Book Review: State of Grace by Elizabeth Davies (The Resurrection Trilogy)

This is my review of the first book of the Resurrection Trilogy..

When Grace, 27 years old and with only a few months left to live, returns to her home town of Brecon, she is catapulted nearly 1800 years into the past. At first she attributes her hallucinations to her brain tumour but as the visions become more detailed and closer to the present day, she becomes involved with a certain wickedly handsome and rather inhuman Roman, who has an obsession with blood.
Grace is forced to confront her fears when the past begins intruding on the present, and she falls deeper in love with her phantom man.

‘Death is only one option.’

This is an excellent introduction to the series.  You get to meet Grace and Roman and the way she “time travels”.  You are also introduced to Ms. Davies excellent writing, her exceptional descriptions of places, people, sights, smells.  She literally transports the reader, along with Grace, into the middle ages in Grace’s hometown of Brecon:

I was transfixed by the spectacle of four men, one with his back to me, three facing me, all with swords (swords?) in their hands, the metal gleaming and catching in the firelight.  I had an image of wild, long, black hair, snarling mouths gaping out of straggling beards, ragged, unfamiliar clothing and weapons in both fists.  Then the stench hit me: stale sweat, unwashed bodies, seweage and dead things mingling most unpleasantly with the peculiar money-smell of blood and the scorching rawness of the smoke.  I gagged.

Grace is a very real character.  Very honest in her narrative, very self-aware.  She knows her life is slowly ebbing away, yet instead of adopting a “poor me” pity party, she decides to try and shield her family from the truth as much as she can.  She still insists on being as “normal” as possible, even though she now lives back at her childhood home and can no longer work as a pilot.

I honestly enjoyed her personal perspective with her health as much as I enjoyed the paranormal aspect.

Throughout this book she continues to have sudden “visits” to the past.  Each time it is later in the historical time line.  Each time she returns to Roman.  Each time it is in the vicinity of her hometown.  And each time she is completely naked.

Obviously a ton of research went into the description of life in the middle ages.  And I am extremely grateful that I was born in the 1980s.

I also love how Grace has to describe things in the future that are unheard of to a man living a thousand years in the past:

‘I need a shower,’ I murmured, feeling a strange mix of drowsy as my eyelids wanted to close, and alert at Roman’s closeness.

‘What is this word ‘shower’? You mean rainfall?’

‘No, not rain, it’s uh, it’s when you stand under a sort of tap that’s above your head, and it drips water down on you so you can wash,’ I answered sleepily. 

‘Like a tap in a barrel?’ he asked.

‘Only the barrel would contain hot water and the tap would have lots of little holes in it so the water sprinkles out.’

I felt him nod his understanding.  ‘It would be difficult to heat the water,’ he mused.

‘We use a boiler or electricity,’ I said, forgetting that he would not have a clue what I meant.

‘Boiler?’

‘Sort of like a big stove or oven, and the water is pumped from it to the shower head, er, tap,’ I amended.

He hadn’t finished. ‘And elec-tristy?’

Oh goodness — how on earth was I going to explain this one? ‘In my world we have.. it’s um, er…’ Crap.  ‘ We have a power that.. no, that’s not right. I know! We can harness the lightening.  We can use lightning to make fire.’

The relationship with Grace and Roman deepens, they develop a romance and Grace finds herself longing for him, even when she is back in her world and her disease progresses.

I plowed through each of these books in a matter of days.  Since I read these books about two months ago, I am finding myself being sucked in again as I am reading through highlighted passages.  The end of book one could be a cliffhanger, but it could kind of stand alone.

Excellent start to an excellent series.

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The Resurrection Trilogy by Elizabeth Davies

Ok.  I have gone from not reading about vampires at all to now reading vampire love stories with time travel mixed in.  Mr. Altman, my A.P. English teacher in high school, would be appalled.  What’s next?  Time traveling zombies from outer space (Stant Litore, want to take this one on?)

 

This post highlights the entire series as a whole.  I will break down each book in the following days.

I absolutely loved this series.  It is at once sobering, funny, romantic and historical.

The books in order are:

State of Grace

Amazing Grace

Sanctifying Grace 

I purposefully stayed away from the “time-traveling” genre because I’m worried my knowledge of history will make me call “bullshit” on some of the things I read.  And because my eyes cross when I think of the implications of time travel.  That kind of happened a little with the resolution of this book, but Ms. Davies make it a bit bullshit proof.  And I know next to nothing about the history of Great Britain, and even less about the middle ages, so it was all good.

What drew me to this book was the entire premise:

When Grace, 27 years old and with only a few months left to live, returns to her home town of Brecon, she is catapulted nearly 1800 years into the past. At first she attributes her hallucinations to her brain tumour but as the visions become more detailed and closer to the present day, she becomes involved with a certain wickedly handsome and rather inhuman Roman, who has an obsession with blood. 
Grace is forced to confront her fears when the past begins intruding on the present, and she falls deeper in love with her phantom man. 

‘Death is only one option.’ 

A love story with a supernatural twist, it looks at vampires from an unusual angle, knitting together the twelfth century with the present day.

 

 

As I have often stated, I am a hospice nurse.  I am always intrigued by books that portray the dying process.  Especially from the perspective of the dying person.  And everything I found in this series was right on from what I can tell from my coherent patients.

This entire series fascinated me because I always wonder what is going on with my patients as they are approaching death, as it is well know that they dream rather vividly.

The portrayal of what her family is experiencing is spot on as well.  The helplessness that her family feels watching her deteriorate, Grace’s desire to keep her health status from her friends.  Even the impact her illness has had on her relationship status.  All is very common, very real to the terminally ill person.

And despite the rather somber state Grace is in, she still has a rather wicked sense of humor.  I love her.  She is strong, she is independent, and even though she finds herself in ridiculous situations, she still retains her stubborn streak.

The romance she experiences during what she believes are hallucinations is quite erotic.  This isn’t erotica, but there is vivid and very steamy sex scenes.  Nothing gratuitous or crude.  Very tasteful and it is very meaningful to the story rather than being a book about sex with story in between.  The relationship develops over the entire series at an even pace and is very real and palpable rather than being contrived from beginning.

The vampires are a bit different, and that is one thing that I enjoy from reading each writer’s different take on the genre.

I also want to make mention of the covers for the three books. In this post you see all three.  And you can see how they are different.  I think that was a really cool concept to have Roman, the romantic male lead character, concealed by on the first cover, then a bit more revealed in the second, and fully turned to face front on the third.  Excellent idea.  Coincides greatly with the progress of the books. And it is also exactly how I pictures Roman.

Look for my review on book one, State of Grace, tomorrow.

 

Book Review: Revelations (Thera’s Eyes Series) by Leia Kiuski

Yes, I am on a paranormal romance, YA kick.  Again.  But I am so glad to be getting such different takes on the genre.  This one is no exception:

revelations

 

Here is the synopsis:

Elizabeth Monterey is a 17-year-old girl, who always had everything: lots of money, friends, the perfect boyfriend, and a promising future in the archery world. But an inexplicable accident changed her life forever, and now she needs to face the harsh reality of the death of her parents, a brother in a coma and the loss of her fortune. 

As if she hadn’t problems enough, demonic-looking creatures want the freedom to come and go to the human world as they please, and Elizabeth is the one chosen to prevent that from happening. But, she can’t do it alone. It will be necessary to find out who her allies are… and her enemies. 

So, the hunt begins. 

‘Revelations’, the first book in the ‘Thera’s Eyes series’, is an incredible adventure story, filled with magic and romance. A novel that follows the current trends and still manages to be different from anything you have ever read.

This is really different than the typical YA fare with wizards, zombies and vampires.  I truly admire authors that can create these worlds seemingly out of thin air.  I love learning about their creation, the laws of their world, the lore and history.  This story was no different.

I love that the main character, Beth, is flawed.  She’s shaken.  Her life has taken a turn for the worst and she is still standing.  But she is strong.  She overcomes her situations and makes the best of it, becoming a leader in a new world that she had no clue even existed.

I also like that despite the fact that she is now a warrior, she still has the same issues that most teenage girls do.  Especially with boys.  And one particular boy, Leon.  Some miscues and an overheard conversation leads her to think that he isn’t interested despite her overwhelming feeling for him.  This is pretty descriptive of her imagined situation:

If she could not have his love, at least she would have his friendship and she could still be a part of his life, even after he left, and it sure was better than having nothing at all.

I truly appreciate this aspect of the story.  It lends some realism…even though they are fighting “demons” she still is struggling with her feelings for a member of the opposite sex.

I absolutely love the friendship between the warriors.  Their loyalty to each other.  Their willingness to do what is needed to “save the world”.  Definitely a bonus in this story.

And it is very well written. The characters are well developed, the plot is well thought out, the writing is fantastic.

Overall a great read, very different than others of this genre, highly recommended for those who love YA paranormal romance.

 

Book Review: The Prophecy of Arcadia by M. H. Soars

prophecyarcadia

A different spin on YA paranormal romance and I loved it.  Here is the synopsis:

Being a teenager is tough, especially when you have to pretend to be something you’re not, and you’re in love with someone you shouldn’t. 115 years ago, a small planet called Arcadia was invaded by a vicious alien race and nearly destroyed. Cut off from their resources, the Arcadians turned to Earth for help. A group of Arcadian explorers discovered a Prophecy that claimed their salvation lay in the hands of two children from Earth. To ensure their safety, the Arcadian Council sent their most gifted youngsters to Earth to act as protectors. Samantha is one of them.

To succeed in her mission she must learn to control her Arcadian powers and keep her true identity from her best friend, and the girl she swore to protect, Alexia. But Samantha will soon realize that nothing is as it seems. Someone is trying to prevent the Prophecy from taking place and the prophecy boy hasn’t been found yet. There is also a new drug circulating at school that is turning students into freakishly strong menaces.

To make matters worse, distractions keep getting in her way. Such as her love/hate relationship with her “cousin” Matthew. Or her confused feelings toward popular and mysterious Julian. She wants nothing more than to be free to live her life. But the survival of Arcadia depends on her and her friends. Free will is not an option.

I liked that this book wasn’t typical YA.  It involved aliens.  The first chapter kind of made my eyes cross with all the alien names, but the story was amazing after I got past that.

This is YA, but I would classify it as older YA, just because there is sex involved as well as drugs and alcohol.  I would say 16 and up.

Sam is the main character, but the points of view swivel from character to character.  The author does an amazing job of this, as it is very clear which character is the speaker.  This can be very difficult, and the author pulls it off nicely.

Sam and her “cousins” are sworn to protect Alexia.  They have super powers that help them do this and they are trained to be bodyguards.  But their powers don’t really manifest until they are teenagers, and this creates some problems, especially for Sam.

Add in the fact that they are several teenagers around the same age living in the same house who aren’t related and you have some romantic issues.  Considering that they are pretending to be “cousins”, this presents some problems.

What I do like about this book is how it clearly conveys the angst of this time in life.  Despite who is the character speaking, the author makes this time in life abundantly clear:

Betrayal was one of the worst feelings a human being could possibly experience.  It gnawed at your insides, it twisted your heart until you thought it would be better if someone just ripped it out — then you wouldn’t feel the pain of it bleeding inside of you.

This passage could have been written by me at age 17, but maybe not so eloquently.

I do like the aspect that the guardians aren’t 100% automatons.  They know what the prophecy says, but they use their own brains to figure out that something isn’t right.

I was completely sucked into the world of Arcadia.  It is completely different in that most of these books feature vampires, wizards, etc.  So this was completely new to me.  And it is very well written, very concise, and the prophecy, sci-fi rules, powers, etc are clearly spelled out.  You don’t find characters suddenly doing something that they couldn’t before, or the prophecy doesn’t meld to fit the situation of the characters.  That is really important to me with reading these types of books.

Highly recommended for fans of paranormal romance and YA.  I love the sci-fi angle to it.  I am eagerly awaiting the next book.

 

Interview: Coty Justus author of the Birthrights Series

ahomeontherange

 

For the last week, I have been reviewing the Birthrights Series by Coty Justus.  I was completely taken in by the series and totally fascinated with the world created by the author.  It is just so different from any other paranormal romance series out there.  It offers such a great message for young women, it is “safe” for teenagers (meaning it doesn’t feature graphic sex) and it is totally addictive.  Ms. Justus  kindly agreed to an interview, much to my delight.  Here is the author’s “official” bio:

Coty Justus lives in the Wyoming she writes about in her books.  A simple person with simple tastes, her books reflect her upbringing, with an emphasis on family and a rural lifestyle.  An animal lover, Justus frequently incorporates dogs, horses, and an odd assortment of wildlife into her plots.

Stronghold

 What inspired you to write such a far reaching series about magical women in Wyoming?

Like you, I enjoy reading history.  Sixteen years ago, I was reading a history of Easter Island—I cannot for the life of me remember which one—and I fixated on a piece of trivia: One of the first visitors wrote in his captain’s log that most of the people were dark-skinned and dark-haired, but that he had seen the occasional red-haired native.  I am curious by nature.  I pondered this information.  From whence had stemmed a red-hair gene?  Geography not being my strong suit, I decided on Scotland.  I made the logical transition to second-sight.  From those wild deductive leaps, a series was born.

 Is the religion/culture of “The Ten” based on any real or historical religion?  If so, what is it?

I don’t think “The Ten” is based on any religion or culture.  I think it’s invented.  At my age, though, having long been an avaricious reader of anything, even a cereal box in a pinch, it could be an amalgamation of any number of spiritual or superstitious beliefs.  I like to read.

Did you plot out the entire series or did you write it book by book?
I plotted out the series, but it went badly awry.  One day I will pull out that old outline, perhaps a hundred pages long, and read it for fun.  I invest a lot of energy on character development, and they all become alive to me.  The greatest joy for me in writing is to develop a character, put that character in a situation, and let my fingers fly while the character acts and reacts accordingly.  The outline quickly became obsolete.

Roundup

 Many of the themes in your book are dark, especially starting with “Home on the Range”, was it difficult writing from the perspective of a young girl on the run? With “The Maverick” it continues with Acrasia’s struggle to survive was that difficult as well?
I enjoy the darkness.  Like you, one of my favorite contemporary books, maybe my favorite, is The Stand.  I remember, as a non-traditional college student, telling one of my literature instructors that this book would one day be included among the classics.  (She had asked another student who Stephen King was.)  There must be some darkness to appreciate the light.  All the women protagonists suffer as children.  The darkness shapes them into strong women warriors.  They have seen evil or deprivation and are prepared for the final battle.  I think I needed to portray that as realistically as possible without offending the reader; otherwise, they would not have been believable in the last book.

Each of the women are very well developed characters, even some of the little ones, like Maddy, Ally, Susan.  I was surprised to see that the men weren’t just a side dish as well, they are very central to the plot and as equally represented and developed.  Was it difficult to create so many deep and robust characters? 
I think that, of all the fiction elements that go into a work, I most enjoy characterization.  Dialogue, actions, reactions, thoughts, other characters’ impressions—all of these go on autopilot once I’ve established the individual’s base persona.  Jason asks “What are you two?” when he finds a strand of red hair on his pillow.  Alan is emotionally obliterated by the death of a fellow officer.  Matthew vacillates between leaving the table or coming up with a response when threatened by the prospect of small talk.  Michael tells his brother and cousin that they need to take their act on the road.  Roland asks Michael when he ever conned him and then laughs at Michael’s response.  Sam tells Alan he loses sleep, wondering what goes on in his head.  These were all defining moments for each character.  After that, as mentioned before, I needed only create a situation and see what happened.  You can probably tell by this why I have a problem sticking to an outline.

Maverick

 Native American culture features prominently throughout your books.  Are the beliefs/rituals/customs mentioned part of a particular tribe?
All of the Native American customs are specific to the High Plains tribes, in particular, Granny Whitefoot’s Eastern Shoshone.  Because the High Plains tribes met at trade fairs, fought side by side to repel early colonists, and battled one another, taking captives, the customs are similar.  The religion is specific to the Shoshone, but I will confess to being disappointed in the dearth of research materials available for the Eastern Shoshone.  I did my best with what was available and only hope I don’t walk outside one day to a flaming lance buried in my lawn.

 Have you approached the Wyoming tourism board and offered to write travel brochures for them?  The way you describe the landscapes, the beauty, the feel of the range has made me seriously consider a trip out there.  How do you go about writing such fantastic depictions?  Is it from memory?  Do you go out there with a pen and paper and just write?
You will not be disappointed by a visit to Wyoming.  It is a wild country and still untamed.  I did not need to refresh my memory.  Viewed under the right circumstances, it stays with you.  I was born in North Dakota, was raised primarily in northern Idaho and Montana, and spent half my adult life in South Dakota and half in Wyoming.  I love this North Country of mine.  I first saw Yellowstone National Park over fifty years ago.  It is definitely worth a visit, especially for children!  I want Wyoming readers to read my books, but I am a novice at promotion so don’t know how to go about it.  I recently entered a Wyoming writers’ competition, submitting the entire series as one work.  It pleases me to know that at least three Wyomingites—the judging panel—will be captive readers.

Range_Wars

Any chance of a follow up series with the younger generation?  Or just a few books on how life is for the family and their hilarity?

 
I doubt I will do anymore with the Stantons, only because I am reluctant to leave them behind.  I visualize Michael’s reaction when Bel’s chosen shows up at the door; Acrasia working as a volcanologist; and Ally in a college classroom during final exams, and I know if I don’t let go now I will never begin another book.  I’ll see how the next book goes.  This series was something I had to write.  It festered in my subconscious for sixteen long years.  Now I must wean myself off it.  (I still read Range Wars.  I love that book.)

Thank you Coty Justus for the wonderful insight on how a series like this was created.  I absolutely loved it.

Book Review: The Maverick by Coty Justus

Maverick

 

This one is also one of my favorites.  But it is a little darker.  Here is the synopsis:

Acrasia fights to keep her father alive, stealing and lying to purchase his expensive medication. Showing the world two faces—the gentle, loving daughter and the cynical, toughened criminal—she challenges anyone to stand in her way when it comes to her father’s well-being. 

When Michael touches Acrasia’s hand, he knows she is for him, and he feels cheated. Nevertheless, he can think of nothing but her, and the more he fights his fate, the more he realizes there could be fates worse than a lifetime with Acrasia, such as a lifetime without her. Now he needs to convince her that the contents of the dust-coated leather tote in her father’s closet make her his.

Acrasia is probably my favorite out of all the women in this series.  She is very smart, she knows how to get what she wants.  She is so selfless, she constantly puts herself in harms way just to keep her father alive and them fed.  All at a young age.  Even making up assignments in a fictional school so he continues to think that she is still going and doing well.

This is another story that shows even when love is fated, it can be difficult.  And this one is the most difficult of all.  Michael is the youngest.  He is seeing his older brothers and even cousins meet their “chosens” and become blissfully happy.  They are starting families.  They live communally at his family’s ranch.  And he hasn’t met her yet.

But when he does, she’s being booked on charges.

What makes it even worse is that his mother, Alicia, is convinced that Michael’s chosen is evil, and will do anything to protect her grown son.  Even when Acrasia nearly dies helping Alicia, it isn’t enough.

I love the relationship and the banter between Acrasia and Michael.  She is so afraid to let anyone near, to truly let anyone see how much they mean to her.  She constantly keeps everyone at arms length.  Her constant accusations of Michael’s “cockiness” is hilarious.

I love how Acrasia fits right into the stronghold, despite Alicia’s best effort to make her the outcast.

Another aspect that I truly adore about this series is the children of The Ten and the “chosen”.  They truly provide a background of joy to the otherwise serious goings on that The Ten are facing.  I think Ally and Susan are my favorites.  They test out their new powers and truly test the patience of everyone around them.

Despite the darkness, this ends up being a wonderful story.  It segues nicely into the final story.

I was also delighted to learn about the name Belphobe.  My daughter shares a version of that name.

Book Review: The Roundup by Coty Justus

Roundup

This is book three in the Birthrights series.  This one is probably one of my favorites in the series.  I absolutely love the characters and the action and the description of the locations used in the book.  Here is the synopsis:

Sliced from her dead mother’s womb by a reclusive wildlife conservationist, Penny is lovingly raised in seclusion in the mountains of western Wyoming. Because there are those who wish her dead, she must always hide. When her guardian angel dies, leaving her alone at the age of twelve, she waits eight years for the one she knows will eventually rescue her. 

When Matthew sees Penny in a chance encounter at a gas station, he knows she is for him, but by the time he is able to turn his vehicle around, she is gone. For the next year, Matthew searches for his mystery woman. Finding her proves easier than keeping her, though, thanks to the contents of a leather tote.

I absolutely LOVE Penny.  She is funny, she is sweet and she is so good with wildlife and animals.  Her relationships with her animals is so precious.  She reminds me of my daughter, who loves animals as well.  And she is so innocent it is endearing, not annoying.

One aspect of the series I haven’t mentioned in any of my reviews so far is the character of Alicia.  She is interesting to say the least.  She is the mother of all the Stanton boys, and is fiercely protective, to the point of turning her back on her birthright in an effort to “protect” them.  She often makes wrong assumptions about the things she witnesses or the messages she receives from her goddess.

I also want to point out the unique quality of this religion.  I’m not well versed on other religions other than the usual judeo-christian based ones, so I have no idea if the one in the book is actually based on an actual religion, but I love it.  It’s not really a religion, per se, but more like a way of life.  It is a birthright.  These women are born of a bloodline of women with powers.  There are codes, of course.  And their duties are to propagate  and teach the next generation and battle the “one who is many”.  There are other members of “The Ten” who have gone “dark” that is to the dark side.

Again, I love the love story.  When these women find their “chosen” it is love at first sight.  And it is all consuming.  I love stories like that.

In particular with this story, as with The Stronghold, I love the incorporation of Native American culture.  With the fantastic descriptions of the landscape during Penny’s journey in this book, I really want to head to that part of the country.

Another things that I love as this series progresses is the relationships that grow among the women as the stronghold expands.  The friendship with Odessa and JB, how they welcome Penny with open arms.  How they care for each other and their children.  Very inspirational and much needed in a world where women usually stab each other in the back.

This book is probably up there with my favorites in the series.

 

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