So, I accidentally posted one of my reviews two times and the review for The Lost King zero times. I was in the midst of a move and everything was all backwards in my head. Anywho, I then lost my notebook/notes and I don’t write good reviews without notes. The last time I tried to review an spfbo book with no notes I mixed up the title King with Grand Inquisitor or something and it was no bueno. I had been waiting to unearth my notebook out of some long lost box only to discover the audiobook had come out for this. So, I just did a full re-read via audio to produce this review because I’m such a disorganized mess, lol.
So, the first book, The Lost King, was cut by me, Esme, and the rest were cut by Kristen.
The Lost King by T.M. Kohl
This is a story about a girl who doesn’t know where she belongs. Her mother was transported to Earth from another realm called Bhrea when she was just 19 years old and wasn’t able to find her way back. Her mom settled down, had a kid (her), and they’d been living a fairly standard Earth life until one day they didn’t. She was on her way to her college graduation when her car was attacked, there was an explosion, what sounded like gunfire, and one thing led to another and she ends up portalled back to this land called Bhrea which is full of magic and mayhem.
In this land of Bhrea there are kings and queens, bows and arrows, people ride on horseback etc. It looks and feels a lot like Earth but isn’t, there are two moons and people can move water with their minds and other elemental magics. It turns out she’s a long lost descendant of nobles and she’s got to learn how to master her magic or risk being a hazard to everyone including herself.
So, I had a couple issues, one of which was the pacing. Her mother’s story and her story are more or less the same, and at first we see her mother’s story as if it was a prologue. She was with her mentor when she was killed and a large part of why things went wrong was because her mentor kept her in the dark and didn’t tell her what was going on. Well, she just repeats this with her own daughter, telling her nothing about what was going on until it lands in their laps. Because of that, the beginning 20% felt repetitive and maybe it would have been better to just cut the mother’s story altogether and start with the daughter since she’s the MC anyway, figure out some other way to work in her mother’s backstory because it makes it feel like I’m starting the book all over again when attention shifts to the Lauren.
The other issue I had was not the world itself but how it was delivered. At the very start within the first chapter there is info dumping between characters, a history lesson and world building lesson. What’s more is that one character says “you know I know this” or something to that effect, indicating there’s really no reason other than for the reader’s benefit this information is being offered, and I just prefer it given to me in other ways than exposition if it can be helped.
The characters are likable, if a bit naïve. I did feel she acted just a bit younger than she was. Nursing is a tough job and you’ve got to have a bit more grit and forethought than what she was showing to make it, but she was still young, just green out of college. When she gets to Bhrea there’s another POV that’s introduced, the prince named Vohl and he’s likeable enough as well. He’s kind of hesitant to be king, a little unsure of himself, and her mother’s advice to her before she was whisked away was to find him even if she doesn’t understand why.
So one of the better aspects of the world building was the difficulty bridging the language gap. I hate it when it’s just like oh yes, by magic I now know your language, or worse yet, not addressing it. When people portal through to another world there best be a really good explanation if characters can instantly communicate. She had a lot of difficulty learning how to speak Corvet (ph.) which is the language spoken among the Bhreans. I don’t know how it’s spelled since I audiobooked, but I kept thinking of the cars…. I wish there was as much time and thought put into all aspects of the world building as there was into this portion.
The writing and pacing were both fine, although the dialogue did stray from what I’d feel is natural a couple times here and there, mostly when the infodumps came into play. It’s not a long book, my biggest issue with the pacing was the feeling of resetting when the story went from focus on her mother to focus on her, Lauren. This is ultimately a cut but I think people who enjoy romance and portal fantasy could get a kick out of it.
— cut by Esme
A Trashy Medieval Romance by Sinnamon Carnelian
A Trashy Medieval Romance follows Teagan, who is a maid in the royal household who is mostly in charge of the care and education of several war orphans in the King and Queen’s care. There is some sort of conference or negotiation between this kingdom and a neighboring kingdom of a different race of people, and as such, ambassadors from various areas of both kingdoms are visiting. Teagan finds herself in a bit of a love triangle (maybe a lust triangle in one case) between two such ambassadors, one of her own race and one of the other.
This was not a bad read all told, and it had characters that I liked and characters that I didn’t much like. Ultimately I set it aside because one of the primary love interests skeeved me out a bit, and ultimately, I thought Teagan was in her own head about how much she lusted after these dudes a little much.
I mean other than that though, I didn’t think it was trashy, really. Maybe it gets trashier as it goes? I’d say give it a try if you’re into fantasy romance. You might love what I didn’t.
Aya and the Alphas by Berneta L. Haynes & Lornett B. Vestal
Aya and the Alphas is the story of Aya Wright, who lives in a dystopian(ish) near(ish) future Earth, where some people, known as faders, have superpowers. Aya herself has recently gained some of the most powerful of those powers ever seen, and so she is targeted not only by the People’s Army in Chicago, where she lives, but also by the most well known and powerful fader in the world. Aya’s father brings her to his old friend Eve for protection, and many shenanigans are had.
This was a pretty interesting read! Aya was a cool character, and I liked the setting. The only thing that kept me from finishing this one was the fact that this is… really a sequel. It doesn’t seem necessary, per se, to have read the book before it… however, the book before it apparently gives a whole ton of backstory about Eve and the origin of the faders, and so I mostly felt that I was missing a whole bunch of backstory on this one. I’m hoping to one day get right into book one to see what the history of faders is.
I’d recommend this book if you’re into YA UF/dystopia, but I’d also recommend reading book one first.
Princess of Undersea by Leslie Conzatti
Princess of Undersea follows Ylaine, the Princess of the kingdom of Undersea, and Nathan, the Prince of the kingdom of Overcliff. Nathan’s kingdom is facing food shortages and other hardship, and Ylaine’s kingdom is gearing up for war against the humans. Ylaine gives up her most precious gift in order to meet a human and prove to her father the King that they shouldn’t go to war with them, and in doing so she meets Nathan and… well, sparks fly, so to speak.
This is a re-telling of The Little Mermaid (the disney movie… oooor, you know, the story that Hans Christian Andersen wrote to his gay crush that rejected him, like ya do ^_^), which is pretty obvious once you get into it, but it felt really unique, as the mermaids and the humans are quite different, physically. The writing was good and it seemed to read pretty quickly. I ended up setting it aside because I just couldn’t find myself liking either Ylaine or Nathan, which is uh… probably pretty important when reading a romance >.>;
All told, I’d recommend this one if you’re into mermaids or fairy tale retellings. My neutrality for both primary characters is likely an exception to the rule on this one. They didn’t seem badly written or anything, I just never latched on. C’est la vie! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯