Category: Reading

Blades of Acktar: Dare Book Review

Blades of Acktar: Dare Book Review

As promised in this post, here is my review of Dare, the first book in Tricia Mingerink’s “Blades of Acktar” series!

Dare by Tricia Mingerink is a Christian fantasy novel.

 

 

It was supposed to be a routine mission. Leith Torren was not supposed to be wounded or alone in a blizzard. Desperate for aid, he stumbles upon the home of the family he once helped to destroy.

When Renna and Brandi find a wounded Blade on their doorstep, the two sisters are faced with a dilemma—if he discovers their faith or ties to the Resistance, they’re as good as dead, but if they don’t help him, he will die. Against her better judgement, Renna tends to the Blade.

Their kindness causes Leith to question his life as a Blade of the king. He’s been taught to obey without question, kill without hesitation. When he discovers their Christian ties, he is faced with a dilemma of his own. After they helped him, he can’t very well order their deaths, can he?

 

 

 

By the end of Chapter 3, I was hooked. No doubt about it, I knew I would love this book.

It’s a medieval fantasy, minus magic and fantastical creatures. I could see Dare taking place sometime in the history of Europe, so it’s not really “deep” fantasy.

The coolest part of Acktar, in my opinion, are the Blades. They’re the villain, King Respen’s, personal assassins. They have capes (I think), horses, and lots of knives (hence the fact they are called “Blades”). 🗡🗡

Dare isn’t an allegory, but the Christian faith is clearly presented. Several characters are Christians and they quote Scripture verses a lot. The book of Daniel is very important to the story. 🦁

I loved all the characters, particularly Leith and Brandi. They have earned spots on my favorite characters list!

I was intrigued by the suspense and danger Tricia wove throughout the story.

But the ending was awful, as in HOW DARE YOU END IT LIKE THAT? The kind of ending that makes the reader part of me mad, but the writer part happy. Absolutely beautiful. 😍

I can’t wait to read Deny (book two in The Blades of Acktar series).

 

 

Content Warnings

In the very first scene, one of Leith’s companion’s has kidnapped a girl so, as he put it, “we’d have some fun while we wait.” But nothing happens and Leith is adamant that his companion let the girl go. I just spoiled the first two pages. 😛

No language.

There was a bit of romance. But it was clean and there wasn’t very much of it.

Several times there is mention of blood, wounds, stitching said wounds, and cauterizing other wounds. As well as a knife fight or two.

A guy does take off his shirt to show he isn’t hiding any weapons, as well as for a healer (a girl) to take care of his injuries.

 

Overall, I loved Dare. It will be a re-read for sure!

I would recommend this book to lovers of Jaye L. Knight, C.S. Lewis, or just Christian fantasy fans in general.

You can find Tricia Mingerink on her blog here.

 

Allison Grace blogs at allisongracewrites.com

 

Your Turn!

Have you read Dare? Do you like medieval fantasy? After reading this review, do you want to go out and buy some throwing knives so you can pretend to be an assassin? 

 

Where’s Glendale?

Glendale visits the library
Glendale was getting restless, so we went to visit the library!

 

Glendale reads a book
He found a book just his size! (It’s A Tale of Tom Kitten, but he didn’t want me to tell you. 😛)

 

Glendale goofs off
Then he decided to try reading upside down. *facepalm*
2019 To Be Read List

2019 To Be Read List

I have a very, very long TBR (to be read) list for 2019. And it’s sure to grow faster than it shrinks. Such is life as a bookworm. 😁📚

Most are fantasy, but there are a few exceptions here and there.

As the aspiring librarian that I am, I alphabetized this list by author’s last names. 😎

 

Gillian Bronte Adams: Songkeeper and Song of Leira

After reading the first book (Orphan’s Song) in “The Songkeeper Chronicles” over the summer, I’m excited about the last two books in the trilogy. And the cover of Song of Leira is awesome. So mysterious and cool!

 

Song of Leira by Gillian Bronte Adams

 

Moody Adams: The Titanic’s Last Hero

This is actually a true story. I’m pretty sure I’ve read it before, but I don’t remember too much about it. There are so many Titanic books, but this one is different. It’s about John Harper, a pastor who drowned when the ship sunk. Although it promises to be sad, I’m excited to read it.

 

Rachel Coker: Interrupted

I read this book a couple years ago. It was amazing. I nearly cried and I can’t wait to read it again. Plus, it’s written by a young author, like me!

 

Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities

This is one of my favorite books overall, but it’s my favorite of Dickens’ books (at least, of the ones I’ve read). I’m hoping reading it a second time will be easier than the first time I read it for literature. 😅

 

Leah E. Good: Counted Worthy

Yet another re-read and young author. This one is a Christian dystopian. I really enjoyed it, even though it was heart-wrenching.

 

Sandra Merville Hart: A Musket In My Hands

I actually got to meet Ms. Hart at a book fair. I even got this copy autographed! It’s a historical fiction set in the Civil War. Unlike most CW books, this one is told from a Southern perspective.

 

Michael A. G. Haykin: Eight Women of Faith

Another nonfiction book! I’m very interested in reading this book. I started it awhile ago, but it was hard reading. But I’m up for the challenge!

 

C. R. Hedgcock: Summer of Suspense

One of my writing friends has been after me to read the “Baker Family Adventures” series. So this year, I’m going to actually read them. Years ago, I read the first four, but that was years ago—you know, when books were inscribed on cave walls—so I don’t remember too much about them.

 

Michelle L. Levigne: Odessa Fremont

I also met Ms. Levigne at the same book fair I met Ms. Hart. This book is the prequel to the “Guardians of the Time Stream” series. I haven’t read the series yet, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to start with the prequel. I don’t usually read time travel (I find it confusing) or steampunk (in fact, I never have), but I’m going to give it a go this year!

 

DiAnn Mills: High Treason

Yet another author I have met! But I met Mrs. Mills at the Taylor Professional Writers Conference in August 2018, not at a book fair This is (or was at the time) her latest release. I’ve only read a couple other books by her so far, but the last suspense I read was really good.

 

Jennifer A. Nielsen: The False Prince

My writing mentee suggested I read this series. It looks really cool! And the catch-line on the cover is intriguing: “Choose to lie…or choose to die.”

 

Mrs. E. Prentiss: Stepping Heavenward

My mom gave me this book a while ago. It’s nonfiction and looks pretty interesting. It’s about a young woman’s Christian walk.

 

Mollie E Reeder: The Electrical Menagerie

I won this book from one of Gillian Bronte Adams’ giveaways. It’s another steampunk, so not on my usual reading list. But I’m intrigued by it just the same.

 

Brandon Sanderson: The Way of Kings

I’ve only ever read one of Sanderson’s books before and it was pretty good. This one is ginormous! I mean, 1258 pages? If I manage to read this whole thing this year, I’ll be shocked. 😅

J. R. R. Tolkien: The Two Towers and The Return of the King

No, I have not read the entire trilogy yet. No, I have not seen the movies. Yes, I have played (most) of the video game. I’m tired of being the only fantasy author who hasn’t read LotR. 😂 But I have read The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring. And I just watched the first Hobbit movie with my brother.

 

K. M. Weiland: A Man Called Outlaw

I’ve only read Weiland’s nonfiction books on writing. But I thought I’d try her fiction. This one is historical. It has a western feel to me–outlaws, ranches, and gunmen.

 

Jill Williamson: By Darkness Hid

I got this book for Christmas last year and I still haven’t gotten around to reading it! I’ve heard really good things about this book and I can’t wait to dig in.

 

Katherine Wilson: Maidens of Malidone

This is a three book series. I read the first book (The Stolen Princess) a while ago, but once again, I don’t remember too much about it. They are also written by a young author!

 

Allison Grace blogs at allisongracewrites.com

 

Your Turn!

What is on your 2019 TBR? Have you read any of these books? Would you like to see a review of a particular one on my list?

 

Where’s Glendale?

 

Glendale and Gandalf
Gandalf was positive he was talking to Legolas. I guess that’s what happens when you look like a famous elf. 😛

 

Ilyon and Acktar Blog Tour!

Ilyon and Acktar Blog Tour!

Ilyon and Acktar Blog Tour!

I’m beyond excited for this post. I mean, two of my favorite authors coming to my blog? Just ask my mom. I’m sure I’ve annoyed her to no end. 😂

 

So today, I have a special treat for you! An author interview with both Tricia Mingerink and Jaye L. Knight, Christian fantasy authors! Plus, book reviews of Bitter Winter and Lacy along with a huge giveaway!

 

First, I want to share how I stumbled upon these authors.

 

My mom ordered Jaye L. Knight’s book, Resistance, for me back in 2017. I was not into fantasy and wasn’t really interested in reading it. But, she got it for me, so I read it. Mostly because Jaye is a young author and I was just getting into writing.

And. I. Loved. It.

Like wanted-to-cry-loved-it-so-much.

I can’t remember if I actually thought it, but sometime while reading it I decided that I wanted to write books just like Jaye’s. Forget historical fiction, I’m writing fantasy from now on.

Without Resistance, there would be no Checkmate (my work in progress) and none of the other ideas I have bopping around in my head. 

 

I just discovered Tricia’s series, The Blades of Acktar, hardly a month ago. I learned about them when I signed up for the blog tour. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of her before.

I think I scared my mom when I asked her to order the first ebook for me, because I basically never read ebooks. But I wanted Dare and I wanted it fast.

So I read it and by Chapter 3 I was hooked. Now I just need to get my hands on the rest of the series…

 

And now, without further ado, I give you Jaye and Tricia!

*please clap here*

 

 

Jaye L. Knight is a Christian fantasy author.

About the Author

Jaye L. Knight is an award-winning author, homeschool graduate, and shameless tea addict with a passion for Christian fantasy. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

 

You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Etsy.

 

 

Tricia Mingerink is a Christian fantasy author.

About the Author

Tricia Mingerink is a twenty-something, book-loving, horse-riding country girl. She lives in Michigan with her family and their pack of pets. When she isn’t writing, she can be found pursuing backwoods adventures across the country.

 

You can connect with Tricia on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

 

Welcome to my blog, Jaye and Tricia! I’m so excited and honored to have you here!

 

Can you briefly tell us about your writing journey?

Jaye: I first started writing when I was eight because I watched my mom doing it and it looked like fun. It wasn’t until I was around fourteen or fifteen that I decided I actually wanted to be an author. I was around eighteen when I first looked into indie publishing. My parents gave me the money I needed to publish my first book for my graduation, and I slowly made my way to where I am now.

 

Tricia: I started drawing picture books when I was two years old, and I decided I was going to be a published author someday when I was six. I wrote lots and lots of short stories and novellas and novels until finally I wrote Dare and made the decision to indie publish it after seeing many other authors, like Jaye L. Knight, going that route.

 

What books or authors influenced your writing the most?

Jaye: My mom is my biggest influence. She’s an author too, and I might not have started writing if not for her. And then J.R.R. Tolkien was certainly big influence. I might never have started writing fantasy if not for my love of The Lord of the Rings, and he is the one who made me want to be a published author.

 

Tricia: C.S. Lewis gave me my love of fantasy. Jill Williamson and Morgan Busse showed me that there are still authors writing Christian fantasy today. Nadine Brandes was my first editor and one of my first author friends, and I learned so much from her about writing and marketing. Jaye L. Knight showed me it was possible to indie publish well, and she’s become a really good friend.

 

What do you love most about writing?

Jaye: My characters. Characters are the most important part of a story for me. While it can get frustrating at times, I love developing characters and seeing how they interact with each other.

 

Tricia: I love when it is going well. Those moments in a first draft when my fingers can’t type fast enough because the story is flowing so intensely. Or those moments when editing when the books starts to come together, and the mess becomes beautiful.

 

I know when I write, some of the names in my book have significance (such as the city named after a cat). Do any of your characters or places have names that mean anything special to you? Particularly Jace and Leith.

Jaye: I can’t say that I have any yet that have special meaning to me. Jace just came up in a fantasy name generator and I had it in a list of names I liked. Of course, I had no idea when I decided to use it that it seems to be a ridiculously popular name in mainstream YA fiction. Oops. I still love it. I guess the country of Samara does have a particular meaning. It means “protected by God,” which is why I chose it.

 

Tricia: The name Leith has no specific significance. I simply liked the name, lol. I usually try not to use the names of people I know, but Lady Lorraine demanded that her first name was Paula, and my friend in real life Paula didn’t mind. The town of Sierra is named after my critique partner Sierra.

Nadine Brandes always names a character after all of her nieces and nephews, and I’ve decided I’m going to try to do something similar, though I’ll probably expand it to include various children who’ve meant a lot to me over the years.

Obviously your writing is strongly affected by your faith. What advice would you give to writers (particularly of fantasy) who struggle to implement their faith into their books?

Jaye: This is kind of an obvious one, but try not to be preachy. Show faith by your characters’ actions. Just like in real life, actions are often more powerful than words. And weave it in naturally. Try not to force it.

 

Tricia: Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions, both in your books and through your books of yourself. It might be difficult and take a lot of prayer and Scripture-searching to get to the answer, or as much of an answer as you can, but it will be worth it in the end for the depth in your book.

 

Thank you so much!

 

And now on to my book reviews. As I have not read most of The Blades of Acktar series yet, I’m unfortunately not reviewing Decree. 😕 But check back in January for a review of Dare, the first book in the series!

(I received free ebooks in exchange for honest reviews.)

 

Bitter Winter by Jaye L. Knight

About Bitter Winter

Already struggling with a harsh winter and the threat of food shortage, a catastrophic event leaves those in the Landale camps reeling. Just when things couldn’t get much worse, camp members fall ill with the same devastating sickness that’s sweeping across the country.

Determined to gain the cure, Jace sets off to Valcré. However, there are only two sources—the queen, or a powerful gang of smugglers who have made the dangerous city their home. When Jace gains audience with the gang leader, he finds the price of the cure is steeper than any of them imagined, forcing him to make an impossible choice—betray his conscience or let those he loves die.

Available now on Amazon!

Add to Goodreads

 

Storyline

First things first, was that summary not amazing? I’ve been dying for this book to come out ever since I read that synopsis months ago. And now it’s finally here!

And that cover… It ranks up there with The Girl Who Could See and Fawkes. It’s so pretty and I love the blue color scheme. 😍

Do you know how hard it is to write a review without spoiling anything? And it doesn’t help that this is Book 5 in The Ilyon Chronicles. 😅

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Something happened that I had been waiting forever to occur. *cue fangirl screaming*

I thought I was going to cry several times while reading Bitter Winter. The only problem is that I don’t cry when reading. I only grin like an idiot or clap my hand over my mouth to hide my gasping. *shakes head slowly* Shameful.

I was a bit disappointed by the lack of “conflict.” By that I mean the other books have had more action—swordfights, impending executions, dragon fights, etc. Bitter Winter didn’t lack conflict in general (deadly illness = conflict), but I was hoping for some more heartpumping action scenes.

But my favorite part was the ending. I can’t say anything else except, GO READ THE ILYON CHRONICLES, YOU WON’T REGRET IT. Unless you stay up late to read them and hence lose sleep. Then you might regret it. 😎

All that being said, I was a bit disappointed in the way everything was tied up at the end. I’d say more, but spoilers.

 

Characters

There weren’t really any new characters, except Alex Avery. But since the characters are my favorite part of the series, I’ll tell you all about my favorites from all the books. 😀

We have to start with Jace because, well, Jace. He has to be my most favorite character of all time. Why? His inner conflict. His character arc. His backstory. Umm, everything about him is awesome? I identify with him the most of all of Jaye’s characters even though we’re totally different.

Unfortunately, Kyrin wasn’t in this book too much. But she’s so sweet and caring in all the other books. And…grrr…I want to say more, but it would spoil parts of Resistance.

Those of you who know me well know I don’t typically cheer a romance on. Well, I’ve been rooting for Jayrin from the beginning.

And Talas, Timothy, and Kaden were awesome as usual. Shocker, because they’re always awesome. 🐉📜🐉

Can I just say I want a pet wolf like Tyra? She’s so loyal and so cute! But I wouldn’t trade Reese (our dog) for any other dog, not even Tyra. 🐺

 

Content

There was more romance in this book than in the previous books. But it’s clean romance. The occasional kiss, holding of hands, hug, etc. Like, “I love her so much I just want to kiss her and protect her from all the evils the bad guys are planning.”

A few characters die in a battle at the very beginning. There are descriptions of the scene and blood. And a death scene. (One of the times I wanted to cry.)

All of Jaye’s books are free from language, which is awesome!

 

Lacy by Jaye L. Knight

About Lacy

The last thing Aaron ever envisioned was falling for a prostitute. Everything about it spells trouble. However, he can’t help noticing the way her smile lights up when she sees him and how much brokenness she hides behind it. Neither can he ignore how desperately she needs rescue and protection.

When Lacy shares a life or death secret with him, Aaron is willing to risk everything to help her and to show her Elôm’s love. Yet, such a choice could destroy his reputation and maybe even cost him his freedom.

An Ilyon Chronicles Novella

Available now on Amazon!

Add to Goodreads

Storyline

I actually really enjoyed this book. It was a little predictable at points, but cute.

But one plot twist totally caught me by surprise. (And I was at music lessons at the time, so I had to restrain my loud protests so as to not disturb someone else’s lesson. 😂)

I was irritated at one part of the story, but if I told you, it would be double spoilery.

 

Characters

Most of the characters have been in the other books, but there were a few new ones—Gwen, Hannah, Helen, and Lacy, most notably.

I really enjoyed getting to learn more about Aaron. He’s typically a side character, so this gave a neat insight into his personality. He’s so nice!

Lacy was very sweet and I was able to empathize with her, even though our circumstances are (obviously) very different. She reminded me of a feminine version of Jace. They had similar character arcs, but Jace’s was more intense.

But overall, I have to say Timothy was my favorite character. I really hope Jaye writes a novella about him, because that would be really cool. His faith is very inspiring. (Random fact: I took a quiz on the official Ilyon site and it said that if I was in Ilyon, I should marry Timothy. 😂)

 

Content

I was a bit hesitant to read this, seeing as one of the main characters is a prostitute. But I asked the lovely Faith Blum who had read it before me if it was clean, she said yes. And I agree. Immoral activities are only implied, albeit strongly.

This is what I’d qualify as a “romance.” (Although I’ve never read an actual romance. No desire to either.) So there were “googly eyes” as my brother would say. But mostly the same as in Jaye’s other books.

No violence unless you count a fistfight.

No language either.

 

Haven’t discovered the world of Ilyon yet? Find out more at the official Ilyon Chronicles website!

(A side note regarding the entire series. I would highly recommend these books, but I always give a warning. If they were movies, I’d give them a PG-13 rating. They can be rather intense at times. There is fighting, racism, allusion to rape, near executions, death, depression, despair, etc. But they are all very good and have strong allegorical elements. And Jaye never leaves her characters in the darkness too long. They are some of the best books I’ve ever read. Plus, they have a strong allegory that I love.)

 

Decree by Tricia Mingerink

About Decree

The Adventure Continues.

Discover more of The Blades of Acktar in this collection of novellas and short stories.

 

The Blades as They Should’ve Been

A test and the Gathering of Nobles will decide Leith and Martyn’s futures. Can they fight to become more than the Blades they were? Will Keevan accept the man who attempted to kill him as family?

 

The First Mission

When Martyn visits Surgis, his past seems determined to haunt him. Can he figure out how to forgive, especially when confronted with an enemy in need of his help?

 

To the Far Great Mountains

A death sends Leith and Martyn far beyond the borders of Acktar. Will they be able to arrest their quarry before they are caught themselves?

 

From the story of how Leith and Martyn met to Ranson’s search for a life outside of the Blades, these stories will answer plaguing questions and expand the world of Acktar.

 

Available now on Amazon!

Add to Goodreads

 

I wish I had read this, so I could review it. But I did order myself a copy.

But since I finished Dare, I have to talk about my top two favorite characters.

Leith Torren was by far my favorite. There were several times I just wanted to hug him and explain the Gospel to him. And he’s an assassin… And he has lots of daggers… (I really want one.)

Brandi was another favorite. She made me smile with her chatter. She’s so sweet and innocent. She actually reminds me of one of my characters, Quinn.

 

Haven’t discovered the The Blades of Acktar yet? Find out more at on the official Blades of Acktar page.

 

 

Giveaway

Ilyon and Acktar Giveaway!

This giveaway is awesome. Free books? Count me in. 😀

Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win a full signed set of the Ilyon Chronicles and The Blades of Acktar!  (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.)

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to stop by each of the character chats (links in the blog tour schedule) for additional giveaways throughout the tour!

Friday – December 14 – Release Day for Bitter Winter & Lacy!

Saturday – December 15

Monday – December 17

Tuesday – December 18 – Release Day for Decree!

Wednesday – December 19

 

Thursday – December 20

 

Friday – December 21

 

Saturday – December 22

 

Allison Grace blogs at allisongracewrites.com

Your Turn!

Have you read either The Ilyon Chronicles or The Blades of Acktar? Do you like Christian fantasy?

Where’s Glendale?

Today, Glendale has two very special guests!

Leith, Glendale, and Jace
From left to right is Leith Torren from Acktar, Glendale from Checkmate, and Jace from Ilyon.

 

Jace from Ilyon
Jace from Ilyon.

 

Leith from Acktar
Leith from Acktar. Look at all those little daggers!

 

Orphan’s Song Book Review

Orphan’s Song Book Review

 

Orphan's Song is a Christian Fantasy by Gillian Bronte Adams.

Birdie has lived all her life as a servant at the Sylvan Swan. Life is drudgery working for Madame who accuses her of being crazy, delusional, and worthless. The only bright spot in her life is a visit from the traveling peddler Amos, her only true friend.

But when a dark soldier kidnaps her, she’s thrown into a conflict greater than she ever imagined. And the conflict is over her and the mysterious Song only she can hear.

They call her Songkeeper. This is her story.

Storyline

There were a few times I was confused on what was happening. And a couple times when I was a bit bored.

But the rest of the story made up for it.

There was plenty of mystery and I found myself wanting to know about the Songkeepers as earnestly as Birdie herself. Every single time someone would start to explain, I would get excited, but they never got to finish telling her what the Song means! 😫

And the plot twists are epic! I won’t give any away. 😉

I also enjoyed the bit of allegory sprinkled in. Not over-the-top, but just enough to see the parallels to the Bible. My favorite kind. 😊

 

Characters

I loved the characters!

I felt the most like Birdie. A bit confused and curious, wondering what being a Songkeeper means, and why on earth no one likes them. I mean, who doesn’t like music? Particularly magical music? Come on.

Amos made me laugh with his ridiculous banter and Irish brogue. He was so devoted to Birdie, yet almost afraid of her ability, it was super cool! A masterfully created character. Plus the mystery about his dirk (a fancy word for a small dagger) and shadowy past.

George Eregius Waltman the third. Enough said. 😺

 

Content

There was a lot of blood and a few hands getting chopped off. Plus the decapitation of a bird and a few throat-slittings.

No language and no romance. (Which was fine by me.)

 

 

The Author

You can find out more about Orphan’s Song and the author Gillian Bronte Adams on her website: https://gillianbronteadams.com/

 

Your turn!

Have you read Orphan’s Song? Are you going to get a copy after reading this review? What is your favorite type of allegory?

 

Where’s Glendale?

Glendale made a new friend.
Glendale climbed our Christmas tree and made a new friend–Rudolph!