BOOK REVIEW: The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

17667561Title: The Shadow Throne

Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen

Book Length (Audiobook): 8 hours 53 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure

LinkGoodreads

Brief Summary of the Plot: The Shadow Throne is the last book in the Ascendance Trilogy following The Runaway King (see my review here) and The False Prince (see my review here). The book starts off about three weeks after the ending of The Runaway King, and war has come to Carthya. Imogen is captured by the King of Avenia, and Jaron sets out to save her. Tobias and the Princess are sent to the Princess’s country to get aid, and Roden is sent away to the border to stop an invasion. While Jaron is on his quest to save his love, war is erupting all around him.

My Review: SPOILER ALERT. I liked this book a lot less than the other two books. Although it was entertaining, and was a fast paced story, Jaron’s “wit” was getting super annoying. I mean, how cool is it when everything coming out of someone’s mouth is a quip or a one-liner? Talk about eye roll inducing. This book could have been full of action, but instead of following the battle scenes, most of the book followed the story of Jaron who was captured several times, tortured / beat up several times. It just got a little tedious. And to be honest, I didn’t really understand the whole point of having this war — except for maybe to get three books out of the storyline. I do not see how Jaron even won at the end, since everyone surrounding him was against him. It was a bit unrealistic. But of course, everything had to end so neatly with a happily ever after.

I have to say that I was kind of disappointed in the ending, but maybe Game of Thrones has made me expect too much from these medieval kingdom type books.

The Audiobook Recording: SPOILER ALERT. At the end of the recording, there is a special scene involving Bevin Connor and the King of Avenia. Connor is betraying Jaron in exchange for becoming King of Carthya after Jaron is dead. During this scene, Connor began to regret his traitorous ways and vows to help Jaron win the war. This seemed unlikely that after everything Connor had done he would for some unknown reason turn coat (again) and be loyal to Jaron…but okay. I guess it was needed to help the plot. Jaron of course had to win the war in the end (aforementioned happy ending) and there really were insurmountable odds without Connor’s help.

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

15703770Title: The Runaway King

Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen

Book Length (Audiobook): 8 hours 27 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure

LinkGoodreads

Brief Summary of the Plot: The Runaway King is the sequel to the False Prince (see my review of the False Prince here). First, I guess I should explain that Sage the orphan from the first book was really Prince Jaron in disguise. At the end of the book, he reveals his true identity, and takes his rightful place on the throne. At the beginning of The Runaway King, King Jaron has been king for 1 month, and everything is already in shambles. The Princess who was betrothed to his older brother Darius, is now betrothed to Jaron. The only problem is that the two of them dislike each other, and she is courting favor and winning allies among Jaron’s regents (behind his back).

At the funeral of Jaron’s family, Roden (one of the other orphans from the first book) tries to assassinate Jaron. It is discovered that the pirates (who everyone thought killed Jaron in the first book) are trying to kill him again — and it is possible that they are being paid to do so by another country, which has neighboring lands to Carthya. This neighboring country is on the brink of declaring war against Carthya. Jaron, not knowing who to trust (and because the regents decide to put a Steward in place until Jaron comes of age), leaves the castle and becomes “The Runaway King.” His plan in to infiltrate the pirates and to stop the coming war, or to at least be better prepared.

My Review: I liked this book. It was entertaining and was a fast paced story. However, it didn’t have the same “I need to get to the ending as fast as possible to find out what’s happening” pull as the first book did. The reader knows that Jaron is hiding as “Sage”, and knows what Jaron intends to do. The book is about the unfolding of these plans. Since there is a third book, I could only assume that Jaron would pull off whatever scheme he cooked up — and I had no illusions that it would be like Game of Thrones where the author killed off my most favorite characters because it would happen like that in real life. This is a YA book after all.

One of the things that I don’t like about YA in general, is the age of the main characters. Jaron is supposed to be 14 years old, but acts like he’s 34. Maybe I am just showing my age a bit, but I don’t remember being so capable when I was 14. Another thing that struck me as weird, is the Imogen / Jaron relationship. They are friends, but also more? This did not seem well fleshed out, but rather only mentioned in a few lines of dialogue toward the end of the book. It left me confused as to whether they did have romantic feelings for each other, or was it really only a friendship? Maybe this will be explained in the 3rd book.

The Audiobook Recording: Nothing special to report.

 

BOOK REVIEW: The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

12432220Title: The False Prince

Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen

Book Length (Audiobook): 8 hours 15 mins

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure

LinkGoodreads

Brief Summary of the Plot: The King, Queen, and Crown Prince are dead, and the (now) heir to the throne, the youngest son of the King, is presumed dead (although no body has ever been found). Carthya is on the brink of civil war when nobleman Connor takes orphan boys Sage, Roden, and Tobias to his estate to train them for the biggest con job in history. Each of these boys will compete to impersonate Jaron, the lost prince. The boy who wins the competition will become King, but for those boys who lose, only death awaits.

My Review/Expectations: Honestly, I was very surprised to like this book as much as I did. I had originally read it back in 2012, and am reading it again so that I can read the 2nd and 3rd books in the series (which are part of the top 10 oldest books on my Want to Read Shelf). The story of this book is fun and entertaining, and I found myself eager to continue listening to it. Sage is of course the front-runner (and the main character), so it was obvious from the beginning that he was going to be chosen by Connor to be the False Prince, but this didn’t lessen the quality of the overall story. The writing is good, but easy, so I was able to breeze through in a few days at 1.6x times the normal speed (Audiobook).

There was a plot twist at the end, but I saw it coming a mile away. This could have been because I had read the book before (even though I didn’t remember anything about the story), or maybe there were just numerous hints throughout the book…but I would say that this added to the story rather than detracted. I kept waiting for the big reveal!

I would definitely recommend this book.

The Audiobook Recording: Nothing special to report.

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Dark Tower III: The Wastelands

34084Title: The Dark Tower III: The Wastelands

Author: Stephen King

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Audiobook Length: 17 hours and 54 minutes

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction

LinkGoodreads

Brief Summary of the Plot: If you are interested to see my reviews of the first two books, you can click the links below. In this third book, which takes place five weeks after the second book ends, Eddie, Susannah (formerly Odetta) are being trained by Roland to become gunslingers. All the while, the three are continuing their quest to the Dark Tower by following magical “beams” (which I guess are like ley lines?). They encounter strange (ancient) beings along the way who are becoming sick and dying, as Midworld is “moving on” (onto the next age?)

Meanwhile, due to the fact that he saved Jake from being killed in the 2nd book, Roland’s mind has become fractured into 2 pieces. The first piece remembers Jake (from the timeline where he died and came to Midworld), and the second piece where Jake lived, and therefore never met Roland. This juxtaposition is tearing Roland apart and slowly making him insane.

Back on “Earth” in NYC, Jake’s mind has also become fractured. He remembers both the life in Midworld, and the one where he never went there. Strange things are happening to him in NYC, and its like he is living a double life. Eventually he is able to find his way to a portal to Midworld. Once Roland and Jake are together again, the insanity ends for both of them.

The rest of the book is about the adventures they have while on their quest, which I won’t tell you about so as not to ruin it for you.

Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW: The Dark Tower III: The Wastelands”

BLAST FROM THE PAST BOOK REVIEW: The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King

5094

Title: The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three

Author: Stephen King

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

When I read it: April, 2018

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction

LinkGoodreads

Brief Summary of the Plot: 7 hours after the end of the first book, Roland awakes on the beach, where he is attacked by lobster-like creatures called “lobstrosity”. The lobstrosity eats parts of a few of Roland’s fingers before Roland manages to kill it. The wounds become infected, and Roland realizes he is dying. Roland continues to walk down the beach, where he encounters three doors, which open into different time periods in New York. As Roland walks through the first two doors, he brings back a person who will help him on his quest (i.e., Eddie Dean and Odetta Holmes). The third door leads Roland to Jack Mort, who we find out was the guy who pushed Jake into oncoming traffic, killing him (which is how Jake ended up in Roland’s world). Roland goes into the mind of Jack Mort and is able to prevent him from pushing Jake.

Jake is not in the novel, because in The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger, Roland lets Jake die. Walter is also not in this book, and is presumed dead. Just as a recap, at the end of the first book, Roland and the man in black encounter each other, and the man in black reads Roland’s fortune using tarot cards. The man in black casts a spell over Roland, making him fall asleep. Roland awakes 10 years later holding a jaw bone, which is presumed to be that of the man in black.

The Writing: As with all of Stephen King’s books, the writing was great.

The Audiobook Recording: Nothing to report.

Expectations/Recommendations: I more or less had the same ambivalent feelings about this book that I did with respect to The Gunslinger. It’s hard to get into the story because there are so many moving pieces. Basically, though this book was just about collecting the companions–Roland stayed on the beach the entire time. This book was more or less building the back story of the two new characters, and revealing the connection with Jack Mort. I guess, however, that it is an important story insofar as the entire series is concerned.

BLAST FROM THE PAST BOOK REVIEW: The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

 

43615

 

Title: The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger

Author: Stephen King

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

When I read it: April, 2018

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction

LinkGoodreads

Brief Summary of the Plot: The story centers around Roland, the last gunslinger, and his quest to find and kill the man in black, who for all intents and purposes is a sorcerer. The place where Roland lives is not “earth” exactly, but seems to be a separate dimension, parallel universe, or on a different timeline, it is hard to say. As Roland is passing a way station, a boy Jake appears from “earth”. Jake doesn’t know how he got to Roland’s timeline. The two of them set out to find the man in black together.

The Writing: As with all of Stephen King’s books, the writing was great.

The Audiobook Recording: Nothing to report.

Expectations/Recommendations: The Dark Tower series so far has been one of my least favorite from Stephen King. I gave it 3 stars out of 5 because while it was an entertaining book, I just didn’t love it. It’s not that the book is weird, because lets face it, most of King’s books are a little weird, but rather that I found myself getting lost. I didn’t understand who the man in black was, and why Roland was so intent on killing him. How really did this Jake kid fit in? And what was up with the Dark Tower? Maybe these things will be revealed in the next book.

BOOK REVIEW: Haunted: Horror of Haverfordwest by G.L. Davies

38247056Title: Haunted: Horror of Haverfordwest

Author: G.L. Davies

Book Length: 240 pages

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Horror, Fantasy, Paranormal

Read Start Date: September 29, 2018

Read Finish Date: October 9, 2018

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Blissful beginnings for a young couple turn into a nightmare after purchasing their dream home in Wales in 1989. Their love and their resolve are torn apart by an indescribable entity that pushes paranormal activity to the limit. Haunted: Horror of Haverfordwest is the prequel to the bestselling A Most Haunted House.

My Review: This book is actually 2 books in one, including the author’s previously published book A Most Haunted House.

Told in the interview style, this book was very well written and was very entertaining–if you like scaring yourself like me, the best time to read this book is right before turning out the lights.

Claiming to be non-fiction (of this I have no reason to doubt or confirm), the story starts in Wales, 1989, when Dai and Anne, a married couple get a good deal on the purchase of a house.  As is always the catch in these matters, the house is very, very haunted. At the beginning, the entities manifest themselves as shadowy figures, and over time move on to violations of both mind, body, and spirit–the entities terrorize the couple, so much so, that they are eventually forced to move out.

Decades later, an unsuspecting couple, “John” (who is in fact the author) and “Sarah” his now ex-girlfriend, move into the house.  Again, almost immediately they begin to experience strange occurrences in the house. The couple is so affected by the haunting, that they break up and move away.

The author ends the book with a recitation and summary of the varying theories of what could cause paranormal occurrences, or rather, people’s perception that these occurrences are happening to them.  While these theories are intriguing, I feel that they detract from the overall story of the individuals living in the haunted house.  In fact, I considered skipping it all together.  I would have rather liked to see these theories more fleshed out and investigated in a separate book.

Nevertheless, I really liked this book not only because of the overall story, but because of the realness of the characters. These people were just normal, average people who found themselves in an unspeakable situation. I could see myself a little in John, because at the beginning I also would have been excited to have a real haunting in the house, and can totally understand how this excitement could in fact turn to horror, fear, and despair.

If you love movies including Amityville Horror, the Conjuring 2, Stranger Things (the series), and Insidious, (or if you are looking for a good scare) then I would definitely recommend this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”