The Herald of Day (The Boar King’s Honor Trilogy #1) by Nancy Northcott

A wizard’s misplaced trust
A king wrongly blamed for murder
A bloodline cursed until they clear the king’s name
In 17th-century England, witchcraft is a hanging offense. Tavern maid Miranda Willoughby hides her magical gifts until terrifying visions compel her to seek the aid of a stranger, Richard Mainwaring, to interpret them. A powerful wizard, he sees her summons as a chance for redemption. He bears a curse because an ancestor unwittingly helped murder the two royal children known as the Princes in the Tower, and her message uses symbols related to those murders.
Miranda’s visions reveal that someone has altered history, spreading famine, plague, and tyranny across the land. The quest to restore the timeline takes her and Richard from the glittering court of Charles II to a shadowy realm between life and death, where they must battle the most powerful wizard in generations with the fate of all England at stake.

I’ve got an issue with historical fiction. It’s not that I don’t like them, because I do. I just have a hard time getting my head wrapped around books set in a historical setting, at least until I’ve spent a little bit of time in the world. That doesn’t stop me from picking one up from time to time, especially when it’s written by an author I already know and love. I’ve read several of Nancy Northcott’s paranormal books and I’ve been a fan for a while, so when I saw that she was offering something new in a new genre I didn’t hesitate. Although I had the same slow start issues (totally my issue, not the writing), I ended up totally intrigued by her first book in The Boar King’s Honor trilogy.

I loved both Richard and Miranda from the time they were introduced. One of the issues that I had in the beginning was that there were a lot of characters to keep track of. Again, my issue, not the writing. It’s worth mentioning though because this isn’t a book that you can skim through. You have to pay attention. There are varying POV as well, but I enjoy that in a book. Especially when you’re not seeing things strictly from the main characters’ POV. It’s always kind of fun when you get a glimpse into what’s going on in the heads of the ‘bad guys’ and Nancy Northcott gives readers just enough to keep things interesting.

There’s plenty of romance, magic, suspense and mystery between the pages of The Herald of Day along with some interesting history that made me want to learn more when I was done. The next two books in the Trilogy are from different time periods. The Steel Rose takes place during Napoleon’s time and The King’s Champion is set in 1940. Although the characters obviously change, the books are all centered around the cursed Mainwaring bloodline. I can’t wait to learn more about this family and the mystery of the Princes in the Tower.

Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by Robin LaFevers

DarkTriumphWhen Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convent were only too happy to offer her refuge – but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons.

But her assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for…

March 2012…. That’s when I read the first book in the His Fair Assassin series, Grave Mercy. I should know better. I really, really should. I still may go back and read Grave Mercy, but honestly, I wasn’t quite as lost as I thought I would be. A helpful little birdy (aka Book Bender) told me about a helpful little site called Recaptains that jogged my memory just enough to get me back on track. Even without that nudge though, I think I would have been fine.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I realized half way through Dark Triumph that my usual hesitation with historical fiction wasn’t there. I was engrossed in this story from the beginning. Sybella’s story was heart wrenching. The more that was revealed, the more I felt for her. It’s been a long time since I’ve been introduced to a character that needed a HEA more than Sybella. She feared more than anything that those who loved her would find out the truth about her heritage. The layers of her secrets were revealed to readers as they were revealed to others in the story. And yes, there were tears. Tears for Sybella and for other characters as well. Those revelations and the way that those who loved her reacted just made me love and respect them more.

This book definitely served as a turning point. In Grave Mercy readers learned through Ismae that things weren’t exactly as they seemed and Mortain may have a different agenda than the convent that worshipped him. There were characters that I ended up respecting and characters that I ended up despising. Some of both came as a surprise. One thing that I know for sure is that I can’t wait as long to read Mortal Heart as I did to read Dark Triumph. Not only because I don’t want to feel like I’m missing integral parts of the story, but because I want to keep the connection between the characters as strong as they are now. Plus, I can’t wait to see where the story goes from here. There are still a few characters who deserve justice and I can’t wait to see exactly how it’s delivered.

DragonFlyGreen4-5

Every Last Kiss (Bloodstone Saga #1) by Courtney Cole

17-year old Macy Lockhart has the weight of the world on her shoulders.

For thousands of years, she has been a Keeper in the ancient organization, the Order of the Moirae. She literally holds fate in her hands.

But this is something that she forgets, because her memories are wiped clean when she is reborn each time, until it is time for her cycle to begin again in her seventeenth year in each life.

And for the last two thousand years, this has never been a problem. Until now. But now, fate is being challenged and to fix it, she is forced to return to a previous life, one where she was Cleopatra’s handmaiden, Charmian.

Cue up the second problem: Unless she interferes with the fabric of time, the very thing she has returned to repair, then her soul mate, Hasani, will die leading Marc Antony’s armies against Rome. Can she really stand aside and allow the love of her life to die all over again?

Sometimes freebies pay off, and this one definitely did. Even though this is a preview to Courtney Cole’s Bloodstone Saga, it isn’t lacking in anything. Absolutely nothing.

Cole begins her tale where a lot of YA novels start. Macy is a typical teenager. She has a boyfriend who has broken her heart and she has a best friend who gives her love and support. That is pretty much where the similarities end. She soon finds out that nothing is as it seems and she has lived several lives before this one. The journey that she eventually takes is amazing.

Every Last Kiss is a combination of fantasy and historical YA fiction. When Macy gets sent back in time to the life that she spent with Cleopatra as Charmian, you can’t help but get swept up in the story right along with her. The imagery and emotion that is created just draws you in.

The story weaves and turns and keeps you turning pages just to see exactly what the mystery is behind Macy/Charmian and the power that surrounds her. It took me a while to read this one, but it wasn’t because it was a slow read. I’m not sure why because the descriptions and action were flowing. A lot happened in Every Last Kiss and by the end there were some secrets revealed, but still a lot to learn. It took me by surprise when I found myself in tears near the end. Macy/Charmian was a very easy character to sympathize with and you almost felt as if you even knew Cleopatra a little better by the time you were finished. It gave her a human side, even though it was fiction, that will never have me look at that point in history exactly the same way.

Needless to say, I will be checking out the rest of this series. Cole’s writing style is very easy to read and get emotionally vested in. Well worth the read.

I received Every Last Kiss as a free download from Amazon on April 26, 2012.

11/22/63 by Stephen King

On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? Stephen King’s heart-stoppingly dramatic new novel is about a man who travels back in time to prevent the JFK assassination, a thousand-page tour de force.

Following his massively successful novel Under the Dome, King sweeps readers back in time to another moment a real life moment when everything went wrong: the JFK assassination. And he introduces readers to a character who has the power to change the course of history.

Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.

Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane and insanely possible mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

A tribute to a simpler era and a devastating exercise in escalating suspense, 11/22/63 is Stephen King at his epic best.

I finished 11/22/63 last night, but wanted to wait until I was fresh to write this review. I’m still not sure I can do the book justice. Those of you who have been following my reviews will notice that this isn’t my usual read. I’m not sure when I would have picked it up if I hadn’t won a copy. It’s not at all what I expected from a Stephen King novel, but it’s been a while since I’ve read Stephen King. I still don’t remember getting as lost (in a good way) in one of his books as I did in this one. It was just that good!

I’m not going to summarize 11/22/63, you can read that in the description I got from goodreads. What I will try to do in this review is let you know why I liked it so much.

A central, driving theme in 11/22/63 is ‘The past is obdurate. It doesn’t want to change.’ Throw in a healthy dose of ‘everything happens for a reason’ and you get the gist of the lesson King is trying to convey in this book. You can probably guess that from the premise. Every time travel book and show that I’ve ever seen or heard about warns us to be careful of what you change when you visit the past. Even the least little change can throw everything off. I guess in essence what I’m trying to get across is that the story is a great one, the lessons that are learned are important and life changing, but the real story and what made the telling of it so great was the journey the characters had to take to get there. It was a beautiful and heart breaking journey and King did a wonderful job of leading the reader through it.

There was so much to love about this story. You had to admire the need Jake felt to right wrongs from the past, regardless of how he had to do it. His love for Sadie was fierce and beautiful. Sadie’s love for Jake (George) was just as fierce. What I didn’t expect from this story was the emotion that all of these character evoked in me. The back stories of both Harry and Sadie were heart breaking. There were several moments that both tears of happiness and tears of sadness were shed and I never saw it coming. (Who expects to cry when reading Stephen King?) There were moments that I literally breathed a sigh of relief because what I was afraid was going to happen didn’t. I’m still feeling the emotion from this book and I finished it over 12 hours ago. I suppose that pretty much says it all. It was a great read and even though it was a long read – I could have read more.

If you are a fan of Stephen King, I know you will read this book. If you haven’t read King for a while and you want to revisit his writing, 11/22/63 is a great place to start. If you aren’t a fan of horror and that’s one of the reasons why you have avoided King and his works, don’t be afraid of this one. There are scarier things than monsters under the bed, however. Sometimes real life is scarier than the monsters in our dreams.