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review 2018-05-16 02:11
Fantasy epic filled with forbidden magic, monsters, and cleverly crafted subplots; one of my favorites of the year so far!
Onyx and Ivory - Mindee Arnett

Before I fully launch into my review (which I've saved up for release day), I have to first say how totally excited I am that this book is going to finally going out into the world. I got to be on the ‘Street Team’, one of the 'Relay Riders', for 'Onyx and Ivory', which meant I helped get the word out for it on social media. BUT that does not play into my review of the book.

 

Happily though, I fell in love with Mindee Arnett's book. I've not read her other books but I have a feeling she is putting something different out here and pouring something of herself into this one. O&I is an epic fantasy that started off (I believe) as a germ of an idea for Mindee some 6 years ago now, and it became a novel that opens up a world of dark monsters, forbidden magic, and brings us characters that feel complex and vibrant.

The main character of the novel is Kate, otherwise known as ‘Traitor Kate’, named as such for her father’s actions, for trying to assassinate the high king of Rime many years ago. Her father had been master of horse to the king, but he was executed for his crime, one that Kate can’t believe he would have knowingly committed.
Now she hides the gift of wilder magic that allows her to touch the minds of animals that makes her so in tune with horses as her father was, but wilder magic is forbidden and punishable by death. Because of her father’s treachery, she has been relegated to being a Relay rider for Farhold, the imperial courier service, but there are these nasty monsters out there called ‘nightdrakes’ (deadly flightless dragons), that make her job intensely dangerous, and soon these drakes are attacking in the daylight, massacring whole caravans of people.

 

Now, beyond this basic plot of Kate and her forbidden magic, and the drakes, as a reader you are quickly immersed in a world where there is a lot going on. This is a book that is not fast-paced but it is totally absorbing: when I took my time to read it, I felt like I was settling in to fully entrench myself in the world of several sub-plots that weave together and a number of fascinating characters. They are key to enjoying this book.
To name some, there’s Corwin (Kate’s first love, and heir to the throne), Signe (her spunky best friend), Edwin (Corwin’s nasty brother and competition for the crown), and Bonner (long-time friend who knows her magical secret). Kate reunites with her first love Corwin, after saving him from an attack by drakes, and she and her counterparts must embark on a full-on quest to not only understand who tried to kill the king, but also who is controlling the daydrakes. Corwin must also prove he is more worthy to be the heir to the throne than his brother. Something that I particularly think that is important for a novel of this length, is that the characters felt fully realized and fleshed-out, so much so that I could imagine them all throughout the book like companions. While there seem to be a number of subplots going on in the book, Arnett proves she is a skilled writer because I never felt lost. When one part of the story wasn’t being written about, it was fine to just leave it for a while, and continue with another part, and then go back to the other one. I don’t want to say too much about the plot lines of the book because it is jam-packed, but somehow Mindee has threaded them all together, and they’ve culminated in an ending that begs for another epic book. As long as O&I is, I didn’t want the journey and the book to end!

 

There is so much great imagery and vivid world-building woven into the book, such as the different types of magic, the descriptions of clothing, and landscape; on Mindee Arnett’s Website, there is some beautiful artwork and images to represent the Land of Rime, maps that show political regions, all the magic descriptions, and way back to her original conceptual beginnings for the book; it’s all there if you want to see it in detail.

 

I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for a fantasy they can really dig into, not rush through; there’s action, complex subplots, strong friendships, magic AND monsters(!), depictions of females as positive, independent characters, and there’s also the questioning of judgement of others/hypocrisy with respect to the laws regarding use of magic. There may seem to be, at first glance, the usual tropes of ‘fighting for the throne’, and ‘childhood friend likes girl now she’s grown up’, but I didn’t feel like the book was covering old ground, particularly as I got further and further into it.

‘Onyx and Ivory’ really is an amazing book, and it’s already on my ‘best-of’ list for 2018. I definitely want to be there for the Relay Ride for Book 2!

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review 2018-04-15 03:26
Review: Starting from Scratch
Starting from Scratch (Lancaster Discoveries) - Kate Lloyd

Eva Lapp is a young girl or woman. She takes a job that her cousin Olivia recommends. Her brother and his family show up at her parents home two days early. Her sister-in-law decides to send her on her way. 

 

When she gets to Yodel’s Nursery she is in surprise for she thinks she goes to be working with plants. There a surprise when she finds out she is to manage the small cafe. 

 

She seems to be getting suitor left and right, though she does not feel them. She thinks they are either too young or she does not know for sure. 

 

Jake returns and Eva has a feeling for him. Are they true or is she just think she got feelings. Things get a little bumpy when someone breaks into the cafe or at least looks that way. Stephen seems to have a feeling for Eva but does Eva have a feeling for Stephen? 

 

There is an adventure at every turn once you start reading. Some folks keep blaming Jake for the burned down fire? Did Jake do it? Eva also is having trouble with whether to stay Amish or to go English? Kate Lloyd writes a completing story and shows how Eva Lapp is snuggling with her problems. Can she overcome them? Will Jake and Eva turn towards God for help?

Source: nrcbooks.blogspot.com/2018/04/review-starting-from-scratch.html
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review 2018-04-04 23:32
Book Review: Who the Bishop Knows
Who the Bishop Knows - Vanetta Chapman

Were you wondering if Henry seen another murder? Well what if Henry did not and though the person does not know that. The murderer seem to think he knows more about Jermiamiah murder?

What of his talents, he does not see him or know that he there. Henry does embrace his talent. Will is solved the crime or not? Emma knows Henry did not see what happen and so does the police though they did ask him if his special talent would help.

Do they know that the murderer is living among them? Does Naomi know more than any of the youngsters. The young adults appear brought into this murder. Is it personal or not?

Two girls get kidnapped but why and for what reason? How is Henry and Emma involved? I seem that there a secret going on and that get reveal as well

Vannetta does a wonderful job of doing it and closing out the series. What up with having a bishop that knows and seem to find all the clues. See if he can help the English police to solve the crime.

Source: nrcbooks.blogspot.com/2018/04/book-review-who-bishop-knows-and.html
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review 2018-03-03 21:44
Review: What the Bishop Saw
What the Bishop Saw (The Amish Bishop Mysteries) - Vannetta Chapman

What the Bishops Saw is a really good mystery in itself. You are guessing from the time you open the book and the last page you turn. Who killed Veron Fry? Did someone murder Vernon Fry on purpose? Is it Amish and English.

I am still surprised with the ending. The Englisher needs help as she does not get to bottom of the case or any closes. Will the bishop help save an innocent man and catch the culprit? What is Henry talent and is it good or is bad. To find out this you need to read the book.

I am still wondering why this person did what he or she did towards the Amish when they did not do anything to have it happen. Vannetta Chapman gets you hooked and wanting more. You will not want to put this book down once you start to read it. It pages turner for you. Will Henry take a leap a faith and use these talents. Find out by reading What the Bishop Saw. It a compelling story and one I hope to follow more of Henry and this community in Colorado Valley.

Source: nrcbooks.blogspot.com/2018/03/review-what-bishop-saw.html
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review 2018-02-08 02:32
Review: Hidden
Hidden - Vannetta Chapman

Hidden is a story. Vannetta Chapman does a wonderfully job with the plot of this book. It action packed from the beginning to the end. You are pulled into this book from first few pages.

 

You think this book is a thriller from the way it written and told. We learn about Ben Marshall and Dana Jacobs. We are surprised and twists. What is Dana running from? She does not tell us or do we discover completely until end. I do not want to spoil it for you.

 

Jacobs has a staff of some dedicated members and it to Homeland security. We know someone is after something or someone. There a call that comes in at the school as if it a bomb but you do not now and then there an attack or threat of one. It gets more action packed from there.

 

If you are a thriller, Mystery, action fan, you get many it all. Though it looks like there some Christian talk in here about god. I mean there is some if not more than enough. Will Dana get over her fears or will she not?

Source: nrcbooks.blogspot.com/2018/02/hidden.html
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