Reader’s Corner

Beyond the Parchment: Part 1

Last month I gave you three options for the beginning of a serial story, and the third one won by a landslide. And so, without further ado, here is the ‘pilot episode’ of my serial story (including what I wrote last time). Enjoy!

It Just Had to be Lord Jerinthreo Kraven Balstin the Second

I wake up in the dark. Shreds of parchment flutter around me, sifting through the shadows in a noiseless wind. I watch them vacantly for a long moment as my thoughts slowly connect. A late night of writing. My muttered threats about deleting the whole document if it didn’t cooperate. My dreams filled with vague faces, half remembered prophecy fragments, and a gleaming silver sword a character was given as proof of his kingship…which he then accidentally stabbed into a stone, couldn’t pull it back out, and ended up leaving behind.

My lips, which have gradually turned upwards in a smirk, widen into a smile. Now that idea I’ll have to write down. I roll over, reaching for the notebook I always keep by my bed.

And freeze.

It isn’t there. Only darkness and the paper fragments, quickening in a wind I can’t feel. I narrow my eyes. Am I not awake then? Is this an inception type of dream? I frown. But I have to wake up. To write down that idea before I forget it. What idea was it again…? It will probably be something really weird once my logical brain gets a hold of it.

Except…

Except I feel awake. And the wind about me almost looks like… It looks like the portal cavern I’d been trying to invent the day before. That jolts me into a sitting position.

“Calm yourself, May Ann,” I growl to myself, then, “what if this is real? If I should be so lucky.” I raise my eyebrows. “Which I doubt, of course. Luck indeed. The portal didn’t even work. But then…you never know. It’s good for description anyway.”

The parchments have sped into a blur now. I stretch out one hand. For the fraction of a second, a cold gust slices against my skin, then it is gone. The paper. The wind. The darkness. Moonlight seeps through my window. Everything is as it should be.

I swallow down an unreasonable touch of disappointment and reach for my notebook. At least…

My breath quickens.

I’m not alone.

Reaching backwards, my hand closes about the dagger I keep by my bed as a shadowy figure steps through my door. I stare, barely even remembering to breathe as I take in the fair hair, short beard, leather armor, emblazoned hammer and whip, and the sword clenched in the man’s hand.

Emotions and thoughts batter about my mind too quickly to even acknowledge them, but one thought sears through all the rest. Why him? Of all my characters, why had the portal brought him through? There were so many others I’d rather see.

You’re asking why him when you should be asking why at all? Are you insane? Do you realize what you have done? What will happen now…boy, but he is perfect isn’t he? That sneer and the way he holds himself with such…such vainness. Even my inner voice is having trouble focusing on scolding me the man strides to the middle of the room, slowly turning as his gaze skims the maps covering the wall.

I should probably introduce myself. Something calming. Perhaps some flattery.

He steps towards my desk, his hand curling around a crystal figurine.

“Don’t touch that!” The words snap out of my mouth before I can stop them and the man spins, his eyes searching out the shadows. One long step, and his hand wraps itself around the front of my nightgown as he drags me from the bed, bringing the cool edge of his blade against my throat.

“You dare give me orders?” He demands. “Do you even know who I am? Of course you don’t. You should though. You will too, after tonight. You’ll remember me. Your whole world will remember me. Also, how far is your nearest tailor shop? Because I require the best of whatever –”

“What you require is something I’m going to be sorry I didn’t give you,” I grumble, twisting backwards.

“And now you’re interrupting me.” The man shifts his grip to my hair and holds up his blade before my eyes. “Don’t you know what this is, girl? It’s a sword. It will kill you.”

I smirk as my eyes travel adoringly up the engraved blade to the ruby studded hilt. “Well, it might if it weren’t Andrith, the third most powerful blade in Braceaon and incapable of killing anyone who is innocent. Frankly, you’d do better with a normal dagger. Can I hold the sword?”

“No.” The man growls out the word as he slams it into his sheath and thrust a dagger under my skin. The edge of this blade is sharp. Idiot that I am. “It’s the second most powerful blade. Now who exactly do you think yourself to be? And what are you dressed in? Is that the fashion here?”

“Andrith is the third most powerful blade. And it’s a nightgown. Something which, in your world, would be very improper for you to see.” The man snaps himself out of his perusal of my long nightgown with a suddenness which makes me suppress a grin. On second thought, there are worse characters who could have appeared at this time of night. “Also, I’m May Ann. Will you please remove that dagger from my throat?”

The man scowls, but actually complies, even though it’s only to step back and sweep a dashing bow and flick his cape over his shoulder. “Lord Jerinthreo Kraven Balstin the second, Earl of the third shire of Braceaon.” He never could resist introducing himself with a flourish. “And owner of the second most powerful sword in the world.”

Yep, just as vain as I imagined him. As far as swords were concerned…I’d looked forward to the discovery of the most powerful blade in my book for this very reason. I just hadn’t expected to be the one to tell the second son of one of the most powerful lords in Braceaon about it. For now the matter was best left alone. As well as the fact that Jerinthreo was claiming his brother’s title.

“Well, then maybe –” I reach over and flicked on the light switch. The next moment I am pressed against the wall, the dagger at my throat once more.

“Traitor!” Jerinthreo spat out the word. “Firstly, you can call me Lord Jerinthreo. And what do you want to do, signal my enemies?”

“It’s a light!” I protest. His glare deepens and I amend my statement. “Lord Jerinthr… Jerinthre… will Jerin do?” The names I make up; I’ll never be able to add that perfectly accented ‘eo’ like Jerinthreo had said it. “Everyone has them. Look!” I point upwards and at the light fixture and Jerin followed my gaze. I take the opportunity to shove his hand out of the way and sidestep towards my chair where I’d draped my clothes.

“It’s…natural then?”

“More or less.” I shrug. “Did you expect everything to be the same in this world?” How has he even gotten to this world anyway? The portal machine isn’t his, though I don’t put a bit of meddling – or outright stealing – past him. He must have got in another fight with his brother…

My eyes widen. “Daraton?”

Jerin’s gaze hardens. “What do you know of my brother?”

For a second, my breath catches in my throat as my mind sifts through the tangle of half-formed plot twists and characters. There’s no way to know exactly where the characters are or if they’ve even followed my storyline exactly, but as my gaze skims over Jerinthreo again, this time under the light, I pick up signs I missed the first time. The tear in his velvet sleeve. The lopsided clasp on his cloak. The scuffs on his boots. The tightness lurking under the faintest sneer which curls his lip and lifts the side of one nostril. My eyes end at his, taking in the green glare which masks fury and pain.

He takes a step forward. “Are you in league with him too?” His fingers tighten over his dagger. “Whoever you are; however you know so much about us –  because it obvious you’re not from Braceaon, tell me what you know about my brother right now. Because if you helped him murder my father, then by the blazing mountain itself…” His cavalier attitude has vanished but I hardly notice as I stare at him.

“Lord Balstin is dead?”

“Why else do you think I’m here?” Jerin spits out the words.

No. It’s not right. Something is missing. A few pieces shift in my mind. My picture is different from anything Jerinthreo or Daraton will guess, but it’s still far from clear. Except in one point.

I spring for the light switch, plunging us both back into darkness. “Is he here? Daraton? Did he follow you?”

In the moonlight, it’s hard to decipher Jerin’s expression. In any case, he doesn’t have a chance to answer as glass crashes downstairs. Jerin’s jaw clenched and he steps toward the door, drawing his sword. I grit my teeth and snatch my clothes and shoes from my chair, then grab Jerin’s arm, ducking as he swings his dagger.

“Come on. I know a way out.”

His eyes narrow. “Any why should I trust you?”

Feet thud through the house, nearing. Where has the portal let out at and who has come through? More than one person, from the sound of it. I send a glance desperately around my room, finally pausing as they rest on a green stone, framed with silver petals.

I spin back to Jerin. But it’s too late. Another figure fills the door in the moonlight and the room explodes in a clash of silver and metal.

So, what do you think? What should happen next? Any guesses as to backstory? Or clothes Jerin should try out, assuming he survives the fight?

Posted by Hope Ann in Beyond the Parchment, My Writing, Reader's Corner, serial story, 25 comments

Captive Bride

The Volandums had absurd ideas about how to treat a captive princess. I mean, golden chains? Really? Were they showing me off to the people, or were they showing off their own wealth to me? I honestly wasn’t sure anymore.

My mount’s hooves clopped against the flower-strewn pavement of Dezmond’s central street and I briefly let my gaze wander, taking in the towering stone buildings, mapping out routes, exits, dead ends. They were crowded now, with cheering citizens greeting their returning king. Oh yes, and the Elentisaren princess who’d been the price of peace and would become their queen.

I gazed steadily at the faces passing by. Returning each insolent stare with defiance. Each slur with a smirk. Each fragment of pity with determination. But many of the gazes were ones of wonder. Or perhaps they were just staring at my ridiculous white fluttery dress. Loose bits of gauze flew about my waist and a heavy necklace hung about my bare neck while taches of gold fastened my sleeves. All in all, it wasn’t a dress I’d be able to slip away in without being recognized.

But, mostly, my gaze rested on the guards surrounding my mount. An especially grim soldier led my horse, but others closed in on all sides. Two before. Three on each side of me. Four more behind. Not as if they thought I could escape, but I couldn’t help relishing in their worry over the almost mystical legends surrounding the Elentisaren Phoenix, otherwise known as the most deadly woman assassin in history. They seemed to think she’d not stand for her princess being taken by Volandums. And that she’d be coming after me.

Ahead of me, the Volandum king shifted in his saddle. His gaze swept over me for the dozeneth time. And, for the dozeneth time I met his stare with a glare of my own and the slightest curl of my lips.

His own smile creased his beard as he turned away.

The Volandums respected strength. Already the king was well pleased with the spirit of his bride-to-be.

Except all the Volandums lacked one small detail.

And, as the castle of Dezmond loomed over us, I permitted my smirk to deepen. The Volandums thought they were welcoming a bride. Instead they were providing the Phoenix of Elentisa safe passage into their most guarded fortress.

They’d been right about one thing. I wasn’t about to let my cousin, the princess, surrender her freedom for peace.

I was the Phoenix. And I was here to bring Voland to her knees

 

Posted by Hope Ann in fantasy, My Writing, Reader's Corner, Writing Scenes, 9 comments

Books Worth Reading – June 2016

This month has been busy, but I’ve still got some reading done. Of course. Even if it was just during the evenings some days.

Three of these books are parts of series that I finally got around to reading. And only one of them is a library book. Hurray! I’m finally starting to read some of the books on my shelf. Or am adding more books to my shelf. But who really cares? And if you do, what does it matter? They’re books!

Futuristic Fiction

Last month I told you about, A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes. And, this month, I read the second book in the Out of Time Series, A Time to Speak. What happens when one expected to die and finds themselves alive? With a mission to help and lead people who hate them?

Writing: 5 out of 5; well written and engaging. Like the first book, the style reminds me of how a biography would follow a person’s life more than the normal novel story arc, though there is an arc too . At the same time, it was a bit quicker with more action than the first book.

Characters: 5 out of 5; the poor characters. Nadine hasn’t grown any more merciful in the second book. But I love them. They are distinct and very human. And Parvin’s struggles connect me to her so closely even though we aren’t very much alike.

Dialogue: 5 out of 5; Fresh, strong.

Theme: 5 out of 5; Very clear and foundational to the story, but at no time does Parvin’s struggles seemed forced or sections turn preachy.

Recommendation: 5 out of 5; I highly recommend this book. Though be warned, the end will leave you in anguished expectation for A Time To Rise which comes out this fall.

Fantasy Books:

I wrote about the first two books in The Blades of Acktar last month. In a fantasy land, set in some obscure corner of our world, Christians must worship in secret to escape the wrath of an evil king and his handpicked blades: assassins proficient at spying and fighting with knives. But now in Defy, war covers the land, Renna is a captive with a horrible choice before her, and the price Leith must pay to rescue her is indescribably high…assuming the rebels will even trust him enough to let him help.

Writing: 4 out of 5

Characters: 4.5 out of 5; there was so much character development in so many characters in this book. Especially Renna. And the things things Tricia makes her characters suffer…I’m so glad I’m not one of them.

Dialogue: 4.5 out of 5

Theme: 4.5 out of 5; Very clear and very up front, but it didn’t proceed to the point where it was annoying and preachy.

Recommendation: 4.5 out of 5; This is my favorite of the three books, and there’s a fourth book coming! I loved Renna in this book, and Leith, and basically everyone. Defy is a fitting climax to the last two books and is a exciting read filled with danger, turmoil, and treachery.

And here’s another third book in a trilogy, Arrow by R. J. Anderson. This was also a fitting climax to the No Ordinary Fairy Tale trilogy. In a world where fairies are real, they’re far from innocent glittering pixies. With an evil empress, rebels determined to fight for their freedom, and a fairy determined to stop bloodshed before it’s too late, this is a fascinating story.  If you like reading about fairies, then this is a version of their life you will very much enjoy.

Writing: 4.5 out of 5; good pace; very interesting.

Characters: 4.5 out of 5; fairy and human are both excellently done, though compared to some of the other books I’ve read this month, they don’t have as many distinct quirks as they could. But still, well done.

Dialogue: 4.5 out of 5; sound, solid.

Theme: 5 out of 5; Subtly woven into the story.

Recommendation: 4.5 out of 5; I loved all three books in this trilogy. The climax didn’t disappoint and is probably my favorite of all three. I love the main character, the settings, the other characters…an exciting read.

And finally there’s this book. A single book, not part of a series, just one beautiful, delicious, single book…Waking Beauty by Sarah E Morin! I heard about this book during The Very Serious Writing show podcast and, when I saw it at the library, I couldn’t resist. What happens when a prince wakes up the Sleeping Beauty, but she refuses to believe she’s awake? What happens when a princess has been tormented by dreams for so long, she won’t let anything close to her heart for fear it will be torn away again?

Writing: 4.6 out of 5; a little slow at the beginning but very interesting.

Characters: 5 out of 5; fresh, fun, distinct.

Dialogue: 5 out of 5; sound, solid.

Theme: 5 out of 5; subtle at the beginning, but the depth of allegory by the end stunned me.

Recommendation: 5 out of 5; I loved this retelling of Sleeping Beauty! I enjoyed reading about the ‘after it all happened’ story and the allegory was wonderful. If you like fantasy and fairy tales, I highly recommend this book.

How about you? Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned and what did you think? What other Christian fantasy books do you love?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

Posted by Hope Ann in Book Reivews, Reader's Corner, 0 comments

Flames of Resistance

The moat was nearly dry, all except the pool surrounding the causeway up to the castle gate. It was deep there yet. Hopefully it was deep enough.

Fathren tried to swallow, but his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth as a hot wind swept over the dry parched plains. He told himself it was from the rationing of water, but the dust raised by the invader’s armies wasn’t helping either.

“Ready?” His whispered cracked.

“Ready.” Three soft voice replied from the dry grass about him.

Fathren nodded his fingers tightened around his bow as his breath hissed rapidly though the cloth covering the lower half of his face. They had one chance, the four of them. If they failed, they’d die. If they succeeded, they would be branded destroyers. But at least the invaders would suffer a bitter blow.

Already the steady tramp of feet were echoing along the brush filled moat surrounding the castle. On the wall, the sun glinted off silent troops.

Fathren closed his eyes for a long moment, then drew an arrow. “On my mark, and may the Prince be with us all.”

“May the Prince be with us.” His companions’ voices were accompanied by the swish of arrows.

Fathren tensed, measuring the distance of the approaching soldiers. The troops in the moat. The horsemen behind his party in the tall grasses. The dryness of the grasses.

Almost…almost…

He raised one hand.

Now!

Fathren sliced his hand downward and leapt to his feet, springing to the middle of the causeway. Focusing, he breathed on the tip of his arrow and his heart leapt as it flashed into a flame.

“Draw!” His voice seemed to echo along the battlements even as startled cried from the wall reflected the shouts of derision from the invaders.

“Aim!”

He focused toward the brush just beyond the lead troop, feeling rather than seeing his friends fall in place behind him.

“Loose!”

His string sang as the arrow cut through the air. Shouts burst into a confused babble and Fathren spun, a single glimpse assuring him his companion’s arrows had found their mark while anger ripple through the walls above. But it was the only way. The lord would have surrendered if given the chance. Surrendered, and been slaughtered.

He’d not have the chance.

And, as Fathren followed his men, leaping over the causeway to the murky pool beneath, he only hoped the flames already catching hold on the plains and enveloping the invaders would be enough to save them all.

Posted by Hope Ann in fantasy, My Writing, Reader's Corner, Writing Scenes, 6 comments

Books Worth Reading – May 2016

I’m delighted to be able to share with you some of my bookish discoveries this last month.

It’s not all fantasy this time. My second great love, after fantasy, is futuristic fiction. There’s more connecting the two genres than might appear: one gets to create the world and do pretty much whatever one pleases, either with technology or fantasy type power. The rules can be bent and history invented. So, first on of all…

Futuristic Fiction

I read the first book in the Out of Time Series, A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes. Yes, the title made some of my family give me strange looks, but it is perfect of the theme. What would you do if you knew the day of your death? And if that day was almost upon you?

Writing: 5 out of 5; well written and engaging. The style, while following a basic story arc, reminded me of how a biography would follow a person’s life more than the normal novel.Hence, there were some parts which might seem a little slow in a novel where every scene is building towards one single goal, but I think it works in this book.

Characters: 5 out of 5; oh the poor characters. I can’t believe how much Nadine hurts them. Even as a writer, there were still some parts which shocked me. And then it got me thinking…and that might not be good news for future characters of my own. But I digress. I loved the characters in this book. And I loved Parvin, the main character. Her fears, her doubts, the raw realness of her struggles in and with faith… it was excellent.

Dialogue: 5 out of 5; Fresh, strong.

Theme: 5 out of 5; Very clear and foundational to the story, but at no time does Parvin’s struggles seemed forced or sections turn preachy.

Recommendation: 5 out of 5; I highly recommend this book. I just bought the second book, A Time To Speak and am looking forward to reading that as soon as I get though some library books. And the last book, A Time To Rise, comes out this fall. *squeals* Which is another reason I keep putting off A Time To Speak; once it’s over, I won’t have the next book to read until later this year.

Fantasy Books

I heard about The Blades of Acktar series from a friend who highly recommended them. In a fantasy land, set in some obscure corner of our world, Christians must worship in secret to escape the wrath of an evil king and his handpicked blades; assassins proficient at spying and fighting with knives. And the best thing about Dare and Deny is that the third (and, I think, final) book in the series just came out yesterday. I’m eagerly looking forward to reading it.

Writing: 4 out of 5; the beginning of the first book was a little slow, but not enough for me to stop reading.

Characters: 4 out of 5; the characters are deep, but not broad. Each character has a distinguishing characteristic by which they are defined, and that characteristic is present in almost every interaction. But I still love the characters, even Renna, who’s doubt and fear sometimes made me sigh. This, by the way, is simply personal opinion; but while I like and know there needs to be room for character development, I do like reading about main characters with a little more confidence.

Dialogue: 4.5 out of 5

Theme: 4.5 out of 5; Very clear and very up front, but it didn’t proceed to the point where it was annoying and preachy.

Recommendation: 4 out of 5; I love the blades, and I love Leith. And my only consolation for the end of the second book was that the third book was about to come out. The mixture of a fantasy land in name, along with real life Christianity works well. While not my absolute favorite books, mainly because I like my characters to have more breath and nuances, I would recommend them as an interesting and exciting read filled with danger, turmoil, and treachery.

Other…Book

I’m not sure what to call The Hidden Oracle, the first book in the Trials of Apollo series. It’s not really fantasy; more a mix of modern and mythology. The premise in all of Rick Riordan’s books, of which he’s written quite a few (the Percy Jackson series being my favorite) is that the Greek gods are real. Not real in that they are God (the idea of there being an all-powerful God is left open ended), but they are immortal beings which tinker in the affairs of men and who have children with them. These children are called demigods and are the main characters in most of the books…except this one, where the main character is actually Apollo, who Zeus has made human. (Apparently that happened twice in mythology…and now once in Riordan’s books.)

Writing: 5 out of 5; Rick Riordan is an excellent writer who makes me laugh with the most outrageous random lines.

Characters: 5 out of 5; the characters are all layered, distinct, and play off each other in a very humorous manner. Also, there is an arrow that talks in Shakespearean English near the end of the book. I’ve read of talking swords, but never about talking arrows. It was absolutely hilarious.

Dialogue: 5 out of 5

Theme: Umm, this is the one reason I debated between mentioning the book, but the talking arrow tipped the scales in the story’s favor. Rick Riordan is not a Christian author. Actually, his books are some of the few fiction books I read outside of the ‘inspirational fiction’ area. There are good themes of loyalty and courage, but Riordan’s view of life, and of marriage is not the Christian view of one man and one woman. Not that there is overwhelming romance of any kind in these books, but when it is touched on in minor subplots, the worldly view of ‘marriage’ is treated as normal and perfectly fine.

Recommendation: 4 out of 5; because of the book’s theme not being Christian as mentioned above, I can’t recommend it 5 out of 5 like I’d really like to. I enjoyed the book, and love most of Riordan’s works that I’ve read. But, in the end, you’ll have to decide if you want to read a book which treats some sins as fine and normal, recognizing that the author’s worldview is wrong, or if you’d rather forego it altogether.

Flashback Fantasy

And I figured, since there’s lots of books I’ve read which I won’t be rereading any time soon but still want to share with you, to have a ‘Flashback Fantasy’ section each month. So, without more ado, the Wingfeather Saga, everyone!

I started reading this series when a friend sent me the first book for my birthday. She sent me the second book a few months later, and then I eagerly bought the last two books in The Wingfeather Saga before handing them off to my brothers who also loved them

Writing: 5 out of 5; the writing is for a younger age group than I normally read; probably 12-15. But who cares? I loved the story and I loved the humor, even when it was a bit silly in the first book or two.

Characters: 5 out of 5; very distinct, each character with their own humorous addition to the story which sometimes covers painful secrets.

Dialogue: 5 out of 5

Theme: 5 out of 5; these are fantasy books, but the Maker (God) is mentioned and referenced as a part of life, not just some abstract and distant force.

Recommendation: 5 out of 5; These books made me laugh. They made me cry. I ached for the characters and I loved them. It’s an especially great series to read out loud to younger siblings. I just might do that this summer…

How about you? Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned and what did you think? What other Christian fantasy books do you love?

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

Posted by Hope Ann in Book Reivews, Reader's Corner, 15 comments

Books Worth Reading – April

Fantasy Books of the Month

A writer must read. There’s no question about it. What you want to write, you read. Reading not only sparks creative thoughts, but it also sharpens a your skills as you see how one writer could have done something better, or study how another writer expertly manipulated your emotions.

Of course, the downsides to being a writer is you can’t enjoy as many books as before because you’re consistently picking out poor writing. At least I do. But that just makes the well written books that much better. And, for the month of April (I realize this is a little late, but better late than never) I read several great fantasy books. *rubs hands with impish grin*

Firstly, Songkeeper by Gillian Adams. I’ve already written a whole review post on this second book in the Songkeeper Chronicles, so I’ll keep this brief.

Writing: 5 out of 5; great pace, great settings. Perfect amount of description and action.

Characters: 5 out of 5; Fresh, human, love them.

Dialogue: 5 out of 5; Fresh, funny, rings true.

Theme: 5 out of 5; Subtle, but strong.

Recommendation: 5 out of 5; one of my favorite middle books of a trilogy; keeps the story going while building up to the next book.

Then there is Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland. *sniffles* I had to spend the rest of the evening recovering after finishing this book. It was…it was good. Wonderful. And I felt so bad for the main character. As the one person in his generation who is able to cross from our ‘real’ world to the ‘dream’ world, he’s always awake in one or the other; either fighting for his life or trying to save the world. No long restful sleepy mornings. I don’t envy him his role, but I do highly recommend this book. It’s long, but it’s worth it.

Writing: 4.5 out of 5; there were a few sections with some telling instead of showing, but they were always brief enough I hardly cared. Dreamlander has great pace which kept building up. You know those books which you like, and then it gets better, and then it gets even better? This was one of those books

Characters: 5 out of 5; Fresh, both human and nonhuman; you can see the reasoning behind various character’s actions, even when they are wrong. They draw you into the story, emotionally investing you in the outcome.

Dialogue: 5 out of 5; Fresh, strong.

Theme: 5 out of 5; Well woven throughout the story

Recommendation: 5 out of 5; highly recommend this book. And, one of the best things about it is that it’s a single book. Don’t get me wrong, I love series. But everything seems part of a series now days. I love finding great single books I can read without having to worry about how many more books I need to buy or when the next one comes out.

Next, there is Knife and Rebel by Christian author R. J. Anderson. The third book, Arrow, just came out and I’ve not got it yet though I fully intend to. The series title, No Ordinary Fairy Tale, says it all. In a world where fairies are real, they’re far from innocent glittering pixies. If you like reading about fairies, then this is a version of their life you will very much enjoy.

Writing: 4 out of 5; A little slow to start, but they’re still interesting and quickly get exciting.

Characters: 4.5 out of 5; fairy and human are both excellently done, though compared to some of the other books I’ve read this month, they don’t have as many distinct quirks as they could. But still, well done.

Dialogue: 4.5 out of 5; sound, solid.

Theme: 5 out of 5; Subtly woven into the first book. Stronger, but without being preachy, in the second book

Recommendation: 4.5 out of 5; This trilogy keeps the story moving well. Each book is a separate story with one overall arc through all three. I’m looking forward to reading the last book…you’ll probably be hearing about it next month.

And finally, I finished the Two Towers in my journey though reading Lord of the Rings for the third time. And there’s no need to parse out this book. Tolkien is an excellent writer and all fantasy writers should read his works. No, they must read Lord of the Rings. It is the fantasy trilogy of the century. *Glares down any challenge*

So, what about you? Have you read any of these books? What have you been reading lately? Any wonderful fantasy to recommend to me?

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

Posted by Hope Ann in Book Reivews, Reader's Corner, 9 comments

Wingmaster

This story is set in Aslaria, my Legends of Light land. The wingmaster idea is based off the Song of the Sword, my current WIP, but this event took place about a hundred years before Song of the Sword.

He should have known. He should have guessed. The finding of the legendary wingmaster’s blade should have given him more than a hint that something was wrong.

But the late spring snow, the early darkness, and the encroaching mist sweeping through the Melody Realm had been enough to deal with. Even drawing on the power of the song in the Melody, it had been all I could do to beat the joy stealing fog back towards the south. It had been an everyday enough occurrence that I should have known the sword was for something else.

Something worse.

But I’d relaxed. I’d attended the celebration like a normal citizen of Aslaria instead of one of the few who knew about, much less could entered, the reflection realm of song. And I’d left the sword in my lodging.

The swift beat of Frithren’s wings during a jubilant dance was the first sign something was terribly wrong.

He’s here.

The words sent ice though my veins and I pulled away into the shadows even as the lamps flickered out. And, under the startled cries, which I knew would soon turn to pleas of fear, I could hear the heavy drumbeat of the traitor’s song.

The traitor. As I dashed into the night, snow falling gently around my, I racked my brains but could come up with no name to couple to the shadow who had been sweeping though the country. A rumor, may thought it was.

I’d thought it was.

Except he was real. And he was here.

I snatched up the wingmaster’s sword, my vision blurring then clarifying as I saw the real realm and the Melody at once. My chest tightened as I glimpsed the mist, seeping in about the castle walls. But there was no time to deal with it now. Summoning the song, I dashed back to the great hall.

Silence met my ears. Silence, mingled with the recent memory of bloodshed and weeping. And the traitor’s faint song.

I choked at the sight. The motionless bodies. The stained floor. The lifeless hall.

I staggered back outside, my sword hanging limply from my hand. Frithren’s wings beat against the air and I turned, lifting my hand for the messenger falcon.

He’s headed south. Frithren declared grimly.

I nodded and swallowed hard, then closed my eyes. The Prince forgive me. I’d been given the sword, and I’d failed before I’d even started. I’d failed, but more would die unless I could stop the shadow. Clenching the sword, I took a deep breath, then turned toward the south.

And I ran. Ran through the night. Though the snow. Though the mist. Though the song. With death behind me, danger ahead, and an oath throbbing though my blood, I ran towards the fulfillment of my doom.

Posted by Hope Ann in fantasy, Legends of Light, My Writing, Reader's Corner, Writing Scenes, 2 comments

Songkeeper

I had the privilege of being on Gillian Adams’s launch team for the second book in her Songkeeper trilogy, Songkeeper. I absolutely loved the first book in the series, Orphan Song and couldn’t wait to read the second book. It didn’t disappoint.

Songkeeper was absolutely wonderful; better even than the first book if at all possible, and much more heartrending. This is not simply a ‘middle book’ in which the story is only preparing for the climax of the third book. It does build up, of course, but it is also a gripping and exciting story in it’s own right.

Things I loved:

Characters – 5/5: They are so fresh and original. Amos, Ky, Birdie, Gundhrold, Sym, Inali, Migdon…there’s nothing 2D about them. And the way Gillian has made her characters so human is amazing. Even the minor characters aren’t completely bad or completely good, but are a perfect bend of complexity.

Setting – 5/5: The settings are so vivid and so…different. I absolutely love them!

Plot – 5/5: Exciting, gripping; even when the story switched between characters I hardly cared because both story lines were so interesting. It was very well paced.

Theme – 5/5: Very well done. Though powerful, the theme is also subtle.

Dialogue – 5/5: I had to include this simply so I could give examples of some of my favorite lines. Amos’s insults, for example, are the best I’ve ever read. Take his line about the griffin, Gundhrold. “Why did the sand-blasted catbird have to be so seaswoggling logical? It was downright infuriating.”  And this confrontation between the two as they are forced to travel together. “Gundhrold’s head lowered until his massive beak was only inches away from Amos’s nose. “I am a son of the desert. This was once my home – the home of all my kind. I know every crag, every slope, every crick and hollow-”     Amos rolled his eyes. “Every blatherin’ speck o’ sand?”

Everything else – 5/5: Seriously, I love this book. And I’m a picky reader with a habit of correcting things as I write. But this book is very well written. There are some dark scenes at the end, but they are well handled and very necessary to the story.

The one thing I don’t like:

The fact I’ll likely have to wait a year for the next book. I want find out what happens to my favorite characters (which happens to be all of them, but there is one in particular that needs immediate attention…)!

Songkeeper comes out April 15th! You can preorder it here. And if you don’t have Orphan’s Song, make sure to check that out too!

Posted by Hope Ann in A Writer's Life, Book Reivews, fantasy, Reader's Corner, 3 comments

Luremaster

I’d been a professional luremaster for years; dragons, lions, great wolves. I flattered myself I knew monsters. I knew how they thought, how they moved, how to enrage them. And, with Ice Mane beneath me and a mist lamp in my hand, I could take on anything Alisara had to offer.

Then I met the Shade Griffin. Yes, the legends said his wings carried night and his great clawed feet shook waves of snow from the mountainsides and sent them thundering down to smother whole villages, while his beak could easily devour several oxen at once. I guess I didn’t believe them. I should have.

It was one of the arrogant knight heroes who’d hired me. All I was to do wake the beast, frankly not the best way to start any attack but hey, the knight was paying me good gold. I just made sure he paid me before we started out into the northern wilds. Anyhow, how hard was would it be to wake a Shade Griffin and then luring him down the mountain to the ambush where the knight was waiting?

I’d sat easily on Ice Mane and lifted a silver trumpet to my lips. The fact I had to wind the thing seven times before there was even a rumble from the gaping cavern should have given me some warning. And the Griffin’s first steps, shuddering the whole mountain side, did make me hesitate.

And then I saw him; wings made from living shadows, eyes as bleak as a starless night, legs as thick as pillars and a body which would crush have a village.

Ice Mane spun, tearing down the hillside so quickly I reeled, barely keeping my seat. Behind me, mist spun from my lamp, but there was no need of that now. We were hurtling into the darkness, barely keeping ahead of the Griffin’s easy stride.

And, as I pressed myself on my mount’s one final thought surged back and forth though my brain. Why, oh why, hadn’t I chosen to bait the fiery fen serpent instead?

Posted by Hope Ann in fantasy, My Writing, Reader's Corner, Writing Scenes, 6 comments

Call Name: Golden Sapphire

Area 7A: Sector 3C

1154 hours

Golden Sapphire, be alerted, Black Fury has been spotted heading east by northeast towards your sector. ETA 30 seconds. Repeat, Black Fury has breached Silver Ruby and is flying low. He must not be allowed access to the core. Repeat, he must be stopped. ETA 20 seconds. Golden Sapphire –

“Golden Sapphire reporting in,” Zevlina’s pulse quickened but she lifted the silver wristlet holding a humming crystal to her lips even as she slapped her boots against her dragon’s sleek blue sides. “Golden Sapphire reporting in. Heading to east. Will not allow Black Fury further access.”

Golden Sapphire, be alerted, a lancer is in your vicinity. He’ll lend his aid.

“Wonderful,” Zevlina muttered to herself, turning Sapphire’s head toward the breach and swaying easily as the beast wove though the gold-lit trunks.

Golden Sapphire, be alerted, a lancer –

“Got it.” Zevlina cut the voice off. A lancer indeed. Of all the numerous arrogants, lancers were by far the worse. And if it happened to be Quivlan…

A high shriek echoed through the air and Zevlina shifted her own javelin as her mount burst into a clearing. The deadly black figure of the Black Fury twisted it’s slender body upward, it’s wings flaring then folding as it spun towards her. Quivlan darted under Sapphire, angling his lance towards the Black Fury and Zevlina lifted her wrist to her mouth one last time, clenching her own lance ad the shimmering black skin of the dragon filled her sight.

“Command, be advised, we have found the Black Fury.”

Posted by Hope Ann in fantasy, My Writing, Reader's Corner, Writing Scenes, 10 comments