Monday, October 14, 2019

"History of the First Queen" by Mark Miller

This was the tale of Nyssa, who came from very humble beginnings and who found herself thrust into a new world one day while seeking to escape from those who always made her life miserable. How was she to know that the grand adventure she would soon find herself a part of, if successful, would save the world that was destined to become her own.

This is the fourth book in the Empyrical Tales series, and in my opinion it is the best one in the series that I’ve read thus far. In this book, we get to see not only how Nyssa arrives from her own world into Empyrean, but how she grows to become one of the land’s four Queens. I found it to be a fascinating tale that also introduced us to a number of characters that we’ve already met, though we had previously seen them at a later point in their lives than we often find them in this book.

Through much of the story, Nyssa is lost in a strange world and must find her way through numerous situations made more difficult by the fact that she has absorbed deep magical energy that seems to be causing her to bounce back and forth in Empyrean’s timeline. She never knows when she will skip around in time or when she will find herself afterwards.

I really liked that this tale is told in the manner of someone reading a book about how Nyssa became the first Queen. The story (both the one we read as well as the one read to the children in the castle), was well written and very entertaining. There were numerous twists and turns in the story that kept me guessing all the way until the end of the book.

This story was clearly well thought out and flowed very well, even while dealing with a girl who found herself skipping randomly back and forth through time. While that could have made it difficult to follow, it was well enough written that I had no problems keeping track of whether Nyssa was in the past, present, or future of Empyrean. And though I won’t spoil it for you, I absolutely loved the ending.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys intricately designed fantasy worlds containing a rich history that clearly shines throughout the story.

Monday, October 7, 2019

"Escaped Mail Order Bride
and her Redeemed Husband"
by Florence Linnington

Catherine and her step brother Guss had been living with his father since the death of Catherine’s mother several years earlier. However it was a far less than ideal situation. Hershal was often drunk and physically abusive. Catherine had been taking most of his beatings and abuse to keep Guss safe, but when Hershal began trying to touch her inappropriately, she knew that both she and Guss had to leave as soon as possible.

After exchanging a number of letters with a man in Colorado that had answered her ad in a mail order bride catalogue, Catherine left town with Guss as soon as Mr. Jeremiah Beals began to speak of marriage. She was so desperate to find a better home for the two of them that she didn’t even wait for Mr. Beals to propose. She and Guss simply snuck out of the house one night while Hershal was still asleep and left to go meet the man she hoped would marry her and take care of both Guss and herself.

This was another wonderful book in this series from Ms. Linnington. She is very good at describing the hardships of a less than ideal life and then comparing and contrasting said life with a much better situation in another part of the country. As always, her stories leave me smiling at the end, after having watched her characters be put through the wringer on their way towards what they hope will be a happy ending.

I enjoy her stories a great deal, and I believe that anyone who enjoys an often heart-wrenching mail order bride story will also enjoy this book.

Friday, October 4, 2019

"The Graveyard Book" Audio Book
written and read by Neil Gaiman

This was the story of Nobody Owens, whose parents were murdered one night. During the time his parents were being murdered, their young toddler had managed to wander off and escape, becoming lost by those striving to kill his entire family. Luckily for him, he was found and rescued by the residents of the local cemetery. Over the years of his being raised by the dead, he was unaware that the man who had killed his family was still looking for him. He had been hired to kill the entire family, and allowing even a small child to escape was unacceptable.

Nobody (or Bod as he is called) has many adventures and has quite a number of friends in the cemetery. It is not the life that many would have sought for their children, but it is not one that left Bod feeling as if there was anything missing from his life.

I enjoyed listening to this story as it was read by the author. I had no difficulty in differentiating between the various characters as the storyteller did an excellent job with the voices.

I would recommend this audiobook to anyone who enjoys reading or listening to YA stories, as well as to anyone who enjoys Neil Gaimen tales.

Monday, September 30, 2019

"Arthur Rex: Dux Bellorum"
by J.A. Cummings

Arthur Pendragon has been acknowledged by many as the High King. But not everyone is ready to accept him as such, and he must fight to subdue those who oppose him. War is here, and there is no avoiding it. He has much to do if he is to win and retain his kingdom. Arthur inspires loyalty and respect in many, but not everyone is ready to consider him a friend, let alone their king. He is still young, and while he is very inspiring, he also still has much to learn before he can become the man he is destined to be.

When looking at the page count, one might be hesitant at first to pick it up, but don’t let the length of this one scare you away from reading it. Once you start reading, it doesn’t feel like it is anywhere near as long as it claims to be. The story really grabs you and sucks you in, making this a very difficult book to put down.

This was the third book in this series and upon finishing it, my first thought was “Wow!” Most folks know by now that I really enjoy reading a good King Arthur story. Well, this one was probably one of the best I’ve read in quite a while. This author has definitely put her own spin on the myths and legends that surround Merlin, Arthur, Guinivere, and all of the Knights of the Round Table, while at the same time retaining the familiar aspects that we would expect to see in any Arthurian tale.

I do need to warn anyone reading this book that there are some rather graphically detailed sex scenes as well as a rape contained within these pages. (It is definitely not a book meant for younger readers.) But the more adult scenes were all very necessary parts of the story and not something that could have been left out or ignored. (There is more that I would like to say about this, but doing so would give away too much that you really do need to read for yourself. You’ll just have to trust me on this one.)

Ms. Cummings clearly has a talent for teasing us throughout her story with hints of what is likely to come in the future without really giving away any specific details. The characters are extremely well written and will make you want to laugh and cry with them, and the ending of this book will leave you waiting impatiently for book 4. Highly recommended, especially for those who enjoy a good King Arthur tale.

Monday, September 23, 2019

"The Blacksmith Queen" by G.A. Aiken

"When the Old King dies, his sons immediately begin killing each other as well as anyone else who could possibly challenge them for the throne. Then they learn of a prophecy which claims that one of the Smythe sisters will be confirmed as the next queen by the Witches of Amhuinn. Everyone assumes that daughter is Beatrix, as she appears the one best suited to someday becoming a queen. And suddenly, the Smythe family is in danger from the brothers who want to kill the girl who might claim what they see as their throne as well as from the one who might marry her instead of killing her. But what happens when the Witches declare that both Beatrix and her sister Keeley will be queen?

I received this book as a prize from contest. I do not believe that I had ever read any of the other books written by this author and started reading it to pass some time and found myself so drawn into this story that I just couldn’t put it down until I finished it. (With so many wonderful books available, that doesn’t happen too often for me these days.)

I found the book to be both entertaining and amusing, It made me laugh and want to cry for the main characters equally. I loved the interactions between the various siblings and their parents. It was obvious that this author was quite familiar with family squabbles and arguments between siblings of all ages. Every time I thought I had pretty much figured out where the story was going, the author threw in a new twist that made the story even more enjoyable.

I realize that this book may not be for everyone, and the reader should be aware that there is one somewhat descriptive sex scene that might not be appropriate for younger readers. But this book made me smile quite a bit as I read. I think that others will also find it just as entertaining as I did. It had everything, conflict, romance, humor, betrayal, and the closeness of family. I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the series. Recommended.

Friday, September 20, 2019

"Phases of Change: A Shifter Anthology"

This anthology contains a collection of shifter tales ranging from Felines and Wolves to Sharks and Squirrels, as well as everything in between. The stories were very unique and were fantastic teasers into the beginnings of many different series. I found them all to be extremely entertaining and enjoyable.

As expected, some of the stories involving the many different types of shifters tended a bit towards the more adult aspects of the stories, making some of them rather inappropriate for younger readers. But both the more adult and those stories that were appropriate for younger audiences were something that I greatly enjoyed reading. I would recommend this anthology for anyone who wants a taste of several different types of shifter stories to enjoy.

I’d say to give this one a try, you might find a few authors you both recognize from other stories as well as some that are new to you that I believe are worth taking the time to try some of their other tales.

Monday, September 16, 2019

"The Marilians" by Beth Worsdell

As they continued to save the Earth from nearly being destroyed by humanity, you would think that things would start to calm down, at least a little bit. Unfortunately, a race of beings known as the Marilians have decided to attack the Earth and make it their own. Their usual pattern involves invading and taking over other planets, draining them of all life and resources, then moving on to start again with yet another planet. Neither the humans nor the Angels currently on Earth approve of this behavior and are determined to work together to stop the Marilians this time and save Earth once and for all.

But even with advance warning, can the two races working together manage to save the planet and those who reside on it? Can any amount of preparation and weapons practice really be enough for what they will face once the Marilians arrive and the fight to save Earth and those residing there begins?

I read the adult version of this book (which is not appropriate for younger readers, though there is also a YA version for those who prefer reading something without the rather detailed sex scenes that are included in the adult version). It could have used another round with an editor/proofreader, but the story itself was very compelling.

I found the beginning to be somewhat calmer than the second half of the book. Once the Marilians arrive on Earth, things almost immediately reach a point where the reader just won’t want to put the book down! And the ending of this book will likely have you wishing you didn’t have to wait for the author to release part 3! I know I’m still sitting here thinking about the way it ended and am dying to know what happens for the people of Earth next. (Trust me, there is so much more that I really want to say about the ending, but I do not want to spoil it for anyone!)

If you enjoyed reading book 1 in this series, you really won’t want to miss reading this one, and I expect that we will all be waiting impatiently for book 3 in the series to be released.

"History of the First Queen" by Mark Miller

This was the tale of Nyssa, who came from very humble beginnings and who found herself thrust into a new world one day while seeking to...