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Category Archives: Book Reviews

Books for Your Family Trip #Ireland #Wales #Roadtrip

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-10-07-04-amThe school librarians saw me coming and knew I’d be leaving for holiday with a bag of books. Our recent school vacation (blogs forth coming) opened the doors for a King family road trip from Holland to Ireland by car with a few days in Wales. Below are the books I weighed our vehicle down with and the links to my reviews on Goodreads. Several of the chapter books were not read, because I’m in the midst of reading Harry Potter aloud to our younger sons. Also because they were all carrying assigned books from school.

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-11-46-25-amOur younger sons loved hearing the short Irish legend as rendered by Tomie De Paola, Fin M’Coul, The Giant of Knockmanyhill. They laughed out loud as Fin’s wife helped him outwit his arch enemy, the bully giant Cucullin.

For your family Halloween read, check out the Irish ghost story, Kate Culhane, and for bringing the Irish-Manx-Scottish water horse legends to new life, read The Scorpio Races. (5 Star Middle Grade)screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-11-33-07-am

Join me on Goodreads here.

–Kristin

Best for Ireland: Kate Culhane: A Ghost Story by Michael Hague (5 Star), and Leprechaun Luck: A Wee Book of Irish Wisdom (5 Star) by Erin Gobragh and Catherine O’Neillscreen-shot-2016-10-24-at-10-14-30-am

Nonfiction Reviewed: Castle (4 Star) by David Macaulay, The Horrible History of Britain and Ireland (4 Star) -includes Wales and Scotland, or course, A to Z Ireland (3 Star) by Justine and Ron Fontes, and Wales (3 Star) by Tamara L. Britton.screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-11-15-34-am

Fiction Highly Recommended by Librarians: Nory Ryan’s Song (A Girl in Potato Famine) by Patricia Reilly Giff (#1 Librarian Pick for Upper Elementary and Middle Grade), Twist of Gold by Michael Morpurgo (Brother and Sister from Cork to California). fiction-set-in-ireland

Also recommended and set in Ireland or set in Wales (thereabouts): Atemis Fowl: The Lost Colony, Leprechaun in Late Winter (Magic Tree House #43) by Mary Pope Osborne, Nathaniel Fludd Beastologist by R.L. LaFevers.

Selected Travel Guides: Back Roads Ireland (DK Eyewitness Travel) (4 Stars), and  The AA Guide to Wales (3 Stars).screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-10-43-09-am

 

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Top 10 Books of 2015 (via Book Smugglers)

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 12.09.10 PMDo you enjoy reading as much as I do? More? If you’ve visited my Goodreads page, you know what I tend to like the most. So when I found The Book Smugglers website with their focus on SF, Fantasy, YA and even Middle Grade fiction, I added it to my worpress “Reader.”

Most of these books I’d never heard of, but I thought a few of you might enjoy seeing what’s out there as well. Here are some of Book Smugglers’ picks for 2015.Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 12.17.14 PM

MOST EXCELLENT BOOKS OF 2015

2015 is by far the best reading year since we started The Book Smugglers and for the first time the average rate actually matches this impression with a whopping 7.35 average. Further, this is also the year with the most books given a perfect 10 – SEVEN.

Sorcerer to the Crown is possibly the most delightful book of 2015. A book that is in conversation with feminism, topical issues within SFF, racism and colonialism at the same time that pays homage to regency romance with a charming couple of protagonists and a main female character – Prunella Gentleman – that I want to be friends with. Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 12.18.14 PM

Fairytales, history and female friendship are the central focus of this novel. Uprooted is fantastic because it uproots (sorry) its own world: it delves into the origins of storytelling, using the foundation of fairytales to tell a story that is at once familiar and comforting as well as subversive and progressive. And extremely beautiful, hilarious, romantic, clever and sexy.Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 12.18.56 PM

The Archivist Wasp…A novel of post-apocalypse, with ghosts and supersoldiers, about friendship, agency and revolution with an ending that Mad-Max-Fury-Roads like a boss. This book is spectacular.Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 12.26.08 PM

…The Fifth Season A pre/post/apocalyptic fable about remembrance and vengeance and the lives and worlds that are shattered in the wake of extreme power, The Fifth Season is ambitious, non-linear, and breathtaking in scope.

 

The Smugglers also have a big list of honorable mentions including many they read this year but which debuted in the past.

See the rest here.

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2016 in Book Reviews

 

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Historic Fiction Review – The Frontiersmen

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Guest Post by Ryan King, Author of the Land of Tomorrow Series

Allan W. Eckert’s The Frontiersmen is the best historical fiction book about early American frontier life I have ever read. The book is closely based on real events and Eckert researched the characters and story for seven years before he began writing. Even historians of this era, a notably difficult breed to impress, have few criticisms of Eckert’s works. A naturalist who wrote 225 Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom episodes and a dedicated amateur historian, Eckert’s narrative history style was before its time and much copied today.

The book centers on the life of Simon Kenton whose real name was Simon Girty. Kenton fled North Carolina after believing he had murdered his single mother’s oppressive landlord. Years later he learned the man had survived and Kenton felt free to again assume his true name. The story of Kenton focuses on the wild and unspoiled land to the west of the Appalachians when most of the European settlements were within twenty-five miles of the Atlantic Ocean. The timeline of the story begins just before the French and Indian War and proceeds through the American Revolutionary War and the chaotic period that followed. In this vast untamed wilderness, Kenton played a key role in opening the area to American settlers and was close personal friends with men such as Daniel Boone, George Rogers Clark, Anthony Wayne, and William Henry Harrison.

The other main character and storyline of the book revolves around Tecumseh, the leader of the Shawnee Indians in the Ohio Valley. Tecumseh and the Shawnee initially fight with the British against the French and then with the Americans against the British, but when it becomes apparent that the flow of settlers will not stop, Tecumseh forges an impressive Indian Confederation to counter the incursions. The final conflict between Tecumseh and the new American settlers sets the stage for the settlement of American to the Mississippi River.

The Frontiersmen is among the best historical fiction books I’ve ever read. It is certainly tops for covering the early American era and suitable for both adult and high school students. Very highly recommend.

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Ryan King is a career army officer with multiple combat tours who continues to serve in the military. He has lived, worked, and traveled throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. He writes post-apocalyptic, dystopian, thriller, horror, and action short stories, short novels, and novels.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2014 in Author Guest Blogs, Book Reviews, Reviews

 

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Pride, Prejudice and Zombies vs. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 3.35.24 PMSense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters is so much better than Pride, Prejudice and Zombies (PPZ). I enjoy a lot of paranormal and fantasy books and recommend Dead, But Not For Long to zombie enthusiasts, but PPZ was a disappointment.

Long passages of PPZ read as straight-up Jane Austen and then suddenly a zombie battle broke in which may have added excitement but also broke away from the language and texture so key to Austen’s witty prose. It was difficult to enjoy what should have been an entertaining adaptation, because the overall effect was one of a cut-and-pasted book. Apparently I am in the minority.

Thus, I join others in hoping for a good romp when the movie adaption of this wildly popular novel comes out. Then film Pride, Prejudice and Zombies is slated to release in 2015 with Natalie Portman (of Star Wars) producing, and will star Matt Smith (of Dr. Who) as Mr. Collins, Lily James (of Downton Abbey) as Elizabeth Bennet, Douglas Booth (of Noah), Jack Huston (of American Hustle) as Wickham, and Sam Riley (of Maleficent) as Darcy (link to IMDB).

Also from Quirk Classics, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters enters the scene. Author Ben Winters builds an altered world around Jane Austen’s plot and characters that enlivens the plot with the paranormal, adds humor, extends characters’ nobility and follies, while managing to still retain the core themes, use the language of, and remain true to the social commentary of the classic. An excellent overlay of creativity fully integrated in plot, structure, and voice of the original. Well done.

As a reader you can choose to buy into the “Alteration” and enjoy Austen’s work fully embedded with Winter’s perspective.

I recommend Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters to steam punk fans, nautical adventurers, Austen fans and readers who enjoy works such as Janet Evanovich’s “Wicked” series.

Cast members for PPZ the movie.

Cast members for PPZ the movie.

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Kristin King is an author, publisher and Jane Austen fan. Her top sellers are “Unsinkable Vampire” and “Cain’s Coven,” and her latest novel in the Begotten Bloods Series is Death Taint.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2014 in Book Reviews, Paranormal

 

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Post Apocalyptic Review – Into the Forest

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Guest Post by Ryan King, Author of the Land of Tomorrow Trilogy

I have learned that when it comes to post-apocalyptic fiction, I want the books to teach me something. I want to gain valuable information that I might use if I ever found myself in an end-of-the-world situation. Although the likelihood of ever needing said knowledge is admittedly slim, it feeds my sense of self-improvement. I also like to be prepared.

Jean Hegland’s Into the Forest is packed full of practical knowledge. From healing qualities of certain plants to the nutritional value of acorns, I found the knowledge fascinating. The author’s debut novel is eerily subtle as far as ends go. Living in a cabin in a northern California redwood forest, thirty miles from the nearest town, the apocalypse that destroys the world comes slowly and in fragments to the sisters Nell and Eva. There are rumors of war, upheaval, and plague, but details are hard to come by. When the sisters’ parents die, they are left to fend for themselves in a lonely world come unhinged and floating along outside law or society. They slowly learn how to survive in the forest and that real danger is hovering nearby.

Into the Forest is a story of survival that stresses throughout the importance of family. The two naive sisters have only each other initially and must make hard choices when unexpected options arise. These difficult choices seem all the more gut wrenching for their believability and realism. Filled with vivid scenery, you can almost smell and hear the vast primeval forest while reading this book.

Although this is one of my favorite books in this genre, it is not for those who look for fast-paced action. This story is about the sisters and how they survive and sacrifice in a cruel and unforgiving land that thrust them into adulthood far too early. These young girls are certainly not prepared for the challenges that they face, but they end up surprising themselves and the reader.

An excellent book that I highly recommend and hope you enjoy.

 

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Putting My $$$ Where My Literary Mouth Is

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 8.53.50 PMOn the heels of George R. R. Martin’s Wolf Sanctuary Fundraiser ‘Got $20,000? Then you too can die in a Game of Thrones Book’ my in house guest blogger launches a challenge that 1) every reader can afford and that 2) oddly enough benefits poor and underprivileged people. Check it out. –Kristin King

Write a Review – Save the World (Guest Post by Ryan King, Author of the Land of Tomorrow Trilogy)

Wait…what? Yes, fine respectable readers, it can be done. Let me explain the what first and then the how.

Several years ago my wife and I lived in Belgium where we met a wonderful young Congolese woman named Bintu. Her family had sent her to Belgium to obtain her degree and  get her away from the war going on near her home in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Bintu lived with us for a while and became obsessed with using her God-given skills and talents to try and help her country and its peoples. More specifically, she wanted to help women and young girls in eastern DRC who had been abused, abandoned, and generally disregarded in many cases. She seeks to help them and other students through education, kindness and general support. The fruits of her struggle and efforts is a non-profit organization called Future Hope Africa http://www.futurehopeafrica.com.

To date Future Hope Africa has helped and educated hundreds of young people by providing them a skill and convincing them of their genuine worth. My wife and I support this organization as much as we can. She is actually traveling to eastern DRC is a few months to assist Bintu in this endeavor.

So what does this have to do with book reviews? I’m glad you asked. I’m sure most people are familiar with a pledge system. People come door to door and ask you to pledge one dollar for every mile they run or car they wash or something of the like. Well, this is a reverse pledge system. I pledge to donate $10 of my own money for every Amazon review of one of my books or stories you write in the month of July. I will do this regardless of whether the review is in response to this blog, whether it be good or bad, or how long the review happens to be. At the end of the month I will post the results.

In order to help kick this off, I will even make four of my works free during the month of July and reviews of these free works certainly count.

2-6 July: The Protectors (Dystopian) – http://www.amazon.com/Protectors-Ryan-King-ebook/dp/B00HFGSMF2

9-13 July: Best Interests – http://www.amazon.com/Best-Interests-ebook/dp/B007X7WOPM

16-20 July: Better Off Dead – http://www.amazon.com/Better-Off-Dead-ebook/dp/B00DQ0ZS62

23-27 July: Mask of Mitwaba (Paranormal) – http://www.amazon.com/Mask-of-Mitwaba-ebook/dp/B00C3RZQ0W

 

Here are links to some of my others works if you wish to write a review of one of them.

 

Glimmer of Hope (Post Apocalyptic) – http://www.amazon.com/Glimmer-Hope-Ryan-King/dp/147931207X

Children of Wrath – http://www.amazon.com/Children-Wrath-Land-Tomorrow-ebook/dp/B00GAXHPDG/

Dead World Voices: Post Apocalyptic Boxed Set – http://www.amazon.com/Dead-World-Voices-Apocalyptic-Boxed-ebook/dp/B00KK1GYLI

The Hanging of Hard Barnes (Historical Fiction – LA Noir) –

http://www.amazon.com/Hanging-Hard-Barnes-Ryan-King/dp/1479235296

The Last Man – http://www.amazon.com/The-Last-Man-Ryan-King/dp/1479235490

No Kinda Life – http://www.amazon.com/No-Kinda-Life-Ryan-King/dp/1479235067

Kentucky Feud – http://www.amazon.com/Kentucky-Feud-ebook/dp/B00BKQMX44

The Darkside of Down Home – http://www.amazon.com/The-Darkside-Down-Home-Secret/dp/1479319694

The Other Side of Down Home – http://www.amazon.com/Other-Side-Down-Home-Storytelling-ebook/dp/B00FG3GJGU

 

Is this proposal on my part completely selfless? Of course not, I want more reviews of my books. But I also want to draw attention to this wonderful organization that is trying to help people and in some small way make our world better. In short, I’m putting my money where my literary mouth is.

Will you help me?

–Ryan King

 

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Historical Fiction Review – The Sunne in Splendor

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 9.55.35 PM(Guest Post by Ryan King, Author of the post-apocalyptic Land of Tomorrow Trilogy)

I’ve always been a huge fan of history and historical fiction. I’ve probably read hundreds of books in the genre, but my favorite is hands down Sharon Kay Penman’s The Sunne in Splendor. This is a story about the War of the Roses in Fifteenth Century England where the Houses of York and Lancaster fought for the throne.

The book is also about Richard III who has been vilified by history. Penman actually conducted a great deal of research on this period before writing the book and determined that Richard III was the victim of history being written by the victors. He is most famously portrayed as an evil hunchback by Shakespeare in the play that bears his name. Most of Shakespeare’s material was obtained from Lancaster writers after the war. Penman’s portrayal of the man as noble, wise and courageous is generally accepted by historians as the more accurate and actually spawned greater interest in the period. Fans of actor Richard Armitage (recently in The Hobbit) know he has long wanted to do a mini-series based on Penman’s history, and Armitage was actually born on the anniversary of the Battle of Bosworth Field where Richard III was killed.

The background of the book itself is also interesting. Penman supposedly wrote the original manuscript for the book while researching Richard III as a student. When the 400 page original manuscript was stolen from her car (before the age of computers or backup copies), she was devastated and didn’t write for five years. She eventually returned to the story and wrote it again from scratch over the next twelve years while working as a lawyer. The 936 page The Sunne in Splendor was eventually completed and published in 1982 and birthed a wonderful and successful writing career in English historical fiction for Penman (her other works are also excellent).

The Sunne in Splendor is one of those rare historical fiction books that is based on accurate historical background and evidence, yet reads like a novel. Penman has a knack for fleshing out real-life historical characters so that they nearly leap off the page and make it difficult to stop reading.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, this is a must read and once you have read it, I believe, like me you will read it again and again.

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More about Armitage and the finding of Richard III in a parking lot! Click photo for link.

Ryan King is a career army officer with multiple combat tours who continues to serve in the military. He has lived, worked, and traveled throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. He writes post-apocalyptic, dystopian, thriller, horror, and action short stories, short novels, and novels.

 

 

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