Diamond Marked (Tale of El’Anret #1-3) by Melody Klink

Summary

Inside a mortal girl lies the heart of the Queen of Diamonds, true ruler over El’Anret, the world of Faerie.

Inside a Half-Human, Half-Fae boy lives the soul of a Stag King, mysterious and powerful creature of legend, capable of transforming worlds… or destroying them.

And neither of them belong.

In a world of myths and monsters, it will take them both to usurp a renegade queen— one who stole the crown and made the whole of El’Anret bend to her will.

The Faerie world will never be the same.

DIAMOND MARKED: The Tale of El’Anret combines the stories of the Faerie and Mortal worlds into a single collection. Queen of Diamonds, Jack of Diamonds, and King of Diamonds are included in their Author Preferred text editions.

Part 1: QUEEN OF DIAMONDS

I didn’t realize it at the time but this was like watching the first season of Once Upon A Time – terrible but necessary. And just like that first season I don’t know if I would have continued reading from this first ‘section,’ it was very YA and the writing was stilted and somewhat boring. At parts it was even over the top and full of YA tropes. Even though the first book wasn’t very good, it didn’t stay that way. I’m not going to give too much away but I am going to say that I appreciated the end of this. That it wasn’t ‘happily ever after’ and that there were consequences for their actions. I did not connect with Leigh or Gideon which may have been the biggest problem.

Not very good but if you can get through this, I promise the next two parts are worth it. – 2.5 stars

Part 2: JACK OF DIAMONDS

As disappointed as I was in the first book, that quickly faded once Jack comes into the works. It becomes more complicated as it sheds its overly YA skin and takes on a whole new form of awesomeness. Suddenly it is highly imaginative, the plot opens up and even gets a little dark. It was engaging and I found myself turning pages and staying up later than I should to find out what happens. The irritation with the young character in the first section is balanced out here and Jack is such a likable character. I was also really happy to see Leigh come into her own.

I absolutely love this one the best – even with the cliffhanger at the end. – 5 Stars

Part 3: KING OF DIAMONDS

A great conclusion to these short novellas. This book went much darker and showed some overall elements of society that go poorly. That evil wins when good people do nothing. The world also expanded and grew and the battle scenes at the end, though a little long, were awesome. I felt like I finally had a great picture of what the author was trying to portray. The writing also improved and had better flow. Though Leigh’s undying love I came to like Gideon.

It also had a very sweet after ending that was very satisfying. I’m not always happy about those, but in this instance it was wonderful. – 4 Stars

Overall:

If you are going to buy them, you might as well get this box set and read them all the way through. Where Leigh felt a little flat, Jack eventually balanced her out and she came into her own. The world building greatly improves from book to book, as does the writing.

Rating:

4 Stars

Overall I enjoyed this collection of stories. The further I went into the story the more I enjoyed them. If you like YA stories that have fairies – this is a worth while read.

I received this book for a free and voluntarily review.

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Gamma by M Wiggins

Summary

Often broody, suspicious of those he doesn’t know well, islander, Alec Ellison, has spent his whole life hiding what makes him different. Then uninvited newcomers arrive to bring him to his rightful home, a world where he is so much more than DNA. Oppressive or not, though, life on Gamma is all he’s ever known and leaving doesn’t come easy for him. When he learns that the island and its inhabitants will likely be destroyed if he leaves, he struggles to decide if free will is worth the senseless loss of life.

There are only three ways onto Gamma, an island where liberty is an abstract facade: you’re born here, arrive by invitation, or you sneak in. Invited newcomers are rare and serve only two purposes: to keep the existing population from growing bored, or to increase the population with their approved genetic blue-print. Either way, once an islander, always an islander, and leaving the petri dish is not an option.

The Stone Davis Corporation owns all, controls all, and makes all your decisions. You accept what they give, and what they take away, but understand that management takes way more than they give. Everything you know is a lie. To escape is to resist and no battle worth fighting has ever come cheap.

Wherever law ends, tyranny begins. A war is coming, and GAMMA is the cradle of its genesis.

Characters

There are almost too many main characters in this book to talk about them all but I’ll try to touch on the main ones. Meg changes a lot through the book and I was most conflicted about her character. Although I liked her sometimes I didn’t like some of her choices and I felt like she was a slave to the plot rather than a driver behind it. Alec is probably my least favorite character, he continually disappointed me throughout the book. I was unsure of Tavis at the beginning (am I the only one who had a hard time not reading Travis? I thought she was a he at first). However, by the end of the book she had grown on me. Jack…I’m still now sure about Jack. I liked him sort of in the start, but something about him always…just didn’t sit right. Favorite character by far was Sebastian. I loved the relationship between him and Tavis. I can’t talk about any other characters without giving stuff away, but be aware there are lots of them.

Even though the characters became unique and interesting, it was difficult to read at times be of the constant POV shifts. Trying to keep up with who’s point of view was very confusing. It would sometimes change multiple times in a chapter. I’d be in Tavis’s head then Sebastian’s and then Jack’s without any warning or transition.

Plot

I’m not sure this book knows what its plot was. It was a dystopian sci-fi, with a focus on meta humans, but it wasn’t that simple. There was romance (more so in the beginning) then later. It was more of a family saga with a sci-fi twist. The biggest issue was all the minuta. I felt like I was drowning in useless scenes and day to day activities more than once that I couldn’t always figure out how that had anything to do with where the book was going. However, there were more than a few scenes and plot points that caught my attention and really shined. This plot was more about the characters then the story, which was evident by the progression of the plot. The characters were all distinct but the plot had a few logical fallacies.

The author held a lot back and introduced new ‘secrets’ that were revelations on the characters and help drive the plot. I wasn’t sure all of the were necessary and some of them felt convenient. Again I think that is because this book was more character driven then plot driven.

Overall

I’d like to start off by saying I don’t like really long books and this book was over 600 pages and took me 10 HOURS TO READ! If you love long intense sagas, this is for sure something you’d love. I struggled through it on more than one occasion. What was worse, after the big conflict there is a character who proceeds to monologue for pages on end as part of the resolution’s. It was all very predictable in more than one way but also complicated. I wasn’t necessarily surprised by some of the developments – they’d been hinted at – but it was subtle and could be easily overlooked.  If all of the chapters could have been more like the epilogue I would have enjoyed it more.

That being said I was impressed by the sheer dedication to detail. It didn’t leave anything to the imagination (for good or bad). With the exception of the setting. The world building was very vague. The complexly woven story and the many twists and turns created a interesting structure. Overall it felt like a very long origin story, which I expect is the first in an equally lengthy series.

Rating

3 Stars

It was okay. This was a speculative fiction that delves deep into the characters lives and felt like a historical saga of their progression. If you like the deep dive into characters lives and thoroughly detailed scenes, then this book is for you.

I received this book for a free and voluntarily review. More reviews at creatingworldswithwords.wordpress.com.

The Tudor Heresy by Samantha Burnell

An Introduction to the Tudor Mystery Trials

A gripping Historical Adventure set in 16th Century Tudor England. Elizabeth Tudor needs a hero. Murder, Mystery & Intrigue with a Splash of Romance.

Based on actual historical events, an epic tale of a young Tudor nobleman’s courage as he tries to keep his future Queen safe in one of England’s most turbulent eras.

If you enjoy Tudor Fiction by Phillipa Gregory and Alison Weir then ‘A Queens Spy’ is perfect for you. A fascinating insight into Tudor England and the life of Elizabeth I before she sets foot on the steps to the throne.

The story unfolds in 16th Century Tudor England

Richard Fitzwarren is a Tudor nobleman with a dubious past who takes risks for a living.

His close friendship with Princess Elizabeth leads to his banishment to France, but when he returns he remains loyal to her.

At his side is Jack, his bastard sibling, and their relationship is a troubled one due to a family secret and their opposite personalities.

Will he keep the future Queen safe?

Overall

I would like to start off by saying I love Tudor history. I jumped at the chance to read this and it was very enjoyable. It was a bit jerky at times following from one year to another without any introduction or transition, but I appreciated the writing style was very succinct and to the point. This made for a quick read. The brutality of the era was well depicted. I could for sure see reading and enjoying more about Jack and Richard as Elisabeth comes to power. There were a few POV shifts, but it felt more of a narration so it didn’t feel jarring after the first time it happened. The verbiage felt right for the era and I was impressed with correct terminology being applied in more than one place.

Rating

4 stars

Overall a very enjoyable historical short story to whet ones appetite. If you are in need of a short story to pass the time – I’d recommend this one!

I received this book for a free and voluntarily review.

Wandering Storm

Summary:

Loud banging resounded throughout the house. The housekeeper pushed a servant aside and wrenched the door open angrily. A man stood on the threshold, dripping rain and mud and blood. A stormy night brings Wandering sailors to a sleepy farming town in the High Kingdoms. (Short Story in the Tales from the Circle Series)

Overall

This had a very interesting setting, on the high seas, but some of the imagery of the setting was lost on me. After the rocky beginning some of it cleared up and I was able to connect more with this fantasy based novel. This seems like it was a short story meant to go to a bigger story and without knowing the bigger story, this was not as clear or enjoyable.

I enjoyed the second half of the story more, even though I was still a little lost, I was captivated! This is where the author’s ability really shined. The settings, the plot coming together, and the characters taking on more life. It was an interesting narration. I wouldn’t say this is a young adult, but it is clean enough that young adults could easily enjoy.

Rating

3 stars

It was okay. A little unformed, but vividly fascinating! I think if I had read the main book and then this one, I would enjoyed this more.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Perfect Timing by Jeffery J. Smith

Summary

Accidentally transported to the future, caterer Crik escapes house-arrest with Tepper, his possible distant descendant. While pursued by volunteer vigilante Voltak, goofball Crik explores Geotopia-where buildings grow, people incorporate animal powers, smart phones know it all, and vehicles defy gravity-seeking clues. If he can discover, understand, and articulate the future’s public policy that works right for everybody, he can prove he was their founder, the lone agent of change who put society on its path toward universal prosperity and harmony with nature. If he fails to convince the Futurite Authorities, they wouldn’t return their unexpected visitor to the exact second he left-something their law requires-to the moment when a hail of gunfire was bearing down on the luckless caterer and college dropout…would they?

Characters

There are two main characters – Crik and Tepper. I didn’t like Crik, which made the book really difficult to get through. I think he was supposed to be a funny character but for me he was just annoying. Tepper was alright, but she felt two-dimensional, almost like she existed as an interaction for Crik’s antics and nothing more. In the end I didn’t connect with the characters. However, if you like plucky characters then maybe you’ll enjoy his silliness. There is also a plethora of support characters.

Plot

I’m going to start off by saying that I’m not a fan of time travel books. I did like the premise of this one at first but that quickly faded because of the future we visit. It was very bizarre and lacked any seriousness. Made the entire premise seem like a gag story. Actually reminded me of Idiocracy at parts, which is why it felt more like a commentary of society then a sci-fi. I’d say there were for sure science fiction parts, but that seemed like a sub-plot at best.

Overall

I couldn’t connect with the characters or the plot. Although imaginative, the entire book was just too weird for me. Perhaps because it just felt randomly weird. Furthermore I felt like a ping pong ball, being thrown all over the place but not all of it felt plot relevant. I had to take frequent breaks because it felt illogical and disorganized. There were rabbit hole that just seemed to go nowhere. I’ll admit part of it could have been the syntax of the ‘future’ humans. Which was not always followed up by enough clarification.

The ending was interesting – although somewhat predictable, it wasn’t super cut and dry and I liked that. It was a redeeming piece after the rest of it. I think it could have been fun, but for me it was trying too hard and just didn’t hit me in the funny spot. However, if you love silly humor— this will likely leave you in stitches!

Rating

2.5 stars (rounded down)

In the end the combination of bizarre and time travel, mixed in with the plot left me bored. If you like time travel, gag stories with plucky main characters, this is for you, it just wasn’t for me.

I received a copy in exchange of an honest review.

Loved by the First (Book 2) by C.F. Rabbiosi

Summary

Raina’s Sire has released her to be with her human love. Finally.
If only her hunger for blood wasn’t getting out of control and endangering him.
If only the first vampire and most dangerous being on earth wasn’t pursuing her for his torturous pleasure.

If only she could stay.

She travels across the world to escape him, leaving everything she loves behind. In Tombstone, “The Silver City Strangler” has been making his own living dead girls- using and abusing them before leaving their naked bodies to the desert sun. Finding him, and killing him most terribly will ease the beast inside the beautiful new vampire, while protecting her human soul. But The First has found her.

He plans to use her to hurt his enemy but never thought his stone heart would come alive again.

In her.

Characters

Raina’s still a bit of a mess but she isn’t taking this book laying down…mostly. She doesn’t always make the best choices but at least she is making choices and being her own woman. The biggest choice being that she must sever contact with those she knows to and to hunt killers to make up for what she is. Marcus is in this book but much less. There are a few chapters from Varo’s point of view and one from The Silver City Strangler’s point of view. Overall these dark characters are back with a few new characters in addition to Varo – such as new friends Kyle and Phoenix.

Plot

This book also has a few plots, but this time the author did a better job of making them all relevant in one capacity or another. The most dominating plots is Varo and the second is Raina hunting The Silver City Strangler. I figured out who the strangler was pretty quickly but I won’t tell you how I figured it out so early on. Instead I’ll say if it wasn’t for me reading between the lines early on, I would have been ping-ponging my suspicions between a few characters. If you like a little mystery in your books – this one was well done!

The pacing is pretty fast, almost too fast, to the point that it was jarring in a few areas. I was a little lost a few times because I would think they were in one person’s room but then suddenly they are in another place entirely and I missed the transition. The scenes that I could connect with were great! Dark to be sure, but I could almost see Raina fighting or dancing or…another ‘f’ work. The ending is what had me scratching my head the most because so much happened in a very short period. In the end it felt rushed, as though the author wanted to finish it and make sure it was set up for a third book. I did like the ending but it could have been spread out a little to expand on what was happening.

Overall

I’m still trying to process everything that happened in this book. Part of the reason I devoured the last 20% in one sitting and then needed to take a few days to decide how I felt about it. I’ll start off by saying that this book is much darker and more deprived then the first book. Not only are you twisting with the mystery but this book is just straight up twisted! There was one part was I was like “No, the author isn’t going to let that happen – it is too messed up.” Boy was I wrong! Positively shocking!

That being said, I did have a few things I didn’t like. There were a lot of historical inaccuracies and more then a few items a questioned. For example “slumber parties” and knowing was a microscope slide is before the 1900s. They had microscopes but they called them “sliders” in that era and were much different then what we know today. Plus I questioned Raina knowing what they were at all. Another issue was the types of drinks and how they ordered them. I know at least one of them was for a specific scene but ordering a drink “on the rocks” is a little too modern, plus ordering a rum and coke or long island iced tea. Rum and coke is possible but I questioned it because Coca Cola wasn’t invented until 3 years prior to the book’s time period and it was used as a medicine since it contained cocaine.

As a side note: this book needs a new cover. This cover just doesn’t do the book justice!

Rating

3.5 Stars (rounded down on Goodreads and up on Amazon)

In the end this book was better then the first in many respects! Raina was a fantastic character and I felt like the book followed her dark turn. There was an introspective effect to what was happening to Raina that made me really connect with her. Not  be able to relate to her but for sure ask that question – what would I do if this was me? I’d read the next book! If you like dark (and I mean DARK) vampire books – pick this up!

I received this book in exchange for an honest review!

 

 

Seasons of Love and War by Brenda Ashworth Barry

Summary

SEASONS OF LOVE AND WAR is a historical family saga and epic love story. Childhood sweethearts Beth Ann Rose and Kaylob Shawn O’Brien just want to get married and pursue their dream careers, but the Vietnam War changes everything when Kaylob is drafted into the Army and declared dead. Beth Ann has a complete emotional melt down and starts to have visions of him in the jungles of Vietnam. Is he alive or has she completely lost her mind?

Characters

Kaylob, Beth Ann, and Blake are the three main characters. Although I liked both Kaylob and Blake to certain extents, I couldn’t bring myself to like Beth Ann. She reminded me as a lead in a trashy soap opera. By the end of the book I absolutely loathed her – to the point that I didn’t think she deserved anyone and I wished very much that things end poorly for her. She was not what I would define as a strong woman. Her reaction when Kaylob first goes missing was absolutely over the top. Most of her actions, in one way or another, were understandable  in some regard, but it was the way she handled them that was STUPID. She was a spineless selfish little creature that I hope ends up dying in a horrible way to match her horrible little personality – very similar to my emotions toward Catherine of Wuthering Heights. The supporting characters were fine, I actually liked Jake and Carol. I won’t even mention her long term friend because I’ll just start another rant on how much I disliked Beth Ann. Plus I don’t want to ruin any of the story.

Plot

Very interesting plot. The historical aspects of this book seemed to spot on. Anything I wasn’t 100 sure of, I actually googled really quickly and was impressed that the author did their homework. A hurrah because this was presented as a more historical novel. Wanting to find out what happened to Kaylob was hands down the number one reason I went through the book. I didn’t realize when I picked this book that it couldn’t stand alone. That was very disappointing because more than once I thought “was that really necessary?” Though that may have been due more to my dislike of the main character.

The war zone pieces were great…but they were entirely centered on Kaylob’s love for Beth Ann. I get that it was their connection – but for a historical novel I thought we’d see a little more of what was happening to him and his fellow soldiers. What we did see were some of the best parts of the novel and I absolutely love Kaylob for them. Where the author failed with Beth Ann in my eyes, Kaylob was wonderful. Not perfect, but wonderful. Plus I’m not 100% sure where the author was going with the more supernatural part of the book with Beth Ann’s visions. You’ll see what I mean.

Overall

The writing was well done and easy to follow. The plot wasn’t perfect but did keep me engaged. I would point out that a few parts felt a little convenient – like when John Patterson calls Beth Ann. I also felt there were a few logical fallacies that were overlooked, but most of them were minor and had to do with Beth Ann’s decision making in general. The historical references were spot on as far as I could tell – which was a huge win in my mind. I truly thought that my general dislike of Beth Ann would fade as the author built the character up and made her stronger. Instead she kept her a pouting selfish brat, who I could never sympathize with because she always seemed to be using those who were good-natured.

Rating

2.5 stars (rounded up to 3)

If you like Wuthering Heights or soap operas you will love this book – it just wasn’t my favorite. As a historical novel this was a win, but as a romance for me it was an epic fail.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. More reviews at creatingworldswithwords.wordpress.com.