Sunday, November 30, 2014

Reviews: The Key and Red, books 1-2 of the True Reign Series

I have been wanting to read the True Reign Series by Jennifer Anne Davis for a while now and finally decided to fulfill that wish, with a little help from the publisher, Clean Teen Publishing.

Review of The Key by Jennifer Anne Davis

Many years ago, a conqueror entered the Kingdom of Greenwood Island. Backed by the Emperor across the sea, this man overpowered the army of Greenwood and murdered its royal family. But one child escaped this new king’s massacre—the baby princess, Amer. Seventeen years later, Amer—now Rema—knows nothing of her heritage; she only knows how unfair the conquering king has been to his people these last years. Rema also knows that she just might be falling for the king’s second son, Prince Darmik, and he for her. But the crown prince, Lennek, will stop at nothing to keep his brother from all happiness.

When I first saw The Key by Jennifer Anne Davis, its cover grabbed my attention. The mysterious key-sword with bright blue eyes drew me in, but the premise of a princess unknowingly falling in love with her enemy and being forced to marry his brohter made me buy the book as soon as it was published. But for reasons I cannot even remember now, I did not read The Key when it was first released, but have read it now, after all three of the books in the series have already been published. Even after waiting all of about a year to read it, I found that The Key did not disappoint my first impressions.

The plot intrigued me and drew me in. I could hardly wait to discover what happened next in the story, and the cliff-hanger ending did not help.

I enjoyed the characters. Rema was a fiery, willful young lady who knew what she wanted and did it. However, I was glad to see that she thought before she acted on many occasions instead of simply acting regardless of the consequences. Yet, she did not even appear to wonder at the fact that she knew nothing about her parents, was always sheltered from the community growing up, and had a complexion unheard of in that part of the world. Perhaps she could have been a little more observant. Yet things most obvious to some can go unnoticed by those who have grown up with them and seen them as normal for years.

In addition, half of the novel was viewed through the eyes of the commander-prince, Darmik. I must admit, none of the books I have read have presented the stereotypical soldier, who is merciless with the rebellious people, as being moral or worthwhile for the main character to get to know. Instead, he is depicted as unfeeling as he murders or punishes the people for small offenses. In The Key, Darmik does execute people for little things with the intention of instilling fear, but his motivation, to serve, please, and obey his father and king is honorable. Darmik’s allegiance is a bit misguided, but he begins to understand that fact throughout the story. In all, Darmik is portrayed as a good man despite his questionable actions.

The romance was interesting. It was not sensual—something for which I am thankful—but a love-at-first-sight kind of romance. Love at first sight is lovely in stories, and I do know that attraction happens at first sight, but I just don’t believe that that attraction is the same as love. As Rema worries to herself whether she really loves Darmik, she thinks to herself “I don’t really know him,” which is the truth. I would have appreciated seeing the characters get to know one another at a friendship level before jumping into the “kissing” side of romance.

I enjoyed The Key for its interesting plot and engaging characters and I hope you will too.
(P.S. The Key is FREE on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and CTP. You can also find it on Goodreads.)

Review of Red by Jennifer Anne Davis

Red by Jennifer Anne Davis picks up where The Key left off. First of all, Rema does not die, as the cliff-hanger ending of The Key may have led one to believe. Instead, Rema is whisked off to the rebels’ camp which is hidden high in the mountains. Once she has recovered from her illness, Mako, the rebel commander, insists upon her physical training but still does not reveal the secret to her—Rema is the rightful heir to the throne. Meanwhile, Prince Darmik, Lennek, and an Empiron Assassin scour the countryside looking for her in a deadly competition. But Darmik’s motivation to win the game might not be the same as the others’. Will he reach her in time?

I enjoyed Red. In fact, I enjoy just about every book I read. Red captured my attention and continued an intriguing story. The stakes are raised time and again, a possible love triangle is thrown in, and the romance deepens. I think I enjoyed the character development the most, despite the flaws.

I was disappointed that Rema did not discover on her own that she was Princess Amer but had to have someone tell her. Throughout her life, Rema has had clues as to her heritage or at least the fact that her aunt and uncle were hiding something from her. For example, her family always called her Rema, which is completely different than her given name. However, I was impressed with the way Rema handled learning it. Instead of being angry that her family lied to her, Rema accepted that they meant the best for her and moved on with life. She also accepted her place as princess rather quickly, instead of moping, and took charge, as a princess is supposed to.

Prince Darmik, also, took a while to decide to turn against his evil father. I suppose a lifetime’s worth of loyalty is not easy to turn one’s back on, but the way his father treated him, not to mention the rest of the kingdom, should have raised some red flags before Rema came along. However, I did enjoy seeing Darmik change from a merciless killer to someone with compassion as he fell ever more deeply in love with Rema.

One thing that did not make sense to me was the fact that Rema had not lived in the secret fortress from the time her parents died. It is quite possibly the safest place in the kingdom. Why would Mako not have Rema, possibly the most important person to the rebels, live in the safest place as well as the rebel base? The only reason I can think of is that Mako wanted her to see for herself the horrible way the king was treating the kingdom. Presumably, living with the citizens would show her their need for a better ruler.

I would warn the reader that there are several swear words, violence (they are trying to start a war, after all), and a bit of sensual romance. Neither the violence nor the sensuality is overly descriptive or long, but it is definitely present.

Overall, I think Red could have been written better, its flaws corrected, but I still enjoyed it and could not quite see what would happen next.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Clean Teen Publishing, in exchange for an honest review.
(P.S. You can find Red on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and CTP.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Kreation Kween


Hello! I just wanted to let you all know that I started an Etsy shop called Kreation Kween. It was long in coming, but I am excited to finally have it open and hopefully running for a significant amount of time. https://www.etsy.com/shop/KreationKween?ref=hdr_shop_menu

I intend to add more, but for now I am selling adorable bookmarks, a plush kitten, two elegant tiaras, a crochet headband, and several pre-made and custom friendship bracelets. I hope you don't mind if I share a few pictures.

I hand-stitched the kitten because I am not able to reach a sewing machine, but it still looks cute!

I made a tiara for my Halloween costume and was given so many compliments that I decided to make a few more. This is one of the two on Etsy. The other is quite different and neither is the same as the one I made for my princess costume.

I found the idea for the bookmarks on good old Pinterest. They fit on the corner of the page and to an extent look like they are eating the page. All of them are animal-themed and super adorable, at least in my opinion.

If you are wondering about the title, a friend helped me come up with it. A few years ago (I did say it was long in coming) she helped me brainstorm ideas and one of the ones I liked the most was changing the spelling of Creation to Kreation. My last name begins with K, my first begins with E, and my middle name begins with A. All three of my initial are present in the name and it signifies what I do: Create. The second word, "Kween," kind of goes with the first in several ways. I thought I would keep in the same fashion and misspell it also. I was Queen, but the letters make the same or a similar sound. I also don't like bragging, so this is a way to slightly disguise the meaning of being a "Kween of Kreation". Were any of you so caught up in the misspelling that you didn't notice the meaning of the name?

Do any of you have shops on Etsy?

Free Ebook Giveaway From Alana Terry!

Torn Asunder is the upcoming release from award-winning Christian suspense novelist Alana Terry. You can pre-order Torn Asunder on amazon now for only 99 cents and have it delivered right to you when it's released in December. As an added bonus, Alana, along with recording artist Cherie Norquay, is offering free downloads of one of the songs featured in Torn Asunder.

Synopsis: After graduating from the Secret Seminary, Hannah and Simon are ready to return to their homeland. Their training has equipped them to carry the gospel to a country ravaged by darkness and despair. If necessary, they’re even prepared to face the North Korean labor camps, but the hardest part of their mission isn’t the hunger, cold, and incessant danger. The hardest part is cutting off contact with one another.

In this world of spies, secret police, and informants, staying together might not just compromise their ministry. It could cost them both their lives.

A Christian romantic suspense from the author of The Beloved Daughter, which won awards from Women of Faith, Grace Awards, Readers' Favorite, The Book Club Network, and more.

Pre-order Torn Asunder for only 99 cents or enter the giveaway below! You can also sign up to get a free mp3 song download from Cherie Norquay, whose work is put out by Grammy-award-winning producer, Phil Naish, and whose lyrics helped inspire certain scenes in Torn Asunder. Click below or get her free song downloads here. (Several of her song lyrics also appear in the novel itself.)

You can also sign up below to help spread the word about Alana's fundraiser to help rescue North Korean refugees on a modern-day underground railroad.

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Review: Slave Again

Before I introduce this new book, I would like to share my story regarding it. Recently, I have practically been bombarded with information about human trafficking. In one week in September, three email appeared in my inbox saying that I won three of Alana Terry's books in various formats. The books were from three separate giveaways I had entered three months before. When was the last time you won three books from three separate giveaways from the same author, dear reader? And when did that happen during the same week that your college decides to show a documentary (a really good one called Nefarious) and an informational meeting about human trafficking, a major topic in those three books? I am a little suspicious that God is trying to show me something, perhaps about the future plans He has for me. In fact, another set of "coincidences" regarding the same topic seems to be happening again, now.

In any case, upon Alana's request, I decided to review one of the books I won, called Slave Again. I began reading it with the expectation that I would witness the suffering of those trafficked women and children in a way that facts and statistics cannot--through the thoughts and feelings of a character in a well-written book. I was not disappointed.


Slave Again
Alana Terry

 After escaping a North Korean prison camp, Mee-Kyong is hustled over the border and sold into the Chinese underworld. She vows to survive, but sheer determination and willpower won't save her this time. Is she fated to remain a slave forever?

Slave Again is written by Christian suspense novelist Alana Terry, winner of numerous awards, including the Women of Faith writing contest and the Readers' Favorite gold medal for religious fiction.
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads

YouTube (video contains brief violent image)

About the Author

Alana is passionate about human-rights issues in North Korea and has devoted her writing to raise both awareness and funds to help North Korean refugees find freedom and safety. You can find out more about Liberty in North Korea and Alana’s rescue campaign at alanaterry.com/link.

My Review

As you may have noticed, suspense is not my usual genre. However, I found that Slave Again was a wonderful book. I won’t attempt to write a long summary of the book this time because Alana did such a good job of it and I don’t want to reveal any more than I already have to in the review. Suffice it to say, human trafficking is a major theme in Slave Again, and the main character, Mee-Kyong and a few of the other characters are trapped and trying to escape from being trafficked in China and North Korea.

Slave Again kept me on my toes. Everything would be going fine or you thought you knew where the book was going, then BAM! something horrible or unexpected happened. I couldn’t even guess what would happen next. A little over halfway through the book, however, nerve-wracking occurrences calmed down a little bit. The characters were recovering and adjusting. There was a little suspense on account of the overheard phone calls between a government spy and his/her superiors. The ending was suspenseful, I was glad to note, but I won’t give it away.

The way Slave Again ended was more than satisfactory but disappointed me a little because there were so many loose ends. Several characters I had begun to care about were never heard from again within the book, and several instances. However, I assume that many of those loose ends will be taken care of in the next book, Torn Asunder, which is due to be released in December and which I will be reviewing and hosting the blog tour.

Alana Terry showed the characters’ faults in ways I do not usually think about. All the characters were selfish. Even the sweet missionary couple was portrayed as helping others partly only to get something from the situation; the husband helped Mee-Kyong in order to make his wife happy which in turn helped him be happy. This made me think deeply about whether my own motives about helping others are selfish. Also, the missionary woman was often mentioned as being naïve, which makes me wonder whether I too would be considered naïve in such a situation and whether I could still be effective as a missionary if I was naïve.

Slave Again helped open my eyes to the realities of human trafficking, particularly sex trafficking. The women and children who are trafficked suffer more than anyone should. I applaud anyone who helps stop the practice and hope to join the fight myself. I am quite certain that Alana has information for anyone willing to help end human trafficking in the world if you ask her.

Because of the theme is human trafficking, the characters are desperate, and the genre suspense, the book was only relatively clean. Slave Again included non-gory, violent scenes and a few implied sex scenes.

Overall, I applaud Alana Terry for a well-written, informative, and suspense-filled novel.


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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Review: Golden Daughter

Another book has been published, or rather, will be on November 10 according to Amazon, by my favorite author Anne Elisabeth Stengl. I was given the exciting opportunity to be one of her influencer readers for this new book. I intend to fulfill some of those responsibilities with this review of Golden Daughter. Enjoy!


Golden Daughter
Anne Elisabeth Stengl


Masayi Sairu was raised to be dainty, delicate, demure . . . and deadly. She is one of the emperor’s Golden Daughters, as much a legend as she is a commodity. One day, Sairu will be contracted in marriage to a patron, whom she will secretly guard for the rest of her life.

But when she learns that a sacred Dream Walker of the temple seeks the protection of a Golden Daughter, Sairu forgoes marriage in favor of this role. Her skills are stretched to the limit, for assassins hunt in the shadows, and phantoms haunt in dreams. With only a mysterious Faerie cat and a handsome slave—possessed of his own strange abilities—to help her, can Sairu shield her new mistress from evils she can neither see nor touch?

For the Dragon is building an army of fire. And soon the heavens will burn.

Buy Links

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads

My Review

In Golden Daughter by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, Sairu has been trained since birth to be a Golden Daughter, a special protector of the nobility. When her skills are perfected, she will go under-cover as a wife to her master for the rest of their lives in order to protect him from all harm. Except Sairu is assigned to protect a woman. This woman has the special ability to Dream Walk, and someone wants her dead. It’s up to Sairu, now a handmaiden, to protect her mistress and to discover why the assassins want her dead before it’s too late.

Every one of Anne Elisabeth’s novels have enchanted me, earning her the title of “favorite author”. Golden Daughter was no exception. I was super excited when I learned that I was to be given and influencer copy of the book and have subsequently devoured it.

One of the first things I noticed was that Golden Daugher, the seventh book in the Tales of Goldstone Wood Series, was much longer than its predecessors. It was also set in a different part of the world with nearly all new characters once again. The setting was the eastern parts of the mortal world, comparable to medieval China. It portrays grand palaces, universities, leper colonies, and small tribes on the plains in a believable manner while intertwining a dream world, the Wood Between, and the garden of the moon.

Each character—Sairu, Jovan, Sunan (yes, Captain Sunan from Vieled Rose and Goddess Tithe), Lady Hariawan, and others—was unique, sometimes funny, and well written. They seemed like real people struggling with real problems and romances. There were a few familiar characters, Eanrin for example, but most of the main characters were completely new and amazing. I would mention that Jovan’s story reminded me of Joseph’s story in the Bible, which was a nice touch.

The plot, also, was unlike any story I have ever read. There is certainly the comparison to Joseph, but there are so many other things going on that Golden Daughter is completely unique.

Also, the spiritual element was beautiful. It tells of redemption, of hope even through pain, and of the ultimate defeat of the Dragon both in the character’s lives and our own when we trust in the Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I applaud Anne Elisabeth for another astonishing story.
I received a free influencer, ARC copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.