Back in the Day

 

Title: Age of Myth (Legends of the First Empire, #1)

Author: Michael J. Sullivan

How do you kill a god? It can be done, especially if the gods you are worshiping are NEARLY immortal. For centuries, the humans have lived on the slender margins where the Fhrey allow them to exist, offering regular tribute and slaves to keep their oppressors happy. But now one of their own has killed a god, and that can’t be good.

Raithe is the god-killer, Malcolm the former slave, and together they go on the run. With a little luck, they can hide out until they die from starvation. Some luck, right? But even that is too much to ask.

Let me just say I liked this book a lot. I had high hopes, as it’s by the author of the Riyria chronicles, which long time readers will know that I ****LOVED****. So maybe my expectations were a little too high. This one is set hundreds of years before those books, back in the days when humans were first building town and had yet to discover metalsmithing. That alone makes for interesting reading, as most historical fantasy or fiction tends to be set much later.

But I guess I was hoping for some of the awesome friendship and humor that makes the Riyria chronicles so extraordinary. This book had some humor, that’s for sure, but it’s not as much fun as those books. This one is more female-centered too, so that was nice.  I’m excited to read the next book, Age of Swords.

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Unlocking the Past

Title: On Little Wings

Author: Regina Sirois

I’d whispered the entire thing. Every detail that fit into words. It sounded so much more civilized when I whispered it, when I turned down the volume of the fear and disgust. But horrible things whispered are still horrible.

Jennifer’s family is turned upside down when she discovers a photograph of a young girl – a girl who looks surprisingly like Jennifer. The trouble – the picture is 20 years old. Her mom has lied about her past. She’s not an only child. She has a sister. Jennifer wants to meet this aunt, get to know her, but her mother wants Jennifer to leave it alone. After some negotiations, Jennifer heads to Maine to discover her family’s past and along the way, discover herself.

I heard a little about this YA book, enough to add it to my list and then forget about it. But when I found it free on Kindle Unlimited, I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did. I don’t read a lot of contemporary YA. Most of what I read is fantasy, so this was a change of pace for me, but it turned out to be a good one.

The story kind of struck home for me. My mom also had a sister she didn’t talk about. Her sister wasn’t a secret or anything, but it was still a big shock when this woman called from out of the blue saying, “Hi, I’m your aunt.” I already had an aunt, and I knew this woman was not her. I guess I experienced this story from the other side.

Our relationship was still distant and things didn’t turn out quite the way they did for Jennifer, but I still felt it was worth getting to know something about this stranger who was my relative. Now my mom and my aunt have both passed away and I can only guess at what their relationship used to be.

I recommend this one to anyone who likes contemporary YA. There is some romance, but that wasn’t what stuck with me about the book. What I liked was the main character herself and her journey to figure out who she was and where she belonged. 3.5 stars/5

Pretty Good Urban Fantasy

Title: A Dragon of a Different Color (Heartstrikers #4)

Author: Rachel Aaron

Setting: alternate Detroit

SPOILERS FOR THE REST OF THE SERIES

I’m assuming that when you read #4 up there, you know I’m going to comment on the rest of the series up until now, right? Just checking.

Do you like dragons? Do you like the idea of dragons living among humans in today’s world? Then you should check out these books by Rachel Aaron. The series starts with Nice Dragons Finish Last.  Main character Julius is, as you might guess, a nice dragon, which makes him a liability in his clan. His mother decides to get rid of him. Lucky for Julius, he meets an aspiring mage named Marci. Unluckily, she’s in trouble with the mob about then. It’s a fun series. I really liked the first book, but I feel like the author is losing her steam a little bit here.

This one starts immediately after #3, No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished. In that one LAST SPOILER ALERT! I’M SERIOUS! Marci has died, Julius took control of the Heartstrikers clan away from his ruthless mother, and most of the clan has dispersed to their own lairs.

That’s when the Chinese dragons show up. They want to take over the clan. Julius is not happy – he didn’t work as hard as he did to set up a dragon council just to give control to some outsider – but unless he comes up with a plan fast that’s exactly what he’ll have to do. Fortunately, Julius can always come up with a plan.

My biggest complaint in this one was that there was so much talking! So much discussion, over and over and over, about how we’re all in terrible danger unless we do something fast. So let’s talk about it for another 2-3 pages before we do anything, right? How about no. How about you cut to the chase and do something! I still really like Julius as a character, but we hardly got to see him be awesome at all. And why have a book about dragons if they’re not going to be awesome all over the place?

If these do sound like fun, they are available from Amazon through Kindle Unlimited for free. You should definitely start with book 1 though. It really was fun.

Review: The King’s Traitor

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Title: The King’s Traitor, The Kingfountain series #3

Author: Jeff Wheeler

Themes: Ambition, loyalty, love, duty, trust. Again a strong theme of Richard III, King Arthur, and this time the Little Mermaid.

The lives of Owen Kiskaddon and the king Severn Argentine have been intertwined since he was first taken to the king’s court as a frightened little boy. Almost twenty years later, his mentor is dying, his boyhood love is married to another man, and the king he serves has become the monster he was long rumored to be.

Owen’s latest errand for the king is a highly personal errand – he’s sent to propose marriage to the young Duchess of Brythonica. The idea is to provoke an outraged rejection, use that as a pretext for war, and strengthen the kingdom. Owen has little enthusiasm for the task, but even he is not expecting to have his proposal accepted. Duchess Sinia is nothing like he expected. She’s Fountain Blessed, like Owen himself, and her magic permeates the land. Brythonica is full of fertile fields, happy peasants, and a mysterious wood.

This book was so full of action I can’t possibly cover it all, but Wheeler has a talent for taking an already tense situation and making it more suspenseful. There were a few times that I thought the characters were not cautious enough, that they were making obvious mistakes. But I could forgive that, since the characters were so well developed that I truly cared about them. They didn’t all survive, but I won’t spoil it by telling you more. If you haven’t tried this series, I would recommend it for anyone who loves fantasy or history. I’ve heard some people who were put off by the fact that the protagonist is only 8 years old in the first book, however I don’t think that lessened my enjoyment of the book at all. It starts with The Queen’s Poisoner, and there’s a related trilogy after. 4/5 stars

Review: The Hundredth Queen

Book Review: The Hundredth Queen, Book 1

Author: Emily R. King

Kalinda is an orphan, hoping to pass her trials and stay at the temple and train forever. Unfortunately in her world, benefactors of the temple can come select girls at any time to join their households as servants, as concubines, or as wives. Kalinda is sickly and repeatedly told she is ugly, so she figures her only chance at leaving the temple is as a servant. But when she is chosen to leave, it is as a wife to the rajah. His 100th wife. This is important because the 100th wife has religious significance and the cruel rajah plans to use his marriage to force the other wives and concubines to fight for his favor and win his approval. Such a fight is always to the death.

This book was free as a member of Amazon prime and I was excited because they never have genre fiction. Unfortunately, I was left only confused and unsatisfied. Kalinda is about to be forced into marriage with a cruel man she just met. She’s been raised in a virtual convent. You’d expect there to be some lesbian relationships, even if it’s only hints. But there’s nothing like that. You’d expect her to have some questions about physical relationships with a man, about sex, about, let’s spell it out, rape. There’s not much mention of that either. Her best friend is also forced into marriage with a man against her will and she’s beaten. That gets slight mention, but the sexual assault that the reader knows must be going on? Nothing.

Kalinda is such a special snowflake in this that Captain Deven, her bodyguard, falls in love with her at first sight, and she’s reckless enough to be seen talking to him intimately all the time. Then she’s surprised when he’s caught and punished. The only reason I finished this book is because I was curious about the magical aspect, and that wound up being a little confusing. I will admit that I was sick when I read it, so it might have made more sense and I  might have enjoyed it more on another day. But then again, I might have been more critical, so who can say. All I know is that I wouldn’t recommend it. I got it free and I would have been grumpy if I had paid for it. 2/5 stars.

Review: Puss Without Boots

Title: Puss Without Boots, Fairy Tale Kingdoms #1

Author: Shari L. Tapscott

Genre: fairy tale romance

Themes: true love, magic, work, trust

Suzette, also called Etta, is the youngest child of the miller. Now that her aunt has passed, she left the mill to the oldest child, the donkey to the middle child, and Suzette – well, she gets the cat and some money – to buy boots for the cat. Suzette is less than thrilled. She uses the money to buy herself some boots.

But a few weeks later when Etta takes her first day off, she discovers that this is no ordinary cat. Puss can talk. He doesn’t mind about the boots, but he had definite plans for Etta. Plans that involve teaching her to hunt and stop spending time with the new chocolatier, Beau.

I really liked this book. After a string of books that I was only lukewarm about, this one won me over with it’s charming story and characters. Etta is such a refreshing change from so many stupid characters! And Beau, I mean come on, he has a chocolate shop! Plus their relationship developed slowly enough that I really cared about them as a couple.

This was a very quick read. I’m definitely recommending this one if you like clean fairy tale romance, and I’m pleased to see that she has several other books out. The next one is about Rapunzel.