A Kingdom’s Cost by J.R. Tomlin

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Title: A Kingdom’s Cost
Series: The Black Douglas Trilogy
Author: J.R. Tomlin
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: 2011
Format Read: Kindle
Pages: 262
Rating:

3feathers

“Back of Book” Summary:

Scotland is occupied; Scottish resistance is crushed. Eighteen-year-old James Douglas can only watch as the Scottish freedom fighter, William Wallace, is hanged, drawn, and quartered. But even under the heel of a brutal English conqueror, the Scots may still have one hope for freedom: the rightful King of the Scots, Robert the Bruce. James swears fealty to the man he believes can lead the fight against English tyranny.

The Bruce is soon a fugitive, king only in name. The woman James loves is captured and imprisoned. Yet James believes their cause is not lost. He blazes a path in blood and violence, cunning and ruthlessness as he leads a guerrilla war to restore Scotland’s freedom. James knows if he is captured he will share Wallace’s fate, but what he truly fears is that he has become as merciless as the conqueror he fights.

My Review:

A nation that fights for its very existence doesn’t have the luxury of chivalry.

This turbulent period of time in Scotland’s history has been used for some great historical fiction. A Kingdom’s Cost had potential to be really great. The story of James Douglas and Robert de Bruce is attention-grabbing and entertaining. There are many scenes in which I cringed from the depictions of blood and guts in battle. There are horribly tragic and upsetting scenes such as the death of James’ dog in France and having to kill the imprisoned Isabella that pulled on my heart-strings. However, ignoring the formatting problems on the edition, the book was in desperate need of an editor. Misspellings, grammar errors, and the repetition of certain words again and again should be corrected.

I understand that this book fits within a trilogy. However, the ending was very unsatisfying. Sometimes books leave off on cliff-hangers, but within a series this would be acceptable and encouraging to the reader to continue onto the next book in the series. This book did not leave off on a cliff-hanger. It built up to a grand battle, and not following with the flow of how the book had been written, ended within a few pages leaving the reader wanting more of a closure. A few more pages, or even just a few more paragraphs, may have made a huge difference in a reader’s overall satisfaction of the book.

The book could be edited, and the ending elaborated a bit, but this is an entertaining book that I would recommend to those interested in this period of history. I am undecided if I will read the remaining books in the series.

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Eternal Eden by Nicole Williams

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Title: Eternal Eden
Series: Eden Trilogy (Book #1)
Author: Nicole Williams
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 2011
Format Read: Kindle
Pages: 402
Rating: 4feathers

“Back of Book” Summary:

College sophomore Bryn Dawson is a self-proclaimed poster child for normal. However, the day William Hayward enters her life, normalcy is the last thing Bryn will be able to count on if she wants to be with him. Too mysterious and appealing to be good for a girl, Bryn feels drawn to him in a way that seems out of her control—as if fate is orchestrating it.

Despite every red flag and warning siren going off in her head telling her not to, Bryn falls hard for William, knowing he’s categorically different from anyone she’s ever met. She never imagined how right she was. When William takes her deeper into the rabbit hole of his world, Bryn must decide just how much she is willing to sacrifice to be with him, knowing no matter what, fate always finds a way to have the last laugh.

Spinning a new twist on star-crossed lovers, Eternal Eden will put Bryn through a gauntlet of turmoil, challenging her to find the power within herself to become the heroine in her own story.

My Review:

Eternal Eden utilizes the classic story of two lovers destined to be separated despite their best attempts to change fate. A great aspect of this book is how quick it picks up and keeps your attention. The characters were well-written and I generally liked them. Perhaps at times I liked some of the secondary characters, such as Patrick, more than the main character Bryn. Bryn’s low self-esteem throughout most of the book got old quick when man after man threw himself at her. Towards the end, when she finally gained confidence, I felt more connected to her as a reader when she finally gained her own personality. Nicole Williams was very successful in creating a mysterious cloud around William in which the reader, following along with Bryn, is intrigued and wants to know more about him, his world, and his past. The villains were great. John and Stella were fantastically evil people. Stella’s character, while but a small part in this story, reveals an example of how Williams is able to create well-rounded characters with a wide range of realistic emotions within a few paragraphs.

There were many original elements in this book. Some reviewers have suggested that this book is similar to Twilight. I completely disagree. The story of ill-matched lovers being pulled apart (or people attempting to do so) was not a new intervention by Stephenie Meyer, nor will it be the last time it is used. Councils of elders in fantasy books are also common. Thus, this book cannot be compared to Twilight based on narrative ideas that are similar in many romance or fantasy books.

Eternal Eden can hold its own weight in the world of fantasy fiction. The realm of Immortals is complex and intriguing and I have many lingering questions about the Alliances that I hope will be explored in the next book as Bryn and William have now transitioned from the world of Inheritors to that of the Guardians. Not only was the author successful in keeping my attention, but the book left off on a cliffhanger and thus I feel obliged to continue through the series. This book was a fast read- more so because I didn’t want to put the book down- with a few chuckles and tears (yes, I admit the scene towards the end in the dungeon where Bryn was quite literally being executed had pretty intense imagery). This is a recommended fantasy romance novel.

Failing Test by J.M. Pierce

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Title: Failing Test
Series: The Shadow Series
Author: J.M. Pierce
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 2010
Format Read: Kindle
Pages: 380
Rating:

1feather

“Back of Book” Summary:

You know him, but you can’t remember his name. He is the one that is always there, in the background, all but invisible to those roaming the hallways. What if he had a secret? What if it was a secret that even he didn’t know? Test Davis has always been a blur to those around him. He’s a shadow like a million other kids–not smart enough for the academic team, not beast enough for the football team, not extroverted enough for the drama crowd. In all things Test is just…not, which is why no one ever notices him. But what happens when someone does notice him– Nicole Paxton, a cheerleader, no less? What happens on the night that Test finds out there’s nothing average about him and that a powerful gift has been hidden within, secretly waiting to be set free and alter his life forever? The question is, will that power save him and those he loves or tear them apart?

My Review:

The book started off well. The first chapter held my attention and I remember thinking to myself that I liked the author’s writing style. However, the book soon turned into teen whiny soap opera. Test, the main character, a senior in high school had a secret crush on Nicole for almost a decade and never told her. Nicole, had a crush on Test but because of wanting to maintain her status as a popular cheerleader who hung out with the “in crowd,” she had kept her feelings private. The descriptions of the internal turmoil that these characters had was unbearably whiny, childish, and ridiculous. I almost gave up on this book early on. I gave it another try and was initially glad to have kept going. Nicole finally revealed her feelings for Test, she confronted her friends who in turn revealed they only cared for status and not her, and the book was starting to pick up in action: Test discovered his powers and rescued Nicole from a bad situation.

Well, I made it to about page 150 of 380 and called it quits for good. Test had powers that he needed to keep secret, yet kept revealing them to people and would whine about the repercussions. I did not have the patience to read hundreds more pages of complaining. Perhaps there are some good elements in the book, such as the storyline having potential. But I just could not read the teeny soap opera dialogue any longer and therefore had to abandon this book. I do enjoy many books within the Young Adult paranormal genre. However, being an adult and understanding how tough the real world is, it is rather annoying to read teenagers complaining about every little thing or being too scared of rejection- and thus are living their lives with regret- that it becomes annoying. The characters become unlikable and the book not enjoyable. I don’t read to be aggravated. I will not read another book in this series.