Heirs of Tirragyl by Joan Campbell

tirragyl

About the book:

Since birth, Nyla has shared everything with her twin brother – royal tutors, the right to the throne of Tirragyl…even their soul. Many believe it wholly belongs to Alexor and should be returned to him regardless of the sacrifice – Nyla’s death. However, her future isn’t the only one in question.

A threat looms over the kingdom. The influential Lord Lucian intends to seize the Grotto, an underworld settlement known for harboring fugitives. And if legend is to be believed, it is also the hiding place of the most powerful of objects, the Guardian Rock.

As Nyla fights for her life, she realizes she’s not only a soul heir but also the sole hope for the kingdom’s survival.


My review:

This was a wonderful read! The pace was swift: the multiple plot lines kept me racing through the pages. The author kept the various characters, storylines, and settings separate enough to not be confusing, yet still painted them beautifully into a grander picture that has yet to fully be revealed (Can’t wait to read the next book!).

However, if I judged books solely by the cover, I don’t think I’d have picked this one up. The cover is my least favorite part of the book. It so reminds me of cheesy romance novels from the eighties! 😉

I’ve never read a story by Joan Campbell before. This is book two in The Poison Tree Path Chronicles, and while I loved reading this, I know that there are pieces that were revealed in the first book that could have helped me understand the motivations for why certain things happened. But I had no idea how much I’d enjoy this story! I thought it may be an interesting read (and it definitely was), but now I feel absolutely compelled to read the others in the series! I highly recommend you grab your own copy (and maybe try starting with the first in the series Chains of Gwyndorr) and enjoy!! 🙂

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A Hideous Beauty by Jack Cavanaugh

 

hideous beauty

About the book:

This isn’t the world you think it is…

Every day they slip across our borders to infiltrate our government, our schools, our neighborhoods.

Homeland security can’t stop them.

The armed forces are no threat to them.

Powerful and unseen, they cannot be stopped.

They have been doing this for millennia.

On what should have been the best day of his life, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Grant Austin learns of a plan to assassinate the president of the United States. Every attempt to sound the alarm is thwarted, and Grant soon finds himself at the center of an even greater battle that predates time as he stands alone against ancient powers and unspeakable evil — evil that can only be described as a hideous beauty.


My review:

I guess the best way I can explain  this book is that it is kind of a combination of Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness, in its bringing spiritual warfare to life; Tosca Lee’s Demon, in its telling the history of angels/fallen angels; and maybe even a bit of Joel C. Rosenberg’s works in its adventures in D.C. politics.

It was an relatively engaging read, with plenty of action (more towards the end), interesting enough characters, and an intriguing take on spiritual warfare. However, I unfortunately didn’t feel like it lived up to its blurb. For most of the book, the focus was so much more on the main character, Grant Austin, than on the spiritual battle, that I found my mind wandering while I read, having to go back and re-read to figure out what was going on. And, while I know it’s a work of fiction, I didn’t always agree with the theology presented, so I got frustrated with some of the characters. I also set the book down several times, debating about whether or not I should finish it.

I’m glad I did finish it, because the climactic scene was more compelling than I expected it to be. If the rest of the series keeps up with the level the first book was at near the end, I would definitely read the remaining books when Enclave publishes them.

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

The Songweaver’s Vow by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

 

songweaverAbout the book:

Euthalia is rejected as a bride, traded to Viking raiders, and sacrificed to a strange god.

After that, things get interesting.

When Euthalia’s father trades her to Viking raiders, her best hope is to be made a wife instead of a slave. She gets her wish — sort of — when she is sacrificed as a bride to a god.

Her inhuman husband seems kind, but he visits only in the dark of night and will not allow her to look upon him. By day Euthalia becomes known as a storyteller, spinning ancient Greek tales to entertain Asgard’s gods and monsters.

When one of her stories precipitates a god’s murder and horrific retribution, Euthalia discovers there is a monster in her bed as well. Alone in a hostile Asgard, Euthalia must ally with a spiteful goddess to sway Odin himself before bloody tragedy opens Ragnarok, the prophesied end of the world.


My review:

Okay, honestly, I first judged this book by its gorgeous cover — I was absolutely drawn to it. I didn’t even bother to read the back matter; I just bought the book for the front cover! Then I realized it was about Norse mythology: a subject I’ve always been curious about, but never taken the time to study. Bonus! So I was totally excited to finally get a chance to read The Songweaver’s Vow.

So now, how can I describe this book? Awesome comes to mind. Also beautiful, tragic, amazing, intense, fascinating…I am still kind of staggered by how much I enjoyed a book that I bought just for its cover. 😉 Laura VAB has vivified Norse mythology in a way that my college mythology class could only ever dream of. I was quickly captured by the writing and swept up in the rich emotion and deft weaving of the plot. It was one of those books that I wanted to finish, but didn’t want to end.

If you enjoy Norse mythology, you’ll love The Songweaver’s Vow. If you’ve never read any or know little to nothing about Norse mythology, you’ll love The Songweaver’s Vow. Just trust me on this: get your own copy and get caught up in the magic! 🙂

To Raise a King by Justin Orton

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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. 🙂

City of Endless Night by Preston & Child

city of endless night

About the book:

When Grace Ozmian, the beautiful and reckless daughter of a wealthy tech billionaire, first goes missing, the NYPD assumes she has simply sped off on another wild adventure. Until the young woman’s body is discovered in an abandoned warehouse in Queens, the head nowhere to be found.
Lieutenant CDS Vincent D’Agosta quickly takes the lead. He knows his investigation will attract fierce scrutiny, so D’Agosta is delighted when FBI Special Agent A.X.L. Pendergast shows up at the crime scene assigned to the case. “I feel rather like Brer Rabbit being thrown into the briar patch,” Pendergast tells D’Agosta, “because I have found you here, in charge. Just like when we first met, back at the Museum of Natural History.”
But neither Pendergast nor D’Agosta are prepared for what lies ahead. A diabolical presence is haunting the greater metropolitan area, and Grace Ozmian was only the first of many victims to be murdered . . . and decapitated. Worse still, there’s something unique to the city itself that has attracted the evil eye of the killer.
As mass hysteria sets in, Pendergast and D’Agosta find themselves in the crosshairs of an opponent who has threatened the very lifeblood of the city. It’ll take all of Pendergast’s skill to unmask this most dangerous foe-let alone survive to tell the tale.


My review:

I mentioned in my “Sneak Preview” post last week that I am a fan of Preston & Child and their Agent Pendergast series. Because I am a fan and have read all previous sixteen novels in the series, I’m always a tiny bit leery when I start a new one: I would hate to be disappointed! Thankfully, again that is not the case with book number seventeen in the Pendergast series. Yay!

With City of Endless Night Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child showed me once again why I am a fan. Their books are always packed with tension, building and building to a magnificent crescendo, where you are so caught up, you are completely lost to the action. And their characterization, of even minor characters, is phenomenal. You can’t beat a Preston & Child for the atmosphere and action that keep you turning pages into the very wee hours and gripping your book so tightly your hands cramp up!

Be sure to block out a nice section of time where you won’t be disturbed to read City of Endless Night, because you won’t want to put it down.

Many thanks to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley 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! 🙂

The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross by Lisa Tuttle

Curious-Affair-of-the-Witch-of-Wayside-Cross-The-315x466

From the book:

The paranormal answer to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Jesperson and Lane are turning the Victorian era upside down in this bewitching series from John W. Campbell Award winner Lisa Tuttle.

“Witch!” cries the young man after stumbling unexpectedly into the London address of the consulting-detective partnership of Mr. Jasper Jesperson and Miss Lane. He makes the startling accusation while pointing toward Miss Lane . . . then he drops dead. Thus begins the strangest case yet to land—quite literally—on the doorstep of Jesperson and Lane.

According to the coroner, Charles Manning died of a heart attack—despite being in perfect health. Could he have been struck down by a witch’s spell? The late Mr. Manning’s address book leads Jesperson and Lane to the shrieking pits of Aylmerton, an ancient archaeological site reputed to be haunted by a vengeful ghost. There they sift through the local characters, each more suspicious than the last: Manning’s associate, Felix Ott, an English folklore enthusiast; Reverend Ringer, a fierce opponent of superstition; and the Bulstrode sisters, a trio of beauties with a reputation for witchcraft.

But when an innocent child goes missing, suddenly Jesperson and Lane aren’t merely trying to solve one murder—they’re racing to prevent another.


My review:

Reading the description of this book made it sound like it was going to be fabulous. Unfortunately, it didn’t fully live up to its expectations for me. While I did enjoy parts of the story, I found that I just couldn’t really get lost in this book for some reason.

Now, let me clarify…the book is not bad. It is fairly well-crafted, with plenty of little twists and a variety of interesting characters. However, I simply had trouble staying interested. Maybe it’s just me. Perhaps you should try it for yourself and prove me wrong. Let me know if you do! 🙂

Thanks to Random House Publishing Group-Hydra and NetGalley for the advanced copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own!! 🙂

 

Amish Vampires in Space by Kerry Nietz

AViSFrom the book:

Jebediah has a secret that will change his world forever and send his people into space.

The Amish world of Alabaster calls upon an ancient promise to escape destruction. They end up on a cargo ship bound for the stars.

But they are not the only cargo on board. Some of it is alive…or used to be.

Now, with vampires taking over and closing in on the Amish refugees, these simple believers must decide whether their faith depends upon their honored traditions or something even older.


My review:

I bet I know what you’re thinking (because it’s the same thing I was thinking when I first saw this book)…this has to be a joke, right? A spoof or parody or something? I imagined I would be laughing my way through this book, while the author poked fun at Amish fiction.

Then I started reading it. Wow! Not only is it not a spoof, it is a terrifically well-written piece of science fiction. Kerry Nietz managed to take three forms of fiction that I’m not a huge fan of (space opera, paranormal/vampire fiction, and Amish fiction) and mesh them into a remarkable story that I couldn’t put down. The core of this story is not about Amish vampires in space–they are simply a rather interesting medium for a discussion about what is truly important to you. What do you truly rely on when the proverbial chips are down: tradition, pop culture, or something bigger than all that?

I never thought I’d find myself recommending a book called Amish Vampires in Space, but I can’t seem to recommend it highly enough. You definitely need to read this 🙂