Ranger of Kings by C. J. R. Isely

Ranger of Kings (William of Alamore Series Book 1) by [C. J. R. Isely]

Ranger of Kings is the debut novel of C. J. R. Isely and is the first book in the “William of Alamore” series.

About the Book

Will, a common village boy, has always dreamed of becoming a knight. When he is suddenly, and unexpectedly, called to train as a squire in the castle of Alamore, he cannot believe it is real. He faces the challenge with the great determination to succeed, but soon finds out there is more to becoming a knight than he ever imagined.

Even at the beginning level as a squire, Will is suddenly thrust into action, danger, and battles he isn’t ready for but meets with determination and perseverance. He makes friends among the squires and finds that one of his friends has a knack for finding trouble.

Then one night, Will discovers something disturbing about his father, and the more he learns the more danger Will faces. Not only is Will suddenly thrust into a war, but is faced with mysteries about his father, about the Ranger, and about what lies beneath the castle of Alamore.

My Review

C. J. R. Isely is a talented writer. She has woven a tale filled with mystery and intrigue, action, danger, and adventure.

I was drawn into the story from the very first page and stayed up late several nights turning the pages because I just couldn’t put the book down.

C. J. R. Isely created delightful characters, each with his very own personality, character qualities, and unique voice. I found it to be fun to read the interactions between Will and his two closest friends. Their courage was inspiring and their banter made me laugh.

It was also quite clear that C. J. R. Isely possesses a lot of horse knowledge, as horses play a major role in this story as well. Each horse was also unique, and it was clear that C. J. R. knows what it takes to properly care for horses, how to ride horses, and how to train horses.

There were some small technical mistakes scattered throughout the books as far as wording is concerned, which I always find to be a distraction. However, in this book, as I was fully engaged in the action, mystery, and battles, they were more easily overlooked and less of a distraction.

Another thing I really liked about the story is that C. J. R. Isely gave me a satisfying ending. Though Ranger of Kings is the first book in a series, Ms. Isely wrapped up the ending with just enough resolution and a change that gave the story the feel of an ending even though I know there is more to come.

I really enjoyed Ranger of Kings by C. J. R. Isely and highly recommend it to those who enjoy action, adventure, mystery, danger, and fantasy. There are a few profane words within the story, but they are few and far between. There are also some bloody descriptions of those who were in battle, but I didn’t feel that they were gory or overdone. I would recommend this book for YA and adult readers, and, possibly, some middle grade readers.

I look forward to the next book in the “William of Alamore” series.

I give this book 5 stars.

Crystal Shadows: Gripping New Blood by R. J. Parker

Crystal Shadows: Gripping New Blood Kindle Edition

About the Book:

Crystal Shadows: Gripping New Blood by R. J. Parker is a middle grade fantasy story.  Sarah Field lives alone with her father, until she and her friends make a shocking discovery in Sarah’s attic — her grandfather, whom she thought was dead! He reveals an amulet — the Tellum Deos. He wants to know if Sarah can give it life so that they can use it to fight the powers of darkness.

My Review:

R. J. Parker did an excellent job creating interesting middle grade characters. Sarah and her friends are fun to read about, even though sometimes the things they say are quite random and don’t seem to fit what is going on in the story. Their curiosity helps them to discover Sarah’s grandfather, but also gets them into some interesting predicaments. The four friends have a close relationship.

Sarah also has a close relationship with her father, until she and her friends discover her grandfather. This causes her father to come a bit unhinged and creates stress, tension, and conflict between Sarah and her father.

The characters and the story line kept me turning pages. I kept waiting to see what the powers of darkness were going to unleash and what Sarah and her friends might have to fight against.

There were some disappointing things in the book: first, R. J. Parker used a lot of pronouns, especially when characters spoke, and sometimes the pronouns were mixed up or it was confusing as to which character the pronoun was being used for; second, the powers of darkness only unleashed one problem near the end of the book, but Sarah and her friends never used the Tellum Deos against it and the ending didn’t feel complete and didn’t offer a resolution to any part of the story. Therefore, it seems like this may be the first book of a series, though that isn’t mentioned anywhere; and finally, there are one or two characters introduced as “Sarah’s friends” at the end of the book that were never part of the story up until that point.

Despite these disappointments, I must say that I enjoyed the story and it kept me turning pages. I finished this book in just four days. The characters are definitely what kept me turning pages, even though the story line was also intriguing. I don’t think most adults would enjoy this story, but I would highly recommend it for middle grade children and even some YA. I hope that R. J. Parker does write, at least, a sequel to this book. I would like to read more about Sarah and her friends and actually see them use the Tellum Deos against the powers of darkness.

It was a difficult decision for me to come to a star rating for this book. But, based on how well it kept my attention, how quickly I read through it, and how much I liked the characters, I have decided to give it four stars.

 

Special Saturday Post: The Falcon and the Stag by C.J.R. Isley

The Falcon and The Stag: A Tale of Alamore by [C. J. R. Isely]

The Falcon and the Stag by C.J.R. Isley is a short story that introduces her “William of Alamore” series. It is a story of kingdoms and knights, and two brothers, the oldest who had been prepared to take the throne, and the youngest who wanted it.

This short story is filled with tension, suspense, conspiracy, and sibling rivalry. C.J.R. Isley does a fine job introducing the characters and showing their personalities and character, drawing the reader into the story and encouraging them to choose sides.

C.J.R. Isley captures and holds the reader’s attention from the first to last page, writing strong dialogue and tense scenes of confrontation and sword-fighting. C.J.R. even manages to throw in an unexpected twist or two.

This story is acceptable for young adults and adults. It may also be acceptable for middle grade readers, though there is some violence — nothing too graphic.

This short story is well worth the read, but be warned — after reading it, you’ll want to pick up the first book in the series, Ranger of Kings, which is exactly what I plan to do.

I give The Falcon and the Stag by C.J.R. Isley 5 stars.

Wrong Place, Right Time by E. B. Roshan

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About the Book:
Anna Belko is a young woman living in the city of Dor. There is unrest in the city. Anna meets Boris Merkovich at a cafe called Oksana’s, when she stops for a cup of tea. A relative of Boris’s was killed but he doesn’t have time to grieve because he has to run the cafe. He nearly spills a pot of tea in Anna’s lap, and she prays for him.

Boris is deeply touched by Anna’s prayer for him and so begins a love neither of them expected.

However, stuck in a city filled with hatred, it soon becomes clear that the hatred isn’t just “outside” and Boris and Anna’s relationship is threatened.

The story, though centered around Anna and Boris, includes several other characters, including Anna’s parents and one of her brothers, whom she is close to. The story is filled with danger and troubles between the Sevian people and the Tur people.

As the violence escalates near their home, Anna’s parents decide to move to Dovni where things are not so volatile. Anna remains behind with her brother.

My Review:
The plot kept me turning pages. The characters captured and held my attention. The characters were realistic, and I cared about them and what happened to them. My heart ached for Anna and Boris as they struggled with their environment and their feelings for one another.

E.B. Roshan did an excellent job showing the difficulties of living in an area where danger and hatred are a part of everyday life. Not only did E.B. Roshan clearly show the dangers, Roshan did an excellent job expressing the thoughts and feelings of the people stuck amidst the struggles.

The story was very well written. Though it was a story about hatred and violence, the violence was not overly descriptive or gory.  It did not need to be to touch the reader’s heart and help the reader understand the setting and what was happening. I also liked how Roshan showed that hatred is a choice and no one has to allow it to consume them.

E.B. Roshan wrapped up the ending quite nicely, but even so, I was sad to finish the last page and say goodbye to these characters.

I really enjoyed this story and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a well written story filled with struggles and different types of loving relationships.

I give this story 5 stars.

 

The Chosen Ones by Lisa Luciano

Have you ever watched the Figure Skating competitions of the Olympics? Years ago, I remember watching the likes of Scott Hamilton, Dorothy Hamill, Brian Boitano, Katarina Witt, Elvis Stojko, Viktor Petrenko, Oksana Baiul, and Kristi Yamaguchi. And who can forget all the drama between Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding? These skaters and the Kerrigan — Harding drama had me riveted to the screen.

Now, let me ask you another question: how many times did you think the judges didn’t give the skater, you thought gave the top performance, high enough scores? I know I often disagreed with scores. However, I never suspected that there was a story behind the scores.

That’s what The Chosen Ones by Lisa Luciano is about. Lisa was a sports reporter who covered Figure Skating for “The New York Times” and “International Figure Skating Magazine”. She includes four of the Figure Skating Articles she wrote for the New York Times near the end of this book.

No, this story isn’t about any of the ice skaters you may have followed on their Olympic journey. The characters and their stories in The Chosen Ones are fictional, but some of the scandalous, sometimes desperate, behaviors and corruption among judges’ scores are based on facts discovered by Lisa while she covered Figure Skating in her journalism days.

The story has a lot of characters, which, in the beginning, was a bit difficult to follow, especially as Ms. Luciano does a lot of head-hopping without page breaks, frequently jumping from one character’s head to another’s from one paragraph to the next. Therefore, it was sometimes difficult to determine whose head I was in sometimes as I was reading, and I had to back track to figure it out. However, in order to really give the reader accuracy and the actual feel of figure skating competition, I honestly don’t know how Ms. Luciano could have written a story as accurate and compelling as The Chosen Ones, with fewer characters.

Also, as I continued reading, I became accustomed to her head-hopping writing style and became very involved in the lives of the characters.

The story was full of drama and conflict. I loved some characters and disliked others, but every one of them kept me turning the pages to see where this was all going and who was going to be a winner, who would be a loser, and who would lose his life before the end of the Olympics.

The only warning I have to issue, because those of you who follow my book reviews know that I do not read books with sexually explicit scenes, is that this book has a few of such scenes, which I was not aware of when I agreed to review this book.

However, if you can skip or overlook such scenes, and have a love or fascination with Figure Skating, you will not be disappointed with this book.

Because of the trouble I had following the characters in the beginning chapters of the book and because I was disappointed to find the unexpected sexual scenes in this story, I give this story four stars.

Reviewer’s Note: I was given a free copy of this book for my honest review.

Additional Book Review Posts

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Hi Everyone. I want to make you all aware of my new addition to this blog. I have been posting Book Reviews here on my blog on Mondays. However, as I have become a much more sought after Book Reviewer, reviews won’t be posted soon enough if I don’t add another day for Book Reviews.

Therefore, from now on, Book Reviews will be posted on Sundays AND Mondays, beginning this coming Sunday — tomorrow, when my review of The Chosen Ones by Lisa Luciano will be posted. Then, for those of you who enjoy reading my Book Reviews, be sure to stop by and check out my Sunday and Monday Book Review posts every week.

Keeping Creed: A Samuel Creed Novel by Shaun Holt

Keeping Creed (Samuel Creed series Book 1) by [Shaun Holt]

I won a signed copy of this book via a Twitter contest. It is not Shaun Holt’s first novel. However it is the first novel by Shaun Holt that I have read.

About the Book
In the first part of the book, Samuel Creed informs his oldest brother that he wants to enlist in the military. His oldest brother tells him he’s too smart and should do something else with his life. However, Sam’s oldest brother, Sawyer, is killed in the September 11th attacks, leaving behind a wife and a daughter. This event solidifies Sam’s determination to join the military, now with a strong desire for revenge.

The story follows Sam to Afghanistan, where he fights several combat tours, before he returns and reunites with his family. Still feeling a need to finish what he started in Afghanistan, he obtains a job with a counter-terrorism agency in Washington, D.C.

In addition, his niece introduces him to Tessa, a librarian with a love of literature.

My Review
After the initial introduction to the main characters, I felt the pace drag a little after the death of Sam’s brother. For several chapters the focus remains on September 11th and Sam’s brother’s death a little longer than I thought was necessary. However, it did not lag enough for me to put the book down.

The story’s pace picks up again when Sam gets to Afghanistan, and the pace doesn’t drag again. I found it very interesting reading about Sam’s military experience, but my favorite parts of this book are when Sam is home and spends time with Rose, his niece. Sam and Rose have a relationship that is so much fun to read. He challenges her and has deep conversations with her, and has fun with her. Their interactions are completely delightful.

When Sam meets Tessa and they begin a relationship, I find myself skipping quite a few scenes due to the fact that they are sexually explicit, and I prefer not to read sexually explicit materials. I found that skipping these scenes did not take away from the story, as there was nothing of importance to the actual plot in those scenes. (I did not know until I had won the book that there were such scenes in it. However, the author does state that fact quite clearly in the early pages, before the story begins.)

I must say that Shaun Holt is a very good storyteller. He engages the reader and his characters are well-written. Some are endearing and very likeable. Some are very interesting, and maybe a little irritating until you get to know them, just like some people in real life.

Near the end of the book, Mr. Holt included a twist that completely surprised and shocked me. I never saw it coming, and it was extremely well written.

All-in-all, I enjoyed this story and its characters and I give it 4 stars.

I have to say that I am inclined to read the next Samuel Creed Novel, when Mr. Holt releases it because I love the characters, and for me, characters are what make a story. Of course, there has to be a plot to keep things interesting, create tension, and move the story forward, but, in my opinion, without great characters, even a great plot loses something.

Mr. Holt included a bit of the upcoming Samuel Creed novel at the end of this one, and I am already intrigued.

Perpetual Check by F. Nelson Smith

Perpetual Check by [F.  Nelson Smith]

I received a free ebook copy of Perpetual Check and was asked to read and review it. I was not obligated to write a review. However, this review is my honest opinion of this book.

Perpetual Check by F. Nelson Smith is a mystery that takes place between the decline of the Soviet Union and the dawn of the computer age.

Dani Morden is a young woman who loves and teaches history. To escape her controlling mother, she agrees to take a trip to England with her Aunt Lucy. Dani fully expected to be bored.

However, it isn’t long before a murder victim falls at their hotel room door and they become the prey of unknown hunters who believe Dani has something they want. Dani and Lucy don’t know who to trust and who not to trust.

Dani and Lucy also decide to try to solve the murder mystery on their own.

In addition, Dani is filled with bitterness she needs to deal with, as well as a problem she is not even yet aware that she needs to resolve.

F. Nelson Smith created a cast of unusual characters and a story plot that has more twists, turns, ups and downs than a roller coaster ride.

I must admit the story kept me turning pages until the last third of the book. In the last third of the book I felt the pace slowed a little too much and I believed the mystery could have been solved sooner.

However, near the end, there were more twists and surprises that kept me turning pages, yet again, until the end. I enjoyed how F. Nelson Smith wrapped up the mystery, as well as decisions Dani needed to make at the end of the story.

I give this story a 4-star rating.

 

Lander’s Legacy by C.S. Wachter

Lander's Legacy by C.S. Wachter

When Pop-pop Ian dies, Lander is left alone, not fully understanding the unusual powers he has. He quickly realizes that he is being pursued and he needs to find Castor Elm, the only person Pop-pop said he could trust. To find Castor, Lander has to outsmart his pursuers to travel to Castor’s home.

On his way to Castor’s home, Lander finds friends in a city who help out at a mission. As any normal teen, Lander feels out of place in his unusual clothes and he wants to impress Becky. Becky and one of the other teen boys take Lander shopping. He feels comfortable with these teens and enjoys helping at the mission. He wishes he could stay here indefinitely. However, an unexpected and unfortunate event makes it clear that Lander needs to continue on the quest for which Pop-pop Ian has instructed him.

Upon arriving at Castor’s home, Lander is not welcomed with the open arms he expected. Frustration fills Lander because he has no where else to turn. When he accidentally reveals his ability to cause certain stones to glow, Castor suddenly becomes interested in Lander. When Lander explains what Pop-pop Ian has told him and that Pop-pop is dead, Castor informs his family that Lander will be staying.

“Lander’s Legacy” by C.S. Wachter is the first book in a new series from a writer who has already proven she can deliver good fantasy stories with her 4-book series and sequel, “The Seven Words” series.

Once again, she holds her readers’ attention as she spins a tale of suspense and adventure as Lander must learn more about his special powers. “Lander’s Legacy” is an enjoyable, easy read. Lander and the other teen characters are well written and it’s obvious C.S. Wachter knows some teenagers, as her characters are very much like the teenagers I know.

“Lander’s Legacy” is a coming-of-age fantasy novel that follows Lander on his journey to find his place in this world or maybe in another. It is a story that is fitting for middle grade readers as well as Young Adults and Adults.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a fantasy story of suspense and adventure. I look forward to the next book in this series.

When You Were Mine by Alessa Martel

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I received a free copy of When You Were Mine by Alessa Martel for my honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review, and this review is my honest personal opinion of this book.

When You Were Mine is the story of Jenny, who chose to go to a college far from home after her relationship with her boyfriend comes to an abrupt end. She thought if she stayed away, she’d be able to get past it and move on. However, when summer break arrives and she has no choice but to return home to a small town where everyone knows everyone and their business.

Her life becomes very uncomfortable when people make their opinions of the breakup known and try to advise here as to what she needs to do. Things get even more awkward when she continues to run into Michael.

I found the first couple chapters of this book very slow paced and a bit redundant. However, when Emily returns home and has to face quite a few surprises and unexpected problems, the pace of the story picked up enough to hold my attention and keep me turning pages.

This book is written for YA girls and it has a couple good lessons in regard to relationships. It is a clean, sweet romance story about second chances. It is an enjoyable read and fairly well written. I highly recommend it for YA girls, but think Adult women would find it a bit slow, and would have some difficulty relating to the main characters.