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

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 🙂

The Last Will and Testament of Captain Nemo by Mary Schlegel

captain nemo

About the Book:

From the tragedy of The Little Mermaid, and the mystery of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, comes the truth that ties them both together: the story of the love that saved a life and started a war, of the quest that became an obsession…of the seaman who, for love of a mermaid, became a legend.


My Review:

This short novella was recommended by another author, so I decided to check it out. I quickly found that it has so much to offer! It is a fantastically imagined mash-up of two stories we all think we know: The Little Mermaid and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Schlegel managed to blend the beautifully melodic cadence of the classics from which this story springs with a steampunk-like twist to bring fresh, new life to the old tales.

And though it is a quick read (Around a half an hour, unless you keep getting interrupted like I was. Grrrrrr!!!!),  you get sucked into the story world so quickly that it feels more than complete. It’s a terrific after work wind-down read or bedtime story.

I’m glad I grabbed a copy, and I’d highly recommend you get your own! Great read from an author I look forward to reading again. 🙂

 

The Space Between Words by Michèle Phoenix

the space between words

From the publisher:

“There were seconds, when I woke, when the world felt unshrouded. Then memory returned.”

When Jessica regains consciousness in a French hospital on the day after the Paris attacks, all she can think of is fleeing the site of the horror she survived. But Patrick, the steadfast friend who hasn’t left her side, urges her to reconsider her decision. Worn down by his insistence, she reluctantly agrees to follow through with the trip they’d planned before the tragedy.

“The pages found you,” Patrick whispered.

“Now you need to figure out what they’re trying to say.”

During a stop at a country flea market, Jessica finds a faded document concealed in an antique. As new friends help her to translate the archaic French, they uncover the story of Adeline Baillard, a young woman who lived centuries before—her faith condemned, her life endangered, her community decimated by the Huguenot persecution.

“I write for our descendants, for those who will not understand the cost of our survival.”

Determined to learn the Baillard family’s fate, Jessica retraces their flight from France to England, spurred on by a need she doesn’t understand.

Could this stranger who lived three hundred years before hold the key to Jessica’s survival?


My Review:

The description of this book snagged my attention, and I couldn’t resist reading it. Now, I’m grateful to have read it, for it has given me a new perspective: a deeper understanding of the effects of terrorism, both in our world today and in our history.

How do I put the beauty of this novel into words? Phoenix has crafted a novel with genuine characters, flawed and loveable and completely real; with drama that is timely and relevant, yet still hauntingly beautiful; with history and heartache and healing and hope.

This is a book that uses the power of fiction to present truths that will affect you profoundly. Read it with an open heart and a box of tissues.

Many, many thanks to Thomas Nelson 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 Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson

IMG_9501

From the back matter:

All her life Fern has been told she is blind to reality—

          but, what if she is the only one who can truly see?

Fern Johnson is crazy. At least, that’s what the doctors have claimed since her childhood. Now nineteen, and one step away from a psych ward, Fern struggles to survive in bustling Los Angeles. Desperate to appear normal, she represses the young man flickering at the edge of her awareness—a blond warrior only she can see.

Tristan was Fern’s childhood imaginary hero, saving her from monsters under her bed and outside her walls. As she grew up and his secret world continued to bleed into hers, however, it only caused catastrophe. But, when the city is rocked by the unexplainable, Fern is forced to consider the possibility that this young man is not a hallucination after all—and that the creature who decimated his world may be coming for hers.


My Review:

Don’t tell me that people don’t judge a book by its cover–I did, and that is exactly why I had to grab this book in the Realm Makers bookstore this year. I mean, wouldn’t you be intrigued enough by that cover to pick up this book? And the cover isn’t even the best part!

The story is unputdownable—I know that’s not a word, but it is the best way to describe The Girl Who Could See. Once you dive into Fern’s story, you can’t help but want to know more about this “crazy” girl and her crazier world. This may be a novella, but by the time you’re done reading, you feel like you’ve been through a terrifically epic adventure with some extraordinary characters.

Kara Swanson is a writer to keep your eyes on. Do yourself a favor and grab your own beautiful copy of The Girl Who Could See and “see” for yourself. 🙂