Audiobook Review: Price of Privilege by Jessica Dotta

Title: Price of Privilege
Author: Jessica Dotta
Narrator: Amanda McKnight
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Audio Length: 13 hours, 7 minutes
Print Publisher: Tyndale House
Published: January 2015
Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction
Series: Price of Privilege, Book 3

My Thoughts on the Story:

Jessica Dotta’s first two novels set the bar high for this series, with mysterious characters, vivid settings, and plots full of unexpected twists and turns. This final installment wraps up the series in a breathtaking and unexpected conclusion worthy of its predecessors. Taken together, Born of Persuasion, Mark of Distinction, and Price of Privilege tell a fascinating and intricately woven literary tale.

Having lived in Julia’s head for three books now, I feel like I’ve come to know her well – the good, the bad, and the ugly. I may not agree with many of her actions or even the rationale for her decisions, but both she and her mistakes felt real to me. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her and watching her character develop from a passive teenage girl being manipulated into making poor choices, to a more mature woman ready to face the consequences of her actions, embrace God’s grace, and pick up the pieces of her life.

And the supporting cast? So good! Hats off to Edward, Mr. Macy, Jameson, Nancy, Forrester, Lord Pierson, and more, each of whom was drawn in unique and vivid detail. But especially to Lord Isaac Dalry, who was particularly amazing in this book. You must read it to see why. But first read books 1 and 2 if you haven’t read them yet, because this series must be read in order.

Without talking specifics, let me just say that the conclusion packs some real emotional punch. And yes, I cried. But it’s worth the tears for the beautiful, complex story of unmerited love, devotion, and grace. I didn’t see the ending coming, but, looking back on the series as a whole, I can see how the groundwork was laid in bits and pieces from the very beginning. And the artistry of it amazes me.

Specific to the Audiobook:

If you’ve read my earlier reviews from this series, then you already know how much I’ve enjoyed the audio narrations by Amanda McKnight. The character voices, emotional resonance, and subtle details of her performances have been spot on, and this title is no exception. If you enjoy audiobooks or want to give them a try, then the audio editions from this series are not to be missed.

Thank you to Oasis Audio for providing an electronic copy of this audiobook for review purposes.

Quick links: About the Book (from Oasis Audio) | Author’s Web Site | Audio Sample

Find this title on: Goodreads | Audible | ChristianBook.com | christianaudio

Three for the Books: Featured Reads in Christian Fiction, July 2015

Three for the Books, July 2015

The monthly “Three for the Books” post is where I feature new (Hot Off the Presses), best selling (Topping the Charts), and award winning (Cream of the Crop) Christian fiction books. I select one title to feature in each category, as well as providing links to where you can browse additional newly released, best selling, and award winning titles. Have you read any of these featured titles? Any others you’d like to give a shout-out? Comments are always welcome!

Hot Off the Presses

Gone Without a Trace by Patricia Bradley releases this month from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. The story is third in the suspenseful Logan Point series that began with Shadows of the Past.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site | More New Releases

Topping the Charts

A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer appears on the ECPA Christian Fiction Best Sellers list for July 2015. It released in June from Bethany House with print and electronic editions. There’s also an audio edition from Recorded Books that’s narrated by Barbara McCulloh. Check out my reviews of a couple of other historical romances by the same author: Short Straw Bride and Full Steam Ahead.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site | More Best Sellers

Cream of the Crop

Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano is winner of the 2014 RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance. And fans of the first will be pleased to know that the second book in the MacDonald Family Trilogy, London Tides, just released last month from publisher David C Cook.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site | More Award Winners

Book Review: The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert

Title: The Art of Losing Yourself
Author: Katie Ganshert
Published: April 2015 by WaterBrook Press
Genre: Contemporary Christian Fiction

About the Book (publisher’s description):

Just like in my dream, I was drowning and nobody even noticed.

Every morning, Carmen Hart pastes on her made-for-TV smile and broadcasts the weather. She’s the Florida panhandle’s favorite meteorologist, married to everyone’s favorite high school football coach. They’re the perfect-looking couple, live in a nice house, and attend church on Sundays. From the outside, she’s a woman who has it all together.  But on the inside, Carmen Hart struggles with doubt. She wonders if she made a mistake when she married her husband. She wonders if God is as powerful as she once believed. Sometimes she wonders if He exists at all. After years of secret losses and empty arms, she’s not so sure anymore.

Until Carmen’s sister—seventeen year old runaway, Gracie Fisher—steps in and changes everything. Gracie is caught squatting at a boarded-up motel that belongs to Carmen’s aunt, and their mother is off on another one of her benders, which means Carmen has no other option but to take Gracie in. Is it possible for God to use a broken teenager and an abandoned motel to bring a woman’s faith and marriage back to life? Can two half-sisters make each other whole?

My Thoughts on the Book:

This is a story full of raw honesty, brokenness, grace, and hope. It’s told from two distinctive first person viewpoints. Carmen – a married woman grown distant from her husband under the strain of six miscarriages, who tries to put on a perfect façade for the outside world. And her teenage half-sister Gracie, who has run away from their alcoholic mother, in hopes of returning to a place where she once felt appreciated.

The story feels real – the characters, the situations, the emotions, the relationships, and the setting. All of it. I enjoyed coming along on the sisters’ journeys as they grow and develop in their relationships and their personal faith. And I love the fact that the characters’ problems aren’t downplayed by a too tidy ending, and yet there is a hopeful and satisfying resolution complete with an inspiring look at grace and trust.

One of my favorite parts of the whole book is when Carmen looks back at a series of what could have been seen as coincidences, and instead sees “evidence of a God who orchestrated even the most mundane details for our good” (Page 300).

Another favorite moment was when Aunt Ingrid (suffering from dementia) defends her dessert from being taken, to the point of throwing a spoon at someone, and then offers a bit of surprisingly sage advice: “’Not all things are worth saving, you know. But some are worth every ounce of fight you can throw at them.’ With all the dignity in the world, she took a few small bites of her dessert. ‘You just have to know the difference.’” (Page 53)

I brought this book along with me on a weekend trip to the beach and devoured it in the shade of a beach umbrella. Since the book was set partly at a beach-side motel, it turned out to be a particularly great fit for the weekend. I highly recommend both book and beach, taken together or separately. :)

Author Katie Ganshert’s Christy Award winning A Broken Kind of Beautiful was among my favorite reads of 2014, and this latest novel by Katie Ganshert could well be among my favorites for 2015. I think Book Groups will find it an excellent choice for discussion, and in fact, it includes a discussion guide.

Thank you to WaterBrook Multnomah for providing a paperback copy of this book as part of the Blogging for Books Program in exchange for my honest review.

Quick Links: About the Book | Goodreads | Amazon

Christian Fiction Book Club Connection, July 2015

Book Club Connection

Welcome to the July 2015 edition of the Christian Fiction Book Club Connection. Thanks for stopping by! Whether you’re a pastor or ministry leader thinking of forming a book discussion group at your church, a current member of a book club, or simply a fan of Christian fiction hoping to connect with other readers, you’re in the right place. Please consider subscribing to my blog so you won’t miss future posts.

Today I’m providing information on Christian fiction discussions scheduled to take place around the web this month (including a club I only recently discovered). I’m also featuring a handful of recently released Christian fiction titles for which a discussion guide is available, either included in the book itself or on the author’s or publisher’s web site. Then I’ll wrap up the post with a discussion question I’d like you to chime in on.

Online Discussions Coming Up This Month

The ACFW Book Club‘s July selection is Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Beth Vogt, with discussion scheduled for July 27-August 1, 2015. You can subscribe to the group’s e-mail list now, by following the instructions on their Web site, to be sure not to miss any announcements or discussion questions.

The Cherished Book Club hosts discussion on their Facebook group, with weekly questions about a monthly Christian fiction or non-fiction read. Their selection for July is Chateau of Secrets by Melanie Dobson (details here).

For July, the Christian Fiction Devourers group on Goodreads is discussing Dangerous Passage (Southern Crimes #1) by Lisa Harris AND Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke. Grab your copies and head on over to the discussion forum to check in with others who are in the midst of reading these books.

The Fans of Christian Romance Goodreads group is reading Flora’s Wish (The Secret Lives of Will Tucker #1) by Kathleen Y’Barbo for its July discussion.

The #HedlundChallenge2015 features discussion of one of author Jody Hedlund’s historical fiction novels each month. The discussion is hosted in alternating months by Jamie of Books and Beverages and Cassie of Bookshelves and Windows. For July, participants will be discussing The Doctor’s Lady at Cassie’s blog beginning July 28, 2015 (discussion details here and here).

For fans of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, Jamie of the Books and Beverages blog hosts a monthly Inklings discussion series. Sometimes fiction, sometimes non-fiction, the title for the month of July is The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien. Discussion is scheduled to begin on July 15.

Recent Christian Fiction Releases Featuring Discussion Guides

Love’s Rescue by Christine Johnson (June 2015, Revell, Historical Romance)

Love Arrives in Pieces by Betsy St. Amant (June 2015, Zondervan, Contemporary Romance)

The Wonder of You by Susan May Warren (July 2015, Thomas Nelson, Contemporary Romance)

Let’s Chat!

I recently stumbled across an online Christian book discussion group that I was previously unfamiliar with (and you’ll see the Facebook-based Cherished Book Club listed among the others above for the first time this month). I’ve also been exploring a new-to-me resource site of interest to Christian book clubs called The Book Club Network.

I’m sure there are other online clubs and resources out there that I haven’t discovered yet. Do you happen to know of any other online clubs I should be including in my monthly discussion listings here? Or of any Web sites or books that are particularly helpful for book discussion groups? I’d love to hear about them!

2015 INSPY Award Winners Announced

2015 INSPY Award Winners

2015 INSPY Award Winners

Did you hear? The INSPY Award results are in! For anyone unfamiliar with the INSPYs, they’re “The Bloggers’ Award for Excellence in Faith-Driven Literature.”

I got to help out this year by serving as one of the judges for the General Fiction category, and I had a blast doing it. So much fun to read five great books and discuss them with my fellow judges. And as a bonus, I wound up getting to know some fellow bloggers better. Win-win! Hi Iola, Tia, and Stacy!

Anyway, I’m super excited to recognize some great reads among the winners, as well as some titles I haven’t read yet that I’ll be wanting to track down and read for myself.

Here’s a link to the official INSPY Awards announcement, including statements on each winner from the judges of that category. And, if you’re curious to see what I thought of a few of the winners… check out the reviews I’ve previously posted of A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker (winner in the Mystery/Thriller category) and Mark of Distinction by Jessica Dotta (winner in the Historical Romance category). And stay tuned for my thoughts on Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke (winner in the General Fiction category). That review’s still to come. Hint: I loved it!

The other four winners sound great too, to the point it could be a challenge deciding which to read first! There’s Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas (Debut), Meant to be Mine by Becky Wade (Contemporary Romance), Storm Siren by Mary Weber (Young Adult), and Spirit Bridge by James L. Rubart (Speculative Fiction).

Congratulations to the authors of all seven of this year’s INSPY Award winning books!

So tell me, readers, which of these award winning books have you read so far? What did you think of them?

New Cover Reveal for The Seahorse Legacy + a Giveaway!

Today’s the day for a brand new cover reveal, and I’m super excited to share it with you! If you haven’t already guessed from reading my “E’veria Week” posts this week, I’m a big fan of Serena Chase’s Eyes of E’veria YA Fantasy series. So I count it an honor to be among those introducing readers to this newly redesigned cover for The Seahorse Legacy. If you recall, that’s the third book in the series, and the first to feature Erielle and Cazien as lead characters. (So good! Here’s my review in case you missed it.)

And, without further ado, here’s the new cover (click the image to see it full size):

The Seahorse Legacy - new cover

The Seahorse Legacy – new cover

I just love the vivid, saturated colors and the classy layout of this cover! What do you think? Do you love the new look as much as I do?

To celebrate this gorgeous new cover, Serena is offering a fabulous prize package, so be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post to find the Rafflecopter form where you can find details on how to enter! I’m told the prize package includes:

  •  A custom skin for the winner’s reading device or phone, featuring the new book cover
  • Temporary Tattoos: “Official Pirate Crew — the Seahorse Legacy”
  • AND a $10 Amazon gift card

Cool, huh? So don’t forget to enter! But first, here’s some details about The Seahorse Legacy and about author Serena Chase.

About the Book:

a Pirate, bound by a centuries-old oath 

As Keeper of the Seahorse Legacy, Cazien de Pollis is a King among pirates, divinely appointed to dispense justice on the seas. Bound by the sacred oath of a long-dead ancestor, he must fulfill a contract to wed the green-eyed Oracle’s Daughter named therein—or risk losing everything he and his people hold dear. But at nineteen, with the identity of his betrothed only recently revealed, Cazien resents the contract—and the urgency within him to see it satisfied.

a Knight, determined to prove her calling

Erielle de Gladiel returned from the quest for the Remedy, changed. Not only are her formerly-blue eyes now a brilliant shade of green, but she must don gloves to hide inky evidence that her prophetically-bestowed title, the Oracle’s Daughter, demands more from her than the task already completed. Erielle’s dearest-held dream is realized when she is knighted by her King, but unbeknownst to her, that very honor jeopardizes the prophesied purpose to which she and Cazien have been called.

a Legacy, demanding surrender

Just as Cazien summons the courage to collect his bride, dark rumors and darker deeds crawl up the coasts, calling its guardians, the Seahorse Pirates, into action—and Cazien away from Erielle. But even though the Oracle’s Daughter knows nothing of the contract to which she has been consigned, Cazien’s enemies have somehow learned of his interest in Erielle. And if they reach her before his ancestor’s weighty oath is executed, the Seahorse Legacy will be forfeited . . . and darkness will be given reign.

The third book in this series-within-a series, The Seahorse Legacy begins an epic re-imagining of several fairy tales, combined–including an unexpected twist on The Twelve Dancing Princesses. This romantic adventure will conclude in Eyes of E’veria, Book 4: The Sunken Realm, coming late Summer 2015.

About the Author:

Serena ChaseSERENA CHASE lives in Iowa with her husband, two teen daughters, and a big white dog named Albus. A frequent contributor to USA Today‘s Happy Ever After blog, Serena is an avid reader of young adult fiction and inspirational romance and has become a respected influencer within those communities. When not engaged in her varied roles within the publishing industry, Serena can be found coaching her local high school’s Color Guard, watching action movies, and dreaming about someday living in a cottage by the sea. Connect with Serena Chase on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter (@Serena_Chase) and visit www.serenachase.com to subscribe to her newsletter and gain access to exclusive, subscriber-only content.

Enter to Win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interview with Author Serena Chase

I am thrilled to have Serena Chase here on the blog today to talk a little about her young adult fantasy series Eyes of E’veria! I first met Serena through the blogosphere and she’s become a friend and blogging mentor to me over at the Edgy Inspirational Romance blog. Then I read her books and fell madly in book-love. Check out my reviews of The Ryn, The Remedy, and The Seahorse Legacy to find out why. And if you haven’t read them yet, you’ll want to get on that, because rumor has it The Sunken Realm is coming soon!

Karen: I love the bio you share on your author blog, especially the bit where you say, “Some might say I am a connoisseur of random quirkiness and I have been known to live vicariously through my hair.” Which leads me to wonder, what color is your hair now?

Serena Chase

Serena Chase

Serena: Ha! I love this question! I rarely emerge from two consecutive salon visits with the same combination of colors on my head. Right now my hair is a dark, warm brown base with caramel highlights and the tiniest hint of very faded pink highlights. The faded part makes me sad because I love my pink highlights, which I’ve had three times now… but they rarely last more than a week. :( I like this combo the best of any I’ve ever had and might just stick with it a while. I only hope I can find a way to make that pink last longer!

Karen: Could you tell us a randomly quirky fact or two about yourself?

Serena: I’m full of random quirkiness. Let’s see … I’m an action movie junkie. I especially love an action flick where there is a comedy vibe going through. Die Hard, the Lethal Weapon franchise… love ‘em. I recently discovered a love of Indian food, thanks to Carla Laureano, who shared a recipe with me and started that ball rolling. When I was in college (Belmont University in Nashville, TN), I interned at WAY-FM Christian Hit Radio in Brentwood where I was known as “Goddess of the Corn” by my supervisor and as “The Corn Queen” by the DJs, because I’m an Iowa farmer’s daughter. To celebrate that nickname and prank the DJs, I teamed up with a few other Belmont Music Business majors to write and record a “Christian Hit Radio” styled Christmas song about . . . corn. I’m giggling even now, remembering how the DJs were so jazzed to hear “this new band I discovered” — HA! — and how everybody laughed and laughed and laughed when they realized it was all a big joke. (Corny lyrics aside, it was a pretty good tune, considering we wrote it in an evening and recorded a few days later on a Tascam on a pool table in a guy’s basement!) Let’s see… other quirks… Thanks to my years in the Nashville music scene, I can WHIP pretty much anyone at a game of Six Degrees of Separation. Or Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, if you prefer that version, ha! I can recite the states in alphabetical order. I played Mark Lowry’s “nerdy little sister” in a parody music video as part of the Mouth in Motion collection in the early 1990s. (My good friend Cristy got the role of “Beautiful Girl” in the parody Mark did with Michael W. Smith–not that I was jealous . . . okay, maybe a little, ha!) I’m not what anyone would consider ‘outdoorsy’ — I only like being outdoors if there is an ocean nearby–and not just because I love the beach/seaside, although I totally do! I have horrible sinus allergies that virtually disappear when I’m at the beach! I think it’s a sign I should move. *sighs* If only I could convince my Iowa farmland-loving, antique tractor-collecting husband.

Karen: Please share a little about the origins of the Eyes of E’veria series. What inspired you to write these books? What was your starting point – theme, character, plot, setting, or something else? Have the books shaped up as you expected, or have there been surprises along the way?

Serena: This series has been one giant surprise after another, honestly. It has been written entirely organically, totally by the seat of my pants–which I don’t advise. (Unless, like me, you just can’t seem to help yourself!) I started out thinking I would write a short, fun, expanded retelling of one of my favorite childhood fairy tales, Snow White and Rose Red, kind of like Gail Carson Levine did in Ella Enchanted. But the story took on a life of its own. Seven years after that initial start, my ‘fun little retelling’ published as an epic fantasy told over two books, The Ryn and The Remedy. Pirate Cazien de Pollis showed up in The Ryn rather unexpectedly (as happens when you write by the seat of your pants) and as his character developed in those few scenes, I simply fell in love with him and knew he had to have his own tale. I intended (even while writing The Seahorse Legacy) to base books three and four on another childhood favorite, The Twelve Dancing Princesses. But while creating book 4, The Sunken Realm, the story kept straying away from that focus. I read and reread that Grimm Brothers’ tale with adult eyes, trying to find ways to apply it to a resolution of all that happened in The Seahorse Legacy, but I finally realized … and this is going to sound really bad, but … The Twelve Dancing Princesses? It is really a horrible story. Sorry, Grimm Bros, but it is. I can only assume my childhood love for it was born out of the sheer number of princesses and the cleverness of the soldier who foiled their selfish ways–for his own selfish gain. It just doesn’t resonate with me anymore. I mean, where’s the redemption factor? They’re all a bunch of selfish jerks! It took me a little longer to let go than it should have, which meant a LOT of rewriting–numerous rewrites!–until I finally realized that it could still be a small element of the Cazien/Erielle adventure without being the main thrust of the tale. Surprise!

Seahorse_LegacyKaren: After reading The Seahorse Legacy, I’m eagerly awaiting the continuation of Cazien and Erielle’s story, and I know you’ve been hard at work getting The Sunken Realm ready to release soon. Would you mind telling us a little about this latest book? Maybe some hint as to what to expect? Or is it all very top secret and hush-hush at this point?

Serena: I would tell you, Karen, but then I would have to kill you. Kidding! In all seriousness, The Seahorse Legacy left Erielle in a very bad way, and I can tell you that she has a long recovery ahead of her, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And her troubles are far from over! There is a new riddled prophecy to solve and attend, a new life, a new homeland, and a new adventure awaiting her in a foreign and elegantly hostile land. And lest you think this is all about Erielle, I assure you it is not! Cazien has a rather big secret or two (or bajillion) to share with her. The safety of the entire world is riding on their shoulders as they sail for the Island Realm of Nirista where the Tournament of the Twelve is about to commence. Expect danger, some comedy, surprising revelations, a few clever insults, the appearance of some old friends (and enemies!) from the first three books, and a lot of intrigue and violence. That’s all I’m going to tell you for now!

Karen: Sounds great! I know you’re a voracious reader and that you review quite a few books at USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog as well as the Edgy Inspirational Romance blog. Could you name a few titles you’ve read that you think fans of your books are especially likely to enjoy or that you particularly loved?

Serena: With pleasure! My favorite books to read are found on the YA shelves. I totally fangirl over A.G. Howard’s Splintered series and it is my personal mission to convert all my YA fantasy-reading friends to the Morpheus fandom. These books are so original, such a crazy-bold take on the Alice in Wonderland world. It’s a dark story, with neon-vivid imagery that is not for the faint of heart. Just amazing. A series I recently discovered is the TimeShifters series by Jess Evander. Saving Yesterday (book 1) and Capturing Today (book 2) are AH-MAZE-ING. So fast paced, so tightly written. I am just in awe when someone writes action and romance with such white-knuckle precision and yet . . . grace. Katie Ganshert (writing as K.E. Ganshert) has a new YA out, The Gifting–and it blew me away. Total reinvention of voice for Katie, who is a fave inspy/women’s fiction voice. I’m crazy excited to dive in to the next book in the series, which is taunting me from my Kindle even now! It’s summertime, so I’m picking up contemporary romances, too–as I so often do in the warmer weather. I just read Just One Summer, the new novella collection from Nicole Deese, Tammy L Gray, Amy Matayo, and Jenny B. Jones and it is fabulous and fun! In inspy contemporary I recently read Betsy St. Amant’s Love Arrives in Pieces and it’s really good, too! I could go on and on… but I need to get back to work, I suppose. These pirates aren’t going to finish editing themselves!

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Serena!

Readers, don’t forget to come back here tomorrow for an E’verian cover reveal and giveaway. Meanwhile, here’s a bit more about Serena, with links to where you can find her on the Web:

SERENA CHASE lives in Iowa with her husband, two teen daughters, and a big white dog named Albus. A frequent contributor to USA Today‘s Happy Ever After blog, Serena is an avid reader of young adult fiction and inspirational romance and has become a respected influencer within those communities. When not engaged in her varied roles within the publishing industry, Serena can be found coaching her local high school’s Color Guard, watching action movies, and dreaming about someday living in a cottage by the sea. Connect with Serena Chase on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter (@Serena_Chase) and visit www.serenachase.com to subscribe to her newsletter and gain access to exclusive, subscriber-only content.

Book Review: The Seahorse Legacy by Serena Chase

It’s “E’veria Week” here on the blog with reviews, interviews, and a cover reveal. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this post to get up to speed. (Or, in short, I’m blogging on a theme this week - the Eyes of E’veria YA Fantasy series by Serena Chase.) Today’s post is my review of Book 3 – The Seahorse Legacy. I wrote this review back in February, and have been eagerly awaiting the next in the series since then. Super excited to hear it’s scheduled to come out in late summer!

Seahorse_LegacyTitle: The Seahorse Legacy
Author: Serena Chase
Published: May 2014 by Candent Gate Press
Genre: Christian Fiction, Fantasy, YA
Series: Eyes of E’veria, Book 3

Wow!  Serena Chase has done it again!  Now that I’ve finished reading the first part of Cazien and Erielle’s story, as told in The Seahorse Legacy, I simply can’t wait for its conclusion.  Except that unlike when I read the start of Rynnaia and Julien’s story in The Ryn with my copy of The Remedy already in hand, this time, the conclusion to be found in The Sunken Realm is not yet available and I’ll have no choice but to wait.  Argh!  The piratey torture!  ;)

So what’s to love about this latest installment in The Eyes of E’veria series?  So much.

First off, our lead characters Erielle de Gladiel and Cazien de Pollis are individually awesome.  Our heroine is the spunky dagger-wielding Oracle’s Daughter who played a secondary role in The Ryn and The Remedy, and has been commissioned as the first female knight in E’verian history – a lifelong dream come true.  So cool!  And our hero?  How to put this?  Cazien is a charming piratey (love Erielle’s word choice there) good guy, with… decidedly unorthodox methods.  He’s also a thoroughly swoon-worthy hero, who wants to fulfill the obligations placed upon him as Seahorse Heir and to do right by his heroine.  Even if he doesn’t love her.  Yet.

While hero and heroine spend relatively few pages in close proximity in this story, it’s clear from the get-go that they’re inextricably linked, and that they are in fact a perfect match for each other.  There’s their shared love for the sea, their passion for justice, and of course their romantic chemistry… even if there’s also a fair amount of verbal sparring.  But hey, that definitely keeps things interesting!

This book has its share of sigh-worthy romantic moments, as well as some touching emotional moments that really tugged at my heart-strings.  Love, love, love the scene with the sea-horses, not to mention the bit where Cazien gets to play hero in the truest sense of the word.  And I cannot wait to see where the next book will be taking these beloved characters.

Before I sign off on this review and go plead with Serena for an advance copy of The Sunken Realm, I want to take a moment to comment on theme, because one of the things I’ve loved most about this series so far is the way each book has been thematically rich in its own unique way.  If the theme of The Ryn was finding God (or Rynloeft), and the theme of The Remedy was trusting God, then I think the theme of The Seahorse Legacy would have to be surrendering to God’s plan.  I love the way this book addresses that theme. So beautiful it brought me to tears.

Highly recommended for anyone who loves romance, pirates, adventure, fantasy, fairytales, or… well, really pretty much anyone.  Unless you don’t like to read.  In which case, what are you doing here anyway?  ;)  But seriously, if you haven’t read this series, what are you waiting for?  Go start with The Ryn and work your way through to this one, and if you’re lucky, maybe The Sunken Realm will be ready for you by the time you’re ready for it.

Full Disclosure: Yup, the author, Serena Chase is my blogging buddy over at the Edgy Inspirational Romance blog, so no, my review may not be totally unbiased, but I am doing my best to share my true and honest opinion of it.  Fortunately, that isn’t hard to do, since it really is that good! :)

Quick Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Site

Book Review: The Remedy by Serena Chase

I’ve been unofficially calling this week “E’veria Week” here on my blog because I’ve been posting about the YA Fantasy series Eyes of E’veria by Serena Chase. If you’re just tuning in, you may want to backtrack and start reading at the beginning of the week so you won’t miss my review of Book 1 or my preview of what other fun E’veria themed posts are coming this week.

Today, I’m sharing my review of The Remedy, Book 2 in the Eyes of E’veria series. I read this book as quickly as I could after finishing Book 1 (as in started reading that same day) because I had to know what happened next. I wrote my review back in December of 2014 and then tucked it away to share with you now. Kind of like a book review time capsule. Or something. Anyway….

Title: The Remedy
Author: Serena Chase
Published: April 2013 by Candent Gate Press
Genre: Christian Fiction, Fantasy, YA
Series: Eyes of E’veria, Book 2

The Remedy begins more or less where The Ryn leaves off, as our beloved heroine Rynnaia is about to embark on an epic quest, the importance of which has already been well established in Book One.  She must fulfill a prophecy long foretold to save her people from a great evil.  The prophecy gives step by step guidance but its poetry takes the form of riddles more often than not.  She must rely on The First and on help from her small group of companions to decode those riddles and overcome the dangers and obstacles she faces along the way.

The Remedy features sigh-worthy romance, action, adventure, and mystery, as well as gowns and festivities fit for a princess.  But I think the part that impressed me most was the way faith plays an integral role in the outcome of the story, without ever becoming forced or preachy.  I really liked seeing the multiple instances where Rynnaia and her companions had no choice but to trust that their needs would be provided for, without any clue how that might be.

I said it before, in my review of The Ryn, but it bears repeating.  I love this story world.  The people, the language, the politics, the friendships and adversaries, and most of all the faith, love, courage, and trust required to face challenges that seem at times insurmountable… it all seems so real and so relevant to our own world.

In short, I am happy to say that The Remedy delivers exactly the kind of marvelous storytelling promised by The Ryn.  It gives a satisfying – no, not so much satisfying as delightful – conclusion to Rynnaia and Julien’s tale, tying up lots of loose ends along the way.  At the same time, it lays the groundwork for the next tale in the series, featuring a new… yet familiar leading man and leading lady.  I’m seriously looking forward to reading The Seahorse Legacy soon!

Full Disclosure: Yup, the author, Serena Chase is my blogging buddy over at the Edgy Inspirational Romance blog, so no, my review may not be totally unbiased, but I am doing my best to share my true and honest opinion of it.  Fortunately, that isn’t hard to do, since it really is that good! :)

Quick Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Site

Book Review: The Ryn by Serena Chase

If you were here yesterday, you know that I’m calling this week “E’veria Week” here on my blog after the YA Fantasy series, Eyes of E’veria by Serena Chase. I’m kicking off this week’s E’veria themed posts by sharing my review of The Ryn (Book 1 in the series). I actually wrote this review way back in November of 2014, when I first read the book, but I figured with Book 4 coming late this summer, now would be a great time to share this review and others in the series with you. Because if you haven’t read these books yet, you’ll be wanting to get all caught up in time to dive into The Sunken Realm when it releases.

Title: The Ryn
Author: Serena Chase
Published: March 2013 by Candent Gate Press
Genre: Christian Fiction, Fantasy, YA
Series: Eyes of E’veria, Book 1

As I finish reading The Ryn, I find that it’s a challenge to force myself to make notes on my thoughts about it, because I’d much rather dive immediately into reading Book 2, The Remedy.  But I’m forcing myself to do just that, because this is such a good book I don’t want to forget any of the lovely things I want to say about it.

Just like Aslan of Narnia, Embral e’ Veria / The First King / Loeftryn de Rynloeft is a clear picture of God, and to see Rynnaia coming to know Him on a personal level and place her trust in Him was both beautiful and powerful.  I loved how the author incorporated concepts and promises based closely on scripture and shared them with Rynnaia personally.  Wow!  What a great reminder of God’s love for each of us!

The story world was well developed and I loved seeing how the nation’s history shaped its peoples in entirely plausible ways.  Like with Tolkien’s work, language plays a significant role, and the way things are named and their origins in the ancient language seem very well planned and consistent.  While this story is clearly in the tradition of other works of fantasy, I was impressed to find that the peoples and their history were new, fresh, and exquisitely detailed, not just a rehashing of elves, dwarves, and the like.

I loved the development of the romance between Rynnaia and Julien.  I felt it was tastefully done, yet oh so swoon-worthy.  The friendship, the dedication, the trust and reliance upon each other, the development of feelings beyond the scope of friendship, the love and longing and fear that feelings might not be reciprocated…. Let’s just say it was all so vividly portrayed and accurately rendered, I found myself totally swept up in their story.

This is a polished tale and it’s clear to see that the author has poured a lot of time and thought into her world, her characters, and their goals and motivations.  I found the ending satisfying in and of itself, as it wrapped up a chapter in the characters’ lives, though it also provided enough tantalizing glimpses into the challenges of the quest ahead that I simply cannot stop here.  In hindsight, I’m not sure why I waited as long as I did to read this book, but I can say that one good thing has come of the delay.  I can dive immediately into reading The Remedy… which is exactly what I’m about to do!

Full Disclosure: Yup, the author, Serena Chase is my blogging buddy over at the Edgy Inspirational Romance blog, so no, my review may not be totally unbiased, but I am doing my best to share my true and honest opinion of it.  Fortunately, that isn’t hard to do, since it really is that good! :)

Quick Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Site