To Raise a King by Justin Orton

51dhAw3tJIL

About the book:

When Matt escapes a Scottish boys’ home to search for his parents, he instead finds himself fleeing for his life. Cast back in time to the brutality of 6th-century Scotland, he is sent on a dangerous quest – a race to recover the missing fragments of King Arthur’s broken crown in an epic bid to save two worlds from certain destruction.

Love, betrayal and murder follow Matt as he battles against a backdrop of powerful magic and political intrigue that soon erupts into open war. Matt’s faith in himself, and his trust in his friends will be put to the ultimate test as he fights to Raise a King.

“To Raise a King” is the first novel in the “Broken Crown” series, and builds on the original Arthurian legend that says Arthur did not die, but was placed in eternal sleep by Merlin.

Follow Matt’s struggle for survival, and his harrowing journey across Scotland. Experience a young man’s struggle as he deals with the loss of innocence, an unexpected romance, and the shocking discovery of his own heritage.

“The Broken Crown” provides a remarkable glimpse into dark-age Scotland, and weaves together history and legend to produce an action packed tale rich in characters and adventure.


My review:

This was an interesting read, but I’m still not sure how I really feel about it. I’ve been fascinated by the legend of King Arthur for most of my life and enjoy seeing all of the different interpretations of the stories. To Raise a King, while it is definitely a reworking of the legend of King Arthur, focuses a lot on Merlin: his backstory and his role in Arthur’s life and “death.”

And that’s where it gets really weird. Orton has chosen to depict Merlin as a “Marsonian” — a former inhabitant of Mars. Yep, you heard me right, Merlin’s a martian. Everything else in the story related to the legends of Arthur is very well-researched and lines up with recent historical finds, so the whole martian thing just seemed so out of left field for me. I was glad to get past that section of the book and get lost in the quest.

My other big issue was head-hopping. We jump perspectives a lot (though it does get better toward the end of the book), skipping from one character’s ideas/thoughts/views to another’s with no indication that there is a change until you have to stop for a moment and figure out whose eyes you are looking through. It makes it a bit hard sometimes to stay in the flow of the story.

Yet, Orton’s descriptions of the scenery in Scotland are absolutely lovely. I was mesmerized by the beauty he describes and so want to be walking through those glens and alongside those lochs. And the overall plot following Matt’s quest was definitely enjoyable.

So, while it was not a perfect read for me, there was enough to make me kind of like this book and even want to read the next book in the series. If you like your Arthurian legends with a healthy dash of science fiction, you’d enjoy reading this one, too.

Many thanks to Justin Orton and NetGalley for the digital copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

 

**Note for parents of readers: while this is a YA novel (the main character is only 17), I would rate it a PG-13++ for language, violence, and some sexual content. And it is definitely not a Christian novel, so don’t be expecting anything along those lines. 🙂

Advertisements

Mythical Doorways by Fellowship of Fantasy

Mythical-Doorways

About the book:

Eleven Tales of Magical, Mysterious, Mythical Doorways!

Step through portals and into adventure as the authors of the Fellowship of Fantasy take you on another journey into fantastic worlds. Travel through time, space, and realities to encounter monsters, mechanical foxes, and the Fates themselves. You’ll fly with dragons, save implausible beasts, and perhaps find your true home. Choose your path wisely, for dangers lurk in the lands beyond.

In the third anthology from the Fellowship of Fantasy, eleven authors promise you journeys into fairy lands hidden within the modern world, futuristic universities, and lands of ancient myth. So what are you waiting for? Cross through our Doorways for the adventure of a lifetime!


My review:

This was a fabulous anthology filled with a magical blend of stories all swirling around the common theme of doorways and how they can change a life. Each author brought a new angle on the power, the promise, the pressure, or the predicament of passing through a doorway to find all that could be on the other side.

I did have a few favorites, including Savannah Jezowski’s “Well of Fate,” based on Norse Mythology and with a squirrel for a main character; Bokerah Brumley’s “Door Number Four,” whose main character I could totally empathize with in his fear of failure; Laurie Lucking’s “Threshold,” a sweet tale of having to choose; and Arthur Daigle’s “Idiot’s Graveyard,” about the Sorcerer Lord Jayden and his assistant Dana and how they save the kingdom. I also really enjoyed H.L. Burke’s “Jericho and the Magician’s Daughter.” Having read the first of her Spellsmith & Carver Gaslamp Fantasy series, it was really cool to read the backstory of some of the characters in those books. I will admit that there was one story I didn’t finish—it just wasn’t my cup of tea. But that’s the beauty of an anthology: there’s something for everyone!

If you’re looking for a great read, grab your own copy today (they are free on Amazon!!). Not only will you enjoy the anthology, you might even find your next favorite author from the talented bunch at Fellowship of Fantasy! Happy reading 🙂

The Story Peddler by Lindsay A. Franklin

20180423_095628.jpg

About the book:

SELLING STORIES IS A DEADLY BUSINESS

Tanwen doesn’t just tell stories—she weaves them into crystallized sculptures that sell for more than a few bits. But the only way to escape the control of her cruel mentor and claw her way from poverty is to set her sights on something grander: becoming Royal Storyteller to the king.

During her final story peddling tour, a tale of treason spills from her hands, threatening the king himself. Tanwen goes from peddler to prey as the king’s guard hunts her down…and they’re not known for their mercy. As Tanwen flees for her life, she unearths long-buried secrets and discovers she’s not the only outlaw in the empire. There’s a rebel group of weavers…and they’re after her too.


My review:

The first time I heard about this book last year, I knew I had to read it. What a captivating idea: a storyteller who weaves tales into crystallized sculptures! And once I got my little hands on this book, it outpaced my expectations so greatly. 🙂

I was drawn into Tanwen’s world immediately and didn’t want to ever come out! Tir is well-built and easy to imagine and filled with a charming cast of characters you can’t help but fall in love with.

But the story itself is the best part of all. It is a tale of finding strength in weakness, of love conquering even death, and of the power of art to bring beauty and truth and hope. The Story Peddler is a delightful tale with a compelling message and you don’t want to miss it!

How do I put into words how wonderful this book is?? It’s pretty impossible, but I will say that Lindsay A. Franklin has brought a fascinating premise to extraordinary life, weaving her own story strands into a lovely piece of art for all to enjoy. And I can’t recommend it highly enough 🙂 Buy it! Buy it now! Preorder it and then wait by the mailbox for it to arrive, make a cup of tea to relax after all the anxiety of waiting, then snuggle in for a fabulous read!!

Many, many thanks to Lindsay and Gilead Publishing/Enclave for the advanced copy of this wonderful book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

The Broken Crown by Amryn Cross

BrokenCrown_FC.jpg

About the book:

Princess Emilia Aurelius was only seven when she watched her mother die at the hands of her father—martyred for believing in the God of the Atlas Empire’s Insurgo rebels. At seventeen, exiled to a military outpost where no one knows her true identity, she’s vowed to leave her royalty behind and explore the truth of the Insurgo rebels her mother loved.

When the Emperor of Atlas summons the princesses from each of the provinces to the imperial city to choose a wife for the crown prince, Emilia must leave her military life behind to join a royal court rife with cunning and intrigue. Navigating the waters of court politics and budding love are treacherous on their own, but Emilia fears for her life should anyone learn of her Insurgo sympathies.

With an unlikely ally in the captain of the emperor’s guard, Emilia must uncover the truth of the Insurgos, start a revolution, and learn to become the princess she’s vowed never to be, all while protecting her heart from a prince who could sign her death warrant.


My review:

The Broken Crown is kind of a modern retelling of the Book of Ruth—by the grace of the God of the Insurgos, Emilia finds herself cast into a position to potentially help this group of rebels. She’s even told by her mentor that she’s been given this path “for such a time as this.” It’s a lovely and intriguing twist on the ancient tale from the Bible.

I thoroughly enjoyed Emilia as a character—she’s been training with the military since she was rather young, so she’s tough and skilled, but she finds it very difficult to trust anyone. And life in the palace is so far removed from the life she’s lived for so long in the military outpost that her transition from warrior to princess is, at times, comical. Emilia is a fabulously multi-faceted character.

And, Felix makes me swoon a bit! *sigh* He’s a fierce protector, stoic when necessary, and always steadfast. I know that the princess is supposed to end up with the prince for a happily ever after to occur, but I do hope that when the next book finally releases, Felix and Emilia can set aside their differences and fight for each other, rather than just for the cause.

Before this book was given to me, I’d never heard of Amryn Cross. But after finishing, I will read her work again! Hope you will too! 🙂

Emergence by Liberty Speidel

168628585

About the book:

What if…

Murder victims didn’t have to die?

The identity of a killer could be 100% certain, regardless of the evidence?

The one person who would do this was a cop, with law and justice first in her mind?

When Darby Shaw’s calm world is turned upside down, she wonders how her new abilities to bring the dead back to life will affect her life’s desire to become a detective. But being a detective–for homicide, no less–is the least of her worries when the agency in charge of monitoring superhumans takes a heightened interest in her one-of-a-kind abilities.

What if…murder doesn’t have to mean forever?


My review:

I found myself really enjoying this first installment of the Darby Shaw Chronicles. Darby is a great character: she’s smart, quirky, and strong, but also just a bit insecure. I really appreciate that when she discovers she has superhuman powers, she doesn’t get that superhero complex and automatically think she can save the world. She understands that with great power comes great responsibility (very great, in her case).

This ended up being a rather quick read (I read most of it while waiting at the dentist’s office), but that’s not a bad thing by any means to me. While it is more of a novella length, it seems even shorter because it reads so well that you don’t want to put it down! And it would be a good story even without the superhuman aspect—an interesting police procedural mystery along the lines of Randy Alcorn or Jerry B. Jenkins.

Great start to what promises to be a wonderfully diverting series!

A Reluctant Assassin by J C Morrows

A Reluctant Assassin

About the book:

HER MISSION WAS SIMPLE

GET CLOSE TO THE PRINCE AND KILL HIM…

Kayden entered the palace under a lie — one designed to get her close to the prince. She may look like a princess but beneath the mask, a killer lays in wait for the perfect moment.

Dvarius was not ready to take the crown, nor was he ready for a wife…but due to his father’s unexpected death and an archaic law, he must find a bride before he is allowed to take his rightful place on the throne.

And the one woman he wants — just might be the one…who’s there to kill him.


My review:

This was an interesting story with a slightly different take on the fairy tale ideal of the prince falling in love with the pauper. I want to say that I loved it, but, honestly, there were a few things that just won’t allow me to give it a really good recommendation.

First, I felt like the story skimmed over some of the more important details and focused on some things that were maybe not as vital to the plot. For example, we really don’t have much of Kayden’s history with the Order, why she reacts in certain ways, or what the Order of the Moonstone is actually all about (besides sending young, beautiful women to kill people), but we do know that she has a closet full of clothes. Because the characters were not quite as fleshed out as they could have been, it did seem as if I knew more about what they were wearing than about what motivated them to speak or act.

Next, the flow of the story was often interrupted by random dashes and ellipses. Sometimes characters’ thoughts or speech would pause in strange places and I’d find myself having to read the same sentence a few times to make sure I understood just what was happening.

It was, however, an enjoyable read, and I would really like to know what happens to Kayden and Dvarius in the next book of the series.

But I would recommend you buy this in ebook format, in the hopes that you can adjust the font (which in the paperback version was an all-caps copperplate that was strange for me to read) to your liking.

**I did start by reading the VERY short Order of the Moonstone short story, “A Perilous Assignment.” It is a brief glimpse into how Kayden was chosen for the assignment. You certainly don’t have to read it, since the content of the prequel doesn’t really add any important information to the overall story. But it is interesting…

A Perilous Assignment

The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller

the-philosophers-flight-9781476778150_hr

From the publisher:

A thrilling debut from ER doctor turned novelist Tom Miller, The Philosopher’s Flight is an epic historical fantasy set in a World-War-I-era America where magic and science have blended into a single extraordinary art. “Like his characters, Tom Miller casts a spell.” (Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club and The Last Bookaneer)

Eighteen-year-old Robert Weekes is a practitioner of empirical philosophy—an arcane, female-dominated branch of science used to summon the wind, shape clouds of smoke, heal the injured, and even fly. Though he dreams of fighting in the Great War as the first male in the elite US Sigilry Corps Rescue and Evacuation Service—a team of flying medics—Robert is resigned to mixing batches of philosophical chemicals and keeping the books for the family business in rural Montana, where his mother, a former soldier and vigilante, aids the locals.

When a deadly accident puts his philosophical abilities to the test, Robert rises to the occasion and wins a scholarship to study at Radcliffe College, an all-women’s school. At Radcliffe, Robert hones his skills and strives to win the respect of his classmates, a host of formidable, unruly women.

Robert falls hard for Danielle Hardin, a disillusioned young war hero turned political radical. However, Danielle’s activism and Robert’s recklessness attract the attention of the same fanatical anti-philosophical group that Robert’s mother fought years before. With their lives in mounting danger, Robert and Danielle band together with a team of unlikely heroes to fight for Robert’s place among the next generation of empirical philosophers—and for philosophy’s very survival against the men who would destroy it.

In the tradition of Lev Grossman and Deborah Harkness, Tom Miller writes with unrivaled imagination, ambition, and humor. The Philosopher’s Flight is both a fantastical reimagining of American history and a beautifully composed coming-of-age tale for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.


My review:

This book ended up being way more than I expected for a debut novel! The story was fascinating and very well-written. And Tom Miller did such a fantastic job of entwining his story with true history that I found myself getting caught up in the narrative and asking, “Wait, did that really happen?”

Miller managed to spin a tale that both entertains and calls out those who would be prejudiced against their fellow man (or woman) for whatever reason, rather than taking them on their own merits. He turns both sexism and religious intolerance on their heads to expose their useless underbellies, all while creating an alternate history that is seamlessly written.

I laughed, I cheered, I teared up, I wanted to scream at the characters…all signs of a well-crafted story. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller when it is released by Simon & Schuster on February 13, 2018.

Many thanks to Simon & Schuster for the advanced copy of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂