.

So where to start? The plot, despite some lags in places, is awesome. The tension, the emotional journey of the characters, keeps you riveted to the pages. And I must admit, Patrick Carr went deeper with the characters than I was expecting. Anne Elisabeth Stengl is one of my favorite authors because she knows how to bring to life a character’s dark side and still show the redeeming power of love that bring a person back from the edge of the abyss. To my utter surprise, Patrick Carr went this route and succeeded! Mark, the former urchin and thief now Pellin’s apprentice, who shows more heart and depth than a priest in his desire to bring back the mind of a girl who was twisted into becoming a mindless dwimor, capable only of killing; Pellin, who saw how Cesla was snared into exploring the Darkwater. He recognized the man’s pride that could have been his own and led him into destruction. And in spite of all Cesla’s evil, still loved the man that was once his brother and mentor, and strove to remind him of that in the end. These were perhaps a couple of the most moving areas in the story that touched me.

Toria Deel has been a journey in progress. Originally, she was more of a pompous twit than anything else. And definitely willing do whatever it took to further the Vigil’s goal. The end justifying the means, regardless of who was hurt. Losing the man she loved and being teamed up with a former urchin causes her to soften.

Bolt, honestly, you gotta love. The man is like an older version of Batman and Wolverine thrown in there (DC/Marvel reference, I know :P). He always expects something bad to happen, and rarely shows much emotion. But he has such a dry sense of humor, you can’t help smiling as you read.

Willet…Willet has been an off and on character for me. While I like him, he’s not one of my favorite characters, which is odd since he is the MAIN character in the story. But I think the problem lies with the fact that Patrick Carr tried too hard at times to make the character flawed, and a bit of a wise-mouth. But he’s capable and does try to keep his head in tight situations, so he still works.
The gift of domere changed his life. Some might argue it wasn’t for the better, as it grants to Willet an unnaturally long lifespan that will see him still hale and hearty while the woman he loves grows old. But he learns to accept both it and Gael’s love, and acknowledge that he must leave everything in Aer’s hands.

I came across one review that mention how this book has nothing to do with Christianity, wallows in worldly wisdom, and loses touch with truth. As a reader who actively searches for inspiring reads, I respectively have to disagree. Does the story expound Christian beliefs? Yes. Does it whack you over the head with them? No. I have always believed that the greatest thing a story can do is “show” the message through the characters and their actions, instead of delivering a sermon that makes you roll your eyes.

In the Wounded Shadow, you see the consequences of pride and yet the hope for salvation. Mercy, forgiveness, love, and restoration come together in a sweeping epic that truly makes The Wounded Shadow a satisfying conclusion to this series.
Verdict: A definite buy!

(I received a free copy of the book from the publisher and author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.)

Review of Dagger’s Sleep by Tricia Mingerink   1 comment

 

 

A prince cursed to sleep.
A princess destined to wake him.
A kingdom determined to stop them.
High Prince Alexander has been cursed to a sleep like unto death, a curse that will end the line of the high kings and send the Seven Kingdoms of Tallahatchia into chaos. With his manservant to carry his luggage and his own superior intelligence to aid him, Alex sets off to find one of the Fae and end his curse one way or another.
A hundred years later, Princess Rosanna learns she is the princess destined by the Highest King to wake the legendary sleeping prince. With the help of the mysterious Daemyn Rand, can she find the courage to finish the quest as Tallahatchia wavers on the edge of war?
One curse connects them. A hundred years separate them. From the rushing rivers of Tallahatchia’s mountains to the hall of the Highest King himself, their quests will demand sacrifices neither of them could imagine.

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Greetings everyone! I joined up with the blog tour for Tricia Mingerink. Though events decided to conspire against me, I still managed to finish reading Dagger’s Sleep and get my review up on time. So without further ado, here we go….

Dagger’s Sleep takes the story of Sleeping Beauty and reinvents it with twist. In this tale, it is the prince, not the princess, who is in need of awakening.

Our main characters are Rosanna, the princess chosen for the task, and Alex, the prince in need of saving. The world is populated by Fae and human, but the magical elements are few. For the most part, the world has a decidedly Native American/frontiersman theme going for it.

So first I’ll list my likes. Ms. Mingerink is a good writer and it shows in Dagger’s Sleep. Her writing is clear, and she knows how to effortlessly take the smallest scenes and stretch them into vivid detail without going overly wordy on them. Her characters for the most part are fleshed-out well, particularly her male characters Jadon and Alex, and I loved her take on the Fae. The allegorical elements woven into the story are amazing and, dare I say, even enough to rival Anne Elisabeth Stengl (who happens to be one of my favorite authors :D).

And now we come to the list of dislikes. I really admired how Ms. Mingerink was able to bring to life the trek through the woods, the handling of the canoe, and just the general feel you would get from actually going out there in the wilderness on a dangerous quest. My quibble comes in that it went on for a good chunk of the book without much going on to break up the monotony aside from a couple fights.

My other quibble is the jumping back and forth in time. Personally, I think the story would have worked better for the main protagonist, Rosanna, if we’d kept the scenes featuring Prince Alex few, and started them at the beginning. Instead we start with Rosanna, and then on chapter 4, we’re swept a 100 years back in time to view the journey of Prince Alex. Who also happens to be going on a quest of his own to seek a cure to the curse haunting his steps.

Ironically, it is Prince Alex’s tale I ended up enjoying more, even though he too is trekking through the wilderness. I found the character to have more personality than Rosanna, which made for a more interesting read. Yes, he’s arrogant and will get on your nerves probably with some of his pomposity, but it was fun watching him grow on the journey. And Jadon definitely deserves a medal for being one of the most loyal and dependable bodyguards ever.

Rosanna…honestly, I didn’t really connect with her character until perhaps midway through the story. She’s dependable and quite skilled holding her own without being unrealistic (like Anna in Frozen). And I enjoyed watching her embrace the role she was meant to carry.

So my thoughts? While it’s got a few rough spots, particularly that jumping back and forth in time, it’s an enjoyable read with a great allegory running through it. Definitely looking forward to the next book in the series! 😀

(I received a free copy of the book from author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.)

Blog tour schedule can be found here: https://triciamingerink.com/2018/05/22/dissociate-daggers-sleep-blog-tour/

And here’s something fun for all of you, A giveaway of Dagger’s Sleep, as well as another book, Dissociate by Sarah Addison-Fox. 😀

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Tricia Mingerink is giving away a paperback of Dagger’s Sleep. The giveaway is open internationally where such giveaways are permitted and where Createspace or the Book Depository ships. The book may or may not be signed depending on where the winner lives. To enter, click the link below.

Dagger’s Sleep Giveaway

 

 

 

 

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Sarah Addison-Fox is giving away a paperback set of the first three books in the Allegiance Series. The giveaway is open internationally where such giveaways are permitted and where Createspace ships. The books may or may not be signed depending on where the winner lives. To enter, click the link below.

Dissociate Giveaway

A visual journey into Return of the Valris   3 comments

Yup, I know. I said you wouldn’t have to wait a month for this, and here we are. Although in my defense, having to write up two book reviews to post on here did throw me off a bit. 😛 But enough of that and onto the good stuff.

In between juggling work and my studies on web dev, I’ve been making progress on Return of the Valris and fleshing out certain elements of the plot more. And expanding it.

To quote Nick Fury, “You’ve become part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet.”

And bigger is precisely where we’re headed, folks.

Crown of Ravens really was a defining moment in the series. It expanded upon the world started in The Dark Wolf and was deeper, darker, and more emotional than anything I’d written before. For me, it was probably the best I had ever written at the time. And there was the intimidation. I’d reached the final book in the trilogy, against all odds, and was now faced with outdoing the previous book. A scary prospect.

So I did what I always do, and decided to say a prayer to the Author of all authors. And wouldn’t you know, that’s when the inspiration struck. 😉 Below, I’ve compiled a list of images that, without giving away any spoilers, will give you some ideas of where Return of the Valris is going and hopefully get you as excited for it as I am. 😀

Eldurin, home of the Valris.

 

 

As you can see, big difference in the scenery between the two. The second image really defines the path this story is taking, and that’s going more cosmic. Arandil is going to be doing a bit of traveling.

 

 

 

Villains, anyone? 😉 Zar’ul isn’t the only force to deal with, as evidenced here. Evil wears many forms.

 

 

A New character who will have a special part in the story. I invite all of you to try and guess her part. 😉

 

 

Wings aren’t edged with gold, I know, but it was too awesome an illustration to pass up on to represent the Great Ravens. And speaking of ravens…

 

 

We’re going to be seeing Elaine a little differently here. You’ve watched her grow in The Dark Wolf and Crown of Ravens. Her journey from an exiled lonely princess to a strong warrior queen culminates in the third book. Suffice it to say, we’re finally going to see Elaine unleashed like never before.

 

 

Of course, the Valris do headline the title, so it wouldn’t be the same without wolves, would it? 😉

And there you are. No spoilers, but hopefully enough visual candy to get your imagination running. I’ll post some updates later, and you can always follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more recent posts.

 

 

(Disclaimer: Images used are from Pixabay and belong to the respective uploaders on there. None of the images used express support for my work, and 
are used for illustration purposes solely.)

Review of The Warble by Victoria Simcox   2 comments

In this first adventure of the Bernovem Chronicles, young Kristina is whisked away to the magical land of Bernovem after she opens a mysterious box from her teacher. There, she finds out she must deliver the magical Warble to its resting place and break the hold of the evil queen holding everyone in bondage. Though danger lurks at every turn, Kristina and the friends she makes along the way fight to bring back peace to the realm.

The story has a Narnia vibe, what with Kristina being sucked away into a magical land with gnomes, fairies, dwarves, and talking animals, but carries a distinct flavor of its own. Each page is a delightful enchantment, and when you reach the end, you feel the need to go back to the beginning and start reading all over again. The character development is solid, and the writing clear. And even more, I loved the parallels to the return of Christ that were weaved throughout the story.

Victoria Simcox is a highly skilled and creative author who has managed to carve a unique world that I look forward to visiting once again!

Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/z3nuv5l

Posted September 16, 2017 by J.M. Christian in book reviews

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Halflings by Heather Burch Review   1 comment

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After being inexplicably targeted by an evil intent on harming her at any cost, seventeen-year-old Nikki finds herself under the watchful guardianship of three mysterious young men who call themselves Halflings. Sworn to defend her, misfits Mace, Raven, and Vine battle to keep Nikki safe while hiding their deepest secret—and the wings that come with.

A growing attraction between Nikki and two of her protectors presents a whole other danger. While she risks a broken heart, Mace and Raven could lose everything, including their souls. As the mysteries behind the boys’ powers, as well as her role in their earthly mission, unfold, Nikki is faced with choices that will affect the future of an entire race of heavenly beings, as well as the precarious equilibrium of the earthly world.

(Description from Amazon)

It sounds rather exciting, and after months of poring over reviews from Amazon and debating, I made the plunge and bought the book. Normally, I’d end up with a prize read and a “phooey you” to the naysayers. Sadly, they proved to be right this time.

I wanted to like the story. I really did. The story starts out strong, placing us with Nikki, the protagonist of the story, right in the middle of a terrifying chase with hellhounds. Then things go downhill. Nikki is presented as the epitome of the modern self-assured woman. She is a karate master who wins trophies in the contests she enters, drives a motorcycle, and is a talented artist. But behold Mace, the Halfling. At his appearance, her brains turn to mush, and her speech fades, for he is…hot.

Not to be outdone, here comes Raven, the bad boy Halfling with his pathetic attempts at snark that will never come close to matching Iron Man. And he too is…hot.

And there is Vine, he with the long womanly hair who also is…hot.

By now, you should get the gist of the story. Instead of it going somewhere with a solid plot and real character development, it plods along agonizingly with Nikki’s attempts to understand the Halflings and her inexplicable attraction (simple lust, really) to Mace and Raven. Vine, apparently, who is just as attractive, is too young and of course would never fit into the proverbial love triangle.

Some reviewers claimed they didn’t like the religious overtones in the story. I was like, “where are they?!” Yes, God and angels are mentioned, especially since the Halflings are part angel due to being the offspring of fallen ones.

But that’s it. What we are treated to is a trip down Nikki’s hormonal lane where she feels a hot thick stream through her system, and how hard it is to breathe in the presence of the god-like Halflings.

It’s not a big book. Maybe a little over three hundred pages. But it felt long. I had to stop several times while I waited for my disgust to subside long enough to continue. And continue I did. I plugged away through the drivel and then reached the end, a hastily rushed climax that sets things up for the next installment in the series.

Halflings seeks to be the Christian alternative to Twilight, but all it can do is show that Nikki is hot; Mace is hot; and Raven is hot. And the story itself doesn’t even reach the halfway mark into being a story, let alone a Christian one.

Verdict: pass

Fairy Tale sneak peak   2 comments

It’s a little later than I intended, but I am happy that I at least made it to post on here today! Here is the snippet from the first draft of my fairy tale novel, as promised. Bear in mind that it is the first draft, so it won’t be as polished as it should be. Please feel free to like, comment, or share. Any and all are always greatly appreciated. 🙂
And now, enjoy!

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A single tear traced its way down Lumina’s cheek. She stared silently at the solitary lump of dull stone, the only sign to remind anyone of the existence of the man who lay beneath it. But no one would remember. Like the passing of a dog, a lamb, or a tiny sparrow, none would really mourn. The memory of the man who once breathed and walked the earth with the rest of them would be forgotten, as though he never even existed.

But that was life, folks said. It was something that couldn’t be changed, only accepted. Why then, was she having such a hard time accepting it?

Lumina picked up her lantern, wiping away another stray tear, and looked one last time upon the grave that held all the family she’d ever had in the world. After another moment, she turned away and trudged down the grassy knoll alone, back to the village where all except her lay fast asleep in their beds.

Like a wraith in the night she passed through the silent streets, her lantern the only light in the murky gloom that draped over everything around her.

Only when she reached one house, smaller than the rest with a thatched roof dyed a garish red did she turn from her solitary march and enter inside.

No booming laugh met her, no twinkling eyes peering at her from under bushy brows. All was dark and empty.
Lumina completed the routine she did every night before going to bed. She washed the dirty dishes from supper and set the table for morning, before changing into her nightgown and brushing her hair, going through all the motions but without feeling or enjoying anything she did.

She placed her brush down and stared into the mirror, at the ghostly-looking reflection staring back at her with hollow-rimmed wide eyes.

Flickering light from the single candle burning on a stand played along burnished silver hair that fell to one side of her pale features, and along two ears, small and narrow, that tapered to a point at the top.

Changeling, the people of the village called her. Lumina wasn’t like them, didn’t look human enough. She did not like the dark that everyone had no choice but to live in, and her desire for light only annoyed them, for in a world ruled by unending darkness it was folly to think of asking for otherwise or wishing for anything different. It was what their lives were ruled by, the only way they lived and could remember living. Anything else was madness. And death.

None had understood Lumina or her queer thinking. But Kron did. Kron, the elderly carpenter, had possessed the same strange desire she felt, that burning passion for more than the small comfort of a candle or lantern.
So he took her in as his own, an unknown, amnesiac changeling whom none could understand him wanting. He became a father to her, gave her a name, and revealed his secret dream.

Posted October 10, 2015 by J.M. Christian in My Books

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