Monday, March 25, 2019

“Arthur Rex: In Principio ” by J.A. Cummings

Most of us are at least somewhat familiar with the legends and stories of King Arthur. But this version has a quite unique perspective on the boy who will one day become King.

Arthur was left by the druid Merlin to be raised and protected within Sir Ector’s household. With no idea who his birth parents were, Sir Ector’s family is the only one he has ever known, and even Sir Ector did not know who Arthur truly was. He only saw him as a child who was to be raised with his own family.

I do need to include for those reading this book a trigger warning as well as warning that this is not a book meant for younger readers. At one point, a young Arthur is brutally beaten after unsuccessfully attempting to stop the rape of another boy. At this point in history, rape of either sex was unfortunately a fairly common practice as those who were strong enough to take what they wanted often did so without concern for anyone but themselves.

Seeing his friend suffer through being raped sets the stage for Arthur’s future sense of how everyone should be treated, no matter who they are or what their station in life is meant to be.

I found this a fascinating story with a very original look into how the young Arthur will grow to become the great King Arthur of legend. It was well written and catches the reader’s interest from the very beginning. And while I did catch a few typos as I read, overall I felt that the book was well edited with excellent writing that made it quite difficult to put down.

All of the characters one expects to find in an Arthurian tale are there: the Ladies of the Lake, Merlin, the many Knights we have come to recognize as part of this story, and even the beginnings of those who will likely play a much bigger role in the next book in this series.

If you enjoy a good Arthurian tale, this is one you won’t want to miss. While it does contain a few scenes that are a bit graphic in their content, those scenes do fit with the nature of how life was at that point in history and are critical to showing how a young Arthur develops and grows into the man he is destined to become. Without them, it would not have been as clear as to why he believes so completely in what is right or wrong, despite how those around him seem to see things differently. I will definitely be waiting to see where the author takes this story next when book 2 in the series is released. Recommended.

Friday, March 22, 2019

"The Guardian" by Sara Mack
Audible version read by Sarah L. Colton

Emma has just lost the love of her life and is facing the nearly impossible task of learning to continue living without him. They had known each other for almost their entire lives. To have lost him in a car accident so suddenly, how could she be expected to go on? Her depression was so severe that her parents were at a loss as to how to help her recover and managed to bring home her closest friend to try and help her work though it.

Then Emma starts hearing James speaking to her. Was she going crazy? Was she imagining his voice simply because she missed him so? Or was there something more going on? Could he actually be talking to her? And if so, how?

Overall I enjoyed listening to this audiobook. It was well written and and the narrator did an excellent job of bringing the characters to life for her listeners. Each of the voices was unique and distinct enough to not confuse any of the characters with another. And as much of this story dealt with Emma trying to recover from a tragedy, her emotions were so clearly rendered that parts of the tale made me want to cry for her pain. I do, however, need to offer a trigger warning to those listening to this tale as at one point in the story there is a rather violent attempted rape that takes place.

There is a slight problem with the chapter numbers. While the chapters do continue in the correct order, when listing them at the beginning of each subsequent chapter, the book goes from Chapter 8, to Chapter 7, and then continued counting up from there. The listed chapter numbers continued through in the correct order and number. It was only in the narration of the numbers where they were incorrectly listed.

I believe this is a story worth listening to. It has definitely sparked an interest with me to learn more about the rest of the trilogy as well. I will have to look for the next book in the series to find out how Emma continues on her road to recovering from the loss of her true love, as well as to wanting to learn more of what comes of his journey as while may have died, he is not completely gone from her life. Recommended.

Monday, March 18, 2019

"The Girl and the Clockwork Cat"
by Nikki McCormack

Maeko is often referred to as a “street rat.” She lives on the streets of London, stealing and doing whatever else she must in order to survive. It is not an easy life and it often seems that everyone is against those who seem to have no other way to survive.

Yes, there are workhouses, orphanages, and jail cells where most street kids wind up spending a lot of time, but these are usually worse options than the streets themselves and are rarely somewhere anyone would choose to willingly go. The local police force, or “Literati,” seem to take a particular dislike to the “street rats” and are far too often rather violent when arresting them and taking them to one of their holding facilities.

When Maeko escapes being caught by the authorities after a botched robbery attempt, she soon finds herself in possession of a cat with a mechanical leg and in the middle of a mystery involving a number of murders that seem to be following both the cat and searching for the man who had created it. She is drawn into the hunt for the missing man and soon finds herself as one of those being hunted. Her life is soon as much in danger as that of the man so many are searching for.

I greatly enjoyed reading this book. The descriptions of what Maeko went through on a daily basis to keep herself fed, sheltered, and free of the Literati and other dangers made sense. When you need to do just about anything to keep yourself alive, you put up with a lot more horrific circumstances than you might otherwise be willing to tolerate. Maeko often had to do just that and worse.

This was the first book in a trilogy, and I am very much looking forward to continuing on with this series and finding out what further trouble Maeko will have to survive while on London’s streets. Recommended.

Monday, March 11, 2019

"On Bended Knee" by Celeste Bradley

Lysander Worthington had come home from the war “broken” inside. He could barely function and was prone to horribly uncontrollable rages where he couldn’t always remember what happened during those times. His mother was seriously ill & the doctors didn’t seem able to help her. As her condition worsened and it began to appear that death was imminent, Lysander was sent to find his missing brother Pollux and bring him home.

As he passed through a local festival in Yorkshire searching for a blacksmith to repair his horse’s shoe, Lysander had a run-in with a very angry Ram. And while he managed to keep everyone else at the festival from being hurt when the festival shelter collapsed, he wasn’t so fortunate when the building’s roof fell on top of him.

This was the sixth book in the Wicked Worthington series, though I had not read the previous five books in this series. I’m afraid that in the beginning this was a bit of a problem for me as I knew none of the characters or their histories before that point. It left me more than a bit confused as to who was being spoken of or what had been happening up to that point.

As I got farther into the book, I began to pick up some of the things I had missed out on by not having read the beginning of the series, and began to enjoy the story being told more and more. By the end of the book I was glad I did finish reading it, though I still felt a bit like I had been playing catch-up throughout, sometimes successfully, sometimes less so.

This book also could have used another round or two of editing. I encountered a number of typos that I would have liked to have seen caught before publication. Overall though, I did wind up enjoying the story and will likely seek out the previous books in the series to learn at least some of what I felt like I had missed.

My recommendation for anyone just starting to read this series would be to try to read the first 5 books before starting this one if you have not already done so. While it is possible to figure out much of what has gone before if you truly do not wish to wait to finish reading the others first, I believe you will enjoy the story more by reading them in order. Also, please also be aware that this is not a book meant for younger readers as there is a rather descriptive sexual encounter in the story.

Monday, March 4, 2019

"For the Killing of Kings"
by Howard Andrew Jones

For years, the Altenerai have been the protectors of the realm. Many people dreamt of joining their ranks someday, and though the war that made the names of quite a number of their members become almost living legends, there were just as many if not more who were lost, either through death or disappearance. Some believe that the days where one could earn fame and glory as a member of the Altenerai are gone, and currently the queen seems to favor a new corps comprised of mages rather than soldiers as the main defenders of the realm.

When N’lahr’s famed sword Irion is accidentally discovered by one of the Altenari to be a fake, some of the most capable of the realm’s defenders are soon found murdered. Something treacherous seems to be going on in the kingdom, and amidst this mystery someone is killing anyone who realizes things are not as they should be. Soon Kyrkenall, one of the most famous of the remaining Altenari, and Elenai, a squire, find themselves on a quest seeking answers with many of their companions hunting them down and trying to kill them before they can learn the truth.

I greatly enjoyed reading this book. The intricate twists and turns of the plot were fascinatingly complex and well thought out, many of which I honestly did not see coming. The growth of the characters was progressive and reasonably earned as they faced challenges that made them start to see things in new perspectives as they sought to find the answers to questions they did not yet know to ask.

I did find a couple of typos in the book, but they were small and far between. In general, the editing of the book was excellent and I often found myself simply reading and enjoying the story rather than noticing if there were other typos as I read.

At this point, about my only complaint is that I’ll need to wait for the next book in the series to be released before I can find out what will happen next. While the book does not end in a cliffhanger, there is still a lot remaining to be discovered. And given some of the plot twists that were happening, I really want to know what else is coming their way! I will very definitely be looking forward to the release of book 2 in this trilogy. Recommended.

"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...