Blog, Reviews

Spice Bringer by H. L. Burke

61Cz37rf6tLThis was one of those stories that pulls you in and digs deep into your soul. It will make you laugh; it will bring you to tears; it will linger long after you finish the last page. It isn’t a story for the faint of heart. After all, it’s about a young girl dying from an incurable disease so how can it be a happy story, right? But it is. Somehow, it is.

A few things I loved about this story:

  1. The characters. They were so well developed and so multi-faceted. Even the “villain” of the tale, the future empress, wasn’t just a mindless face of evil, but a young woman with a heart and story of her own. Niya was the perfect balance of fragility and strength that every heroine needs. Jayesh was swoon-worthy, beyond words, in all the ways: flawed and yet so romantic. I’m not sure I can tell you the one thing I loved most about him because it contains spoilers. Alk–oh, horrible, sweet, awful, wonderful Alk! His story arc, to my surprise, touched me almost as deeply as Niya’s: not something most sidekicks can boast of.
  2. The setting. This fantasy world is so vivid and colorful. Set in an ancient realm reminiscent of our own far eastern cultures, Spice Bringer is a delicious blend of jungles, waterways, and spices. The people are just as diverse, some wonderful and others horrid.
  3. The religion. This surprised me most of all. I went into this book knowing the religion wouldn’t be a strict representation of Christianity, but since I’ve always been fascinated with other cultures and their beliefs, I wasn’t worried. However, I wasn’t prepared for how deeply I would like this culture and the gods they worshiped. Instead of One God with Three Persons, Ms. Burke created a three god culture that each represented a characteristic of the One God (Kind, Just, and All-Knowing). And the religion wasn’t just a vague backdrop in the story, but it actually played a huge role in the characters’ development and worked its way into their discussions so naturally. It was thought-provoking and fascinating.

I could go on and on. I tried hard to think of something I didn’t like about this story–because I do like to be honest and open with other readers–but this story truly earned its Five Star status in my eyes. My one regret was that it was such a sad book…but this ended up being one of the things I also loved most about it. So if you love books that make you smile and sniffle in turn, if you love being swept away to foreign worlds and strange cultures, if love going on quests with consequences that reach farther than most of us could ever truly imagine, you are sure to adore Spice Bringer.

PHOTOAbout the Author:

Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.

Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.

She is the author of a four part fantasy/romance series entitled “The Dragon and the Scholar,” the Award Winning (2016 Realm Award for Young Adult Fiction) Nyssa Glass Steampunk series, and MG/Fantasy “Cora and the Nurse Dragon,” among others .

Sign up for her monthly newsletter at http://www.hlburkeauthor.com.

Purchase Spice Bringer here

Blog, Reviews

Review of “The Loathly Princess of Edimor”

Another day in the Tales of Ever After blog tour. Today I will be sharing a little review of “The Loathly Princess of Edimor” by the talented L. Palmer.

L PalmerAbout L. Palmer:

L. Palmer has spent many years traveling fictional worlds and building tales of grand, epic adventures. She is the author of The Pippington Tales, where motorcars bump down old city lanes and fairy godmothers are disguised as high-society gossips. In between exploring fantasy worlds, L. Palmer works in public service and lives in South Texas. She is an award-winning speaker and has lunch with dragons every Tuesday. Learn more about L. Palmer here!

Tales of Ever After LPALMER Graphic

What a charming and humorous tale this turned out to be! It has everything a fairy tale should: a spoiled princess, a handsome and honorable hero, a villain, a witch, and of course…MAGIC! When Princess Selene’s plans to be turned into a swan are thwarted (I can’t tell you how without spoilers), the story takes some amazing twists. I think one of the funniest things in the story is how the princess WANTS to be turned into a swan because she doesn’t want to marry the handsome hero and is disappointed when something else happens. There’s humor, there’s romance, there’s heart…and in the end, the princess learns a valuable lesson about herself, her people, and her heart. This is a great story to end the anthology on.

To see what other blogs have been sharing fun tidbits and whatnots, visit Kendra’s blog.

And don’t forget to enter these amazing Giveaways:
US ONLY
(All books are paperbacks, and possibly signed.)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
INTERNATIONAL (All books are ebooks of the winner’s file format of choice) a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, be sure to comment on all the blog posts this week. The person who comments the most times will win a small collection of sneak peeks to some of the authors upcoming works!

Blog, Reviews

Book Review for “Wake the Moon”

Here we are again on the Tales of Ever After blog tour. Today, I will be sharing a little review about Annie Louise Twitchell’s “Wake the Moon.”

14095754_1577656472539579_3144586480881309648_nAbout Annie:

Annie Louise Twitchell is a homeschool graduate who is obsessed with dragons and fairy tales. She enjoys reading, writing, poetry, and many forms of art. When she’s not writing, she can often be found reading out loud to her cat, rabbit, and houseplants or wandering barefoot in the area around her Western Maine home. Learn more about Annie!

 

Tales of Ever After Annie Graphic

“Wake the Moon” was a story that surprised me. From the very first moment, the intensity of the story pulled me right in. How could you not be sucked in by such lines as

“The silence bound her there in the forest, behind the endless lines of marching trees, behind the shadows. The silence was her captor.”

And the surprises don’t end there. What began as a thrilling Native American-themed fairy tale retelling about a sleeping maiden turned into a powerful message of forgiveness and redemption. The message of the story is what really spoke to me. I loved the characters, as well. Jesse, Lunessa, Sue…they’re all endearing and realistic, but its the message of forgiveness that truly touched my heart. Such a rich, compelling, and thrilling little story. You’re sure to love it, too!

To see what other exciting posts are scheduled for today, visit Kendra’s blog.

And don’t forget to enter these amazing Giveaways:

US ONLY
(All books are paperbacks, and possibly signed.)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

INTERNATIONAL (All books are ebooks of the winner’s file format of choice) a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, be sure to comment on all the blog posts this week. The person who comments the most times will win a small collection of sneak peeks to some of the authors upcoming works!

Reviews

The Last Motley

last-motley-on-shelf

When I saw the cover for this new book by DJ Edwardson, I knew I had to read it. It spoke to me in a way most covers don’t. The story was no less compelling. I loved it. The unique story, the rich world and colorful characters, the Tolkienesque feel…brilliantly done.

A few things I liked:

  1. The premise

The whole idea of the story really intrigued and held my attention. A little boy is cursed with a terrible magic and our unlikely hero must set out to try to save him. Along the way he meets colorful characters, impossible challenges, and overwhelming odds. The motleys, the gypsies, the shadow-things-who’s-names-I-can’t-recall…ah, just loved it. And some of the plot twists totally threw me.

  1. The family dynamics

This is my favorite aspect of the story. It’s refreshing in our day and age to find a good, clean story about a healthy family. The dad loves the mom, who loves him back, they have a kid, a simple life, they’re happy…it’s so heart-warming. I also love how they immediately open up their hearts and home to little Jacob, even though he is different from them.

Contrasted to this, you have the gypsies, with their wild, selfish, unlawful ways. Which makes Roderick and his family shine all the more brightly.

  1. Nagan and Portia

These two surprised me. They’re hilarious. They’re flawed. I wasn’t sure what direction the author was going to take them when Nagan first showed up, but—gasp—the depth of his character arc is astounding. Brilliantly done! Loved every moment of these two. In a heavy book with lots of danger, these two brought a spot of color and laughter to the pages.

  1. The suspense

The author did an amazing job of pulling you from one chapter to the next. There are very few, carefully placed, slow places. DJ doesn’t let you stop for long but pulls you from one dangerous situation to the next.

Was there anything I didn’t like? Meh, not really. I wanted to knock a few heads together on occasion, but I was supposed to feel that way about them. If you are a fan of Tolkien and like quest stories, you will definitely enjoy The Last Motley.

I rate this book a high PG for thematic elements and tasteful, fantasy violence.

Purchase your copy today!

 

 

Reviews

The Nameless Soldier

Nameless Soldier Internet VersionThe Nameless Solider

By Annie Douglass Lima

This was one of the best little stories I have read this year. It was filled with danger and adventure, packed with character development and introspection, and sported a bit of humor and the sweetest romance. I was worried I would have a difficult time settling into the story world since this is technically Book Four, but the author assures her readers that each book is stand alone. And she spoke the truth. I also really appreciated a little note she added at the end of the novella, listing some of the lingering questions I had and reassuring me I could find answers in the other books.

What I liked:

  1. Tarvic. He was such a likeable and subtly flawed character. Watching his internal struggle as he battled his way back from a dark, painful place trying to regain his self-respect and honor…it was truly well done. I loved him, even at his darkest moments.
  2. The sisters. They were all so sweet and spunky. I would have liked to see a bit more character development for them, as they remain pretty even through the story, but they have their own struggles and fears which keeps them three dimensional and interesting. And did I mention spunky? They say some of the funniest things.
  3. The romance. The relationship that blossoms in this story is so sweet and delicately handled. There is just enough tension to keep you enthralled, but not so much as to drown out the beauty in their simple, but flourishing relationship. It warmed my heart and left me wishing for more.

What I didn’t like:

The only thing I wish the author had done differently as to have made this a full length novel. I admit there is not enough story here to make a full novel, but I enjoyed the characters so much I was sad to see them go.

If you enjoy sweet, clean fantasy worlds, you will enjoy The Nameless Soldier. There is no magic, but there is adventure, intrigue, and sweet, sweet romance. I rate this novella PG for Thematic elements, a few tastefully handled battle sequences, and light romance.

Click here to buy the ebook or paperback from Amazon. (The ebook is just $0.99 through June 6th!)

Annie Douglass LimaAbout the Author:

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published seventeen books (four YA action and adventure novels, five fantasies, a puppet script, six anthologies of her students’ poetry, and a Bible verse coloring and activity book). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.

 

Reviews

Review of Iron Core by Rebekah DeVall

Iron Core CoverIron Core by Rebekah DeVall

Wow. This is a short, gritty, action-packed little story. I must confess, I sat down and read it one sitting and simply flew through it barely remembering to breathe. There truly isn’t a dull moment in this story. My biggest regret is that is was so short, but I’ll get to that later.

First, what I liked:

  1. Lunetta – The main character is both brave and fragile at the same, a girl who lived in prison her entire life because of a crime her mother committed before she was born. I liked the contrast of strength and weakness in her character. I liked her determination against insurmountable odds. She is so determined to escape and wants desperately to bring her mother with her—qualities I really loved in her. You can’t help but want this poor girl to escape from these terrible circumstances.
  2. The pacing – This story simply jumps right in and takes off and you’re barely given time to wrap your head around what is happening as you are pulled deeper and deeper into the story. Seriously, you will fly through this story and read it in one sitting.
  3. The characters are flawed – I know, this one sounds a little crazy. But I love flawed characters—their quirks and mistakes are what make them real and relatable. I think every character has something about them that could be improved upon, sometimes slight, sometimes major.
  4. I also liked Persa and the baby – They were a sweet but painful touch to a brutal story. I don’t want to go into details because of spoilers, but I hope we get to see their story developed more and find a happy ending for them. A story this grim needs a few happy moments to carry us through.

What I would have liked differently:

  1. The pacing – Okay! I know, I know! I listed this as a POSITIVE. But because the pacing is so fast, I felt as if the world building and character development suffered a little. I have so many questions about the world and how it works and what it looks like…I think it would have been a good idea to make this short story into a full-length novella and flesh out the world and characters more. The author could have continued the “serial” nature of the book and still given a broader scope of the world and characters she was presenting.
  2. The gritty nature of the story – Because this is a serial and not a complete work of fiction, this first installment is painfully grim. The main character is definitely angry at God. I like gritty stories, so I almost hesitate to mention this, but I think folks should know going into it that THIS installment won’t end happily. I think I can speculate the that the story AS A WHOLE will brighten with the light of the message the author will bring to it, but readers will have to slog through some grim events to get there. I think it might have been a good idea to introduce a lighter/hopeful theme a little stronger in the first installment of the serial, to let us know that there will be hope for this world and the characters we are beginning to like. I would have also liked Lunetta’s mother to have presented her case for her faith more strongly, to help us understand how a woman in such horrific circumstances could discover her faith in prison. It would have added a rich layer of sub-characterization to the tale. I have hopes that this will be revisited in future installments.
  3. The anxiety attacks – This is going to sound a little weird, so please don’t laugh at me, but I think the anxiety attacks weren’t grim enough. Yes, I just said how gritty the world was and how I would have liked some more light in it and now I’m saying to make it grimmer. My reasoning, anxiety attacks are MESSY. I’ve experienced them. I’ve witnessed them in those I love. They’re painful, messy, tearful, horrible things…and I think Lunetta handles hers TOO well. She’s a prisoner with almost no comfort in her life and the fact she is able to control her anxiety right from the beginning almost seems too convenient. I would have liked to see poor Lunetta struggle with her anxiety more and learning how to talk herself down from the ledge, etc.

I can’t tell you enough how intense this story is. You’ll truly be captivated from the first page. If you like stories like the Hunger Games, I think you will enjoy this one. It’s tight, punchy, grim, and compelling. You’ll wish you’d waited until the entire serial was published (like I do!) so that you wouldn’t have to wait for the next installment. Buckle your seatbelts, ladies and gentlemen, because this story is one wild read.

I rate this story a high PG-13 for Thematic elements, hints of abuse/rape/violence (almost all shown off stage). This one is not suitable for young children and may be disturbing for abuse/anxiety victims.

Get your copy of Iron Core today!

Reviews

Cinder Ellie by JM Stengl

Cinder EllieI just read this charming little short story by Ms. J.M. Stengl introducing her new Faraway Castle series…and I was positively delighted. It was short and sweet, a perfect hook to intrigue new readers such as myself. Ellie is the perfect heroine, kind and brave in her own way, and terribly clever. The Prince is tall, dark, and handsome…what’s not to love about that? And my favorite part of all…there are a ton of adorable little fantasy animals running around. The sprites were my favorite. I don’t want to tell you anything else, because of spoilers, but trust me: the cinder sprites are the most original fantasy creature I’ve ever stumbled upon.

The setting for this new series is also quite original. It takes place…at a resort. Yes, you heard me, a fantasy resort. Ellie is a worker at the resort where Prince Omar is staying with his family…and the story takes off from there. I never would have imagined a fairy tale about a resort would be so positively endearing, but it WORKS.

I rate this little novel PG for most audiences. (There are some mild thematic elements that might not be okay for little kids, but otherwise this is clean and easy to read!)

Get your copy of Cinder Ellie for only $.99