The Silent Shield – Who Can You Trust?

Book Review: The Silent Shield
The Kingfountain series #5

By Jeff Wheeler

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Thrust into the heart of events threatening to rip her kingdom apart, young Trynne Kiskaddon will gain new powers and sees old allies fall and new heroes rise as the battle for the kingdom and the lands beyond begins.

Courtly intrigue and rumors of invasion plunge Kingfountain into turmoil as the search for Trynne’s father begins in earnest. But Trynne’s quest to learn the truth of Owen’s sinister disappearance is sidetracked when tragedy strikes her family once again. Suddenly, the future of the kingdom rests in her hands as she struggles to learn—and control—the power that can keep the threatening Deep Fathoms at bay.

When King Gahalatine unleashes his overwhelming forces against the realm, Trynne must draw on her political instincts, warrior training, and Fountain-blessed magic if she hopes to survive the chaos to come. But a final, epic confrontation will force Trynne into an unimaginable choice: save her kingdom and the lives of her people, or lose the one who means more to her than life itself. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Since Jeff Wheeler kindly gave me an early copy I’m trying to be extra good about not giving out spoilers in this review.

Through the entire series I have liked how each book resolves a number of problems even though new problems crop up. I never have felt like I’m just being strung along. The Silent Shield has this same format. As you remember we were left on tenterhooks from The Hollow Crown that Owen has been kidnapped and King Drew has been given a year respite from the war because of this unexpected treachery by King Gahalatine. Another piece of intrigue that remained was the question of who could be trusted; Fallon or Morwenna, or neither.

Another aspect I’ve enjoyed through the series are the monologues, or interludes, by a “mystery” character. This literary device works well to see some of the events from a different perspective. It’s also fun to sleuth out who is speaking. You will immediately identify the character speaking in the little monologues inThe Silent Shield, and in this case, the reader will be happy to know the extenuating circumstances.

As always, I love the characters in the Kingfountain series. The protagonist, Tryneowy Kiskaddon (usually called Trynne) has come to accept her role as being chosen by the Fountain and she is dedicated to fulfilling the role of an Oath Maiden. I was happy to see that she has been tested in keeping those oaths. I did wish that I had felt her struggle a little more with resisting the temptation to kill for revenge. She certainly had reasons to want to kill for revenge! The man who disfigured her would be a good example. Trynne is loyal, looks for the good in others and is faithful to the will of the Fountain. She also still suffers from some self-doubt; her achilles heel. She continues in her role as a Lancelot as a fierce protector of her king, the epitome of a King Arthur.

Iago Fallon Llewellyn is steadier and has grown from his experiences. I liked him more as a person this time around and feel a little sad that he and Trynne will not get to marry (as stated in the last book by Sinia, Trynne’s mother). Elwis is another character who has grown into his role and learned to be more humble and patient. I hope something good comes for him in the last book.

Morwenna Argentine has never been a character that I can fully trust. How can I when she is named so similarly to Morgan le Fay, who was Arthur’s downfall in the Arthurian legends? Nevertheless, there continues to be more to her than meets the eye? How does she relate to Owen as her father’s daughter? What does she feel her place should be in the world? She obviously wants to be respected, much like Fallon seeks. It’s interesting to see how Fallon and Morwenna approach the problem of wanting respect differently.

In the last book we saw a very small slice of King Gahalatine, that he wanted to be the benevolent emperor for the world. In The Silent Shield we get to see more of Gahalatine. He is interesting because he is obviously misguided, manipulated and is actually a decent human being. He believes he is doing what is right. He see the good in Trynne as well as some of the rulers of nations who have opposed him. In the long run, I felt like Gahalatine was listening to others which made him very unusual.

The Kingfountain series is excellent for young adults and adults because it is clean, it has influences from history and legends and has excellent writing. I also recommend it because it has plenty of twists, but isn’t so convoluted that new readers to fantasy will be overwhelmed. If a book doesn’t have great characters I quickly lose interest. Wheeler does such a great job with his characters I always want to read more.

In keeping with his style, there is a big pow at the end. I can hardly wait for the next book, thankfully it will be out in just a few months!

(I’m always torn, is this a 5 out of 5 stars because I love it so much?  Or is it still a 4 out of 5 stars by my original rating system. I’m leaning to changing the entire series to 5 out of 5 stars because the characters are so amazing!)

5 out of 5 stars
5 star

-Michelle

If you have enjoyed Wheeler as an author I would highly recommend reading A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr and The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. I am confident that you will love their books.

A few older books to try would include The Raven Ring by Patricia C. Wrede, Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey and The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley.

Another Arthurian tale that I recommend is Merlin, The Lost Years by T. A. Barron.

 

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Interview with Jeff Wheeler – Author of The Kingfountain series

Interview with Jeff Wheeler
Author of The Kingfountain series

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Michelle:

Hello Jeff,

I appreciate you being willing to do this interview with me.

I found The Queen’s Poisoner to read on my kindle, and was delighted with Owen. I can just imagine him setting up his tiles to fill his wells of power. I have continued with reading the entire series and look forward to every additional scrap you write about the Kingfountain world. I’m happy to add you to my list of favorite authors that I recommend to colleagues, friends and strangers.

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When did you decide your calling was to write books rather than work at Intel?

Jeff:

It actually started before Intel. I got the writing bug in high school and had always dreamed of making it a day job. There were a lot of people in my life who didn’t think it was very practical, so I kept working on other careers. When I made the decision to leave Intel to write full-time, friends there thought I was crazy. But I haven’t regretted the decision once and love doing what I’d always dreamed of doing.

Michelle:

I think of the three key ingredients in a great fantasy novel to be world building, plot and characters. What are your key ingredients when you write?

Jeff:

For me, it’s the characters, plot, and tension. The world building, in my view, helps establish the first two and is the glue that holds things together. But I seriously like to torture my characters because it’s tension that keeps readers flipping the pages and staying up way too late at night. And for there to be tension, the characters have to go through difficult times. That’s how Queen’s Poisoner started, right? A young boy being sent as a hostage to a ruthless king. It’s ripe for tension.

Michelle:

You’re right! I stayed up way too late reading! I was instantly vested in Owen’s well being when he was unjustly sent to the ruthless king.

I love how you use tension as one of your keys, and you’re correct because without the tension why would we keep reading?

Owen was one of my favorite characters because he is so serious, but remains charming. Owen, as well as the other characters, in the  Kingfountain series are multi-dimentional. King Severn is savage, and yet I felt some empathy for him. How do you craft such realistic characters at so many different ages?

Jeff:

Writers are notoriously people watchers. As I mentioned in my author’s notes, Owen was based in part on my little boy. When you live with someone day in and out, you get to know them and see their mannerisms and traits. Severn will be a favorite of mine because I spent a lot of time in college studying Richard III. There are still controversies about him as a king. The more you get to know the details and not a condensed paragraph, the more you see that people are complex and driven by circumstances and motives. It’s the same for my characters. When I introduce someone in a scene, even if it’s just a throwaway character, I try to base them on someone specific to help make it feel more real. If a reader buys into that reality, I’ve done my job.

Michelle:

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(The Thief’s Daughter continues to develop great characters like Owen and King Severn. If you don’t cry you are too hard hearted!)

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(In The King’s Traitor may think you know what is coming, but I promise you will be surprised!)

How often do your characters reflect characteristics of people you know, such as your admiration for the young woman you associated with who had bells palsy?

She is now immortalized in The Hollow Crown! What a cool gift from a friend.

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Jeff:

As of now, she doesn’t even know she’s in my books. The young woman is currently serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints (and speaking Spanish, too!) in the Washington DC area and I didn’t want to distract her from her duties. I gave a signed copy to her parents and asked that they hold it for her until she returns in a few more months. Can’t wait to hear about her reaction though. But back to your question. Yes, all authors base elements of their characters on people we know or conjure hybrids to protect the innocent/guilty. Some people I know have cameo’s in my books (like Kevan Amrein, for example) and they know about it and are honored to be featured. Others have no idea that they exist in my fiction. I try not to be malicious about it, but it goes back to the people-watching comment from your last question. Sometimes you just meet someone and think their larger than life personality would make for a great character in a book. It’s the small characteristics that make people unique and memorable. In my next book coming out, THE SILENT SHIELD, one of my previous Intel bosses gets to be featured. He’s a great friend and leader. I wanted to immortalize him too.

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(The Silent Shield will be released Aug 22, 2017!)

Michelle:

To continue talking about characters, I also love Trynne, Owen’s oldest child. I appreciate how she is a strong female protagonist, but she isn’t an expert in every form of combat and is often filled with self doubt. Archery seems like a more natural weapon for women.

As you just mentioned Richard III was a model for King Severn, and you have used the War of the Roses as inspiration.  At what point do you know you need to depart from an historical event to delve into a new arc in your narrative?

Jeff:

The answer is the main reason I write fantasy and not historical fiction. I don’t like being constrained by what actually happened. It’s the “what if” that intrigues me. The Kingfountain series began with the thought of: “What if Richard III won the battle of Bosworth Field?” I’ve studied the War of the Roses for a long time and while the battle began the Tudor dynasty and all of its interesting flairs, what would have happened if the Plantagenets went on? First of all, I had to resurrect Stiev Horwath’s character, because his counterpart in the real world died at the battle. He’s actually one of my ancestors, but that’s a different story. So I did change events to suit my needs. As I researched early Tudor history while writing Thief’s Daughter, for example, I had to come up with an explanation for the Perkins Warbeck situation. This was where one of the supposed murdered princes shows up and leads a revolt against the Tudors. That made for some great emotional fodder for Thief’s Daughter. It also helped bring more Arthurian myths to the front. Henry Tudor named his firstborn Arthur because of the Dreadful Deadman prophecy. I didn’t even make that up. Back in the eary 1500s, people still believed that Arthur would return. As I read several histories of the time period, it provided so many rich details that I wove into the Kingfountain world. I’m glad it’s really resonated with people.

Michelle:

I love both history and Arthurian legends! I’m so glad you have found the right mix in combining the two.

I cannot even express how happy I am that THE SILENT SHIELD is coming out and the final installment, THE FORSAKEN THRONE, just a few months later! I know there will be lots of tension and I’m grateful I won’t have to wait for the final book for an entire year. How have you managed to get the final two books out so quickly?

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(The Forsaken Throne will be released, as the conclusion of The Kingfountain series, Nov. 14 2017)

Jeff:

I write at a very consistent pace. I’d learned years ago from an account of a car accident that Stephen King was in that he stopped writing for six months while he healed. When he started writing again, it took a long time and he realized that his creative “muscle” had atrophied because of the convalescence. I’ve experienced the same thing myself that when I stop writing, it takes time to get going again. To solve this problem, I take very short breaks in between writing books. That puts a burden on me when I’m editing the last book while writing the next, but I’ve made it work. The benefit is that I write 3-4 books a year and my readers don’t have to wait a long time in between them coming out. The publishing cadence is set by my publisher to maximize sales.

Michelle:

I think the publishers made a wise choice. Not only do I want to read the next two as soon as they are released, but I also want more!

I thought it was terrific to jump to the most politically charged events in the first four novels. Why did you determine that you would advance the Kingfountain series by skipping large blocks of time? And, as a follow up, it appears that the next two are more sequential in the life of Trynne – so, how did you choose to make that shift?

Jeff:

It was part of the pitch and proposal to have the large time gaps in the first three books. Let’s just say that this was a risky venture from the start. My publisher wasn’t too keen on a novel featuring such a young protagonist. Jumping many years between novels was another huge risk. I’m so grateful to have a publisher (47North) that was willing to take such risks with me. We talked about it and even brought my dev editor (the amazing Angela Polidoro) in early to get her reaction on the plot and characters and make sure the book would be satisfying to readers. Needless to say, the feedback from team and my early readers was incredibly positive. When my editor read the first draft of Queen’s Poisoner, he was so delighted that he nominated the book to be part of the Kindle First program, which contributed enormously to its success. I chose the time jumps in the first books to focus on the episodes of greatest tension. That was the primary driver behind the decision. In the second batch of Kingfountain books, there aren’t as many time jumps or as big. That’s because of the nature of the story and again, it’s to keep the tension high. This story is also based on an Arthurian legend with a smidge of revisionist history. It was a risk for my publisher to keep the series going because sales tend to drop after the third book of a trilogy. But I’m convinced that the fans of Kingfountain will keep coming back for more.
Michelle:

I’m convinced your fans will keep coming back for more too! I have really enjoyed the additional Aurthurian twist and Joan of Arc inspired character, Genette, the Maid of Donremy found in the prequel THE MAID’S WAR. I also enjoyed learning more of the background of Ankarette, since she is a lynch pin character in the series. Were you surprised at how she would be a link in the series, or was her character a plan from the beginning?  Was your plotting for the series a loose outline with room for surprises?

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(You won’t want to miss the prequel, The Maid’s War! I read it as a bridge between the first three books in the series and the final three.)

Jeff:

Ankarette has been part of the story since day one and she is sort of the welding link between things. Which is why I’ve written another stand-alone Kingfountain story which will tell her origin story. Those who know the details of the War of the Roses will especially love it, but it will also bring back many characters that are known and/or feared from the first series. It’s called THE POISONER’S ENEMY and will be launched in January. It basically shows how Ankarette started out and how she ended up working to protect the family.

Michelle:

I’ve enjoyed Ankarette as a character because she is sensitive which contrasts sharply with her profession as an assassin for her queen. I will be first in line to read THE POISONER’S ENEMY.

As a rule I don’t cry over fictional characters, though there are some notable exceptions. I always cry over Jean Valjean in Hugo’s Les Miserables. I have also cried over both Owen being thwarted over his love interest with the precocious Evie and the self-sacrificing Genette. As an author I hope you feel like you have scored a point if readers are that vested in the people you have created that they end up in tears.

Jeff:

Yes, I love to hear that my books have impacted people emotionally. I felt like crying when I first read ELFSTONES OF SHANNARA by Terry Brooks as a teenager. I wanted to write books that made people feel. When I succeed, that’s a good thing.

Michelle:

As a teen I read the Shannara books too! It was one of the key series that got me hooked on fantasy, along with The Hobbit by J.R. Tolkein and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

Are there any hints you can share from the upcoming books, THE SILENT SHIELD or THE FORSAKEN THRONE, that won’t be a big spoiler?  I already know you like to torture the characters so I’m not expecting a romance for Trynne to go as she hopes.

Jeff:

I do not do spoilers, so don’t worry I won’t. Again, I’ve based this series on another obscure Arthurian legend. It’s a twist on it, so if people tried to find it, they wouldn’t be spoiled either. One of the things I really try to do as an author is to be unpredictable. I love it when I read books and can figure some things out, but not all. And I love being surprised. Believe me, I have some twists and turns coming up by the end of the series that no one will guess. If you think you know where I’m going with this story, hold on. Don’t jump to conclusions. The roller coaster isn’t over.

Michelle:

I can hardly wait to see what this obscure Arthurian legend will hold! I know your books well enough to know I will be surprised.

I really appreciate that in addition to your own writing you have been instrumental in DEEP MAGIC, The E-zine of Clean Fantasy and Science Fiction. What is your vision for DEEP MAGIC and how have you been able to collect such great talent in this undertaking?

Jeff:

I’m really turned off when I read fiction that is full of F-bombs, carnage, and gratuitous sex. As I’ve read the book reviews that readers leave, I’ve been struck over and over how many comment on the fact that my books don’t have these elements. So I realize that I’m not the only person who wants to enjoy a “clean read”. So I decided to resurrect my old e-zine Deep Magic and have managed to attract other authors who share similar standards. And by doing so, I’m promoting new authors who are selling their first stories into the market and encouraging others to do the same.

Michelle:

All the fans of the Kingfountain series will be anxious to know about your next project. Do you have it underway so we won’t be kept waiting?

Jeff:

Oh yes, I’m almost finished writing book 1 of a new 5-book series. This will be published after the Ankarette story in mid-2018. As to details, let’s just say that I’m breaking new ground again. I’ve never carried a plot thread this far before. There will be some elements of the magic that will seem familiar. Other elements will be new. But the setting is very new. There are flying cities in it. There are two protagonists who tell the story. I woke up this morning at 4:30AM because I couldn’t wait to start writing today. I’m nearly done with the first book, which does have a title, but I’m not cleared to announce it yet. Stay tuned at my blog for more announcements coming up! www.jeff-wheeler.com

Michelle:

Oooh, a flying city! That is an intriguing tid-bit, and a little cruel since now we have to wait for a new year. I can hardly wait!

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview. It’s been fantastic to get to know you better.

-Michelle

Jeff:

Thanks Michelle – glad the timing finally worked out. Pays to be persistent.
Jeff

 

Readers, the Kingfountain series is ALL on sale until the end of August 2017 in the US Kindle store!  Only $2 a piece (except the unreleased books).

If you haven’t yet discover this series it is one of my all time favorites and I highly recommend it for all readers. It is a clean fantasy, complex and exciting. Give it a try today, maybe you’ll find you are among the Fountain Blessed! – Michelle

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The Pirates Of Pompeii – An Explosive Mystery

Book Review : The Pirates Of Pompeii
The Roman Mysteries

By Caroline Lawrence

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

It is late August of A.D. 79. The Roman world is reeling from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Hundreds of refugees are living in a makeshift camp, trying to come to terms with what has happened. Then even more tragedy strikes: the camp’s children begin to disappear. Flavia Gemina and her friends Jonathan, Nubia, and Lupus are determined to find out more and start to investigate a powerful and charismatic man known as the Patron. A dangerous trail leads them to the caves and grottoes of Sorrento, where they encounter pirates, slave dealers and possible death. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I was surprised at the bits of brutality shown with the slavery in this book written for children. I was talking to my eleven year old, and he said that it’s part of history and so it should be in the book – and he is right. It’s a good opening for a dialogue with a class or your own children.

Here are some of the facts mentioned:

Eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
Pompeii and the surrounding area were covered in thick ash, in places up to 20′ deep.
Titus was the commander who burned the temple in Jerusalem in about 70 A.D.
The Romans worshipped the pantheon of gods originally instituted by the Greeks.
Slavery was a practice under Roman law.
Roman children wore a special charm around their neck called a bulla.
Roman children drank watered down wine.
Slaves were crucified (though a runaway was more likely to be branded).
The Roman government feared a slave uprising.

Though The Pirates of Pompeii would be listed as historical fiction, there was a lot of liberty taken because so little information is available about non-political figures at that time. I believe it is a good way to help kids identify with history.

A few images of the remains of Pompeii:

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Mosaic at a fish market

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Wall painting from the Villa of the Mysteries

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Plaster casts of people who died in Pompeii. Giuseppe Fiorelli developed the technique of filling the cavities with plaster of paris to create the forms of the figures in their dying moments. When the plaster dried, the ash was chipped away and the casts remained.

This book is aimed for the tween audience. It is the first that I’ve read and it was fine as a stand alone book, though it is apparently number 3 in the series.

3 out of 5 stars
3 star
– Michelle

This book reminded by of The Magic Tree House written for an older audience. My readers at this level have enjoyed the I Survived books and The Children’s Illustrated Classics (Count of Monte Cristo, Frankenstein, ect.) – if you can find them in a thrift shop.

Though not historical fiction, this age also loves the Michael Vey series by Richard Paul Evans (and it’s more gruesome than The Pirates of Pompeii).

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Shadowcaster – The Magic of Good Characters and a Good Plot

Book Review : Shadowcaster
Shattered Realms

By Cinda Williams Chima

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

A lifelong war.

Alyssa ana’Raisa is the reluctant princess heir to the Gray Wolf throne of Fells, a queendom embroiled in a seemingly endless war. Hardened by too many losses, Lyss is more comfortable striking with a sword than maneuvering at court. After a brush with death, she goes on the offensive, meaning to end the war that has raged her whole life. If her gamble doesn’t pay off, she could lose her queendom before she even ascends to the throne.

A life in peril.

Across enemy lines in Arden, young rising star Captain Halston Matelon has been fighting for his king since he was a lýtling. Lately, though, he finds himself sent on ever more dangerous assignments. Between the terrifying rumors of witches and wolfish warriors to the north and his cruel king at home, Hal is caught in an impossible game of life and death.

The shadow of defeat. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

It feels like it’s been so long since I read Flamecaster and I wondered if I would have a hard time getting back in to the flow of the Shattered Realms series. More than half of Shadowcaster introduces new characters and emphasizes different problems within the realm. Jenn barely makes it into the book until the very end, and by then you will be so caught up in Chima’s world that you will remember exactly how she fits into the storyline.

One of the keys to a great novel are the characters. In Shadowcaster we have a unique situation with the key characters. Lyss and Hal are on opposite sides of the war and we feel empathy for both characters. It is easy to see how these two will fall in love, though they have obstacles that interfere with developing a relationship – such as the fact that Lyss has imprisoned Hal and may have to kill him due to politics. It’s easy to see how being raised in a different country can alter a person’s perspective. Hal sees benefits for the Kingdom *cough* Queendom of the Fell to be brought under Arden’s rule. Of course, he doesn’t know of identity of Lyss.

     “‘Ma’am. We are soldiers, you and I. There is always a need for soldiers. It might be that our lives wouldn’t change much, no matter who sits on the throne.’ Even as he said it, he didn’t believe it.
Her expression said that he was impossibly naive.” (p. 339)

Hal is what I think of as stoic and practical (perhaps like a Mr. Darcy who is an officer). There are moments when we all need those two characteristics in a friend. He is down to earth, loyal and lives by the honor code taught to him by his father.

I like Lyss, even though she is the new type of female protagonist who always seems to be great with a sword and doesn’t think she is beautiful. I’m fairly certain that most women, even with training wouldn’t be great with a sword in a fight against a man trained for combat. I definitely relate to her loathing the posturing around politics. She also despairs over the false conventions surrounding “proper” society, which would be another excuse for shallow gossiping harpies to interfere.

     “Despite plenty of opportunities, Finn didn’t seem to play the romantic games that others did. If he’d had sweethearts in the past, it was a closely guarded secret.
Maybe that was why Lyss like him. Wooing and romantic banter were not in her arsenal, either. When you fall in love with somebody, they just go and get themselves killed. When I marry, she thought, I’m going to find somebody with an army and some warships and a big bag of money. Then I’ll do my dancing on the battlefield.” ( p. 21)

Another character is Breon, who is a mixed bag of identity. He doesn’t really know who he is, he is charming, has a sense of following an honorable path and is addicted to leaf, a drug within the Shattered Realms. Breon also has a gift that he is not fully aware of, but others may being willing to kill to secure him for their kingdom. He reminds me a lot of a character, Errol, in Patrick W. Carr’s novel A Cast of Stone. Because of the similarity I just can’t help but have hope that Breon is going to land on his feet eventually. He is a charmer.

     “Oranges! That struck a chord deep inside him. Where would have tasted oranges before? Breon had no idea. It was like somebody had wiped huge chunks of his life from his memory. His mouth remembered, though, because it watered as he lined up with the others.” (p. 96)

In the final few pages there are a few plot ties to the previous novel, and a gut twisting dilemma. Shadowcaster does not read as a middle book – just pacing time to get the grand finale. Because of the new characters, and a plot that could reasonably follow the original series with Han and Raisa, it feels fresh and interesting. Once again, I can hardly wait to read the next book! I’m looking forward to more with a dragon, and evil queen, developments in a love story and reconnecting lost family.

I wondered how China came up with the name Shadowcaster for the novel. The explanation is a bit spoiler-ish, so you have been warned again. Breon is writing his epitaph and realizes he is writing himself more as he hoped to be than what he had actually been. He names himself Shadowcaster within the poetry like epitaph.

4 out of 5 stars

4 star

  • the Mother

If you liked this one you might like The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler and A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher and The Raven Ring by Patricia C. Wrede.

An alternate cover:

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The Wings of the Morning – Books From The Early 1900’s Still Have The Power To Charm

Book Review : The Wings of the Morning
By Louis Tracy

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Heading into a typhoon in the South China Sea, the Sirdar is on a course that will forever change the life of one of its most spirited and attractive passengers, Iris Deane. When the ship breaks in two on a barrier reef, the young woman is pulled to safety by Robert Jenks, a sailor who is more than he seems. The shipwreck’s only survivors, the two find themselves washed ashore on a desert island, where they encounter untold adventures and a blossoming romance.

First published in 1903, The Wings of the Morning is an exciting tale of perils from storms, sharks, and head-hunting island natives. It is also a tale of attraction, as a modest young woman and her mysterious rescuer are drawn together by adventure and circumstance.

More than 50 years before action-adventure films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Louis Tracy wrote novels teeming with the kind of thrills that make the heart race. The Wings of the Morning is a prime example. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

 

Adult Point of View

After reading Number Seventeen I had to read another Louis Tracy novel and chose The Wings of the Morning. There are several predictable things in a Tracy novel, but predictable isn’t always bad. I know there will be a clean romance, there will be turn of the century remarks that don’t fit in with today’s views and there will be good vocabulary words that I will have to look up.

Rather than a mystery, The Wings of the Morning is served up as an adventure – à la Robinson Crusoe, which Tracy acknowledges with a nod from the characters. Jenks is ingenious in solving problems and utilizing the resources on hand. Much like Crusoe, Jenks is given everything they need by the island, which isn’t realistic, but sure is fun. Iris is naive, beautiful and charming, and the foil to the brooding Byronic hero, Robert Jenks. I laughed when the author describes that the British are even better at dying than any other people on earth. He is definitely pro-Britain, to the point of being ridiculous. There are a few moments when I wonder if he was poking fun at his nation, such as when he describes Iris’s embarrassment over expressing her feelings as the “natural reticence of the English”, and the need for a stiff upper lip (though I don’t think he quite termed it that way).

One of my favorite things about this novel are the unusual words. I was glad to be reading it on my kindle so I could easily look up words while reading. Here are a couple of examples:

Subaltern: an officer in the British army below the rank of captain.
Taffrail : an ornamented rail around the ship’s stern.
Jemadar: was originally an armed official of a zamindar (feudal lord) in India who, like a military general, and along with Mridhas, was in charge of fighting and conducting warfare, mostly against the peasants and common people who lived on the lord’s land.
Roseate: rose-colored, “the early, roseate light”.

Here is a typical couple of sentences, they have nothing to do with the actual story line, but the book is rampant with such expostulations:

     “Sir John, her husband, frowned judicially. That frown constituted his legal stock-in-trade, yet it passed current for wisdom with the Hong Kong bar.”

And, here is a description that I thought was delicious:

     “The dot became a mere speck, undistinguishable beneath a celestial microscope such as the gods might condescend to use.”

I recommend Louis Tracy as a great summer read. It is a lot of fun to read something written from the early 1900’s.

3.5 – 4 out of 5 stars

-Michelle

 

If you liked this one try reading The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

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UnEnchanted – Do Fairy Tales Have A Happy Ending?

Book Review : UnEnchanted
By Chanda Hahn

ebook

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Mina Grime is unlucky, unpopular and uncoordinated; until she saves her crush’s life on a field trip, changing her High School status from loser to hero overnight. But with her new found fame brings misfortune in the form of an old family curse come to light. For Mina is descended from the Brothers Grimm and has inherited all of their unfinished fairy tale business. Which includes trying to outwit a powerful Story from making her it’s next fairytale victim.  (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I read UnEnchanted several months ago, and as a true confession – I forgot to write a review. It was a positively fun read. I liked Mina, because everyone can relate to the girl that never has anything go right. She is caught in a mess and doesn’t know who to trust. Her friend Nan is even more fun because she is over-the-top and more than the portrait she portrays to the world. The fairy world has certainly been untrustworthy for generations of Grime’s. I also loved the “prince charming”. Again, he wasn’t quite what one expected. I liked the small twists in the plots of the fairy tales.

As with many free ebooks there are grammatical errors. Ebooks should have better editing, but this is a common problem.

UnEnchanted is perfect for a light summer read. It’s a great book for teens, free of foul language and anything else raunchy. I recommend it!

3 out of 5 stars

 
-Michelle

I also suggest Beauty by Robin McKinley (or most anything from this author) if you were a fan of UnEnchanted.

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Viable – A Medical Thriller

Book Review : Viable
By R.A. Hakok

ebook

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

A brilliant young geneticist, desperately seeking a cure for the disease that took her father. A Nevada sheriff, charged with solving a crime that threatens the very existence of his small desert town. But when an unmarked van crashes in sleepy Hawthorne, Alison Stone and Lars Henrikssen find themselves looking for the same man. Only Carl Gant is not what he seems. And they are not the only ones looking for him. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I started Viable on four different occasions before I could move through the plot setting chapters to be vested enough to read the book.

The first and second starts got me through the first chapter with an ex-military man who sees someone who he thought was dead. This chapter is peppered with military language, ie cursing. I feel like most cursing in books detracts from the story.

The third start got me through a chapter with Dr. Stone, a researcher in genetics. She had a passion for wanting to help others in solving diseases. I was more interested in Dr. Stone, her background made her motivations believable.

Fourth time was the charm, with the introduction of Cody. I instantly guessed who he was, but I still enjoyed his character. I did not guess what his link to genetics was immediately.

Yesterday I watched The Amazing Spider-Man, and realized Viable has the same nugget of an idea of combining animal DNA with human. In Spider-Man, the DNA goes terribly wrong creating a monster. In Viable, there is only one known case where combining DNA was successful and one other survivor, who is basically a monster. However, he is a monster because he has no conscious about taking human life for his own survival. The two stories depart wildly from each other, it just seemed like quite a coincidence that I ran into such similarities at the same time, so I thought I would mention the similarities.

At times the the writing delves into monologues of medical jargon, which was overwhelming. There are a few other mistakes of names and confusing sentences, but overall Viable was pretty good. It never moved into a romance, which is actually refreshing. If you like a medical or science fiction thriller I think you would enjoy this one.

3 out of 5 stars

 

 

-Michelle

 

I suggest The Phoenix Consipiracy by Richard L. Sanders, a science fiction novel, if you like this kind of genre.

A classic science fiction that I recommend is The Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov.

I also recommend Sword of the Lamb: Book One of the Phoenix Legacy by M. K. Wren.

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