Review: FOUND by Sally Lloyd-Jones, Illustrated by Jago

I’m doing something a little different today… reviewing a picture book!

Found: Psalm 23

by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Illustrated by Jago

Published by Zondervan: February, 2017

Find the book here: Publisher | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

My Review

FOUND is a charming board book, 20 pages in length, and is an adorable and touching depiction of the 23rd Psalm.

I’m firmly of the opinion that we can never outgrow children’s books, and this one is lovely!

It’s a precious picture book about the Shepherd looking after His sheep. The text is simple but lyrical, basically a simplified version of Psalm 23. I would have preferred it to have the exact words of the psalm, but, that being said, there is also a sort of charm to the way it’s written so that it’s easier for smaller children to understand.

(illustrations © 2017 by Jago)

The illustrations (of the Shepherd, sheep and lamb, and lush meadow and stream scenes) are deceptively simple, but further inspection shows the depth of detail—I could look at it over and over again (and I have!).

(illustrations © 2017 by Jago)

The lamb is my absolute favorite. It has SUCH personality and is just the most adorable thing! I love when it smiles. ❤ This book is worth it just for that little lamb. It’s so cuuute!

If you have a child, nephew, niece, or other little friend (or even for yourself!), I highly recommend checking it out. Just in time for Easter, too! I really enjoyed it. ^_^

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.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

So, do you ever read picture books? Isn’t this one cuuute? ^_^ Do you have any favorites from childhood (or recenter)? And don’t you want a lamb like that? 😀 (I know, I know, that’s beside the point, but still!) Thanks for reading! 🙂

Emma Retold: Emmeline by Sarah Holman (Review)

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Hey, everyone! 🙂 As promised, I’m here today with:

My Review of…

Emmeline by Sarah Holman

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I beta-read this book awhile back, and I’m so delighted that it’s released to the world now! Seriously, if you like Jane Austen or the book Emma (or films!) at all, you’re going to want to try this one out! 🙂

Emmeline is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma, set in the 1930s during the Great Depression. This book is the first of a series of such retellings, The Vintage Jane Austen.

Now, as a disclaimer, I’d like to say that I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, that I’ve never (to my knowledge) read a book set in the ’30s, and that before this I hadn’t read any retellings of Jane Austen’s novels… Yet even though it was not my usual reading fare, I enjoyed it immensely!

I read Emma for the first time not long before reading Emmeline, so the original story was fresh in my mind when I read the retelling, which only added to the delight I found in reading it. Retellings have always intrigued me, and I adored this one. 🙂 It was fun connecting the parallels of events and characters in this retelling to the older tale, their similarities and differences and twists, and seeing how well the story translated into the new time period.

It was well written and engaging (possibly Sarah Holman’s best work yet!) and I was impressed with so much about it, including how well put together it was, as a retelling and as a book in general. It’s a fairly short read (I read it in two days), which left me impressed also that it fit in all the important Emma-type things, in far less space than the original book, without feeling condensed.

Fredrick Knight (the Mr. Knightley of this version) is so awesome! His character was pretty much my favorite thing about the book — well, him and his relationship with Emmeline. 😉 He’s like a mix of the original Mr. Knightley, and some sort of Hardy-Boys-type character (thinking of the time period), though more grown up, of course, and so very REAL. Fredrick was just an amazing character — so good and kind and firm, not afraid to tell Emmeline when she’s wrong about something (which is often. XD) but also willing to have fun. HE’S THE BEST.

Another thing I loved was the relationship and banter of Fredrick and Emmeline — their dialog was priceless! And the thing about the hat. 😄 Their interactions were just SO well written!! BASICALLY THEY’RE THE BEST THING ABOUT THIS BOOK AND I LOVE THEM AND THEIR STORY SO MUCH! ^_^ ❤

The ending was a little quick (but I loved it so much anyway!), and a circumstance about Morgan’s ending surprised me a little, so I’m not sure if I liked that, but otherwise I have no complaints and just really enjoyed it. 🙂

Other fun things:

  • The details like the food they ate (yum!)
  • Literary references (the Rover Boys! <3)
  • All the little feelings of the ’30s which felt authentic and pulled me directly into the time period.
  • A Christian theme runs through the book which I really liked and felt was done well.
  • Humor and drama and banter, which I loved! 🙂

Overall, a very enjoyable read — I loved it! Recommended to any fan of Jane Austen, or Christian historical fiction with a dash of romance, or the ’30s… or just a good clean enjoyable read!

(Also, can we talk about how absolutely GORGEOUS the stunning cover my dear friend Hannah designed? Just. Just. Yes. <3)

I can’t wait for the rest of the Vintage Jane Austen series of retellings in the ’30s (each by different authors) to come out, and I’m very much looking forward to re-reading Emmeline!

About the Book

img_3447What if Jane Austen’s Emma lived in America in the year 1930?

The talk of stock market crashes and depression isn’t going to keep Emmeline Wellington down. Born to wealth and privilege, Emmeline wants nothing more than to help her new friend, Catarina, find a husband. Emmeline sets her sights on one of the town’s most eligible bachelors, but nothing seems to go right. Even her friend and neighbor Fredrick Knight seems to question her at every turn.

Will she help Catarina find the man of her dreams? Why is her father acting so strangely? Will the downturn affect her life, despite her best efforts?

Find the Book

Amazon  Goodreads

You can find out more about the author of Emmeline, Sarah Holman, at her blog, www.thedestinyofone.com, and more about The Vintage Jane Austen series at www.vintagejaneausten.com.

Give me your thoughts, dearest Roadlings! Is or is not Mr. Knightley the best? (The correct answer is YES! ;)) Does Emmeline intrigue you? Have you read any retellings of Austen’s novels that you can recommend to me? Tell me all! 🙂

Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales (Review)

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This last week, an exciting new release happened… Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales, an ebook box-set collection of half a dozen novellas by six different authors!

I’m here today with a review for each of the six stories, but first a bit about the collection…

About ONCE

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Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales

Six fairytales you thought you knew, set against a tapestry of historical backgrounds.

  • A lonely girl plots revenge in the shadow of a mountain.
  • A stolen princess fumbles a century backward.
  • A dwarfish man crafts brilliant automatons.
  • A Polish Jew strikes matches against the Nazis.
  • A dead girl haunts a crystal lake.
  • A terrified princess searches a labyrinth.

A rich collection of six historically inspired retellings, Once is a new generation of fairytales for those who thought they’d heard the tales in all their forms.

Featuring the novellas of Elisabeth Grace Foley, Rachel Heffington, J Grace Pennington, Emily Ann Putzke, Suzannah Rowntree, and Hayden Wand.

Find the book

Amazon | Goodreads


Author links

My Review

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Overall rating for the collection: 4 stars

Six interesting retellings of six different fairytales by six skilled authors. I found each of these to be unique and very well written, although each of them are quite different from each other, and I enjoyed some more than others. Overall, a quite good collection of tales! Here are my thoughts on each.

(I received a free e-ARC copy of this collection from the authors.)

THE MOUNTAIN OF THE WOLF (by Elisabeth Grace Foley)

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4 stars

This one started out a little slow, so I was nervous I wouldn’t enjoy it, but once it got intriguing I was hooked, and read the second half in breathless anticipation.

The Little Red Riding Hood retelling part of it only came in near the end, but it worked really well and was unique. Not sure I’ve ever read a retelling of that one before! I haven’t read many westerns (I’ve seen a lot more. ;)) but I really enjoyed this one!

It all felt super authentic — descriptions, dialog, characters… all of it. Rosa Jean was a well written character who I quite liked, and Quincy Burnett was awesome! The writing is detailed and skilfully firm — I could really see the setting, even if it made the beginning slow.

Other than a quiet beginning and the fact that it took a little while for anything to be explained (including the fact that I automatically assumed Rosa Jean was a thirty year old woman whose husband had died… um, nope.. whoops), it was really good!

A gripping, vivid, well-written story, which I quite enjoyed and made me happy there at the end. ^_^ *hugs book*

SHE BUT SLEEPETH (by Rachel Heffington)

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5-star story, 1-star ending

(don’t know what to rate it overall, so I’m going with 5+1=3 stars [shush, don’t question my maths])

This story was GOLDEN and I ADORED it and it was amusing and cleverly witty and fascinating and fresh and I was grinning the whole time I read it and it was a sparkling 5 star story… until the last second when everything crashed and burned and it ripped my heart out and left me DEVASTATED AND FURIOUS and I can’t say what happened because spoilers but IT WAS NOT OKAY AND I AM NOT OKAY AND I’M SO UPSET I CAN’T EVEN RIGHT NOW.

Some people might not mind such an ending but for me it just totally made everything not okay. I couldn’t even keep reading the collection for awhile because this one ripped my heart out so bad and made me so furious. *SADNESSES OF ALL SADNESS*

It was a modern-turned-time-travel-1897-Romania-Sleeping-Beauty-magical-gypsy-curse kind of story with a beautiful love story (most of the time), and was a magical, clever, fresh, funny, well-written, unique story, with so much personality and charm. I just loved it so much. Which is why it’s so tragic that the ending was… well… tragic. It’s not a fairytale romance, it’s a tragedy. And I need my happy endings or else I’m a heap of displeased as high as Mount Everest. So that was super disappointing, even though the rest was really good! BUT IT MADE SAD AND ANGRY AND UGH.

I just… don’t know what to rate it, since half of me says to give it 5 stars (or at least 4… knocking one off for the ending), and the other half of me wants to rate it 1 star and not even be sorry and howl from the rooftops how such an ending is so many levels of not okay. Bad endings tend to cancel out good stories for me. Plus, I expected something else to happen with Ioan, and it never did? There were a bunch of unwrapped-up things like that. I just… I really thought the ending would come together into something clever and interesting and happy and then it DIDN’T. Lost opportunities, IMHO.

Um. I’ll just be over here in a corner feeling conflicted and royally distraught.

Great story. Awful ending. We’ll leave it at that. (BUT IT WAS SO GOOD. BUT UGH THAT ENDING WHYYY. -_-)

RUMPLED (by J. Grace Pennington)

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4.5 stars

This story was so good! Definitely one of my favorites of the collection. 🙂

This was a Rumpelstiltskin retelling with a steampunk/sci-fi twist set in an alternate-history America (really intriguing, but I wish we’d learned more about it in the story than we did).

It was much more like the original fairy tale, in terms of plot layout, than any of the other stories in the collection, but I actually loved that because it made the differences, despite the similar framework, stand out a lot more strongly. Because this story was SO Rumpelstiltskin, and yet SO twisted around and fresh and different.

The writing is brilliant but also down to earth. The characters were real and interesting. I liked Amanda, and Byron, what was seen of him, was great. It almost felt like a Beauty and the Beast story occasionally, which was actually cool.

There were mysteries which kept me guessing, and I stayed on the edge of my seat for most of the story, immersed and reading as fast as I could, wondering how it would all turn out.

Overall, it was a beautifully written, entrancing and original tale, with a touching love story and a good dash of suspense, at least for me. I loved it! Definitely a favorite. ^_^

SWEET REMEMBRANCE (by Emily Ann Putzke)

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2 stars

This is one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” things. I knew from the start that this would be a story that would not be a favorite.

World War II, The Little Match Girl, first-person-present-tense, tragic love story, with a lot of darkness and grimness, and favorite character dying, and no happy ending in sight… Those are like some of my least favorite things ever, all rolled in one (seriously, it’s only missing dystopia and zombies. XD) so I knew it just wasn’t my thing.

But I admit I was surprised how sweet the romance was and how beautiful the writing was (in some of the flashbacks, anyway), and I could see why it was written how it was (the flashbacks, which are actually most of the story, are in past-tense, so it made sense to tell it that way), and Romek was the best (*sadnesses*), and it was gripping despite not being my thing.

So I’m giving it an extra star for being well-written and having some good things like that. I just… why can’t stories have happy endings? -_- Anyway, I’m sure many people will enjoy this one, it just wasn’t for me.

I just don’t enjoy tales that are hopeless and depressing, no matter how well-written they are. Just my personal preference.

DEATH BE NOT PROUD (by Suzannah Rowntree)

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4.5 stars

I wasn’t sure what to think about this one for awhile, but it surprised me by drawing me in and I ended up really enjoying it!

I found it interesting that it was set in New Zealand in the 1920s, and I enjoyed the slight unfamiliar touches of the setting and time period. Very loosely based on Snow White, I simply LOVED finding little hints and parallels to that fairytale. Unless you knew to look for them, they could easily slip through the cracks and not be noticed, so I found them to be quite clever and fun to look for. 🙂

It’s more of a thriller, murder-mystery type story, and much of the time you don’t know who to believe or trust, which only added to the suspense and mystery. Normally I really dislike stories which leave out key bits of information that we ought to know but for some reason I didn’t mind in this one. I guessed a lot of things, but despite that the mystery kept me on the edge of my seat.

The heroine, Ruby Black, was somewhat strange and I wasn’t sure if I liked her at first, but I found that didn’t really matter because by the end the characters were so real to me that I found “liking” or not had no say in the matter. They just… were. The other characters were interesting too, particularly Max, who we saw the most of besides Ruby, and who I was really kept on my toes wondering about.

There was also some poetry and imagery woven in, which only added to the ethereal feel. It was exciting and beautifully written, and the tiniest bit eerie, but in a way that didn’t bother me. I just… really really liked it! 🙂 Which surprised me, because it started out a little rocky and I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy it. I’m so glad I kept reading!

Somewhat haunting and gorgeous and strange and unique, and I liked the clever fairytale twists in it. Another favorite!

WITH BLOSSOMS GOLD (by Hayden Wand)

5starrating5 stars!!! Favorite of the collection! ^_^

THIS STORY!! *shrieking* I just loved it so so so much! ^_^

A retelling of Rapunzel, set in Renaissance Italy, this story was like golden sunshine and I LOVED it. What if Rapunzel (in this story, Nella) didn’t want to leave her tower?

It starts out a much lighter-hearted story than the rest, but it has its share of reality and war and adventure and peril as well. All of that comes later, but first we must meet quiet Nella, and two princes who are SO much fun to read… seriously, the dialog in this story is FANTASTIC. It’s mostly about Nella, who’s odd but nice and has to face many fears, and Prince Benedict, who is just… asldkjflk HE’S GREAT OKAY.

The humor in this story is superb and had me laughing aloud several times, or just grinning and grinning, quite unable to stop. The banter Benedict has with Nella, and with his brother (seriously great brother scenes with Benedict and Orlando, even if there weren’t a lot) just made my day.

In a way it’s a simpler plot than some, but it was just so refreshing and fun and gorgeous and I adored it. ❤ When war threatens and peril engulfs our main characters, they must be brave and press on in the face of adversity, with only their love, ingenuity, and faith to guide them.

There wasn’t a lot of Christianity, exactly, but it was worked into the story and certainly more prevalent than in the other stories in this collection. I quite liked how it weaved in. I also loved how some of the original fairytale things got worked in, in different ways than you’d expect. The labyrinth, for example, was cool. 😀

It was a beautiful, sweet love story and fairytale retelling, with princes and castles and towers and knights, loads of humor, and priceless character interaction and bickering which I seriously cannot say enough about because I LOVED the humor and fun and characters and banter! ❤

I just… *flailing* I don’t even think I can think of anything I disliked about it. IT WAS AWESOME, OKAY? The perfect note to end this collection on, it left me grinning and beaming and just so happy. ^_^ This story is the BEST. EVERYONE, READ THIS COLLECTION IF JUST FOR THIS STORY!

I loved it so very much and it made me incredibly happy. ❤

There you have it! My thoughts on ONCE. Overall, I enjoyed them. 🙂 How about you, my Roadlings? Have you read, or do you wish to read, these tales? Which most interests you? Hurray for fairytale retellings! ^_^

The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson (Book Review)

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The Silent Songbird

by Melanie Dickerson

Young Adult / Christian / Historical Romance / Fairy Tale Retelling / The Little Mermaid / Medieval


_225_350_book-2070-coverEvangeline is gifted with a heavenly voice, but she is trapped in a sinister betrothal—until she embarks on a daring escape and meets brave Westley le Wyse. Can he help her discover the freedom to sing again?

Desperate to flee a political marriage to her cousin King Richard II’s closest advisor, Lord Shiveley—a man twice her age with shadowy motives—Evangeline runs away and joins a small band of servants journeying back to Glynval, their home village.

Pretending to be mute, she gets to know Westley le Wyse, their handsome young leader, who is intrigued by the beautiful servant girl. But when the truth comes out, it may shatter any hope that love could grow between them.

More than Evangeline’s future is at stake as she finds herself entangled in a web of intrigue that threatens England’s monarchy. Should she give herself up to protect the only person who cares about her? If she does, who will save the king from a plot to steal his throne?

Published November 8, 2016, by Thomas Nelson


Links — find The Silent Songbird on:

Thomas Nelson | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Goodreads


My Review

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5starratingAnother enchanting, romantic Young Adult fairytale retelling from Melanie Dickerson!

Evangeline, a young woman with a beautiful voice (and the ward of King Richard), is kept in a castle but longs to go out into the world. She finds her chance when she must escape marriage to a horrible man, and meets a caring young man named Westley le Wyse. Deception, scheming villains, and misunderstandings all stand in her way, as she tries to escape her fate and find love and a deeper faith in God.

I was curious how a retelling of The Little Mermaid would work with no magic and not even a mermaid, but it worked wonderfully in this book! It was so fun to pick out the references and see how the retelling wove through the story in surprising yet fitting ways.

The plot was so interesting and really kept me on my toes, wondering what would happen next and how it would all work out. It had a lot going on, was exciting and sweet by turns, and kept me totally absorbed in the lives of these characters, who felt so real. I loved them!

Evangeline was a good heroine, who I quite liked. Westley was the best—endearing, noble, kind, with a sense of humor, though also conflicted about a lot of things going on, and quite energetic which for some reason was really cool. I liked him a lot. I also love their names! (Speaking of the name Westley… I couldn’t help grinning when Eva told Westley “as you wish” once. I loved that! :D)

The romance was so sweet and beautiful—loved it—and the Christian elements were also lovely.

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Hagenheim books! Only missing The Golden Braid…

The other characters were great to read about as well: Lord and Lady le Wyse, Westley’s parents—his mother was so nice, and his father was simply awesome. Reeve Folsham, too. He was a gruff character who surprised me by really growing on me. The rest of the characters were all well-written.

The whole book, in fact, was written excellently. And I loved the setting, which I felt so immersed in: the medieval English countryside and castles! So awesome. ❤ I also loved that King Richard was in the story!

The book started out a little predictably (heroine supposed to marry old, ugly, evil man, and determined to escape), so that part sounded somewhat like other books (but I suppose that couldn’t be helped, and it quickly moved on to become surprising and intriguing). Otherwise, I didn’t have any real complaints and I just really enjoyed it. 🙂

I’m aware this is a sort of sequel to The Merchant’s Daughter by the same author, which I’ve not read yet, and I can tell that anyone who read it will love reading this one and seeing references and characters from before. But The Silent Songbird also stands alone, and my lack of familiarity with the first one didn’t take away from my enjoyment of reading this. In fact, it’s made me even more excited to go back and read The Merchant’s Daughter, very soon, to read the story of Westley’s parents!

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Three generations of le Wyse brides! 😉

Whether you’re a long-time fan of Melanie Dickerson’s novels, or thinking of trying one for the first time, I highly recommend picking up The Silent Songbird! It’s one of my favorites of her books so far, and I’m eagerly awaiting her next release. 🙂


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.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Retellings, anyone? I know I certainly can’t resist reading them. 😄 Have you ever read a retelling of The Little Mermaid?

Epic Modern Irish Warriors + Faeries = An Earthly King Review (Blog Tour)

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I’m super excited to be a part of the blog tour for the release of An Earthly King by Hazel B. West!

You may remember my rave review for book 1, Blood Ties, earlier this year in March… Well, good news! There’s a sequel out now, and if you missed a chance to read book one, Blood Ties is FREE ON KINDLE until November 5th. So get thyself over to Amazon and download Blood Ties ASAP, do you hear?

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November, because that’s the last day Blood Ties is free on Amazon!

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Anyhow, I’m here today as part of the blog tour for the second book in the Modern Tales of Na Fianna series, to review An Earthly King! I’m very excited about this book. ^_^

Head on over HERE to follow the rest of the tour!

And scroll down to the bottom of this post for info on a giveaway of signed paperback copies of both books in this series so far! 🙂

First, a bit about the book and author, and then my review (and even an excerpt)! (All this info AS WELL AS a free ebook and a giveaway for two paperbacks? Yes, I know, I know, all of this is too good to be true. BUT IT IS TRUE, so deal with it and soak up the epicness.)

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Title: An Earthly King (The Modern Tales of Na Fianna #2)

Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy, Alternate History

Synopsis

Six months after Ciran defeated King Lorcan and instigated a peace treaty between the High Court of Ireland and the Goblin realm, things have been slowly getting back to normal in the kingdoms. That is, until the council decides that it’s time for High King Eamon to find a queen.

On top of that, there seem to be stirrings of rebellion in the Faelands, as not all the Fair Folk like the High Court’s treaty with the Goblins. So it’s up to Ciran Mac Cool and his company to stop the rebellion before it goes too far, while also trying to keep Eamon safe from potential assassins. And with all the prospective brides rubbing elbows with the High King, that’s easier said than done.

With the help of their friends and a spunky agent from the Bureau of Protection Against Fair Folk, Ciran’s Company attempts to stop the Faery plots before Ireland is thrown into all out war. Again.

An Earthly King is another action packed book in this Celtic urban fantasy series with lots of friendship, humor, angst, and even traces of the Ballad of Tam Lin.

Find An Earthly King online:

Createspace Paperback | Amazon | Smashwords | Add it on Goodreads

About the Author

Hazel West lives in Purgatory, er, Florida, with her books and her hedgehog Horatio. When she’s not writing, she’s reading other people’s books, studying folklore, or binge-watching something on Netflix—drinking coffee is also a given.

You can find her online in these places:

Blog: http://hazelwest.blogspot.com

Writing blog: http://talesfromamodernbard.blogspot.com

Twitter GoodreadsYoutube | Pinterest

My Review

earthlykingcoverpic2-copyAn Earthly King

(Modern Tales of Na Fianna, #2)

by Hazel B. West

YA / Fantasy / Contemporary / Alternate History / Retelling / Tam Lin / Celtic / Ireland

I received a complimentary e-ARC copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review, and these opinions are entirely my own.

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There are so many awesome things about this book, I don’t even know where to begin. I loved it even more than book one (Blood Ties) if that’s even possible. These were definitely among my top favorite reads this year — instant classics for me!

This book has everything: Swashbuckling action, suspense (I’m pretty sure I forgot to breathe a few times), mystery, deceit, evil faeries (and less-than-evil ones), cars and leather jackets and swords, kings and warriors, true love, comradely brotherly relationships, characters I adore so so much, witty banter, humor and dry narrative which had me laughing more than once, awesome Celtic/Irish/Fae folklore, even a touch of retelling in the form of the ballad of Tam Lin — all wrapped up in a thoroughly FUN story which was simply a joy to read. When I say everything, I mean everything!

Have I convinced you yet?? Because really, I don’t know what more I need to add to this. (Except I will totally keep talking about it because obviously this is an excuse to babble about one of my favorites books, I never turn that down.)

I thought it would be different than it was (just like the first one was different than I thought it would be). I vaguely expected it to continue mainly with Ciran and his gang, and while his gang was in it, they were more side characters, since it was mostly about Eamon (I was very very excited to get a story from his point of view!) and others who are spoilery. Which isn’t a complaint; I just thought there would be more of the same group dynamics as there were in book 1. I expected something different, but I do love how it turned out. This one is also actually very different than the first book: while much of Blood Ties was out in the Faelands, An Earthly King is centered mostly around the castle and such, by its very nature, because it is largely about High King Eamon.

I say largely, because although it’s primarily Eamon’s story, it’s not entirely. There are also chapters from the point of view of Ciran, hero of Blood Ties, which made me SO happy, because I love Ciran. He has a lot going on, especially in the aftermath of certain — ahem — events in book 1. So it was great to continue with him. There’s also a new point-of-view character: Bree, who is awesome and I love her to bits.

So yes, this book is told in three alternating first-person points of view… and I don’t even mind. It may sound like it wouldn’t work, but trust me, the author pulls this off masterfully. It’s always a pleasure to be in each of their minds, and I was never mixed up who I was reading about (it may help that their names are at each chapter heading). It was BRILLIANT how the story weaved through their different points of view without repeating anything, but always showing exactly what needed to be seen. Now, I’m a writer, and all I can say is, that’s #writergoals right there. This book blew me away in so many ways.

Setting: A+ in my book. An awesome, modern/medieval mashup of Ireland, with some Faerie stuff thrown in for good measure. Medieval stuff mixed with a little Faerie magic in a modern setting — how cool is that? I’m just saying that when an evil fairy calls your cellphone and tells you to come to an address they’ll text you and to come alone… this is just mind-blowingly awesome storytelling. I’m a fan. Can I just live here? This world is fabulous and (aside from the fact that I’d probably be dead within five minutes) I just want to move to this alternate modern-day Ireland please and thank you.

Speaking of which, I felt so at home reading this book! Something about reading the new twists on various Celtic lore, Faerie lore, Ireland, even Tam Lin bits, was just so… FAMILIAR. Which made me incredibly happy. I felt like I knew these things… things about Irish and Fae and such; they were familiar, the way your neighborhood walks or a fairytale you’ve heard a hundred times is familiar. I read along happily, going “oh, she used that little thing I knew about!” or “oh, what a neat extra tidbit I didn’t know about, but it still feels familiar!” It was fabulous. ❤ My Celtic roots and love of Faerie things coming out, I suppose. (Even if you’re not a Celtic, Faerie nut as I am, you’ll still enjoy it, though!)

AND THEN THE CHARACTERS. I love them so much. *group hug* Their interactions, relationships, and dialog are simply PRICELESS, and the characters themselves are so real, lovable and… just the best.

  • Eamon, High King of Ireland, an excellent king but also a down-to-earth, nice, willing-to-joke-around, comradely and good-hearted sort of fellow, a little overwhelmed with plots and suspicious Fae things, not to mention being expected to marry (especially when all the prospects are so dismal; these women, though. o.o). He was so fun to read about (especially paired with Killian) and I so enjoyed getting to read his story and see things through his eyes!
  • Ciran, hero of book 1, and co-hero of this one, is just AWESOME. I love him muchly. He’s trying to deal with problems in his family and protect his king and he’s just wonderful; not to mention still really fun to read his thoughts. 😀
  • Bree is an introverted but down-to-business agent who is here to investigate fishy Fae stuff, and I absolutely loved her! She’s redheaded and wears red boots and has freckles (oh, the freckles. XD) and she loves books and gets insecure and eats chocolate when she’s nervous, and is kind of shy about people (I relate!), but she’s also really capable and knows her stuff, and she and a certain other person in the book are positively ADORABLE together, oh my word. <3333 She’s the main new addition to the cast, and I just loved her! ^_^
  • Killian… Oh my goodness, this guy. 😄 Eamon’s best friend/captain of the guard, he positively defies description because his relationship with Eamon is hilarious. They have such a brotherly, teasing relationship, and Killian acts all bossy and snarky, always ordering his king around or calling him names and Eamon doesn’t mind and it’s just glorious. I CAN’T WITH THESE TWO. ❤ One of the absolute best parts of the book. 😀 (The snark, though.)
  • A certain Ciran brother who I can’t say much about, but THIS PRECIOUS PERSON. D: Waaah. He and Ciran are great. ❤
  • Daegal is Ciran’s little brother, who has the Second Sight. He’s really beginning to develop as an awesome character in his own right — one of those enigmatic young fellows with more to them than meets the eye. He’s one of my new favorites, actually.
  • Caitlin: Kinda-sorta “Ciran’s girl” (and Killian’s sister… which I always forget, for some reason? o.o) is also awesome. No-nonsense but perfectly warm, friendly, and capable too. Just. All of these characters!! ❤
  • Oberon is… interesting. I will say no more. *zips lips*
  • And then of course (one and all awesome) are the other members of Ciran’s Company (who now have a ballad in their honor about their quest in Book 1 — sung by the rock band Swords and Shamrocks — which is a top hit on the radio. …I just love this story.).

And and and… I COULD GO ON. I loved the idea of BPAFF (The Bureau of Protection Against Fair Folk, an agency who investigate problems with Fae); I loved the sideplot of romance which was adorable but didn’t take the story over and felt totally natural; the BANTER that I just adored so much; there was even some deeper stuff going on with families and relationships and problems to solve; all the relationships and brotherliness; and just… I loved how extremely FUN it was, and I enjoyed myself immensely positively the entire time I was reading. I’m seriously tempted to go back and read both books already… (If only it wasn’t NaNo! *cough*)

Okay, so remember how I said this book has everything? Well I may have been a little economical with the truth there. There’s one thing it doesn’t have, and that is… anything I didn’t like. Did I have any complaints? NOPE, literally none that I can think of right now. (This is rare, okay?)

The author is a genius and I love these books so much. ❤ (Now where’s book 3?? I NEED MORE OF THIS SERIES/WORLD/CHARACTERS IN MY LIFE. And so do you. Go hither and read them at once, do you hear? SHOO.)

Bottom line: An Earthly King is an excellent book and I cannot recommend it highly enough. ❤

Excerpt From An Earthly King

“Maybe it won’t be as bad as you think it will.”

I appreciated my younger brother’s optimism, but didn’t have the heart to tell him that he was far off the mark. I knew without turning to a pessimist’s standpoint that this was going to be every bit as bad as I thought. I had seen Colin O’Rourke shake his head sadly only half an hour before in anticipation of the moment, and when even the cheery redhead could see no silver lining to being surrounded by unmarried women for two weeks, there was something to be very afraid of.

I had been sent to “prepare myself” for the ladies as Killian had put it. It sounded vaguely ominous. I was supposed to be in full kingly attire for guess who else would be arriving with the girls? Their esteemed guardians, the other kings and queen, and many more higher Irish families. The ones who served on my council. Everyone had pitched in with some female relation to offer up to be my bride like they were vestal virgins and I some ancient god demanding sacrifice. I was flattered—almost. The problem was that I knew the reputations of most of these girls and didn’t have a care for any of them—my opinion hadn’t changed since we were forced to meet in our ‘comings out’ when we were twelve or so. And the ones I didn’t know, I didn’t suppose had much more promise. Killian would probably say I was ‘disenchanted’. I just wondered how out of all those girls, there couldn’t be any normal ones.

I cast a sad glance over at my worn leather jacket and jeans tossed into a chair at one side of my room. I wanted nothing more than to don normal clothes and go out to the lists, practice archery or take on the Guard for my own amusement. But that was later this week, as Killian informed me, and it would still be in front of my ‘admirers’.

“If you stay in here too much longer, everyone will just think Airdrígh Eamon is afraid of a bunch of women,” Oran teased with a laugh.

“Then why are you still hiding here yourself?” I asked, grabbing him playfully in a headlock and mussing his hair.

The door opened and Killian came in, casting a longsuffering glance over the proceedings. “You still aren’t dressed? Get your armor on, Eamon! They will be arriving in less than half an hour! Aeden and Ciran just pulled up.”

I released Oran with a pinch to the side as he protested loudly. I took my copper breastplate from its stand and allowed Killian to secure it before he grabbed my long dark green cloak and put that around my shoulders as well, securing it to the breastplate. He then came around to my front, straightening my circlet, and made sure at least part of it was visible in my untamable mass of hair. He scowled at it as he finally yanked my twin braids straight to make sure they showed.

“Don’t ask me what the girls will see in you, because I really don’t know. You look more like a vagabond than a king.”

“I have the black curls and sparkly eyes, what more do I need?”

Killian rolled his eyes. “You’ve got to have a nice set of cheekbones to please the girls these days.”

“But I have dimples!”

“Missed the boat.”

Oran handed me my sword and I buckled it around my hips, checking myself in the mirror. I looked more presentable than was to be expected from Killian’s grousing, and was overall pleased enough that I would at least make a good impression. As much as I didn’t want to do this, I also didn’t want to give the kings any more reason to hate me.

An Earthly King by Hazel B. West

Giveaway

Hazel is giving away signed paperback copies of both books on her blog, so head on over to THIS POST to enter the giveaway! You don’t want to miss this one! 🙂

(An Earthly King is Book 2.) Find Book 1, Blood Ties, here:

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Amazon (free Nov. 1 – 5!)

Smashwords

Goodreads

My Review of Blood Ties

Does this book sound awesome, or does it sound awesome? Do you like the idea of an alternate-history modern/medieval/fantasy blend? And how do you like Ireland and retellings? Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour! 🙂