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! 🙂

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Silmaril Awards 2018 Wisest Counselor: Voting!

The time has come! *cue Gandalf fireworks*

It’s time to vote on the second round of the Silmaril Awards!

Silmaril Awards: Top 5 Wisest Counselor Nominees

There were so many amazing wise counselor characters from fantasy nominated this year (you can see them all in the comments-section), but in the end, only five could progress to the voting stage.

The top five mentor characters nominated for the Wisest Counselor Silmaril are…

Halt (Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan)

Halt is a Ranger, a master of stealth and secrets, always slipping about almost unseen in his great grey Ranger cloak. Normal people are a little afraid of him, and he seems grim and mysterious at times, but also has a dry sense of humor and an unexpected snarkiness mixed in with his seeming grouchy unapproachableness. He always seems to have some sort of private joke, disguised enough that you sometimes don’t even realize he’s having fun. Despite his powerful presence and quiet strength, he’s unexpectedly short (a slight sore spot, since it means people don’t always believe he’s the famous Ranger Halt). Well respected among the Rangers, he makes the perfect mentor to young Will, and I doubt if there are many readers of this series who wouldn’t want to be Halt’s apprentice. 😉

Rayad (The Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight)

Rayad is an older Arcacian man wanted by the emperor for being a rebel. He is the father figure and mentor to a young ex-gladiator-slave. At this youngster’s darkest moments, Rayad is there to offer advice, hope, and words of comfort and wisdom. He can be a bit gruff at times, but is kind, thoughtful, and knows where the Light comes from. He is also a member of the main council of the Resistance.

Prince Aethalbald (Tales of Goldstone Wood series by Anne Elisabeth Stengl)

Aethelbald at first glance seems to be an entirely ordinary, uninteresting young man with brown hair and earnest dark eyes. He’s far more than he seems, of course, being in fact the ageless Prince of Farthestshore. There is none kinder or wiser, or more full of quiet, knowing power, in all the lands Near, Far, or the Wood Between. But he can also be simply a good friend with a sense of humor and a simple word you need to hear — or perhaps a Wood Thrush’s song…

Professor Digory Kirke (Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis)

Professor Kirke is a delightful old gentleman with shaggy white hair and a beard, who lives in a very old, strange house in the country — with a certain magical wardrobe. Having experienced going to Narnia in his youth, he’s the perfect wise counselor for the Pevensie children — he understands them and believes their story. He’s very knowledgeable about many things, including other worlds, time, and logic, and always has a wise thing to say, even though he won’t say more than he needs to. He’s someone who you can seek counsel from, confide your secrets and adventures to; he won’t laugh at you, but will give you advice about how to recognize those who have had similar adventures, and deal with those who haven’t. Professor Kirke is the adult who can be trusted because he listens and understands, and is just the right person to tell you what you need to know if you don’t know it yet — because “Bless me, what do they teach them at these schools?”

Puddleglum (The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis)

I shouldn’t wonder if everyone already knows this most famous of Marshwiggles (especially since he won the Silmaril for Strangest Character in 2016) so the bright side of it is, perhaps he needs no introduction. You may find him making eel stew or predicting rain or the worst possible things to happen, but despite his apparent pessimism, he can sometimes be a wise counselor. He’s famous for “making the best of it,” and he’ll often have a wise word when you least expect it. He’s good at sticking to things and reminding you about what’s important.


To read all about the top five characters in the other categories, you can visit the rest of the host blogs:


Silmaril Awards Voting Form (voting is open Sept. 10 – 14)

Go forth and vote on your favorite mentor (which you’ll find at the end of the ballot) and your favorite character from each of the other 9 categories!

*********CLICK HERE to vote!**********

We’ll be posting the winners later on our various blogs, from September 17 to 28.

You can also visit the Silmaril Awards website at www.silmarilawards.com.

And may the best characters win!


Giveaway

ALSO! Check back here tomorrow (Tuesday), because (spoiler alert) it’s going to be my 5-year blogiversary and I’m going to have a giveaway of bookses (Preciousss…) aaand, speaking of Silmarils, one of the items will be a Tolkien-related book, so you don’t want to miss this. 😉


Which of these mentors are you most excited about? Is it going to be so hard to pick? (AAHH!) Are you excited to find out who wins? 😀 Drop all your Silmaril Awards thoughts below!

And thanks so much, everyone, for all your great nominations and seconds! We couldn’t do this without you. ❤

Silmaril Awards 2018: Nominations! (Wisest Counselor)

It’s that time again! Welcome to the third annual Silmaril Awards! They have returned, and this week is the time to get in your nominations!

This year, I’m hosting the Wisest Counselor award, for our favorite mentors and wise characters from works of fantasy fiction! I’m excited. 😀 (I mean, I do seem to have been talking about mentors a lot this year… like hereand here…)

Not sure what these awards are? They’re a just-for-fun fan-voted award for the best characters from fantasy books! Sort of an Oscars-type event for fantasy characters.

Since characters from J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings are the gold-standard, they will be the ones “presenting” the awards (called “Silmarils” in honor of the jewels from Tolkien’s The Silmarillion) to the winners, who YOU get to nominate and vote for!

You can find out more about the awards and visit the hall of fame to see previous winners at www.silmarilawards.com, with links to the awards ceremonies, details about the hosts, etc. 🙂

How it Works

Round 1: Nominations (Sept 3 – 7)

You nominate a character by going to the category’s blog post (there are ten of us hosting these) and leaving a comment there. (Nominees for Wisest Counselor are to be left in a comment on this post; other character categories can be found in a list below.)

You can also SECOND (or third/fourth/etc.) someone else’s nomination by replying to the comment and saying that you second that nomination.

You may nominate as many characters as you like, and you may second as many characters as you like.

Round 2: Voting (Sept 10 – 14)

For the voting round, the top FIVE characters in each category (the ones with the most seconds) will be moved to the second round and you may vote for one favorite character in each category on a voting form which we will link to.

Round 3: Awards Presentations

The final part of the awards runs from September 17 – 28, and will be the announcements of the winner of each category, on each of the 10 Silmaril Awards host blogs. There will be one post per day, with award presentation ceremonies, featuring Lord of the Rings characters presenting the awards to the winners, chosen by your votes in the second round.

A few rules

  1. Authors may not nominate their own characters (but, of course, are more than welcome to tell their fans about the awards).
  2. You may also second as many characters nominated by others as you choose. The more “seconds” a character receives, the more likely that character will move on to the VOTING round, which will be the top five most nominated characters from any given category.
  3. Nominations are allowed for FANTASY BOOK characters only! (Movie characters are not allowed, unless the BOOK came FIRST). If you aren’t sure if a book qualifies as “fantasy” you can leave a comment and ask, and we’ll get back to you on that.
  4. Characters who have already won a Silmaril in previous years are part of the “lifetime” Hall of Fame for that award and may not be nominated for an award they have already won (though they may win other awards).
  5. Tolkien’s characters may also not be nominated, since, as mentioned, they are already the standard for fantasy characters, and we want to give other character a chance to earn their due. 🙂

So what are you waiting for? Nominate away!

Awards list and participating blogs (visit each of them to nominate more characters!)

You can also visit this page on the official site.

Nominate your favorite Wisest Counselor characters by leaving a comment below!

(Not eligible for this award: Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis [2016 winner], Professor Charles Hamilton from the Dragons in Our Midst series by Bryan Davis [2017 winner], and Gandalf, etc. from The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s works.)

Also, feel free to spread the word about these awards with any of these graphics, the official www.silmarilawards.com link, and/or #SilmAwards2018 on social media!

Who is your favorite mentor-type character or “Wisest Counselor” from fantasy fiction? Share in the comments!

EDIT: Nominations are now closed. Voting on the next level will open on September 10!

We Otter Do It: I Won a Flash Fiction Writing Contest!

Guys! I won a contest! *squeaks*

I’m really excited to announce that I won the fan-voted Fellowship of Fantasy Mythical Doorways flash fiction Writing Contest! I can’t believe it, and little Gavin the otter and I are so grateful for y’all’s votes!

The contest was to write a 500 word or less story, opening with “The door creaked open …” I won the adult section, and the winner of the 15 and under category wrote an amazing story too!

FYI, flash fiction = a short story of one thousand words or less. Or, in this case, 499 words, which is how long “We Otter Do It” is — and you can read the whole thing on the Fellowship of Fantasy blog where it’s being featured today! 🙂 Along with the other winning story, which is fantastic. 😀

So drop by to meet a little otter secretary named Gavin. 😉 And leave a comment here or there to let me know what you think! ^_^

We Otter Do It

by Deborah O’Carroll

The door creaked open. A tall, wobbling stack of parchment pattered into the room on little furry paws. At least, that’s what it looks like when your otter secretary comes into your office carrying the mail.

I’m a respectable young man and a magician, and nobody would believe me if I told them my life is tyrannized by an adorable otter.

Read the rest at fellowshipoffantasy.com


P.S. Oh, and the writing contest was a publicity thing to celebrate the release of a Fellowship of Fantasy short story anthology which released last week, Mythical Doorways, featuring stories by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt, H.L. Burke, and nine other fantastic authors. You can get the ebook free online in some places (I think Amazon is currently being difficult but it’s 99 cents there at the moment and might be free again). Anyway, I’m reading it now and enjoying it. And it’s unrelated to the contest, except in both having doorways. XD

P.P.S. This is the first time I’ve won a writing contest and I’m SO EXCITED. It’s got me floating in the clouds! AWK.

Thank you for reading! ❤

The “What If…?” Fantasy Tag! #FantasyMonth

I’ve been tagged for the “What If…?” Fantasy Tag by Jenelle Schmidt! Thanks, Jenelle! As #FantasyMonth draws to a close (aww! It’s been so funnn! *clings*) I thought it would be fun to round off the fantasy celebrations with this fun tag. 😀

Also, appropriately, I hear that today is “Tell a Fairytale Day.” Make of that what you will…

Rules

  • Thank the blogger who tagged you.
  • Include the graphic somewhere in your post.
  • Answer the questions.
  • Tag a few blogger friends – and let them know they’ve been tagged
  • Have fun!

The Questions

1. Your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. The cast of the most recent fantasy book you read comes to your assistance… who are they? Will they be helpful?

I’ve got the cast from Rachel Starr Thomson’s book Lady Moon! And yes, they will be MOST helpful. >:D

(This is going to be fun.)

Celine will eye everything critically and give advice. Little Winnie the wombat will break off from eating a bush by the road, clamber into the glove compartment, pull out the manual, itch her ear, and say “Will this help?” and drop it at Celine’s feet. And Celine will smile, and perch on the trunk of the car with her dress blowing in the wind, and start to read the manual.

Shepherd boy Aldon will crawl underneath the car and start looking at the engine, even though he has no clue what he’s looking for — and his border collie Brig will helpfully lick his face. Grandfather Monk will totter around and offer everyone coffee (because it’s cold out here while we’re trying to fix it). The little pyroline fire-cat will rub against the tire and leave a smell of burning rubber…

Sir Brian will bellow something about exactly what we should do — and then kick the car with a clang of his suit of armor and leave a dent, in his attempt to get it working. This will jolt Aldon, who will shout his annoyance from under the car. Fiery washerwoman Tereska scolds Sir Brian and then grimly rolls up her sleeves to her bony elbows, and sets about tinkering in the engine from the top, getting greasy hands and rags involved.

And Tomas? Tomas will stand cheerfully by and watch with interest while everyone tries what they can. And then, when all efforts are exhausted, Celine will look at him and say “Tomas!” And Tomas will smile his sun-like smile, and he’ll fix the engine. We don’t know HOW, exactly; just that he does. It has something to do with the memory of the engine working before… It might not last for long, but it should long enough to get the car to the shop.

And if that doesn’t work — well, they’re all in the car with me now, so if it stops working again, they’ll be along to help. Tomas will pick up the car and carry it the rest of the way, defying all rules of gravity and reality to save the day, because that’s what tall and thin, dandelion-haired, smiling Immortals do. We’ll just have to make sure he doesn’t procrastinate his destiny to do so.

2. You go to bed one evening and wake up in the lair of the villain of the last fairy tale you read, where are you and how do you plan to get out?

Oh dear. I’m in the castle of the witch Watho in George MacDonald’s The Day Boy and the Night Girl. My best plan for escape is to wait until she’s distracted by Photogen and Nycteris, and slipping out a back door and swimming across the river…

3. You are transported into a fantasy realm and given a mythical creature as a companion and best friend… which mythical creature do you get?

I get a gryphon! He’s brown and black and gold, and he’s terrifying to some people, but he and I are the best of friends, and we can talk through our minds. He’s loyal, fierce and brave, and doesn’t mind when I ride his soft fur-and-feather back over the forests. He seems to have a grim personality, but has an unexpected edge of humor beneath.

4. In a strange series of coincidences, you end up needing to take the place of your favorite fantasy hero or heroine. Who are you?

I’m Wilhelmina from Lawhead’s Bright Empires series! I’m running the Kaffeehause in Prague, making delicious pastries, and helping save the universe(s). (And… oh dear, this is probably bad because I doubt I could stand up to events like she did! o.o )

5. To go along with question #4, now that you are that character, is there anything you would do differently than that character, now that you are running the show?

The problem is, I probably would, but I’d get it all wrong… Ahem. So I think I’d try very hard to be brave and do things like her. (Except I think I’d try not to break my arm. You know. Just on principle. *cough*)

6. If you were yourself in a fantasy novel, what role do you think you would play in the story?

I think I’d be some kind of scholar or librarian — the one who has some tidbit of information the heroes are looking for. I’m suddenly thinking of all the great fantasy libraries, and YES. This would be the best job. 😉

Or maybe I’d be a magical storyteller… who paints pictures of tales in the air…

I doubt I’d be a main character (I’m not even sure I’d want to be! They have such hard lives…) but I could definitely hope to be some interesting side character — hopefully one who survives to the end! 😉

7. One morning, as you are going about your daily business, you pick up an everyday item and a voice booms in your head with prophetic words about your future. What object is it, and what is your prophecy?

It’s my bullet journal, and it says that I must beware the owl that eats the moon at midnight, and that one day I will have a part to play in something rather vaguely described, with dire words about what I should or should not do, so that I will obviously not recognize it (due to said vagueness), or will misinterpret it, so it won’t do any good at all. Except for when everything is over, for me to look back and see it was right all along, and the prophecy smugly says, “I told you so.” Because that’s how fantasy prophecies often go. XD

8. You are transported into a magical realm and turned into a mythical beast… what beast/fantasy creature do you want to be?

I’d be a Faerie, the tall, elven kind. I think I’d be able to have wings sometimes and not other times (they’d be silver and blue and black).

9. If you could read your way into any fantasy realm, but the catch is that you can never leave, would you? Which realm would you choose?

Um. Wow. Fantasy worlds are so fabulous and also usually so dangerous! But I think I would — and I might pick Middle-earth (because obviously!). Maybe I’d go to the beautiful woods of Ithilien and visit Faramir and Eowyn after the end of the Third Age.

Or I might go to the world in Lady Moon and live in Tomas’s clock tower!!! #goals (Honestly, it’s my most recent Favorite Fantasy Home.)

Then again, I’d probably end up moving to Ingary, and staying in Howl’s moving castle. (And there I get to cheat the “and never leave” caveat, since the doors open to multiple places, so why shouldn’t one lead back home anyway…? ;))

10. As you are going about your normal day, you discover that you have a magical power. What is it?

I thought about this one a lot…

The ability to open portals and so be able to visit all my friends and top places throughout the world(s) would probably be my top pick. Because that would be amazing!

Then again, I might instead have the ability to get ALL the stories in my head written down Just Right, because YES. #moregoals

Tagging

#FantasyMonth is nearly over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hop onto this fun “What if” fantasy tag wagon (don’t ask whether that sentence made sense) and do it any time!

I’m not sure who-all’s been tagged or not, but if you haven’t and it looks fun, consider yourself tagged! 🙂

(Though I retroactively tag Sarah @ Dreams and Dragons since I said I was going to and she already did it. XD)

Or answer one or more questions in the comments!

What do you think? Thanks for reading! And happy Fantasy Month! ^_^