Category: Sword & Scorcery

#EnterTheFantastic | Enter the realms of “The Gifted and the Cursed” – within the second novel of the trilogy “Tristan’s Folly” by Marcus Lee

Posted Monday, 30 November, 2020 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#EnterTheFantastic Book Review banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: During my 3rd Year of co-hosting @WyrdAndWonder, I was able to participate on my first blog tour with Storytellers on Tour which was featuring the author Brianna Sugalski on her “Disenchanted” blog tour. What I appreciated about Storytellers on Tour is their dedication to Indie Authors of Speculative Literature and their ability to find authors who are telling stories in Fantasy which intrigue me to read. Fantasy has been a challenging genre for me to explore even a bit moreso than Science Fiction – which is why I feel blessed to be on their blogger team. Whilst some of their tours I might seek out a book to consider for review, I also actively enjoy hosting creative content using book photography and/or featuring their authors in conversation (ie. interviews) or giving them the breadth of joy to write a guest post based on a topic of my choosing. Overall, Storytellers on Tour are dedicated to creating community and for championing those of us who are choosing to share our readerly lives each day we bring content to our book blogs. 

I received a complimentary copy of “Tristan’s Folly” direct from the author Marcus Lee in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

What kept me rooted to the pages of “Kings & Daemons”:

As you first alight inside the Ember Kingdom you are greeted by such a terrible reckoning of the high fatality rate which has afflicted the women in this world. For a couple who knew what was coming the day their daughter was bourne it was not bringing them the luxury of happiness (by her birth) but rather the pain of the loss which was imminent. Except to say if that had happened this story would not have a fierce warrior as a heroine as even in infancy. Maya had a special awareness about the world as she intuited pain and understood healing. The lengths in which her parents went to keep this secreted from others in their world points to a harder look at what any parent would do to defend and protect their child. You feel emotionally rooted in these opening scenes to where you want to stand in solidarity with this family and also become one of the guardians of Maya to ensure she is allowed to grow in this loving environment of her family without outside influences which might seek to separate her from her parents.

To keep herself removed from her own society she had become a forager of whom was allowed to be gone long hours of the day and return at dusk. The hardest part to understand about Maya’s life as she was growing out of girlhood into womanhood is the loss of her mother which was never fully resolved and the fact that in order to be alive she had to mask her truer nature as much as  her true identity. Even the ways in which she presented herself was the illusion her parents had chosen for her rather than the most ideal situation to continue for such a long time without drawing notice to oneself. You feel for Maya because she is not allowed to live authentically nor is she allowed any of the common courtesy you’d expect a child and young woman would be granted – such as conversation, friendship and being one with her own community. She was living a full step removed from this community and you had to wonder – what were they afraid of? What threat did her birthright and gift afford her that others afeared? Those are the thoughts going through my mind as I entered into the initial chapters and tried to muse about what could have happened in this world to have such a locked mindset which heavily prejudiced itself against each other.

There is such a humbling and honest scene involving Maya and the awakening she had with her gift – it is tender and sweet, with the innocence of how new birth and a re-genesis of the organic healing from within her can affect the natural environs she touches with her presence. It involved a rose and it is how this particular flower found its new roots under Maya’s tenderness of care and the thoughtfulness of how she helped a plant heal itself was truly a remarkable passage in the opening pages of Kings and Daemons! She is someone who can cause a transfiguration of growth – from the point of decay to the celebration of rebirth and it is beautifully written to give you this founding sense of what her gift means to her as a person (as it renews her own spirit to use it and cultivate it) and how that gift translates into the world in which she lives.

Taran by contrast is an interesting bloke in this world who is also harbouring a secret of his own about the innate gift he has developed first out of fight or flight circumstances and secondly out of his own instincts which have served him well. His own childhood had its own challenges wherein where Maya was folded into a loving home life despite the concerns of her parents that others might discover her truer nature – Taran was blighted with a childhood wherein his art of defence and skill to deflect his father’s domestic violence against himself and his mother was a defining part of his younger years. Yet despite what they had against them both Taran and Maya shared the will to not just survive but to survive with their gifts aiding their efforts.

Whilst reading Taran’s entrance into the story, I must admit, part of me wondered if this bloke could run out of luck because he enjoyed living on the edge of society. He might not have chosen this life for himself as that was a consequence of his father’s domestic abuse (which personally felt like an injustice of its own) but it was a life he had carved out of the embers of his former life and it had enabled him with enough to survive on in a world that was unwelcome to both change and strangers. As a wanderer you could say Taran would immediately connect with Maya because she wanders in a different way than he does in her own community. Each of them self-exiled away from both prying eyes and the framework of their societies.

I was truly bewitched and enchanted by how Lee has writ this novel – you feel so dearly rooted to both Maya and Taran whilst your reading that you can barely notice anything else in your own world after you’ve entered theirs! So much so, when Maya was being pursued by a hunger-mad pack of wolves it brought me back instantly to seeing The Neverending Story for the first time as a child and the terrifying moment where Atreyu has to defend himself against a wolf. Not since that cinematic moment have I found another writer whose writ such a harrowing account of predator vs prey when it involves a wild animal and a human. You are on the very edge of your seat as you want to encourage Maya as she flees for her life but then, at that moment where both instinct and hope seem lost – it is a battle of will to turn the pages and see what happened!

-quoted from my review of Kings & Daemons

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On my connection to Marcus Lee: I first crossed paths with Lee during the blog tour for Kings & Daemons in August 2020. Being fellow writers and voracious readers – it felt like a natural extension of the first blog tour, we would have something to talk about together about this world being built within the series of the Gifted and the Cursed as well as outside of the series itself. We continued to ‘chat’ privately after the blog tour and then, shortly before the start of the second we reconnected finding we’re both at different junctions of our writerly careers. However, I withheld discussing my thoughts about the sequel until my review for the second blog tour was released.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Lee through our respective joy in being writers as well as enjoying discussing the merits of Speculative Fiction as it applies to Dark Fantasy. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time or continuing to read their releases as they are available. This also applies to hosting a guest feature by the author I share a connection.

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I will be the first to mention, this series is completely removed from my regular readings of Fantasy and a complete forward step outside all my zones of comfort – which is why if you are curious why I was originally tempted to read the trilogy and why I am continuing to read it now – it is quite simple: I love to challenge myself! To go into a niche of genre I am not as well versed in travelling through and/or to seek out stories with the layers of depth I love finding as a reader. Even if on the outside of starting those stories it would look like a full step removed from anything I’d generally seek out to read. Sometimes those are the moments you discover the stories which give you a hearty challenge to both read and dissect. This is one of those series for me.

Yet, it wasn’t until I started to binge watch the military drama series “Army Wives” this November (ie. I nearly saw the full three seasons of the show within less than a forthnight of watching it!) – I couldn’t quite put my finger on how I came to have an appreciation for Sword & Sorcery stories. The truth of it is – it was the fierce spitfire character of Pamela (Chase’s husband on the series) who tipped the missing gaps of my memory – as she was involved with an ill-fated tv series I loved back in the ’90s which was ROAR.

However, it won’t surprise too many of you who’ve been following me for awhile to know I have had occasion to blog about this particular genre in the past, as I was smitten with the ‘idea’ of a tv series pilot moreso than I was keenly curious to watch it. In other words, I sought out a way to interview the actors involved with the Sword & Sorcery pilot as well as the filmmaker and author behind the series; knowing I couldn’t read the books series which inspired it nor could I watch the pilot itself considering what you see on the takeaway shots and BTS videos via YoutTube! Take a gander at the interview I’m mentioning and perhaps the series might be a better fit for you – as it stands, I’m wicked proud of the interview and what I learnt out of interviewing everyone I choose to speak with about the production and their role in it.

If you visited with me for my first review in this series, you already know I have made a few notations about the level of violence and excessive use of violent sequences within the context of the story itself. Which became a bit of an underline issue with me as I am not a reader who appreciates explicit or excessive violence in any of the stories she’s reading but as you gleamed from my review, this particular book was the exception to the rule in regards of finding an author who redeemed himself by the breadth of how he wrote the larger scope of the story itself and how he endeavoured to give a layered central arc to thread into the next two installments of the trilogy.

Again, I could have had quite a few small battles excluded from the journey Maya and Taran were taking towards the Witch-King because it soon became a bit too repetitive for me to constantly see people swinging swords or stabbing with daggers and all round was nothing but death and the dead stacked in a reckless act of violent outrage. And, that too is also a keen aspect of the novel – as Dark Fantasy illuminates the darker variants of ourselves and our souls – keeping to that theme, Lee has used different techniques to showcase how darkness can overtake the mind, the body and the soul to where it is a maddening fight to find freedom from under that kind of influence and that is at the heart of where we first enter into this series. These people are fighting for not just the right to live and the will to live but they are fighting a battle against an enemy they cannot even fathom being real.

I might be a hard sell at times as a reader but it boils down to each individual author and how they choose to tell their stories – if they do it well, they have me hooked into their world and if they choose to make choices which remove all my enjoyment of reading their stories; I am a reader whose never afraid to call foul and claim a book as an DNF.

As I saw the calendar ticking down the hours for me to begin reading Tristan’s Folly, I must admit I had a certain level of anxiety. Where would the sequel fit within my readerly barometer of what I can both handle reading and appreciate reading? Which of my personal thresholds of angst would be tested and how would I walk out of the experience as both a reader and as a book blogger who inks out her thoughts and shares them with her readers?

The one blessing I had is trusting whichever way I walked out of this novel, the author would understand what I had to share about it because he already knows my bookish preferences and where I stand on some of what is inclusive to his genre of choice and the methodology of how its written. When authors understand the book blogger experience it makes reading their stories as a book blogger much more enjoyable because we don’t have to defend how we blog or how we choose to blog our readerly life – because all of us are blogging our honest thoughts, impressions and opinions about the stories we’re reading. There is a certain vulnerability to that kind of experience and after seven years as a book blogger, I still find myself feeling especially grateful and blessed to be in a position to read as diversely as I can whilst seeking out new genres, subniches of genres and literary styles as I have every month I’ve sought to propell myself forward into new dimensions of literature.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Notation on Cover Art: I am simply in love with the cover art for this book series –

#EnterTheFantastic | Enter the realms of “The Gifted and the Cursed” – within the second novel of the trilogy “Tristan’s Folly” by Marcus LeeTristan's Folly
Subtitle: The Gifted and the Cursed (Book Two)
by Marcus Lee
Source: Author via Storytellers on Tour

Tristan’s Folly. An ageing fortress built over fifty years ago to repel the invading hordes of the Witch-King, Daleth, an invasion that never materialised – until now.

Now the stronghold is a crumbling reflection of its former might, with a mere fifteen hundred men all that stands between Daleth’s savage horde of a hundred thousand, and certain doom for the Freestates.

As Kings and Daemons face one another, there is but one shining light that pushes back the encroaching darkness, but even her flame is slated to be extinguished thanks to Tristan’s Folly.

In this epic tale of a battle against the odds, the best and worst of humankind collide … sacrifice, bravery and love, set against betrayal, greed and hatred.

Genres: Cosy Horror, Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 979-8698105718

Also by this author: Kings and Daemons

Also in this series: Kings and Daemons


Published by Self Published

on 26th October, 2020

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 291

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Gifted and the Cursed Trilogy:

Kings and Daemons by Marcus LeeTristan's Folly by Marcus Lee

Kings & Daemons (book one) | see also Review

Tristan’s Folly (book two)

The End of Dreams (book three) ← forthcoming release!

This is a Self-Published novel and series!

Converse via: #Fantasy, #EpicFantasy or #HeoricFantasy or #SwordAndSorcery
as well as #StorytellersOnTour #  & #EnterTheFantastic as #JorieReads

About Marcus Lee

Writing hasn’t always been a serious hobby for me … but it has always been there, lurking in the shadows, serving me well when called upon.

As I look back over the years, I realise I was guilty of writing many short stories, as well as poetry, and I’d like to think, that even if they were never intended to be published, they were nonetheless warmly received by the intended recipients.

Then in 2019, I was inspired to write not just a short story, or poetry, but a book. Then, suddenly, one book turned into a trilogy and a labour of love, and it was a love I wanted to share with the world.

So, here we are. The pandemic that put my career in sport on hold also gave me the opportunity to lavish time on my alternative hobby, or if demand dictates my new career.

However, only you, the reader, will decide whether this trilogy, which is still a work in progress, will be the first of many. I genuinely hope so.

Who knows, now these creatives juices are flowing, I might just keep on writing anyway.

Epic fantasy has been my favourite genre since I first read The Odyssey and The Illiad as a seven-year-old. Now it’s my turn to see if I can bring another world to life in the imagination of others.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #EnterTheFantastic
Divider

Posted Monday, 30 November, 2020 by jorielov in #EnterTheFantastic, ArchDemons or Demonic Entities, Blog Tour Host, Content Note, Cosy Horror, Dark Arts (Dark Magic), Dark Fantasy, Excessive Violence in Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, High Fantasy, Horror-Lite, Immortals, Indie Author, Self-Published Author, Storytellers on Tour, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Sword & Scorcery

#EnterTheFantastic | Enter the realms of “The Gifted and the Cursed” – through the first novel “Kings and Daemons” by Marcus Lee

Posted Saturday, 15 August, 2020 by jorielov , , , 1 Comment

#EnterTheFantastic Book Review banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: During my 3rd Year of co-hosting @WyrdAndWonder, I was able to participate on my first blog tour with Storytellers on Tour which was featuring the author Brianna Sugalski on her “Disenchanted” blog tour. What I appreciated about Storytellers on Tour is their dedication to Indie Authors of Speculative Literature and their ability to find authors who are telling stories in Fantasy which intrigue me to read. Fantasy has been a challenging genre for me to explore even a bit moreso than Science Fiction – which is why I feel blessed to be on their blogger team. Whilst some of their tours I might seek out a book to consider for review, I also actively enjoy hosting creative content using book photography and/or featuring their authors in conversation (ie. interviews) or giving them the breadth of joy to write a guest post based on a topic of my choosing. Overall, Storytellers on Tour are dedicated to creating community and for championing those of us who are choosing to share our readerly lives each day we bring content to our book blogs. 

I received a complimentary copy of “Kings and Daemons” direct from the author Marcus Lee in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

What drew my eye into this Fantasy series:

I am constantly intrigued and surprised by where my fantastical wanderings take me,.. as generally speaking it is quite rare I will feel motivated to read a darker Fantasy novel but there are exceptions to this rule as I am sure other readers have exceptions to their bookish wanderings as well. Likewise, a new subniche of Fantasy I have discovered over the recent year is *Fantasy Romance!* courtesy of reading my first story by H.L. Burke!

For a reader whose grown passionate about reading Romance – from Contemporary to Historical to Suspense – it is a wonderment to me how I somehow have *missed!* this other niche inside a genre I have loved reading since I was seventeen! The premise round “Kings and Daemons” is what first allured me into the novel – how a complete unknown in this world could reconcile their destinies after a person in power sought to destroy them. Who wouldn’t want to read about an unsung heroine and her ability to free her people from the destructive influence of a King?

It was not lost on me the spelling of the word demon and what this alternative spelling is pointing out in reference. This stems back to a lot of conversations I had in high school with my best friend who was as passionate about Fantasy as I had been about Science Fiction. It led to a lot of interesting conversations and discussions – something I hadn’t seen until I became a book blogger and realised there was this whole bookish community who were doing the same thing about the topics they enjoyed talking about themselves. I normally might have taken a right turn on reading this novel – yet there was just ‘something’ about it that spoke to me and I dove in head first. As you’ll see on my review I had many surprising takeaways and a reading experience I had hoped to receive but was wickedly delighted by having experienced.

One quick note to readers who might seek this out – I’d say this is Cosy Horror intermixed with High Fantasy with a cutting thread of Sword & Sorcery. 

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Notation on Cover Art: I love the art of book covers which give you an honest impression or gateway into the world you’re about to enter and “Kings and Daemons” is doing exactly that with this lushly vibrant cover art which truly gives you a keen sense about Maya and how she would appear if you were to meet her yourself. I loved everything about the design – from the choices in colours to the layout – original artwork like this one on Fantasy novels was something I have always cherished and celebrated! Especially if you look closely at what is being highlighted in this portrait of Maya – specifically look at her feet and then compare that to what is behind her and you’ll see how much she effects her world. 

#EnterTheFantastic | Enter the realms of “The Gifted and the Cursed” – through the first novel “Kings and Daemons” by Marcus LeeKings and Daemons
Subtitle: The Gifted and the Cursed (Book One)
by Marcus Lee
Source: Author via Storytellers on Tour

A tale of conquest, dark kings, and daemonic heroes. A spellbinding story that will enchant you with its plot of ambition, love, betrayal, sacrifice and redemption.

Over fifty years have passed since Daleth the seemingly immortal Witch-King and his army conquered the Ember Kingdom.
Now, with the once fertile lands and its enslaved people dying around him, the Witch-King, driven by his insatiable thirst for eternal youth, prepares his forces to march on the prosperous neighbouring Freestates. It will be the beginnings of a conquest that could destroy nations, bringing death and destruction on an unimaginable scale.

Then, when a peasant huntress whose rare gift was concealed from birth is exposed, it sets in motion a chain of events that could alter the destiny of generations to come.

Genres: Cosy Horror, Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 979-8646561931

Also by this author: Tristan's Folly

Also in this series: Tristan's Folly


Published by Self Published

on 26th May, 2020

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 414

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Gifted and the Cursed Trilogy:

Kings & Daemons (book one)

Tristan’s Folly (book two)

The End of Dreams (book three)

This is a Self-Published novel and series!

Converse via: #Fantasy, #EpicFantasy or #HeoricFantasy or #SwordAndSorcery
as well as #storytellersontour #  & #EnterTheFantastic as #JorieReads

About Marcus Lee

Writing hasn’t always been a serious hobby for me … but it has always been there, lurking in the shadows, serving me well when called upon.

As I look back over the years, I realise I was guilty of writing many short stories, as well as poetry, and I’d like to think, that even if they were never intended to be published, they were nonetheless warmly received by the intended recipients.

Then in 2019, I was inspired to write not just a short story, or poetry, but a book. Then, suddenly, one book turned into a trilogy and a labour of love, and it was a love I wanted to share with the world.

So, here we are. The pandemic that put my career in sport on hold also gave me the opportunity to lavish time on my alternative hobby, or if demand dictates my new career.

However, only you, the reader, will decide whether this trilogy, which is still a work in progress, will be the first of many. I genuinely hope so.

Who knows, now these creatives juices are flowing, I might just keep on writing anyway.

Epic fantasy has been my favourite genre since I first read The Odyssey and The Illiad as a seven-year-old. Now it’s my turn to see if I can bring another world to life in the imagination of others.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #EnterTheFantastic
Divider

Posted Saturday, 15 August, 2020 by jorielov in #EnterTheFantastic, ArchDemons or Demonic Entities, Blog Tour Host, Coming-Of Age, Cosy Horror, Dark Arts (Dark Magic), Dark Fantasy, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Excessive Violence in Literature, Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Horror-Lite, Immortals, Indie Author, Self-Published Author, Storytellers on Tour, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Sword & Scorcery

An Indie Fantasy Book Spotlight and Extract | “A King’s Bargain” (Book One: Legend of Tal) by J.D.L. Rosell

Posted Monday, 8 June, 2020 by jorielov , , 2 Comments

Stories in the Spotlight banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I am never quite prepared to see #WyrdAndWonder end – it renews my spirits and it gives me something wonderfully wicked to look forward to each May. I love co-hosting the event with my co-partners, Lisa (@deargeekplace) and Imyril (@imyril) because of how much JOY we mutually are passionate about sharing when it comes to our readerly lives in regards to Fantasy. What first began as a book blogosphere event has now turnt into a social media, book blogosphere, booktube and bookstagram event with other platforms of interest also spotlighting our event as participants find new ways to share their love of Fantasy. We celebrate every route Fantasy enters our lives – not just in Literature but also in music, fashion, gaming, film, tv, art and all routes betwixt and between.

I spent May interviewing Indie Fantasy novelists – both on Jorie Loves A Story and during my chat @SatBookChat. I have a healthy appetite for Indie Fantasy – as the stories these writers are creating are amongst my top favourite discoveries because I find the Indie side of Fantasy to be a wicked good place to reside. Whether I’m reading Middle Grade, Young Adult or Adult stories of the fantastical – what I want to be seeking out as a reader tends to be writ by an Indie Author. Having a chance to put a light on these authors and stories has become a bit of a tradition for me during #WyrdAndWonder – this year, through the different interviews I hosted you truly had a firm grasp of the various subniches of genre Fantasy can tackle as much as the curious route a writer can take Fantasy through their vision for their story or series.

What drew my curiosity about this novel which kicks off a new series is the epic proportions of the journey – from a man who simply wants to tuck into a more simplistic lifestyle and the legend of whom he was in the past preventing him from taking that route as something rather unexpected happens which alters his plans for retirement. These kinds of stories are interesting because they become introspective and tackle the kind of Quest wherein the character has a lot of discovery and growth to undertake as well.

Today it is an honour to host my second blog tour with Storytellers on Tour – a blog touring company whose championing Indie Storytellers and giving us all a lovely chance to feature their collective works. I am looking forward to working with them as oft as I can and I look forward to the conversations and features which hosting will inspire to bring to my readers on Jorie Loves A Story!

Brew yourself a cuppa and let’s find out more about “A King’s Bargain”!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

An Indie Fantasy Book Spotlight and Extract | “A King’s Bargain” (Book One: Legend of Tal) by J.D.L. RosellA King's Bargain
Subtitle: Legend of Tal: Book One
by J.D.L. Rosell

The legend of Tal Harrenfel is sung across the Westreach — and with each telling, the tales grow taller. But though he’s declared a hero by his King, Tal has never claimed to be more than a man…

After three decades of fighting warlocks, killing mythical beasts, and hunting enchanted treasure, Tal has had enough. Running from the deeds of his past, he retreats to his home village under a different name and meets an unlikely companion: Garin, a village boy who dreams of making a name for himself and seeing the world beyond their sleepy town.

When Tal receives a mysterious visitor, both he and Garin find themselves thrown into a sojourn across the kingdom. Soon, they become embroiled in the plots of monarchs, on the frontlines of an ancient war, and at the mercy of a fabled sorcerer.

Now Tal must live up to his legend, and Garin discover his own power, to survive the forces pitted against them…

Name of the Wind meets Witcher in A King’s Bargain, an intertwining sword and sorcery adventure and coming of age tale. If you like The Wheel of Time, The Dragonbone Chair, or The Stormlight Archive, you’ll love the captivating world of Legend of Tal!

Genres: Epic Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, Sword and Sorcery


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1952868016

on 13th May,2020

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Read an Extract from this Novel:

A King’s Bargain by J.D.L. Rosell

Bran settled in a chair across from his guest and smiled like they were old friends.

The house was nothing to look at, he well knew: two rooms large, with a ragged curtain separating them; a small wood stove settled behind him, and a well-used pot and pan, travel-ready, hanging above it. As rain began to patter against the roof, the usual leaks started up in the corners.

He didn’t care to impress folks, not anymore, and this man least of all. But he’d helped his guest over the stoop like a nobleman might usher a lady into his bedroom, and ignored the man’s protests that he needed no assistance in a similarly lofty manner.

Gallantry, he’d often found, suited a liar like a cape fit a king.

Garin squirmed in the seat next to them, but Bran paid him no mind as he took his glass and threw it back. He sighed as the liquid burned its way down his throat to settle a steady warmth in his gut. “Say what you want about Crazy Ean, but he makes a damn fine whiskey.”

“So says anyone mad enough to try it,” Garin muttered.

Bran grinned at him. “Life is short and dark as it is. May as well brighten it with a few glorious risks.”

The youth shrugged.

He turned his gaze to the guest again, who hadn’t touched his glass. “I know your name, Aelyn, and you know ours. The table is set. Now lay out what you want, or we’ll have to settle on beans and roots for dinner.”

Aelyn hadn’t removed his hat, but even with his eyes shadowed, they seemed to gleam. “You know what I want. I’m not idly used as a messenger. But I obey my commands.”

He lifted his hand to reveal a small, shining band resting in his palm, then set it on the table. Garin stared at it, mouth open wide. Bran found he was unable to resist looking himself, though he knew its kind well. Not a ring of silver or gold or copper, but milky white crystal, with a steady glow from within its clouded center.

“What is it?” Garin asked, sounding as if he wished he hadn’t spoken but was unable to resist.

Aelyn didn’t answer but kept his steady, orange gaze on Bran, like a raptor on a hare.

Bran sighed. “It’s a Binding Ring. An artifact of oaths that holds the wearer to a promise.”

Garin might be a man grown to the villagers, but he looked a boy at that moment, his eyes wide, his mouth forming a small “o.”

“Like… a magic ring?” the youth ventured.

“Enough of this!” Aelyn snapped. “Take it and put it on. We must be returning immediately.”

“Off so soon? But you haven’t touched your drink.”

The man snorted. “If I wished to poison myself, I have a thousand better ways than that human swill. Don that ring. Now.” His fiery eyes slid over to Garin. “Or do you want the boy to know your true name?”

Bran studied him. A feeling, hard as flint, was starting behind his eyes. A feeling familiar as a distant memory. A feeling he’d hoped to have dug a deep grave and buried in the past. As it rose, a warmth unconnected to the whiskey began coursing through his body. Dread? he mocked himself. Or anticipation?

He reached a hand forward, finger brushing the crystal. It was warm to the touch. From past experience, he knew it remained warm most of the time. So long as the wearer kept to what he was bound. If he didn’t, a mountain peak in winter would be preferable punishment.

Aelyn’s eyes watched. Wary. Waiting.

Bran scooped up the ring, vaulted across the table, and shouted, “Heshidal bauchdid!”

The man jerked, then stiffened in his chair, eyes wide with surprise, hat knocked askew. Bran took his moment, snatching one of the smooth hands and slipping the ring over a long finger.

As Aelyn shivered free of the binding, his mouth stuttered, “Bastard of a pig-blooded whore—!”

“Quiet down!” Bran shouted over him. “This I bind you to: That you will wear this ring until I am safely back in Hunt’s Hollow. That you will tell no one that you wear this ring instead of me. That you will tell no one my true name unless I bid it. And that you won’t harm the boy Garin or myself in that time.”

The ring shone brightly for a moment, and Aelyn shuddered, eyes squeezed shut, teeth braced in a grimace. A moment later, the ring dimmed, and Bran released his guest’s hand. As he settled into his chair, brushing back the hairs that had worked loose of his tail, his blood began to cool again.

“Now,” he said as he reached for the whiskey bottle, which had fallen over in the struggle, and pulled out the stopper. “You sure you don’t want any of this human swill?”

The man raised his hand and stared at the crystal ring, horror spreading across his face. “She told you, didn’t she? She told you my true name.”

Bran poured a glass, then proffered it to the youth, who stared at him as if he were the stranger. “Feeling mad enough yet?”

Garin took the glass, threw it back, and promptly coughed half of it back up.

“There you are, Garin, there you are,” Bran said, thumping his back. “You’ll learn to swallow it all before long.”

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Converse via: #Fantasy, #EpicFantasy or #HeoricFantasy or #SwordAndSorcery
as well as #storytellersontour & #EnterTheFantastic as #JorieReads

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Posted Monday, 8 June, 2020 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Book | Novel Extract, Book Spotlight, Fantasy Fiction, Indie Author, Storytellers on Tour, Sword & Scorcery

An #Audiobook Spotlight | “Realm of Knights” by Jennifer Anne Davis, narrated by Kim Bretton

Posted Saturday, 30 November, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Audiobook Spotlight banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Audiobook By: I started to listen to audiobooks in [2016] as a way to offset my readings of print books whilst noting there was a rumour about how audiobooks could help curb chronic migraines as you are switching up how your reading rather than allowing only one format to be your bookish choice. As I found colouring and knitting agreeable companions to listening to audiobooks, I have embarked on a new chapter of my reading life where I spend time outside of print editions of the stories I love reading and exchange them for audio versions. Through hosting for the Audiobookworm I’ve expanded my knowledge of authors who are producing audio versions of their stories whilst finding podcasters who are sharing their bookish lives through pods (ie. AudioShelf and Talking Audiobooks). Meanwhile, I am also curating my own wanderings in audio via my local library who uses Overdrive for their digital audiobook catalogue whilst making purchase requests for audio CDs. It is a wonderful new journey and one I enjoy sharing – I am hoping to expand the percentage of how many audios I listen to per year starting in 2018.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Realm of Knights” via Audiobookworm Promotion who is working with Jennifer Anne Davis on this blog tour in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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What inspired me to listen to this audiobook:

Ever since I first started to co-host @WyrdAndWonder with Lisa and Imyril – I’ve been purposefully keeping my eyes peeled for new & emerging story-tellers within the realms of Fantasy I personally enjoy reading and/or listening to via audiobook. When I heard about this particular blog tour – what I liked most about the sound of the story is that it was rooted in a coming-of age narrative arc wherein the girl (Reid) was emerging into her own independence as much as rising into her rightful place in her kingdom.

This was surrounded by a story where a girl was not at full liberty to identify herself as a girl – as she was conditioned and trained as a boy – which also had a slight appeal on its own because whenever a girl has to hide their truer nature and their honest selves, that leads-in a plotting about living authentically and shining through newfound confidence to lead a life on your own terms.

The timing originally felt good for me – however, the events of October & November proved to be a bit too much to resolve and this is one reason why I am spotlighting this story rather than reviewing it in full as I’ll disclose in a moment. The key reason I was dearly interested in hearing the story however had to do with the *narrator!* The more audiobooks you gather to listen, the more chances you’re going to develop a short and longlist of favourites – such as I have myself – and Ms Bretton is on my shortlist!

I *love!* her in the Wonky Inn series – having had the pleasure of joy of reviewing the first novel and will be reviewing the second come December when I re-focus on my #WitchyReads leftover from our Autumnal quirky mini-event for Wyrd and Wonder which is #SpooktasticReads!

Ergo, I knew if anyone could settle me into this world of knights & a girl emerging into rightly asserting herself in her own kingdom – Ms Bretton would be the right narrator to help me take that journey!

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An #Audiobook Spotlight | “Realm of Knights” by Jennifer Anne Davis, narrated by Kim BrettonRealm of Knights (Audiobook Spotlight)
Subtitle: Knights of the Realm, Book One
by Jennifer Anne Davis
Source: Audiobook via Audiobookworm Promotions
Narrator: Kim Bretton

Reid has spent her whole life pretending to be a man so she can inherit her father’s estate, but when a chance encounter threatens to expose her lie, she is forced to risk everything.

In the kingdom of Marsden, women are subservient to men, and land can only pass from father to son. So, when Reid Ellington is born, the fifth daughter to one of the wealthiest landholders in the kingdom, it’s announced that Reid is a boy.

Eighteen years later, Reid struggles to conceal the fact she’s actually a young woman. Every day, her secret becomes harder to keep. When one of Marsden’s princes sees her sparring with a sword, she is forced to accept his offer and lead her father’s soldiers to the border. Along the way, she discovers a covert organization within the army known as the Knights of the Realm.

If Reid wants to save her family from being arrested for treason and robbed of their inheritance, she will have to join the knights and become a weapon for the crown.

To protect her family, Reid must fight like a man. To do that, she’ll need the courage of a woman.

This is the first book in a new fantasy series from best-selling author Jennifer Anne Davis

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Historical-Fantasy, YA Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1-73236-615-2

ASIN: B07YWM5TF2

Published by Reign Publishing

on 11th October, 2019

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 7 hours and 58 minutes (unabridged)

Published by: Reign Publishing

Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #RealmOfKnights + #AudioReads, #Audiobook

#YAFantasy, #YALit and #YoungAdult or #Fantasy

About Jennifer Anne Davis

Jennifer Anne Davis

Jennifer Anne Davis graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in English and a teaching credential. She is currently a full-time writer and mother of three kids, one weimaraner, and a tortoise. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart and lives in the San Diego area.

Jennifer is the recipient of the San Diego Book Awards Best Published Young Adult Novel (2013), winner of the Kindle Book Awards (2018), a finalist in the USA Best Book Awards (2014), and a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards (2014).

Publishers Marketplace listed Jennifer as one of the best-selling indie authors in June 2017. She has also been ranked among the top 100 best-selling authors on Amazon.

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Posted Saturday, 30 November, 2019 by jorielov in Audiobookworm Promotions, Blog Tour Host, Coming-Of Age, Fantasy Fiction, Heroic Fantasy, High Fantasy, Indie Author, Sword & Scorcery, Young Adult Fiction