Monday, April 3, 2017

Truth (Makilien Trilogy)


Title: Truth

Series: Makilien Trilogy (Book #1)


Year: 2011

Author: Molly Evangeline (also Jaye L. Knight)

Summary: Trapped in a village no one is allowed to leave, Makilien yearns for the answers to her questions about life and the world outside the village walls. Yet no one but her closest friend seems to understand or share her desire. Despite her family's fears and warnings of the consequences, she is determined to find answers.

The unexpected arrival of a stranger, and the knowledge he possesses, drives Makilien to drastic action. Confronted with a world she knows nothing about, she must choose carefully who to trust as both good and evil lurk in all places. As a battle looms, one in which will be determined the fate of all, she must decide whether to believe in the One who is truth or fall prey to the lies of the enemy. (from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
~ Makilien 

Review: I had considered writing up a review for the entire trilogy at one go, but I feel like these books each deserve their own review. So, let's just go for the first, and see how it goes.

After falling absolutely in love with Jaye/Molly's other series, The Ilyon Chronicles, I wanted to read more from her. I'm seriously going nuts waiting for book 4, Exiles. So, I needed a good Molly fix while I waited. She published this trilogy before the Ilyon Chronicles, and it was definitely a plus to have all three books out and available to read so I didn't have to wait at all between them. And for all fans of Molly's work, this trilogy does not disappoint. It is apparent in places that this was written early on in her writing career, but it's been so much fun watching her talent with words develop. I recommend this trilogy for anyone who enjoys Molly's writing, fans of fantasy, lovers of adventures, etc. 

Makilien is an enjoyable heroine. She's brave, loyal, kind, and just everything you'd want in an epic heroine. It was a lot of fun watching her develop, and I felt her pain as she struggled along, fighting to discover the truth. (Note aside: this book is very well named.) Some of the other characters I would almost label a little stereotypical, as she has the usual older mentors that come alongside of her, but they didn't taste horribly cliche. There was the twist of having more than one mentor, and each one had their backstory. 

I found it difficult to get into the story right at the beginning, just as some things were a little slow in my opinion. However, once I got into the book, I got swept away and read the entire trilogy before I knew what was happening. 

Truthfully, this book as far as the plot is concerned reminded me of The Two Towers. Makilien and her friends have a large battle that they fight in preparation for a larger battle promised to arise in book two. I thoroughly enjoyed the pacing of the fighting and the scenes. Many times I got pulled in so much I felt like I was actually there. Guaranteed, once you start reading, you won't be able to *not* finish this series. It just isn't possible.

This series has no magic and is highly Christian. A few times I was afraid that the narrative was getting too "preachy" but overall I think Molly handled it really well. The message of truth and redemption is clearly portrayed in these pages, and I can only marvel at how Molly did it. 

Advisory: Fantasy violence and battle scenes. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Monday, March 6, 2017

Mister Monday (The Keys to the Kingdom)


Title: Mister Monday

Series: The Keys to the Kingdom (Book #1)


Year: 2006 

Author: Garth Nix

Summary: Arthur Penhaligon's first days at his new school don't go too well, particularly when a fiendish Mister Monday appears, gives Arthur a magical clock hand, and then orders his gang of dog-faced goons to chase Arthur around and get it back. But when the confused and curious boy discovers that a mysterious virus is spreading through town, he decides to enter an otherworldly house to stop it. After meeting Suzy Blue and the first part of "the Will" (a frog-looking entity that knows everything about the House), Arthur learns that he's been selected as Rightful Heir to the House and must get the other part of the clock hand in order to defeat Monday. That means getting past Monday's henchmen and journeying to the Dayroom itself. Thankfully, Arthur is up to the challenge, but as he finds out, his fight seems to be only one-seventh over.

With a weapon-wielding hero and a villain who doesn't make Mondays any nicer, Nix's Keys to the Kingdom launch is imaginative and gripping. After an action-packed crescendo to the book's middle -- when Arthur finally learns his destiny -- Nix keeps the drama going and doesn't let it fall. By the end, you might be winded from all the fantastic explanation, but you'll definitely be salivating for what's to come. (from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
~ Arthur Penhaligon
~ Suzy Turquoise Blue
~ The Will

Review: I have never read a story like this before. And truth be told, I'm having mixed feelings about it. Honestly, I really liked the steampunk flair and the machines and clock references. I'm fairly new to the steampunk genre, but I felt that this story captured it really well. 

Personally, I really enjoyed the main character, Arthur. He was asthmatic! I've always been slightly frustrated with books when they make heroes out of healthy guys, but no one ever remembers that poor little hero who has trouble with his lungs. I have asthma as well, so I was really able to relate to Arthur's breathing problems. And the asthma was described well. Many people don't realize how difficult living with asthma is, but I applaud Arthur for living and saving the world while battling asthma. The world needs more heroes with asthma. Okay, I'll get off my soap box now.

The adventure is fun, the characters are fun, and the writing style (though sometimes difficult to follow) is fun. I'd hate to parallel it to the Percy Jackson series, but certain things in the book often reminded me of that famous demigod. The end was clever, with pleasant twists. I found a few times that I had to slap myself in the face for not realizing how the author was setting certain things up. *should have seen that coming* But, well done. 

The down side is that the tale sometimes felt a little simple and somewhat boring. Multiple times I had to stop just because certain elements/sections of dialogue were just unbelievable. I was willing and able to accept the stretch of steampunk/fantasy/magic without difficulty. There were just too many things besides the steampunk that were difficult to comprehend. My brain would change things just to explain them better - just because I had a hard time accepting what was written as a believable reality. 

And then of course - the end. Mister "Monday" really means that you only get 1/7th of the whole adventure. There's Tuesday, Wednesday, and so on. Which means I need to now go find the other six books, finish the week, and finish the adventure. I'm not in a hurry to find out what happened, but I guess at some point I'll wonder what became of that asthmatic hero. 

Advisory: I can't think of much that I'd put as an advisory for this book. Some fighting and violence, but all a manageable, elementary level. I can't remember anything that would be of a concern, really. 

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Monday, February 6, 2017

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles)


Title: Winter 

Series: The Lunar Chronicles (Book #4)


Year: 2015 

Author: Marissa Meyer 

Summary: Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? (from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
~ Cress
~ Scarlet
~ Cinder
~ Winter
~ Captain Thorne
~ Jacin
~ Kai
~ Wolf
~ Levana

Review: I can't say just what it is about this series. Truthfully, there are certain things that just make me cringe, but at the same time, something always draws me back for more. It could be the fact that it has all the crazy, space-y, awesome elements that remind me of Star Wars. It could also be that Marissa Meyer has a unique habit of creating characters that are impossible to forget and impossible not to care for. OR it could simply be the fact that these are fairy tale retellings, and I absolutely love a good fairy tale retelling.

Or it could be all of those things combined. 

At any rate, here is the stunning conclusion to The Lunar Chronicles, and we're treated once more to the adventures of Cinder and Co. All the things are at stake. People are in jeopardy. The fate of both the moon and the earth hang in the balance. And Winter can't seem to snap Jacin out of Guard Jacin mode. 

This book I felt was maybe a little more action-packed and dramatic than the other three books. Possibly because it's the finale, and I will say that Marissa Meyer doesn't disappoint with this finale. I like how she took several different plots and wove them all together into one, satisfying tale. Granted, not everything is satisfying, but there's a great feeling of an end well done once you hit the last page. 

The Snow White angle I thought cleverly woven in. I was interested to see how the author would use the glass coffin, and it did not disappoint. In the least.

Truthfully, I want more fairy tales in this style. The science fiction/space opera settings do well when mixed with fairy tales, and I was kinda disappointed that this was the last book for Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles. I think the stories could have gone on a little further with more fairy tales. But that's just me. I'm a fairy tale fanatic. *coughs*

Advisory: Violence/fighting/blood/pain/death, but all on the same level as the other Lunar Chronicles books. The queen has a hobby of torturing people, so the narration gets a little graphic at times, but I never thought it too much. I can't recall anything specific that stood out, but it was definitely darker than the other three books. Also, some "adult comments" and language - all typical of the series. 

Romance from all 4 major couples plus some. I remember quite a few kisses/romantic physical content, so that's something to be aware of. It was pretty heavy, and that's a lot more than what I'm normally comfortable with. 

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Monday, January 9, 2017

King's Warrior (The Minstrel's Song)


Title: King's Warrior

Series: The Minstrel's Song (Book #1)


Year: 2012

Author: Jenelle Leanne Schmidt 

Summary: Six hundred years ago the land of Aom-igh was threatened with invasion by the Dark Country across the Stained Sea; in their danger King Llian sought the help of the dragons and the myth-folk. Graldon, King of the Dragons, granted the human king with a gift that would help him defeat his enemies. Graldon also promised King Llian that the dragons would come to the humans’ aid should Aom-igh ever be in such danger again. Years passed, and Aom-igh remained safe and isolated from its enemies. The dragons slowly disappeared and faded into legend and myth, and people forgot magic had ever existed. 

When her kingdom is threatened by the Dark Country once again, the headstrong Princess Kamarie sets off on a quest to find the man who may be able to save them all: the former King’s Warrior. Traveling with her are two companions: her eccentric maid, and a squire who resents his charge to travel with and protect the princess. However, finding the legendary hero proves to be the least of their worries. Together the companions encounter more than they ever bargained for. A beautiful gatekeeper, a sword fashioned by dragons, enemies who pursue them relentlessly and hound them at every turn, and an underground world full of mythical creatures are just the beginning of their adventures. 

As they search for the answers to mystifying riddles and seek a way to save everything they hold dear the comrades will learn a little about courage, a lot about truth, and more about themselves than they ever imagined. But if they can succeed in their quest, they may join worlds together. (from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
~ Kamarie
~ Oraeyn
~ Brant
~ Dylanna
~ Yole

Review: I'd heard a lot about this book through many of my blogging friends, and I've wanted to read it for a while. It took a while to get me to get it for my Kindle, and then it took even longer to get around to actually reading it. No fault of the book's; I'm just a avid procrastinator. 

This is a fantastic fantasy adventure in the style of Narnia or the DragonKeeper Chronicles. I did very much enjoy it. The characters, at first, seem a bit stereotypical of an epic fantasy tale, but once you get to know them, they dash all stereotypes to pieces. Kamarie is a sword-loving, action-loving princess, but she's not above asking for help. Darby is her eccentric old maid, but she's got her secrets and isn't too stuck up to get her elbows dirty in the adventure. Oraeyn is a squire, working towards being a full-fledged knight, but he'll admit that there's still a lot he doesn't know. Brant is a well-trained warrior and outdoorsman, but he has his share of tragedy and secrets. Yole is a fun orphan boy, but there's a lot more to him than meets the eye. 

The style is a little wordy, and I felt that at times a lot of information was repeated, first in the narration and then by someone talking. Personally, I think that this story could have used a little more editing to cut down on the repetitions and wordiness, but it was still very enjoyable.

The plot and events were sometimes a little unusual and full of twists! It was fun to read and ride along on the adventures of Kamarie and her friends. One of my absolute favorite scenes was early on when Oraeyn and Kamarie settle the question of leadership on their quest - involving a river. Quite out of the ordinary, but very memorable. *grins* 

Also: DRAGONS!! I loved the dragons. They were amazing. And dragons are wonderful things to have in stories. They were a pretty epic bonus to an epic story. Dragons are good things to read about. As a confession, I feel like I would read and enjoy almost any story with a good dragon in it. 

I would recommend this book to lovers of fantasy, adventure, and fun. I'm looking forward to reading more of this series (The Minstrel's Song), and I was very pleased to note I already have the other two books (Second Son and Yorien's Hand) on my Kindle. Guess what I'll be doing soon? While the end was satisfactory, I still had too many questions to allow the story to end with book one. Relationships, people, REASONS. Things still need to happen, so I'm going to keep reading and not talk about it because of spoilers. But I'm pretty sure you'd get hooked too, so read, enjoy, and read some more. 

Advisory: Some fantasy violence/fighting/death. Not over the top, and I thought it very well handled for the tone of the novel.

There is also magic in this story, but I think the author handled that well, too. Normally, I don't enjoy books with lots of magic in it (I'll leave my lengthy explanation for another time). The magic in this book is used only by those who have been trained to use it (i.e. the wizards and wizardesses) for the benefit of others. I didn't think the magic overused, but I'd be interested in reading and researching more of this author so that I could more fully understand how she's using that magic as it's not completely clear in this one novel. 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars