Mark of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse (Review)

Time for a book review, since I haven’t done one in awhile, and I have a fabulous new book to tell you about!

Title: Mark of the Raven (The Ravenwood Saga, #1)

Author: Morgan L. Busse

  • Date read: November 25, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Epic Fantasy
  • Age: Technically listed under Adult but teens would love it too!
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 341 (paperback)
  • Series: The Ravenwood Saga, #1
  • Fave character: Damien
  • Source: The publisher
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonBarnes and NobleAuthor’s Website

Published November 6, 2018 by Bethany House Publishers

My thanks to Bethany House for the complimentary copy of MARK OF THE RAVEN. I was not required to write a positive review. These opinions are entirely my own.


Aaah, that was so cool! Now where’s the next book?

I love a good epic fantasy and this one was awesome! The world was so rich and the characters were fantastic. The plot was a slow-burn kind of one, full of mystery and politics but enough spice of danger and adventure to keep you on the edge of your seat—the rest of it did that actually as well!

I love anything involving dreams in fiction so I was really excited to try this one. Like Inception in a fantasy world. 😛 The Dreamwalking was a cool aspect to the book. I particularly liked the soul aspect of it. I think I thought there would be more time spent in the actual dreamscapes, but at the same time I don’t really mind because the rest of the book was so cool too!

I was so intrigued by this setting and loved the world-building. The idea of the seven nations and the Great Houses and their secrets and gifts was so intriguing. The political intrigue aspect of it was interesting instead of boring. It made me think a little of Jill Williamson’s fantasy, which is high praise from me. 😉 I was pulled into this story and loved visiting these mountains, castles, secret passages, and seaside—and the different Houses were really neat. Everything had a distinct feeling and vibrant color to it and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I can’t wait to return to this world and find out what happens next, as well as learn more about the gifts—and spend more time with these characters.

The characters were all well-drawn and I loved them. ^_^ Selene was an interesting heroine and I felt bad for her and was always curious what she’d do next. I can’t wait to see where her story goes from here. No spoilers but… it should be interesting! 😉 Damien was my absolute favorite! I loved how the story alternated between his point of view and Selene’s. It was so neat getting to see each of them from the other’s perspective. But yes, Damien was a high point of the book—I loved his passion for helping people and how he had such a good heart and tried so hard and… he was just awesome. 😀

I loved many of the side characters, too! Selene’s father was so great. Taegis, Damien’s mentor, who I also loved. Lady Bryren! Man, I LOVED her and the other wyvern riders and hope we’ll see more of them! (And I don’t love them, but the villains stood out too. Lady Ragna was sooo chilling.)

The atmosphere of the book was just really neat—with the rich colors, the harsh beauty of the mountains, the shadows and mysteries of Rook Castle, the autumnal feel, the meetings and gala and dances, the passages and secrets, and all shot through with so many questions and interesting thoughts, a thread of faith in a unique way, and the many varied people and cultures inhabiting this world.

It took me a little while to get invested in the story (maybe until meeting Damien?) but once I got into it, I lived and breathed it, and now I’m sad it’s over. There were some pretty neat twists at the end which make me super curious to read the next book! I NEED IT.

MARK OF THE RAVEN was gorgeous and a little ominous and I was so intrigued the whole time, and I’m attached to these characters. It’s a touch scary a few times but is a basically clean read which I think older teens and adults alike would enjoy, and I highly recommend it to fantasy fans! 🙂


About the Book

Lady Selene is the heir to the Great House of Ravenwood and the secret family gift of dreamwalking. As a dreamwalker, she can enter a person’s dreams and manipulate their greatest fears or desires. For the last hundred years, the Ravenwood women have used their gift of dreaming for hire to gather information or to assassinate.

As she discovers her family’s dark secret, Selene is torn between upholding her family’s legacy — a legacy that supports her people — or seeking the true reason behind her family’s gift.

Her dilemma comes to a head when she is tasked with assassinating the one man who can bring peace to the nations, but who will also bring about the downfall of her own house.

One path holds glory and power, and will solidify her position as Lady of Ravenwood. The other path holds shame and execution. Which will she choose? And is she willing to pay the price for the path chosen?


Also, the next book is releasing April 2019 and I neeeed it already! Isn’t it gorgeous? ❤


Talk to me! Does or does it not sound SO cool? Have you ever read a dream-related book? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading! 🙂

Advertisements

The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron (Book Review)

Good morning, my dear Roadlings!

I’ve been a teensy bit absent around here due to Camp NaNo, which has not left much time for reading or blogging… But I’m happy to announce that I hit my NaNo goal!

In honor of this fact, have a book review of a fascinating novel I read this week to celebrate completing Camp NaNo. 🙂

The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron

(I’m in love with the cover! ❤ )

Title: The Lost Castle
Author: Kristy Cambron

  • Date read: April 23, 2018
  • Rating: 3.5 stars
  • Genre: Contemporary / Historical Fiction
  • Age: Adult but teens would love it too
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 385 (ebook)
  • Series: The Lost Castle, #1 (stands alone)
  • Source: The publisher (Thomas Nelson) through the Booklook Bloggers program
  • Notes: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

My Review

3.5 stars

Firstly, this book is GORGEOUS. The writing, the descriptions, the setting—I was drowning in beauty. The author’s voice and the poetic descriptions were really enjoyable to read. ^_^

This book is actually three stories in one, which was fascinating. Three stories set in three different time periods, but intertwined and connected by names, places, family… and intriguing items. An eighteenth century portrait, a fox brooch, a World War II photograph… and a castle in France. Almost the entire book is set in France in three different time periods (contemporary, WWII, and the late 1700s), with a dash of contemporary America and WWII England.

My favorite of the three storylines was actually the contemporary one: a young woman named Ellie trying to find a mysterious castle in France and coming up against unexpected roadblocks, like visiting a vineyard and meeting the Irish grandson of the old Frenchman who owns the vineyard. (Loved the grandfather!) Quinn Foley (said Irish fellow) was one of my favorite parts of the book. He had some fun lines and I loved giving him an Irish accent in my head. XD Ellie was spunky and I liked her. Together they make an interesting pair, especially when they’re at odds. 😛 But I loved when they worked together, too.

Another of the story threads deals with Revolution-era France, and a lady who was supposed to be marrying the lord of a certain castle… when a peasant uprising changes her life and the lives of the aristocracy in Paris and elsewhere. She adapts surprisingly well, and it was neat reading her story of working alongside Robert, the younger brother of her betrothed. I like Robert a lot too. 🙂 This was another era I enjoyed reading about.

Less-favorite (for me), but still super gripping, is the storyline in the World War II era. This one featured Vi, a plucky British gal behind enemy lines in Nazi-occupied-France. I personally don’t really care for reading about this time period—it just depresses me for some reason—but these sections were certainly thrilling, and I did enjoy them sometimes. It was mostly interesting as Vi is Ellie’s grandmother, and so piecing together her past in these flashbacks/third narrative was intriguing. Plus, there was Julien, and I really liked him! And there were a couple of references, like to Sherlock Holmes, which I enjoyed. 🙂

I loved getting to follow three totally separate, yet somehow connected stories, and putting together pieces as they alternated.

It was also fun how the castle (the Sleeping Beauty, as it was called) was at the center of the three plots; it gave it a connected feeling.

Sometimes you’d hear bits of one of the stories in one of the other stories, which gave it a fascinating, layered feel.

The characters were quite lovable, the romance threads were adorable, and like I said, the writing and description was breathtaking.

What I didn’t like as much was mostly a certain THING that happened, which I saw coming and was fairly obvious, given the evidence, but still. I can’t STAND sad endings, and it was depressing, even if some readers might find it bittersweet and not mind. I won’t give away details, but the NUMBER ONE RULE of romance is you-know-what… and that one broke it. And my heart with it. *cough* If a book wants to make me dislike it, all it has to do is kill a favorite character or have a bad ending… It made me a sad otter. 😦

To be fair, there WERE three separate storylines and I was QUITE happy with how two of them turned out, so that’s not bad, statistically. 😛 Most of the book is a solid, gorgeous 4 star. I knocked off half a star for the sad thing.

Other than said disappointing ending of one of the threads, and simply not usually caring for WWII-era stories (which is totally a me-thing), I don’t really have anything to complain about. (I do still think if certain characters had been more Narnia-like and not been standing around talking about nylons and lipstick, a random side character wouldn’t have died. Air-raid shelters exist for a REASON, people, and you should totally get in them instead of standing around putting on makeup. PLEASE. Sorry, a pet-peeve of mine. XD)

Content: There’s a bit of violence (I mean, WWII…) and involved intensity, but otherwise it’s a clean read, and even though I think it was written for adults, it’s suitable for teens. It’s technically Christian Fiction, though there’s not a huge message or anything, just occasional mentions of faith (surprisingly few, actually) and the quiet touch of God’s presence even amid war-torn France. So even if you don’t technically care for this genre, you won’t find it preachy.

Overall, it was a gorgeously-written, enchanting read, skillfully weaving three storylines together, with memorable characters, and for the most part I really enjoyed it! 🙂

If you don’t mind a tiny smidgen of tragedy and some bittersweetness mixed in with your historical/contemporary romance-mystery-ish stories, you’ll absolutely love this. ^_^

I’m glad I gave it a read, and I’m now curious about this author’s other work!

Some Favorite Quotes

“A tourist like you, ya mean?” He tossed a glance down at the half-hidden map in her hand. “I didn’t think they still made maps that folded.”

“Yeah. They do, apparently. I found it in a bookstore at the airport. And good thing, because my GPS hasn’t once found a signal out here.”

***

“And you didn’t come all this way to France just to get arrested, now, did ya?”

***

“… even if it was only for a short time, that time forever changed her. And if it’s succeeded, isn’t that what a story should do? Change us in some way?”

***

“Maybe they’ll see the fairy tale in this place too.”

***

“I like the idea about buildin’ up the wall again. It’s grand. But I thought maybe we could start with the chapel? If you say yes, we’re goin’ to need it first.”

I review for BookLook BloggersI received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

About the Book

Ellie Carver arrives at her grandmother’s bedside expecting to find her silently slipping away. Instead, the beloved woman begins speaking. Of a secret past and castle ruins forgotten by time. Of a hidden chapel that served as a rendezvous for the French Resistance in World War II. Of lost love and deep regret . . .

Each piece that unlocks the story seems to unlock part of Ellie too—where she came from and who she is becoming. But her grandmother is quickly disappearing into the shadows of Alzheimer’s and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family’s history. Drawn by the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty—a castle so named for Charles Perrault’s beloved fairy tale—Ellie embarks on a journey to France’s Loire Valley in hopes that she can unearth its secrets before time silences them forever.

Bridging the past to the present in three time periods—the French Revolution, World War II, and present day—The Lost Castle is a story of loves won and lost, of battles waged in the hearts of men, and of an enchanted castle that stood witness to it all, inspiring a legacy of faith through the generations.

Links: Author • PublisherGoodreadsAmazonBarnes & Noble

Let me know what you think in the comments! Thanks for reading. ^_^

The Last Motley Blog Tour!

last motley fantasy book tour

Welcome to the virtual book tour for The Last Motley by Grace Award nominated author DJ Edwardson.

I’m SO excited to be a part of this! 😀 I absolutely loved the book, and you can read my review for it HERE!

To celebrate the book’s release, the digital version is being offered at the special discounted price of 99 cents, now through February 17th. In addition, you’re invited to come along on a virtual treasure hunt visiting some of the places featured in the novel. And to help you along your journey, we’re giving away a few prizes, too. So how ’bout them apples?

Today’s stop is:

Brimstoke

The ancient edifice of Castle Brimstoke looms lonely and defiant on the end of a long, narrow promontory rising high above the Neverless Sea. The charcoal gray fortress is dominated by a frenzied assortment of serrated spires, like an arsenal of jagged swords thrust into the cliff. The crumbling stonework appears as if it had been chiseled out of the rocks long ago and then forgotten and left to decay.

The narrow land bridge granting access to the castle is close to a quarter mile long. Mortared stone walls line the approach, but like the castle itself, they too are in disrepair.

As long as any can remember this bulwark has been the residence of the fiery and independent Brimstoke line, nobles whose peasants have worked both the land and sea. Rumors paint the barons of Brimstoke as cruel and harsh taskmasters, but sequestered as they are in remote northern lands, who can say whether the rumors are true or whether the Brimstoke line died out long ago.

last motley map world of arinn brimstone

We hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into the world of Arinn. If this taste has you curious, be sure to check out the full length novel set in this world.

This unique tale is not your typical fantasy novel. Yes, you’ll find monsters, dungeons, harrowing escapes, magic portals, humor, an ancient artifact, and much more, but above all: This is a story about the importance of family, faith, and the courage to do the right thing.

Here’s the official teaser:

The Last Motley

The Last Motley Fantasy Book CoverMotleys. Candy-colored creatures with dark powers to drain the souls of men. That’s what Roderick always thought. Until he met one. Now he’s not so sure. But with seemingly everyone in the province hunting the motley down, he must quickly decide which side he’s on.

Is the motley the living nightmare the legends say? Or just a child cursed by magic? Should Roderick save him from an awful fate, or turn him in? Either way, it seems like everyone wants to make sure that this will indeed be the last motley.

Be one of the first to read this unique and original fantasy novel, available now for the first time in digital format (paperback also available) at the following online locations:

And you can add it to your to-read list on Goodreads.

Treasures along the way

As you follow along on this virtual tour of Arinn, be sure to enter the giveaway to make your journey a little easier. Maybe you’ll be one of the ones to find treasure at journey’s end.

Here’s what we’re giving away:

last motley giveaway treasure hunt

A lovely leather journal, an autographed copy of The Last Motley, and a coloring book from the Chronicles of Narnia

You can use the journal to record your travels, the novel as your guide, and the coloring book to, well…for those rainy days when you’re stuck in the inn!

PLEASE NOTE: By entering the giveaway you agree to receive occasional email updates about DJ Edwardson’s releases, sales and book reviews. He will not share your email for any reason and you can unsubscribe at any time. Entries accepted until February 23rd.

Enter the Giveaway at djedwardson.com

Now if you’re feeling especially adventurous, there is a separate giveaway for the truly dedicated treasure hunters among you. All you have to do is collect ALL TWELVE location names on the tour (e.g. if this were for Middle-earth the answers might be Rivendell, The Shire, Mordor, Gondor, etc. — basically we’re looking for the names of the places featured on each of the maps at every stop).

Once you’ve got them all, send them to:

THIS EMAIL ADDRESS

and you will be entered in a drawing to win this one-of-a-kind poster of the World of Arinn. Measuring 36″X24″ it is nearly movie poster size, printed on thick, glossy paper, and suitable for framing. In addition, the map will be signed by the author. This is a prize you won’t find anywhere else!

motley fantasy map poster world of arinn

(actual photo) It’s even more impressive in person. It’s huge!

You will not be added to the email list for this drawing. Entries accepted until February 23rd as well.

Winners for both contests will be contacted within three days of the closing of the contests.

The journey continues

There are many stops along this virtual tour. Be sure to check them all out.

Feb 6 E.E. Rawls
Feb 7 Angel Leya
Feb 8 Elise Edmonds
Feb 9 Jennette L. Mbewe
Feb 10 Jess Elliot
Feb 11 Rachael Ritchey
Feb 12 Deborah O’Carroll
Feb 13 Karlie Lucas
Feb 14 Abbey Stellingwerff
Feb 15 Jenelle Leanne Schmidt
Feb 16 Jessica Groom
Feb 17 Steven Moore

Thanks for joining us on this journey!

***

Well? What do you think? Are you intrigued by the book? Because it’s WONDERFUL! 😀 I loved it so much! ^_^ Be sure to check out the giveaways and enter, and I hope you enjoy the tour stops! If you love epic fantasy with a thread of faith and family and humor and goodheartedness, you’ll love The Last Motley. 😉 Thanks for reading!

Steampunk + Roses + Beauty & the Beast (The Rose and the Balloon Review)

Cover5_storyThe Rose and the Balloon

A Beauty and the Beast Story

(Once Upon a Twist Tales, #1)

by Kirsten Fichter

YA / Fairy Tale Retelling / Steampunk / Novella / Beauty and the Beast

I received a free e-copy of this book from the author — many thanks! — in return for my honest review, and these opinions are entirely my own.

5starrating

The instant I saw that this novella was coming out, I knew I had to read it. Fairytale retellings are my favorite, and Beauty and the Beast… with hot air balloons? Now this I had to try!

I was delighted to have the chance to read it for review, and I’m glad to report: I. LOVED. IT. I can’t think of a single thing I disliked about it! This novella was a simply marvelous quick read which I so enjoyed. ❤

The story and writing were charmingly witty, crisp and fast-paced, yet flowing with an easy, natural feeling, so that it did not seem too quick at all. It was adventurous, amusing, and alternated between fun and an elegant sort of fairytale feel, all mixed in with the delightful chaos of characters with minds of their own who take the story and sweep the reader along on a wonderfully fun ride.

There was a strong theme of love and of family, which I absolutely ADORED. There don’t seem to be many books with a focus on family, so this one was so nice to read. 🙂 Yes, they’re slightly disjointed families and have a lot to overcome, but you can tell they love each other all the same. ^_^ Janelle and her father, and Dmitri and his mother and twin siblings. Just… really well-written relationships, even in the short amount of pages. The bit of romance in there was so enjoyable too — I always love me a good Beauty and the Beast tale. 😉

The setting and “feel” of the story were great. There’s a light dusting of steampunk (mostly hot air balloons — yay!), and it seemed like a pseudo-historical setting (no magic), which was so well-drawn I felt it must be real; and yet still held the classic sort of fairytale feel I love. (Can I just go live in the castle, specifically the library, please??)

The characters were marvelous! Prince Dmitri was the absolute BEST! I loved him. A great hero, who I was rooting for the whole time, and loved reading about. ❤ Janelle and Dmitri are both fiery whirlwinds, and when they collide — boy, is it a storm to remember! Several storms, throughout… XD I just LOVED their bickering and conversations — it was all gold and really made the book spark. I JUST LOVED THEM TOGETHER SO MUCH. ^_^ And then the twins! They were fantastic! 😀 Princess Nicoline and Prince Nicolas were SO much fun to read about! Their antics were a blast and I loved their prank wars. XD Even “Crazy Maeva” (a.k.a. the queen) and Lord Roux (Janelle’s father, who was an excellently written character, I felt) and the other side characters, were all well painted and so vivid. Overall a great cast, and one I would love to read more about! (I also loved their names. :D)

There were nods to the Disney film version of Beauty and the Beast, and the retelling itself was fun in this little book — fairly subtle but still there, despite the lack of fantasy elements. It’s new and yet still recognizably Beauty and the Beast in some way, and I loved it. ^_^ Also, the role of all the roses in the story was fabulous! ALL THE ROSES. I loved that. 😀

I might have wished it was longer, simply because I didn’t want to leave these characters! I could have spent ages with them. ❤ But really it’s the perfect bite-sized enjoyable length to devour in a sitting or two, so I can’t really complain about that either. 🙂 No complaints! It was just perfect. ^_^ *hugs book*

All in all, it was a delightful little bite-sized retelling, suitable for all ages, with memorable characters and an airballoon full of fun. I highly recommend it and can’t wait to read more from this talented new author!

About the Book

Cover5_story

In a kingdom where fauna and flora are held in higher esteem than breakfast, Dmitri is a prince who yearns for change and plans it in a single daring act that will alter his life forever. However, when his demented mother accidentally causes the destruction of a prized garden of roses, Dmitri is horrified when she proposes his hand in marriage to make up for it. Not only will a wife hamper his glorious plans, he doesn’t even want one.

Janelle has spent her whole life on her father’s rose farm, tending the roses and staying simple. But she really yearns for something greater than the flower beds. But now there’s a wrench thrown in the works – the crazy Queen Maeva wants her to marry the prince, and all for ruining her father’s beloved roses.

This is Beauty and the Beast with a twist like you’ve never seen it before.

The Rose and the Balloon released August, 2016.

Find it online:

Amazon | Createspace | Goodreads


About Kirsten Fichter

AuthorPic1Kirsten Fichter is a twenty-something Christian writer who is trying to find the balance between being one of six kids, a church pianist, a college student, a movie buff, a disaster in the kitchen, and a writing INFP. If you know what the secret is to balancing all of that, she’d be grateful to hear from you. Otherwise, don’t contact her unless you want to send her homemade gingerbread. Or a new piano book. Or an autographed Charles Dickens novel. In the meantime, she’ll be somewhere under a maple tree – trying very hard to finish the seventeen and half other stories she unwisely started all at once.

You can find her online at her blog (Lianne Taimenlore), Twitter: @KiriLiz, and on Goodreads.

Don’t you think Beauty and the Beast and Steampunk is an excellent combination? Are you curious about it? *wriggles eyebrows* Maybe you’d like to give this novella a try! (What am I saying; of course you do, because it’s AWESOME and we all need more awesome in our lives. *nods sagely*)

Also! Do you have a favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling?? TELL, TELL! 😀