Category: Fantasy


From Publisher’s Website

Magic has broken free over the Twelve Kingdoms. The population is beset by shapeshifters and portents, landscapes that migrate, uncanny allies who are not quite human…and enemies eager to take advantage of the chaos.

Dafne Mailloux is no adventurer–she’s a librarian. But the High Queen trusts Dafne’s ability with languages, her way of winnowing the useful facts from a dusty scroll, and even more important, the subtlety and guile that three decades under the thumb of a tyrant taught her.

Dafne never thought to need those skills again. But she accepts her duty. Until her journey drops her into the arms of a barbarian king. He speaks no tongue she knows but that of power, yet he recognizes his captive as a valuable pawn. Dafne must submit to a wedding of alliance, becoming a prisoner-queen in a court she does not understand. If she is to save herself and her country, she will have to learn to read the heart of a wild stranger. And there are more secrets written there than even Dafne could suspect…

My Review:

While the story does have romance in it, the romance doesn’t drive the story forward. This is a Fantasy novel that happens to have romance. Which is a nice departure from my typical Romance Novels. Fantasy has always been a favorite of mine. My first “adult” book in 4th grade was Andre Norton’s Beast Master.

This story is my favorite of the Twelve Kingdoms series. I love Dafne, probably because I can identify with her more than I could Andi, Ami, and Ursula. She is a bibliophile and relies on her book knowledge as a shield against the world. I wish I was the polyglot that she is. Dafne’s ability to assimilate languages is amazing.

Luckily for Dafne, that skill as well as her research skills, help her when King Nakoa decides to keep her. I enjoyed Dafne’s journey of learning the Nahanauian culture and discovering not only the history of the islands, but also history of Annfwn and possibly the Twelve Kingdoms. I would love to see more stories from Dafne’s point of view and what she is learning from that vast library and from her new friend.

As the etching on the knives Ursula gave Dafne says, “This is why it’s perilous to ignore a librarian.”

As you can tell, I loved this book. I’ve read it from start to finish a few times since I got it. I wish I knew why it took me so long to read a book by Jeffe.

I wonder if there will be a book about Jepp and Kral……

 

I give The Pages of the Mind a 5 Horseshoe rating.

 

The Pages of the Mind is available from Amazon in Print and Kindle editions. It is also available from Barnes and Noble in Print and Nook editions.

 

Publication Details:

Author Jeffe Kennedy
Title The Pages of the Mind
Format Ebook
Length 432 Pages
Publication Date June 15, 2016
Publisher Kensington
ISBN 978-1-4967-0425-2
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From Amazon’s Website

The Legend begins…

For centuries, stories of the Fae have been passed down from generation to generation throughout the Scottish Highlands. Over time, the truth of their existence was reduced to nothing more than childhood fairytales. Until now! On the eve of war between Good and Evil, Ella of Andor, the Fae Princess of Darkness embarks on a journey that would ensure her kingdom’s victory as prophesied. But in a twist of fate, Ella is led to the mortal world where she soon discovers a mystery about her past that could destroy everything she has ever known.

After returning home from battle against a neighboring clan, Laird Galen Graham stumbles upon an injured woman in desperate need of care and protection. Wanting to return her to her family becomes a difficult task when he discovers the lass cannot speak. While trying to solve the mystery behind who she is, Galen finds himself falling in love with a lass he knows nothing about.

Forced to return to the Fae world, can Ella stop the war threatening to destroy her kingdom, or will she give up her destiny to return to the man she has fallen for in the mortal world? After discovering the truth about the mysterious lass, will Galen be able to let her go?

Follow Ella and Galen’s fantastic journey filled with magic, danger, love, and mystery.

My Review:

Oh, where to start. In general the writing was good, as well as the character development. But this story had many issues. So many in fact that I almost quit reading the story multiple times. I did finish the book, but it was painful.

There are two sides to this story. There is the Fae realm and 15th Century Scotland. The Fae Realm was nicely created and well rounded. I could easily see the land and the creatures that were described. The history of the land was interesting and the author does a good job in making the reader want to stay in this realm and discover what happens to the people of it.

Then we get to the 15th Century Scotland. The number of items incorrect drove me nuts. I will admit that Scottish History is a big interest of mine and has been for a very long time. I usually don’t mind dialect in stories, but I felt that it was over used. There was at least one time where the author used the words dinna and no in the same sentence, causing the sentence to have a double negative.

The author also tended to use words that are not in common use and for one, the context wasn’t correct. At one point Galen tells his second to impose a cheminage for those who crossed his border. Cheminage is a fee traditionally applied to people taking items to market through a forest that is owned by a Lord. Very few clans would be able to man their entire border to collect this fee. The amount of money they would make compared to the man power needed makes it ridiculous. The economy of the Highlands in the 15th Century was still primarily barter based and due to poor roads, trade with others was not widely done. Trade and coins were common in strong economic centers like Perth, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, etc. The average person wouldn’t be carrying coin, therefore making the cheminage unrealistic.

Much to my surprise, we discover that the clan blacksmith and the clan healer lived ten miles from the clan seat. Why would you put these two very important people so far from the center of the clan? Typically both of these people would either live within the castle walls or just outside the walls. The average person walks at the speed of three miles per hour, and a walking horse averages four to five miles per hour, a distance of ten miles would not be covered at a trot or faster pace. At these speed averages, it would take people two and half to three and half hours to cover ten miles. No intelligent Laird would have these people so far from the largest grouping of clan members. Later in the story we discover that the armory is nine miles from the castle. Why isn’t within the castle walls?

At one point, Galen is planning on going to Stonehaven to visit the market because the trade ships would have come in that day or the day before. The author lets the readers know that Stonehaven is two hours from the castle. There are a few issues with this. First, the Laird would not have left to do the marketing. He would have a man who would do that and only a few times a year. By stating that Stonehaven is only two hours away, the author has stated that Stonehaven is closer than the clan blacksmith or healer. In the 15th Century, Stonehaven was a fishing village. It was never a trading port. The closest trading port was actually Aberdeen, which is north of Stonehaven. Even now, Stonehaven is still a fishing village but also relies on tourism for income. Then there is the name issue. Stonehaven did not get its name until the start of the 17th century. Stonehaven and much of the land around it was Clan Keith land. Another reason this whole scenario wouldn’t work is that trade ships wouldn’t attempt the North Sea in the winter. The sea is too treacherous.

When the author finally gave us a general idea where in Scotland the story was taking place, I discovered that the story is taking place over a hundred miles from where the author really wanted. Stonehaven is on the eastern coast of Scotland. During the story we learn that Galen’s clan Graham was having a feud with Clan MacGregor, and Galen was trying to forge an alliance with Clan Campbell and their Laird the Duke of Argyll. These clans never had land along the eastern coast of Scotland. For the most part, their lands were northwest of Glasgow, approximately a hundred miles from Stonehaven.

Imagine my surprise when I read the author biography at the end of the story and discovered that she has written three other Scottish Historicals.

I found that the relationship between Galen and Ella very platonic. Yes, Galen lusted after Ella but I never really felt that these characters fell for each other. The sex scene was not necessary to this story. It didn’t move forward the story or their relationship. It felt like the author went, “Wait, this is romance. It must have sex.” This story would have been just fine without the sex, especially since I feel that the characters didn’t have mutual desire for each other.

The end of the story was very abrupt. There were things not resolved in the Fae realm. How can Ella take the Queen’s offer and leave the Fae realm without completing a task she had set for herself? The author could have extended the story by having Ella and Galen working together. Even if they failed at the task, it would give a level of closure. Instead, Ella didn’t pursue the task and left it for others who looked to her for leadership. I realize that the author wanted to keep the task unfulfilled so she can have a series, but there should have been an attempt.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I give Legend of the Fae a 2 Horseshoe rating.

Legend of the Fae is available from Amazon in Kindle and Print editions.

Publication Details:

Author April Holthouse
Title Legend of the Fae
Format Ebook
Length 236
Publication Date March 2015
Publisher Self Published Through Amazon
ISBN 978-1-5077-6137-3

From Author’s Website

My name is Alana Devereaux. I enjoy the simple things in life, walks in the park, sky gazing, and ripping a demon’s heart out through its chest. I am a demon slayer, the last of my kind, and I have been sent back through time to save your world. How am I doing so far? My time travel went haywire, all the signs I needed to stop the prophecy have passed, and the only way I can save my world is by keeping yours from ending. Then there’s Gaelen, most days I want to deck him. He hides his true motives and if it was not for the intel he had, I would be rid of him. Any day in my life without a demon attack is a good day; I haven’t had a whole lot of those lately. The only problem is, if I don’t stop the Mutari, the world will burn.

My Review:

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I liked the characters and the premise of the book. I found the world interesting and definitely would like to read more about this world. I will be reading the prequel novella, and the sequel once it is published.

I’m not quite sure how to categorize this book. There is a dystopian Urban Fantasy future but then the main character is sent back in time to prevent the event that caused the dystopian future. I wouldn’t list it as a romance novel, because the relationship between Alana and Gaelen wasn’t the core of the story. The core was stopping the disaster that was coming. It was very similar to Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniel series, in that it has romance but it isn’t the driving force of the book.

I did find some issues. This novel could have gone through one more time with a copy editor. I found wrong words (using triskette instead of triskele) and some phrasing that didn’t make sense. There is one scene where there is a slight tense change during an observation that Alana makes and it makes is seem like she was comparing the situation to a previous time instead of seeing it for the first time.

This story is in the First Person Point of View, which I have no issues with, and I have no problem with switching between First and Third Person Point of View. (My favorite author jumps between the two regularly, but it is done by chapter usually.) My problem was the occasional jump to Third Person Point of View to provide information that the author felt was vital to the story. Since my first read through, I have read parts again, including a couple of the Third Person Point of View scenes. I’ve decided that the Third Person Point of View scenes are not needed. They really don’t provide information that the main character doesn’t figure out later, except for one scene which I still can’t figure out why the information was revealed in this book.

You might look at my rating and wonder why I gave the rating I did after listing the problems I found. Well, let me explain it. I felt that this book was better than a 3 Horseshoe rating but not quiet a 4 Horseshoe rating, but I couldn’t bring myself to do a 3 ½ Horseshoe rating only because you can’t have half of a horseshoe. (I know. There aren’t very many 5 legged horses out there….) Because of my waffling, I talked to my husband about my dilemma. He stated that most people won’t pick up on the things I do. He had me rate the book as if I was an average reader.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I give Anointed a 4 Horseshoe rating.

Anointed is available from Amazon in Kindle and Print editions. Also available from Barnes and Noble in Nook and Print.

Publication Details:

Author Maggie Mae Gallagher
Title Anointed
Format Ebook
Length 401 Pages
Publication Date February 2014
Publisher Self Published
ISBN 978-0-9914-8171-2

I used Random.org to choose the two lucky people to receive The Lord Of Illusion.   The winners are….

 

 

 

Ladies, Sourcebooks Casablanca will mail you those books later this week.

Thank you to everyone who entered!

From Publisher’s Website

He’ll do anything to save her…

Rebel Lord Drystan Hawkes dreams of fighting for England’s freedom from the endless evils of the Elven Lords. He gets his chance when he finds a clue to opening the magic portal to Elfhame, and he must race to find the slave girl who holds the key to the mystery. But even as Drystan rescues Camille Ashton from Dreamhame Palace, it becomes unclear exactly who is saving whom.

For the fate of humankind lies with Camille…

Enslaved for years in a realm where illusion and glamour reign, Camille has learned to trust nothing and no one. But she’s truly spellbound when she meets Drystan–a man different from any she’s ever known, and the force of their passion may yet be strong enough to banish the Elven Lords from this world forever.

My Review:

Evil elves have taken over England and fight over the King of England, just like in a game of chess. This story takes place during the 1700s and the elves have blocked England from the rest of world, including Wales and Scotland.

Ms. Kennedy did an excellent job of crafting a world run by insane evil elves. She has a talent for writing fantasy and keeping the reader wanting to read the story. Her romance writing skills are not as refined as her fantasy writing skills. I felt the romance was kind of forgotten in this book. This felt more like a fantasy novel with some romance than a romance novel set in a fantasy world. I would’ve liked to see more courting. With Camille being a victim of rape, I wanted to see more of the couple’s struggle with helping her overcome her fears.

I had one big issue with the end of the book and I need to include a spoiler to explain my dislike. If you would like to read that section please click here.

If you love fantasy novels, you will definitely enjoy this book. The world and characters are very vibrant. But if you are looking for a strong romance story, you will be disappointed. Even with that said, I have gone back multiple times to re-read sections because I enjoyed them so much the first time.

I give The Lord Of Illusion a 4 Horseshoe rating.

The Lord Of Illusion is available from Amazon in Print and Kindle editions.

On February 23, Ms. Kennedy wrote a guest post for PonyTails about her dragons and her dogs.

Publication Details:

Author Kathryne Kennedy
Title The Lord Of Illusion
Format Print
Length 425 Pages
Publication Date February 2012
Publisher Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN 978-1-4022-3654-9

 

 

 

 
I really disliked how the book ended. At the end of the story, Camille is off in her own little world because of her connection with the magic of the evil elves. What brings her back to the present, five months later, is a visit from Drystan’s mother. Camille comes back to the present realizing that she can’t marry Drystan because of the curse put on her to prevent her having children. Unsure how to tell Drystan, she runs in the gardens away from everyone. Drystan finds her and she tells him of the curse. He then tells her that she is five months pregnant. Wouldn’t she have discovered a major change to her body before he told her? I would think that even though she was not in the present, she would have had some idea that she was pregnant. She wasn’t in a coma, and she did daily functions fine. That portion of the story seemed contrived and unrealistic to me.

From Publisher’s Website

ETERNAL COMMITMENT IS NOT ON HER AGENDA…

Scorned by the vampire community for her lack of power, Isabel Anthony lives a carefree existence masquerading as human—although drifting through the debauched human nightlife, she prefers the patrons’ blood to other indulgences. But when she meets the sexy, arrogant king of the vampires, this party-girl’s life turns dark and dangerous.

BUT TIME’S RUNNING OUT FOR THE KING OF THE VAMPIRES…

Dead-set on finding the prophesied mate who will unlock his fiery powers, Thad Morgan must find his queen before their race is destroyed. Their enemies are gaining ground, and Thad needs his powers to unite his subjects. But when his search leads him to the defiant Isabel, he wonders if fate had gotten it seriously wrong…

My Review:

Overall, I enjoyed this novel while I read it. The characters are well arounded and enjoyable. Ms Staab did a good job describing Tampa and the other locations in the book. But there were several things that threw the story’s flow and my enjoyment.

The first problem is the number of cliches that were in the story. Holy vampire there were a lot. I started counting them after the first couple. There were multiple variations along the lines of “six ways to Sunday.” More than once was the phrase “colder than a witch’s tit” was used to describe the weather. In some books the use of cliches are appropriate to the character’s personality. But for these characters they don’t fit. They would jar me out of the story and it would take a little bit for me to get back in to the story.

I felt that there were too many sub-plots to this story, and they took away from the main plot. There wasn’t much in the way of courting by the hero. The love story didn’t really develop. Most of the story was spent on dealing with the wizards, and the emotions of moving in to the parent’s old home. If more of the story was spent on the actual romance, it would have been an improvement.

With all the said, I’m curious enough about what has happened to a couple of the characters that I would read the next book in the series.

I give King of Darkness a 3 Horseshoe rating.

King of Darkness is available from Amazon in Print and Kindle editions.

Publication Details:

Author Elisabeth Staab
Title King of Darkness
Format Print
Length 340 Pages
Publication Date February 2012
Publisher Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN 978-1-4022-6315-6


Kathryne Kennedy has won awards from the Arizona Author Association and the Colorado Romance Writers for her magical romances. She has lived in Guam, Okinawa, and several states in the U.S., and currently lives with her wonderful family in Arizona, where she is working on the next book in her Relics of Merlin series, Everlasting Enchantment. She welcomes readers to visit her her website where she has ongoing contests.

Meet My Dragons by Kathryne Kennedy

A big hello Jenn and all your readers! It’s a pleasure to be a guest at your blog today, and to meet another serious book and animal lover! After visiting your blog I knew right away which character I would be introducing from my book today. The dragon. Although many of my books feature animals—from Chihuahuas to monkeys to shape-shifting stallions—my current release features an intelligent, sometimes sarcastic, golden-scaled dragon.

I can’t help including an animal or two in my stories. They often provide that touch of whimsy or charm that make the book fun and engaging for me, and hopefully for my readers as well. When I was younger, I had a passion for horses. Although I couldn’t have one of my own, I had several friends who were kind enough to share theirs. Over the years I’ve had rabbits, dogs, cats, fish, snakes, tadpoles, geckos, birds and a crawdad or two. I currently have two little Chihuahuas that bring more joy and pleasure to my life than their 16 combined pounds should. And because I think they’re the most darling girls in the world, I had to share some of their pictures with you and your readers. The fluffy one is Precious, and the short-hair is Baggins…and they weren’t really into ‘modeling’ with one of my books. :}


In The Elven Lords series, the seven mad elven who invaded England flew through the barrier between worlds on their dragon-steeds. Each dragon is the color of the magical scepters of the elven lords, and carries a form of each particular power. Here is a glimpse at each of them:

Ador of the black scepter spouts fire.
Kalah of the blue scepter breathes lightning.
Mi’cal of the green scepter exhales a mist that creates thorny vines, a grove of trees, meadows of flowers.
Grimor’ee of the golden scepter puffs a misty smoke of illusion.
Midaz of the violet scepter can expel a fog that can turn anything to stone.
Grendl of the silver scepter spews molten metal.
Kiz’rah of the brown scepter has a roar that can cause the earth to split.

In The Lord of Illusion, we meet Grimor’ee, the golden dragon of glamour and illusion. In this scene, we see him through my hero’s point of view:

Drystan watched in amazement as a rosy hue flushed the dragon’s golden scales from snout to tail. Great wings rose and covered Camille for a moment, apparently the version of a dragon’s hug.

“You humans,” he rumbled, “have such capacity for greatness within your concept of love.” His golden eyes glanced at Drystan, who stood with arms crossed, watching the beast with as much obvious distrust and skepticism as he could display with a raised brow and a sneer.

“And weakness,” added Grimor’ee, removing his wings from around her and pointing them skyward. “We will speak again, Camille. You must promise to visit me tomorrow evening. Will you do so?”

“Yes. Yes, of course, if you wish it.”

Grimor’ee gazed at her silently, the smaller scales covering his forehead folding together as if contemplating a serious and disturbing matter. “I do so wish it.” He stretched out his wings to their full length, easily twice his height. “Now get the man from my sight before I turn him into a frog. He annoys the human hell out of me.”
She backed up as the dragon stroked the air with his wings, the cozy fireplace Grimor’ee had conjured disappearing as if washed away by the breeze he created. Drystan leaped forward and shielded her body with his as the dragon took to the air, his golden scales shining against the night sky as brilliantly as the stars twinkling above.

“You hurt his feelings,” said Camille.

Drystan sighed. “Dragons have no feelings, Camille. At least, none that remotely resemble a human’s. It is a grave mistake for you to think so.”

“Is it?” She pulled away from him, heading back toward the bridge between castle and tower. “He has never lied to me.”
Drystan scowled, trudging after her through the freshly fallen snow.

Devil take it. Could he be jealous of a dragon?

My dragons became more pivotal to the plot than I had first intended. Their interactions with humans gave them empathy and emotion that developed over the course of the series, until they fought the enchantment the elven lords had put on them, and became actively involved in the fight for England’s freedom.

Thank you so much for having me here today, Jenn! I hope you and your readers enjoyed the sneak peek into the dragons of THE ELVEN LORDS series. Do any of you have a favorite fantasy creature? Or a favorite pet? I would love to hear about it!

My Magical Best,
Kathryne

*********

Thank you to Ms. Kennedy for coming to PonyTails today to talk about your fur-babies and dragons!

The wonderful Danielle Jackson at Sourcebooks Casablanca has agreed to sponsor a giveaway of 2 copies of THE LORD OF ILLUSION . It is open to US and Canadian residents only. I will do a random selection from the entries for the two winners on March 1, 2012. To enter, please fill out the form at the end of the post.

About The Lord Of Illusion:

He’ll do anything to save her…

Rebel Lord Drystan Hawkes dreams of fighting for England’s freedom from the endless evils of the Elven Lords. He gets his chance when he finds a clue to opening the magic portal to Elfhame, and he must race to find the slave girl who holds the key to the mystery. But even as Drystan rescues Camille Ashton from Dreamhame Palace, it becomes unclear exactly who is saving whom.

For the fate of humankind lies with Camille…

Enslaved for years in a realm where illusion and glamour reign, Camille has learned to trust nothing and no one. But she’s truly spellbound when she meets Drystan–a man different from any she’s ever known, and the force of their passion may yet be strong enough to banish the Elven Lords from this world forever.

From Publisher’s Website

HE’S EXACTLY WHAT SHE’S ALWAYS WANTED,

AND SHE UNLEASHES HIM LIKE A FORCE OF NATURE…

Lucy was once the beloved Goddess of the Moon, and she could have any man she wanted. But these days, the goddesses of the Etruscan pantheon are all but forgotten. The only rituals she enjoys now are the local hockey games, where one ferociously handsome player still inflames her divine blood…

Brandon Stevenson is one hundred percent focused on the game, until he looks up and sees a celestial beauty sitting in the third row. A man could surely fall hard for a distraction like that…

My Review:

This is the second book in the Forgotten Goddesses series and boy was it a scorcher! A sexy Goddess of the Moon who doesn’t mind the darkness some men carry and a Hockey player who can give her what she wants.

Stephanie Julian knows how to deliver an Erotic Romance. Plenty of hot, steamy sex and a fun story to go with it. Personally I don’t think the story was as strong as her first book, What A Goddess Wants, but it was still enjoyable.

I feel that the end of the book was rushed. Almost as if the author discovered her deadline was looming and she found an easy way out for the characters. The scene that takes place in Chimer was disappointing as a climactic scene. With a little more work, it could have been epic.

Stephanie Julian does create wonderful characters and I love her weaving in the mythos of the Etruscans. Everything from their Goddesses to the shape shifters. She also weaves in some of the mythos of other pantheons as well, like the Norse berserkir .

I am looking forward to the next Forgotten Goddesses book, Goddess In The Middle, which is due to come out in Summer 2012.

I give How To Worship A Goddess a 4 Horseshoe rating!

How To Worship A Goddess is available from Amazon in Print and Kindle editions. Also from Barnes and Noble in Print and Nook.

Publication Details:

Author Stephanie Julian
Title How To Worship A Goddess
Format Print
Length 304 Pages
Publication Date December 2011
Publisher Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN 978-1-4022-5150-4

As part of the Elemental Reality Blog Tour, I asked Cesya to tell us about the type of writing environment she needs in order to be productive.

I can write anywhere, in any environment. I’ve written some really great scenes at work. Some scenes I’ve while in bed trying to fall asleep. If I want my writing to make sense, it must be noisy. I’ve tried being productive when everything was quiet in my house but I noticed I tend to do other things then. Check Facebook, watch stuff on Hulu, buy more books . . . You get my point. I need constant noise around me in order to get anything done. I write best when people are talking in another room. I don’t know why but I do. Or, if it’s really late at night the TV has to be on. Not the one that’s in the room with me and constantly tempts me to turn it on. No, I need the background noise of the TV form another room. Even in high school I’d have the TV while doing my homework. Hmm, maybe that’s why I didn’t excel in any classes during my first semester in college . . . Nah, that can’t be it. Anyway, back on topic. Noise, noise, noise! Music, TV, talking. Whatever it may be, it helps me concentrate on my writing. Yeah, I’m weird. (cheesy smile)

Elemental Reality is Cesya’s debut novel, being released by Revolution Publishing. When she isn’t writing, Cesya can be found at her day job, spending time with friends, or doing sketches for potential makeup designs. She live near her family in Pennsylvania. For more information, please visit http://cesyacuonobooks.blogspot.com/.

About Elemental Reality:

When Callie Pierce was ten, her mother disappeared without a trace. On the eve of her disappearance twelve years later, the Earth seemingly comes alive. The elements speak to Callie, and that’s only the beginning. Everything she has ever known was a twisted fabrication to protect her. Now the truth is set free. Callie and her sister are more powerful than any Faerie ever born. Now they have to use their powers to save their mother and family from the evil hands of fate that threaten to tear them apart. Welcome to her Elemental Reality.

Elemental Reality is available from Amazon in Kindle edition.