Review: Kingdom at Sea (The Kinsman Chronicles, Part #4) by Jill Williamson @Jill Williamson

Jill Williamson’s Fantasy Saga Continues!

In the second volume of Jill Williamson’s Kinsman Chronicles, a remnant has escaped the destruction of the Five Realms and now lives on several hundred ships adrift at sea. As a flock, they sail north into the unknown in hopes of finding land that might become their new home.

As the king’s illness worsens, Sâr Wilek takes authority over the expedition and struggles to rule the disjointed people, while assassination attempts, vicious serpents, and dark magic endanger his life.

One prophecy has come to pass, but another looms dauntingly in the future. Who is this Deliverer? And if the Magonians have him, what might that mean for the realm of Armania?

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

5 out of 5 stars

I stayed up late to finish this because sleep is for the weak and this book is AMAZING. (Though, it’s from Jill Williamson. I’m not sure what else I expected.) It’s supposed to be a novella, so I’ll keep it short, but count me a rejuvenated fangirl.

The plot:

Like the rest of this series, there are several perspectives we follow through the course of the book. I didn’t expect to be surprised as often as I was. Several times, I was predicting one outcome and got one very different. There

The characters:

I’ll try to limit this to a few lines each. It may be difficult. *clears throat* Here we go.

Wilek: I’ve mentioned before that he reminds me of my favorite character from my favorite film of all time—Prince Hector. He still does. He messes up, but takes responsibility. He tries to do the right thing, but half the time gets screwed over by his father and brother (Janek, not Trevn). I just want him to be safe and happy and LIVE, DAMN IT.

Charlon: I was glad to see more moral dilemmas with her in this one, more conflict. The interactions between her and Zeroah were especially fascinating and I enjoyed that development. Zeroah has also begun to grow on me—probably because she’s grown a (small, but still existent) backbone. (YES!)

Trevn: Ah, my spunky summer child. It’s hard not to love him. The author has admitted he’s her favorite and I see why. Idealist, hardworking, romantic at heart…my sweet baby. Written believably with flaws to match his perfections, he is perfect because of it.

Kalenek: The storyline of a guard who can’t fight has intrigued me from the start. I feel bad about him and Onika just because I don’t see how it can end well, but the relationship between him and Wilek is a bromance for the centuries. Watching Kal juggle his duties as Wilek’s shield, Mielle and Amala’s guardian, and his feelings for Onika was a deeply engaging and truly helped me integrate emotionally with his character.

Mielle: She didn’t get as much page time as in previous installments, but she was still around enough for me to say her and Trevn are an OTP to die for.

Miscellaneous others: Janek and King Echad can die at any point and I won’t be sad. Janek had two sentences where I thought I might reconsider my assessment, but no. The same goes for Rodegoth and Mreegan. Seriously, it can’t happen fast enough. Ulrik is an idiot who needs to be slapped like the foolish child he is, Qoatch should find someone who appreciates his loyalty, and Inolah is awesome. I ship Hinck and Pia and that Tennish High Queen should take a chill pill. Or several. And someone slap Amala, too, because she’s also an idiot child.

In short, this series is amazing and you can download part 1 for free for all major eBooks. It’s awesome. I highly recommend you READ IT as well as the companion trilogy, the first of which is also free. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have downloaded part 5 and have a date with my Kindle.

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Review: Burning Shadows (Order of the Krigers, #2) by Jennifer Anne Davis @AuthorJennifer

The Order of the Krigers has risen.

Determined to destroy the Order, the vicious king, Morlet, scours the land searching for the twelve chosen ones. He burns entire villages hoping to crush the Krigers.

He has other plans for Kaia.

In order to end the curse, Kaia must conceive a child before the Krigers can kill Morlet. However, Kaia doesn’t know if the father is supposed to be her fiancé, Vidar, or his brother, the evil king. Determined to find the answer, she sets off to the other side of the mountains with Anders. Stifling her growing feelings for the assassin, Kaia unearths secrets that force her to reevaluate her cause. Can she sacrifice so much of herself to save the kingdom of Nelebek? Can she kill Morlet when she is starting to understand and even sympathize with him? And is there really any choice at all, especially when it comes to matters of the heart?

With newfound power, Kaia’s heart and mind are entwined with the realization that choices come with a price, passion can rival hatred, and an evil looms on the horizon, more sinister than she ever imagined.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

4 out of 5 stars

The first book in this series was a bit of a disappointment for me after the author’s stellar True Reign and Reign of Secrets series, but we’re back, baby! The Rema/Allyssa books are still my favorite. Nonetheless, the author’s god-given genius is much more pronounced here. The first book in this series was published with Month 9 and this one is self-published (go indies!), another explanation for why this story felt more authentic, I think.

The plot:

We’re back to the less predictable  storyline style of the beloved True Reign series I keep mentioning. It was more difficult for me to predict what would happen and I liked that. I do wish there had been more focus on a clearer build/climax, but that damnable love triangle is (mostly) gone, thank God.

The characters:

I liked Kaia more in this one. A LOT more. She has autonomy and has started talking back to Vidar (YES). She also balances between the whole acceptance of her fate and maintaining ownership of her life. I was impressed with how that was handled and like I said, MUCH better than the previous book. In the last one, she lets that jerk Vidar pressure her into an engagement and it made me SO ANGRY. I WAS SALTY FOR MONTHS AND I’M STILL MAD AND…*deep breath* Everything’s better now. It’s okay. I’m okay.

Vidar and Morlet—the two immortal princes—are still both pieces of work in their own way. Morlet is the mass murderer driven by evil magic and Vidar is the control-freak, “Kaia must marry me because reasons” heir to the throne. Guess which one I like more? Yes—Morlet.

There was a great deal more explanation for Morlet’s actions. His mood swings and irrational behavior are suddenly quite understandable and I might even be liking him more than Anders *gasp*. Keyword there is “might” and it depends on what happens in book three.

On a minor note, I did like that Allyssa got another girl as a friend in this one. Bonus points for not making the warrior girl have all guy friends, definitely.

In summation, I was impressed with how much better the author did on her own versus with a publisher. I think most the little things that knocked this down from 5 stars—odd twists and circling in the story, one or two rocky transitions—were the results of leading the story back over to a plot truer to the original vision. Even with this issues, this is a definite recommended read from me.

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Review: Asylum (The Ferryman + The Flame, #5) by Rhiannon Paille @RhiPaille

When all they could be was broken . . .
For fans of The Shannara Chronicles, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sword Art Online

All Kaliel has left is the lingering scent of Krishani. Suicidal, hopeless and deserted, Kaliel wanders her old life with fresh new eyes, her memory like jagged shards. She has never been so alone, so afraid and in so much danger.

Krishani is a broken boy on the wind, slave to the masters who would rather use his soul as the destructive thing it’s become than allow him his freedom. In a desperate attempt to keep his secret safe, he leads them to the witch, not knowing that all consequences are dire.

Torture, Wonder, Truth and Retribution collide in the fifth installment of The Ferryman & The Flame.

Blurb and cover from Amazon

4 out of 5 stars

It’s alright, I wasn’t using my emotions anyway. Just go ahead and stomp all over them like last year’s leaves, why don’t you?

While Mercy remains my favorite, this book was pretty darn good, too. As I had hoped, there was more reference to the Land of Beasts and the Land of the Immortals, there’s even so more of Avristar in here. It ends in the closest thing to a happy ending that we’ve had since the end of the second book, but don’t start hoping for that HEA for a bloody second.

The plot:

I thought the plot had less clearly defined goals and direction than Mercy, but I feel that was due in large part to Kaliel’s loss of essentially her will to exist. There were lots of shockers (Pux is WHOSE son?!), “we’re all going to die” moments, but Paille went and threw in a few scraps of happiness to breathe us poor readers back to life.

The characters:

It is kind of hard not to feel horrible for Kaliel. After losing Krishani again in the last book and regaining her memories of what she did, her human family treats her like crap, her human friends treat her like crap, the other Flames and immortals alternate between treating her like crap and trying to torture her whilst Pux has gone AWOL. I got mad at her when Krishani came back, but, yes, I’ll admit her standoffishness was realistic.

Krishani takes a bit of a backseat role for the first half or so of the book. Back to being a Vulture, he’s enslaved to the Valtanyana again as he will be for eternity—or will he? Pux also takes a bit more of a less-visible spot for most of the book, but when Krishani turns up, there’s a lot more interaction between those two than there has been before. If nothing else, it was interesting to see their dynamic when Kaliel was out of the equation.

In case you were wondering, Tor still deserves to be hit in the head repeatedly with a brick. I have no idea exactly what that cad is planning, but it involves him, so I don’t trust it. That weasel.

This time around I actually empathized with Shimma—Shimma! That blonde succubus who wants to steal Krishani from my baby Kaliel. I even started to feel bad about all those times I wished she’d drop headfirst down a well. Poor thing.

In closing, Ishtar has earned himself something horrible alongside Tor. Klavotesi kind of has the right to be angry, but he still needs to calm down a bit. If we can’t off the whole of the Valtanyana, then we should at least find somewhere to lock them up in a deep dark mine for eternity.

I really, really want Chaos and the author has promised me a happy ending to that book. It’s been a heartbreaking, but worthwhile ride with these characters and when that time comes, I’ll be sad to see it end. (But happy if they’re happy. They’ve been through so much horribleness, poor babies.)

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Review: Final Advent (No Angels, #3) by Eli Hinze @Eli_Hinze

Death overshadows everyone at some point, but for Liz Patrona that time comes far too soon. Word comes that Wily, her ruthless enemy, survived being thrown into the Black River and crossed into Geminus to usurp the kingdom’s throne. Now his sights rest firmly on her world. Knowing Liz is the only threat in his path, he curses her to die in one year’s time—unless she can kill him before the clock runs out. In the months she has left, she must travel into Geminus, forge precarious alliances with those who’ve survived Wily’s reign, and battle for her very survival. Yet what lies in Geminus may be more than she bargained for. In these foreign lands looms a sinister secret about her own past. Something that has been guiding her from her first breaths to her final steps.

In the long-awaited conclusion to the No Angels trilogy, Liz is pushed one last time to discover the bounds of how far she’s willing to go to protect those she loves—even if it means losing herself along the way.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

5 out of 5 stars

Endings are always hard to read. This is the last in a trilogy I’ve been following since No Angels was just a newborn baby book. I have watched this author with rapt attention and I am so glad to say she has only gotten better.

We meet a whole new plethora of races, new characters, and a new (or is he?) villain, too. There are some wonderfully imaginative creatures and structures brought into play here and that was one of my favorite parts. Not to spoil anything but—STONE ENTS.

The plot:

This baby comes out to 362 pages, but I read through it in three sittings. It moves quickly, but remains fully fleshed out and multidimensional. There was a sense of impending doom with this story, just because of THE END in sight and the premise of Liz having limited time to live. That was something new to me for this series, but to be expected at the close.

The characters:

Liz started in book one with all the mushy ferocity of the Pillsbury dough boy. She’s now a glorious wielder of distilled badassdom, but retains that kindness and softness so many “strong female characters” lose. I was delighted with the balance.

One of my favorite things about this series is the relationship between Liz and Riven. I mean, a lot of these warrior romances in YA books can get borderline (or outright) abusive, but none of that here! There is a beautiful equality in their relationship and I could blather about it on and on. Even with the impending doom of the story, their romance had me all giggly.

At just around a quarter in, we are introduced to Leon who is now one of my favorite characters in the whole trilogy. Mixing tragedy, badassery, and a lovely romance subplot, Leon has all the traits I can’t resist. I realized that the author has been planning to bring in him and Vita since the beginning and that made is SO MUCH MORE AWESOME!

Mark is still here and I am SO GLAD the author actually gave him a life. He deserves one. Usually, the “best friend” character ends up miserable, lonely, and/or overshadowed by the awesomeness of his/her counterpart. Not so with Mark. He has a bright human future ahead, is autonomous, and a self-motivated character—I was so happy.

There were sad parts, happy parts, and an overall feeling of bittersweet. It was a wonderful conclusion to a wonderful series and I cannot wait to see what the author does next.

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Read my reviews of No Angels and Collapsed Cathedrals

Review: King’s Folly (The Kinsman Chronicles, #1) by Jill Williamson @JillWilliamson

25822052Volcanic eruptions, sinkholes, ground shakers–everything points to their unhappiness. At least that is what the king of Armania believes. His son, Prince Wilek, thinks his father’s superstitions are nonsense, though he remains the ever dutiful heir apparent to the throne.

When a messenger arrives and claims that the town of Farway has been swallowed by the earth, the king sends Wilek to investigate. But what Wilek discovers is more cataclysmic than one lost city. Even as the ground shifts beneath his feet, Wilek sets out on a desperate journey to save his people and his world. But can he do it before the entire land crumbles?

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

5 out of 5 stars

Is anyone surprised by that rating? I’m not. Jill Williamson is amazing and belongs to an extremely short list of auto-buy authors in my life. Since I discovered her Blood of Kings stories two summers ago, I have been besotted with her work.

The plot:

I figured out pretty quickly that this was a prequel to the Blood of Kings trilogy. It takes place a few centuries beforehand and details how the main characters’ ancestors first came to the land of Er’Rets. It took me a while to finish this, because I would make guesses about what would happen next, it would be bad, and I would panic because I like love these characters and I really, really didn’t want anything bad to happen to them. Nonetheless, this was an amazing read. A bit darker and it gets into many more dynamics than it’s companion trilogy, but it comes together astoundingly.

The characters:

This has several big main characters, so I’m going to try and just highlight the main ones.

Wilek is the heir apparent and I grew attached to him very quickly. Called “the Dutiful,” he reminds me of the Trojan Prince Hector. Considering that mythological character’s fate, I spent a lot of time pacing with worry over him in particular. His character arc was fascinating and I could tell it was going to take a great deal more to bring him to Arman than his brother. Nonetheless, the story of him and Lebetta (she’s no Andromache, FYI) was fascinatingly handled and explored how her choices had shaped him. Definitely an intriguing element to his character.

Trevn is the author’s official favorite (she said so). His boyish, often rebellious antics have earned him the name “the Curious” and he is one of the more lovable characters in the series. I definitely appreciated his storyline that parallels historical struggles to preserve the Scriptures. Despite being the self-proclaimed renegade, he’s the first character to accept Arman and I’m really hoping he rubs off on his older brother, Wilek.

Mielle I appreciated for her devotion to Zeroah and how she tries to do the right thing. Her relationships with Zeroah and later Trevn are defining features of her storyline and I panicked over her more than once as well. Compassionate and kind, but still ready to run on rooftops, she’s the perfect measure of nurturer and adventurer.

Charlon is…how do I describe Charlon? I started out rooting for her. Even though she made some bad choices, it makes sense why she made them. I’m really hoping for a redemption arc in the next two books because I truly care about her and this is Christian fantasy. (Screw you, Magon.) When her character was first introduced, I got this feeling that she would end up as Wilek’s queen. I have no idea how or if that will happen, but it was just a thought I had. A thought that is now giving me distinctly mixed feelings.

Hinck, Kalenek, Inolah, Qoatch, and Grayson also have POV chapters and I came to care deeply about all of them (especially Kalenek), but these review would get monstrously if I was allowed to gush over what I did and did not love about each.

This is an amazing story that made me excited for the next book while also making me want to read my Bible. For me, I find good Christian fantasy can be a more spiritual experience than most sermons. This was one of those and I cannot wait for the next installment.

You can grab Part 1 of King’s Folly for free here!

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Review: The First Chill of Autumn (Shards of a Broken Sword, #3) by W.R. Gingell

29614612Llassar is an occupied country– but nobody seems to know it.

Fae began to filter slowly into the land shortly after the birth of the crown princess, Dion ferch Alawn, supposedly fleeing a dark threat in Faery known as the Guardians. But that was fifteen years ago, and now there isn’t a town in Llassar that isn’t populated by or under the control of the fae.

Smaller, weaker, and less talented at magic, Llassarians are quickly finding out that there’s no fighting the invasion that crept in so quietly and politely. Even the castle isn’t free of fae: those closest to the king and queen are faery advisors.

When Dion ferch Alawn returns from a carefully sanitised tour of Outer Llassar, the most exciting thing she expects from the near future is the present her twin sister Aeron promised for their seventeenth birthday.

Then her carriage breaks down, and Dion gets a taste of what the real Llassar has become: desperate, enslaved, and ripe for rebellion. Getting home safely is just the first problem she faces: the real struggle begins when Dion returns to the castle. Her new knowledge is inconvenient and unwelcome– to declare it, treason.

Her parents expect her to publicly embrace the Llassarian policy of acceptance and deference to the fae.

The common Llassarians, their injuries passed over and their weapons long since confiscated, expect her to fight for them. Dion must choose between doing what is convenient and politic, and what is right.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

5 out of 5 stars

This is the final book and with impending doom, so it’s just a tad darker than the other two. There was still plenty of laughs and cute, sweet “aww” things, not to mention the return of the characters from the first two books. It was a splendid ending (especially since I was rooting for Barric from the beginning—shh!) and I loved it.

The plot:

Since it’s a novella, the story moves along quickly, following young Dion from toddler years to when she fulfills her destiny and saves the human world from Faery. I very much appreciated the whole “political correctness” storyline with the faeries and how the humans basically outlawed defending themselves. It was strikingly familiar to some real world historic issues. At the same time, we get to meet wonderful, awesome, lovable faeries and some sides of familiar faeries we really haven’t gotten before. It was a good, realistic balance, I thought, and definitely a take I had not encountered before.

The characters:

Dion is sweet and brave, having accepted from a  young age that she is destined to die for her country. While she starts out naive and too trusting, she is forced to learn quickly. She’s the kind of character we admire most for her heart.

Just in case that opening paragraph misled you, there are no—I repeat—NO LOVE TRIANGLES, okay? There are two love interests (Padraig’s sweet and brave and awesome, but the other one is the perfect one), but no love triangles. There was still bittersweet romance tossed in with cute romance, we get to see Markon and Althea in their banter-filled wedded bliss and Carmine play damsel in distress to his warrior princess, plus Rafiq and Koto be awesome dragons together.

Novellas get taken for granted too much, but this one is definitely a series worth a shot. Magic, quests, and romance mix together in clean fairytale-flavored adventures any retellings fanatic is bound to love.

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Read my reviews of Twelve Days of Faery (Shards of a Broken Sword, #1) and Fire in the Blood (Shards of a Broken Sword, #2).

Review: Fire in the Blood (Shards of a Broken Sword, #2) by W.R. Gingell

27311803A princess in a dragon-guarded tower. The prince who is to rescue her. The prince’s ensorcelled dragon. And one enchanted keep that might just be enough to kill them all…

It’s widely known that Princess Kayami Koto is held captive in the Enchanted Keep by a dragon of great ferocity and skill. So when the bold, daring and crafty Prince Akish attempts to rescue her, it seems only sensible to bring his own dragon, Rafiq.

But the Keep’s dragon is only the first Circle in the Keep’s Seven Circles of Challenge, and both Rafiq and the prince will have to keep their wits about them if they’re to survive and rescue the princess.

There to help them is the princess’ serving maid, Kako. But why does Kako seem so familiar to Rafiq? Will she really help them, or does she have her own agenda? Rafiq isn’t sure, but he knows one thing: Kako may be the only person who can free him from his bondage to the prince, and that’s worth any amount of risk.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

5 out of 5 stars

What if the dragon was forced by the prince to help kidnap the princess? That’s the best way to describe this novella. Once I was far enough in to get the main concept, I just sort of went “wow.” Ms. Gingell has written an amazingly original story once again and I cannot be anything other than amazed.

The plot:

I kind of figured out what was going on, but at the same time I kind of didn’t. Regardless, it was a little bit of a surprise ending and I loved it. The themes of morality and how the tests revolved around a person’s character were a wonderful, mythology-flavored throwback. The romance was cute, but not overdone. I did want more, but I do think what the author did was realistic for the characters. But in the third book…oh, wait. That’s a spoiler.

The characters:

Since this is a novella, I won’t go into too much detail. With the exception of a few short scenes, the entire story is from the perspective of Rafiq, the dragon. He is more or less under mind control to a prince who is rather easy to hate. Rafiq on the other hand, is a dragon shifter with a passive-aggressive streak and a heart of gold. Just like Markon, I loved him to bits.

I especially appreciated the positive family portrayals for one of the other characters. We don’t see those enough in fiction these days and it was most refreshing. I went and downloaded the third novella almost immediately and you can be expecting that review next week! This is a wonderful series by a wonderful writer filled with magic, morality, and sarcasm with a touch of romance. It’s the perfect weekend read for a fantasy lover and I hope you all give the series a shot!

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