Book Review: Behind Distant Stars

I am always excited to jump into another book by David Reiss and this one did not disappoint! I read Behind Distant Stars which is the follow up to Fid’s Crusade and the second book in this trilogy!

Synopsis: News cameras had captured every moment of the battle in which the notorious Doctor Fid single-handedly averted an alien invasion. As details emerge, the public discovers how close the Earth had come to inescapable subjugation…or to complete annihilation. 

With the threat ended and those responsible brought to justice, questions arise as to what the future holds for Doctor Fid. There are many who now wonder if the veteran supervillain has changed his ways. There are many who think that Doctor Fid may not be a monster after all. 

New dangers arise and new enemies emerge, and through it all Doctor Fid struggles to decide what role he will play. Will Doctor Fid choose to become the hero that the world needs? 

Or will he remain the villain that the world’s heroes deserve? 

I loved jumping back into this book series! Fid’s Crusade was such a fun origin story about a villain which was so cool since the books are usually about the hero and it was nice to see the other side for a change. And this book just continued on with his storyline after the initial origin story.

This time, we got to see more growth and development of Doctor Fid’s character and see that he is a real person with just as many emotions as the rest of us.

My favorite part was once again the villains bar. It is a very minor part of the book but I just think it is cool to have like this hub where all the villains go to have a drink and share stories and stuff.

Any book that has superheroes, villains and intense action scenes will always pull me in and this one did just that. I found it hard to put down at times and wanted to just keep going to see what would happen next! I am really looking forward to the final book in this trilogy!

Book Rating: 4/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: The author graciously sent me physical copies of the trilogy in exchange for an honest review.


NEW BOOK OUT – ACORNS & ROOTS

An indestructible object full of strong magic, tempting the darkest of souls. Rare rainbow roots that are sold for a high price in the city, offering a young man a way to pay rent as he faces eviction. The secret to taking down a corrupt king and avoiding disenchantment, if a young Pixie succeeds in reaching her destination.

It is believed that all of these things can be found in the Valley, accessed through an Enchanted Forest that is struggling to survive against a dark magic- harnessing monarchy. A rebellion is stirring, and when Forest Pixie Fillii falls from a tree, landing directly on top of unemployed Amer (who doesn’t believe in things like Enchanted Forests), their journeys and worlds literally collide.

With vastly different yet strangely similar backgrounds and experiences, Fillii and Amer must both decide whether they can afford to trust each other, and what is worth fighting for.

Joined by magical creatures such as Elves and a Caribou army, Fillii and Amer find themselves in the midst of an epic battle of survival, old magic, and secrets carved in stone.

About the Author

Megs Calleja is a Canadian writer and actor, whose professional screenwriting has aired with TELUS and The CW. A member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada, Megs is inspired by magical wardrobes, shooting stars, marmalade on toast, and dancing in the rain. This is her first novel.

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.ca/Acorns-Roots-Megs-Calleja/dp/1525561170/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=acorns+%26+roots&qid=1605223167&sr=8-1



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Hey Bookworms!! I did an unboxing of October’s Queer Book Box which was sent to me in exchange for an unboxing video on the channel so I hope you enjoy it! I also did a mini haul at the end of some books I picked up recently so stay tuned until the end to find out what I got! Let me know what you think of the box in the comments below. Check out the video below:

Book Review: Queen of Nothing

I finished the Cruel Prince trilogy and I am sad about it because it was so good! Queen of Nothing by Holly Black was a great conclusion to the trilogy and I am really glad I ended up reading these books.

Synopsis: Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power. 

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics. 

And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity…

I really enjoyed this series overall! I do think that the first 2 books were the best but this last book was still a great book. It kept up with the political intrigue and kept you on your toes wondering what was going to happen in the world of Elfhame.

It just felt a little bit rushed. I think that if the book was a little longer and there was more time to flesh out the ending, it would have been a full 5 stars from me. The direction it went in at the end was a little odd and didn’t really seem to go with the theme of the book but I still enjoyed seeing it play out the way it did.

I’m sad that I have finished the trilogy because I wasn’t ready to leave the magical world of Elfhame yet. It was beautifully written and there were definitely some characters in there that I would have loved to know a lot more about.

One of the characters that I really liked from the other books kind of had a redemption arc in this one and I was so happy about that.

I would recommend this series to anyone that wants to jump into a devious world of Fae and follow along with a strong character who will stop at nothin to protect those she loves!

Books Rating: 4/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: I read this book because I wanted to. I was in no way compensated for my review.


An author and friend of mine recently released another book that you should check out. It is called The Little Breadwinner: War and Survival in the Salvadoran Heartland by Lucia Mann.

The Little Breadwinner - Front 3D Cover

Synopsis: FROM 1980 TO 1992, A TURBULENT CIVIL WAR ravaged the Central American state of El Salvador, claiming the lives of approximately 75,000 Salvadorans. The Little Breadwinner is a story of tyrannized, frightened families—mostly poor peasants, indigenous peoples, and child farm workers—whose lives signified nothing to the military death squads.

Lucia Mann, who was in El Salvador at the time, recalls this vivid historical portrait of human rights violations during and after the “dirty” war between the military-led government and left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front. This brutal conflict was backed politically, economically, and militarily by the United States with CIA involvement.

Throughout these pages, you will experience intense trials of courageous survival with unforgettable characters who yearn for peace, justice, and normalcy. One of the brave women you will meet is Estella Godwin Lozano (a Waorani tribe descendant of the Amazon rain forest), who suffered terribly before her brutal demise in Laredo, Texas in 2019. She was a “little person” who became traumatically affected by the abuse perpetrated by National Guard soldiers outside her pueblo home. She heroically joined the Sandinistas (Cuban-backed guerillas) to seek revenge upon the villains of her country.

Buy the book on Amazon!



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I did the Finally Fall Book Tag and had a blast taking part in this. It really got me in the mood for autumn! Let me know what you think in the comments below and tell me if you have any fall traditions! Check out the video below:

Book Review: Illuminae

I read Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman and let me tell you that this is a series you should not miss!

Synopsis: This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit.
But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.


Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, maps, files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

OMG guys! You have no idea how much I loved this book. I am so grateful to Markus and the booktube community for bringing my attention to this series because it is so good!

I was a little nervous going into it because it would be the first book that I would read that was told in mixed media format but I was absolutely living for it! It was so much fun to keep switching between different perspectives of this story being told and you as the reader having to piece everything together.

My adrenaline was pumping as this book is very fast paced and jumps right into the action. And don’t think that you will know what is happening because I thought I had a grasp on what was going down and then BOOM the whole script got flipped and my mind was blown. This was a good thing though because I didn’t see that plot twist coming at all. I like unpredictability in books.

It is a young adult science fiction so it doesn’t get too dense with descriptions or anything like that. It has a very natural flow and was just so fun to go through. I think I read it in about 2 days because I could not put this book down! I can’t wait to pick up the next one because I heard it was even better.

Book Rating: 5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: I read this book because I wanted to and was not compensated in any way for this review.



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I once again make an attempt at doing a weekly reading vlog! I clearly need more practice with these but hopefully, you enjoy this video of me being chaotic. Let me know how you do you reading vlogs in the comments down below! Check out the video below:

Book Review: The Dragon Heir

It is the finale of a series and I finally read it! This series was my first foray ino urban fantasy and I thought it was well done. This one was called The Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima.

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Synopsis: The covenant that was meant to keep the wizard wars at bay has been stolen, and the sanctuary of Trinity must prepare for attack. Seph monitors the Weirwalls, while Jack and Ellen train their army of ghosts to face an onslaught of wizards. Even Anaweir Will and Fitch are setting traps around the town’s perimeter. To Jason Haley, it feels as though everyone but him has a role to play. Then he finds a powerful talisman – a huge opal called the Dragonheart – buried in a cave. When its power washes over him, he knows he’s destined for a greater purpose than anyone ever imagined.

Madison Moss can hears the seductive call of the Dragonheart also, but she has other things on her mind. Maddie’s been leaking dark magic ever since absorbing the blow that was meant to kill her boyfriend, Seph. If anyone finds out, she’ll be banished from the sanctuary – and Seph – forever. Meanwhile, Trinity’s enemies mean to win the war with the help of the Dragonheart, and they know that Madison Moss is the only one who can get it for them.

Moral compasses spin out of control as a final battle storms through a town that was meant to be a refuge. With so much to lose, what will Jason and Maddie be willing to fight for – and what will they sacrifice? It’s everyone for himself in this thrilling conclusion to the Heir trilogy.

I think that this was a good conclusion to the series. It brought just as much magic and high intensity as the other two and gave you a lot more of each of the characters. I also enjoy the fact that it keeps it realistic with the people and all the things they are going through amidst battles between mages (that being personal and relationship struggles).

It could get dark at times but not too dark that it is bordering on a thriller or horror. Just dark in the sense that the plot is becoming a little more PG-13 rated and less PG.

It’s hard to talk a lot about a final book in a trilogy because there is not much you can say without giving away anything. So I will keep this review short and sweet by saying that I think you should read this series if you want to dip your toes into the urban fantasy genre.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: I read this book because I wanted to. I was in no way compensated for my review.



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I did the Build A Book tag! Listen to me talk about all the different components that would create my dream novel (oh and help me name it!). Check out the video below:

Book Review: Otherlife

The conclusion to this series came out in November and I finished it in January. I had been anticipating it for a while now and I was happy to finally get to it. This was Otherlife by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller.

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Synopsis: Simon, Kat, Busara, and Elvis are on the run with the tech super-villains at the Company hot on their heels. The new VR gaming experience the Company created, OtherEarth, will change how the world experiences video games. Paired with the hardware the Company developed, it has the potential to change the world as we know it, altering our reality forever.

The Company is on its way to becoming the world’s newest superpower. And Simon is determined to shut them down forever. But to do that, he’ll have to survive OtherLife–the next phase of gaming, and a complete reality reboot.

I started this series about 2 years ago when a friend bought me the first book for Christmas and told me that they had read it and really liked it. I began the series and really enjoyed the first two books. This one was still good but it just fell a little flat at the ending for me.

I was really hoping for this big ending after such an intense ride with the rest of the series and it ended up being pretty predictable. At times, I found it to be a little ridiculous and there were some plot holes that left me a little confused but it wasn’t bad enough to take away my enjoyment of the book.

That being said, I enjoyed coming back into this world and experiencing these characters again. It had been a while since I got to hear about Simon’s giant nose and Elvis’ comical commentary. They worked really well as a team to take on all the challenges thrown at them and do what was right.

Overall, it was a good series and I would read more books by these authors if they write more in the future.

Book Rating: 3.5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: I bought this book with my own money and read and reviewed it because I wanted to. I was in no way compensated for my review.


It’s the month of love and I have a new TBR pile to attempt to complete. None of them are romance books because I like to be different. Check out the TBR below!

Book Review: One Queen Of An Ending

I started this series and finished it in the same year. Very thankful to Zachary Ryan for reaching out to me to see if I wanted to read his book. I had never read a book with this much drama and I loved every second of it. Now I have read the final book in the series, One Queen of an Ending, and it did the series justice.

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Synopsis: It’s time to say goodbye to our Johnson Prep favorites before they all head off to college.

After the gossip-worthy events of graduation and the shocking death of one of their classmates, it seems The Queen of Queens wants to give Danielle, Bethany, Calvin, Tucker, and Aman one last hurrah.

Will everything have a happy ending, or will one of our favorites end up 6 feet under? How will the war end with the salacious arrival of returning students, Andrew and Jasmine? They all had one lesson left to learn: Just because high school is over, doesn’t mean the high school drama ends. They’re all about to take their curtain call, but will it end as a comedy or a tragedy?

I want to start off saying that I really enjoyed this book series as a whole. There was so much drama and it was narrated by a witty, comeback queen which gave it that extra bit of awesome.

The last book wraps up all the storylines of all the characters and gives them an ending that they rightfully deserve. I am sad to see this series come to an end but it was one heck of a ride.

I do believe that this book could have had a little bit more too it. I find that I feel this way a lot of the time when I know a series is coming to an end. This one just didn’t have as much “WOW” factor to it which makes sense since I had read 2 books just like it before this one. This was the slow path to the end.

After reading this series, I am excited to see what else Zach has to offer. I find his writing style very unique and am looking forward to reading his other books.

Overall, I would recommend checking out the High School Queens trilogy. It will give you all the sass you will ever need 🙂

Book Rating: 3.5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author in physical format to read and give an honest review.


It’s a new year and a new me! This is the year I will crush my TBR jar….hopefully. Check out what I am reading this month and let me know what you are reading 😋

Book Review: The Revenged Queen

If any of you have been following along, then you will know that I read a book called High School Queens last year and loved it due to its sassy drama-filled plot! Well, the author was kind enough to send me the second book in the series, The Revenged Queen, and I loved it too! Thanks Zachary Ryan for sending me the book.

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Synopsis: No one knows the real Marked Queen, but now everyone wants to know her.  In this sequel to the insatiable first novel, High School Queens, you will die to know more about your favorite dirty little Queens.

As we say goodbye to the Johnson Prep Seniors, the scandals and lies that exposed them, in the beginning, are back with a vengeance.

The Marked Queen thought she had the last laugh at prom. Now, it seems a new girl is coming for her crown.  With a new title, The Revenged Queen, she was out for blood and her prime targets—the ones exposing everyone’s dark and dirty little secrets. As we dive deeper into this scandalous and humorous world of prep school teens, we learn that everyone is a hustler with a secret and a Hollywood sob story.

Can Danielle keep her new illegal activities to make money under wraps? Was Calvin going to have a warm welcome as he outs himself as gay? Was Delilah going to take the knife from Danielle out of her back and stab her with it? Was Bethany going to enjoy her rule as queen bee or fail spectacularly? And was there more to Jordan than being just a slutty, party girl?

As the scandals pile up in front of them, their secrets will be exposed… And each secret is even more delicious than the last.

This book picked up right where it left off with our dramatic cast of characters and their lives after the ending of the first book. I was excited to get back into this storyline and explore further into their dilemmas and how they were dealing with the bombs that were dropped in the first book.

In this book, the timeline is set between prom and graduation. This one definitely got a lot more savage with the drama and the revenged queen was not holding back in how she was narrating (Gossip Girl style).

It obviously didn’t have that amazing attention-grabbing style that the first one did because I had become used to the writing style. But I was very happy to be back into this high school setting and viewing the drama from the sidelines because I would definitely be a wallflower and I am ok with that if it means I avoid the crazy messes that are their lives.

There were a few spelling mistakes that kind of brought me out of the story but I sent them to the author and he said he would correct them. It comes with the territory of having advanced copies and that is why beta readers are great!

Overall, I would suggest reading this one if you have read the first one to get your fix of DRAMA and SASS! And if you haven’t read the first one, definitely go pick that one up right now!

Book Rating: 4/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author in physical format. I chose to read and review it because I wanted to.


You asked for a bookshelf tour and you have received a bookshelf tour! Check out all the books on my shelves and let’s see if we have any of the same ones!

ACTUAL NATURAL HEALTH & WELLNESS PRODUCTS, INC.

Guest Post: Why I Enjoy Riding

Front CoverThe Onyx Crown #1

Publication Date: January 27th, 2019

Genre: Fantasy/ Adventure

The Onyx Crown is an exciting foray into the world of African fantasy. From the searing heat of the desert to the vastness of the savannah, it tells the story of three children–Sania, Gesi, and Jorann who grow up in a pre-medieval era of wars and successions, not fifteen years after the greatest king in the history of the continent has been deposed and assassinated. They must overcome the traumatic circumstances of their birth as well as many dangerous trials to fulfill the destiny bestowed upon them as infants. Can mere children use their courage, wits, and uncanny abilities to defeat legendary warriors, entire tribes, provinces, and kingdoms–allowing them to lead the worthy to the greatest prize of all, the Onyx Crown?

Now Available on Amazon and for Nook!

Add to Goodreads!

Why I Enjoy Riding

The popular thing to do these days is to call it a “mid-life crisis.” For me, it was more a matter of self-reflection.  Everyone eventually gets to the point where they take a critical look at their life; to see what they’ve done, what they’re currently doing, and what they can possibly do in the future.

I won’t delve into my own results ad-nauseum, but I’ll just say that this is how most bucket-lists are likely conceived.   I personally believe that having accomplishments to look forward to are much better for the soul than having a long list of things already accomplished.  You see it all the time—a person in impeccable health retires early, and like clockwork, his health deteriorates.   Some might attribute this to their being less active physically, but I suspect otherwise.  My current love of motorcycles is the result of my own mid-life bucket list, along with getting a pilot’s license and taking a month long trip to Africa, and it was by far the easiest of the three to accomplish (the other two are still in progress).  After a four-day class, including about twelve hours of actual instruction on a bike, I was ready to see if riding was all of the fun and fulfillment that it seemed to be.

First however, I had to buy my first bike. This was almost a nerve-wracking as my first ride; I was absolutely clueless but forced myself to try to look as if I knew what I was doing.   It’s a self-preservation tactic.   No one wants to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous dealers, similar to when people shop for cars.  Finally, I found a nice “beginner-friendly” Honda CTX700 (I’m sure I was robbed) and was ready to take it for a spin. This was when I learned that riding on a closed course with instructors and traffic-cones is a totally different experience than riding on a major US interstate highway.   It’s not even in the same league.   For one, there were no impatient motorists (cagers, we call them) on the practice range, either sitting on your rear tire with their bumper or swerving into your lane without so much as a glance.  There was no crosswind blowing twenty MPH as you traverse a long bridge.   And none of the famous potholes which force you to keep one eye on the pavement and while the other stays on the traffic in front of you.   All of these things kept my knuckles white for most of the first month as I struggled to get comfortable with this new sensation of being on the open road.

With all of these concerns, was the decision to ride worth it?  For me, the answer is and will always be a resounding YES. I’ve heard from people time after time who don’t understand the fascination or enjoyment some of us get from riding and to be honest, it’s tough to explain with mere words.   The best I can do is to ask them to imagine something they’ve done in their life that makes them alert and exhilarated all at the same time.   Some may answer an insane roller coaster at their favorite theme park; others may get that same feeling from taking a trip to a new and unfamiliar city.   This is the ‘kick’ some of us get from riding—it’s like ziplining into a haunted house.  It’s freedom in its purest form.   I bought my second (grown up) bike last year, and as the summer approaches, I can’t wait to see what adventures the open road has in store for me.

Giveaway!!!

For your chance to win a digital copy of this exciting new fantasy, click the link below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

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Alan Hurst is an author and entrepeneur. Hurst who spent most of his childhood reading Asian wuxia fiction, Marvel comics and encyclopedias is delving into trilogy territory with THE ONYX CROWN. He briefly studied religion at Harvard. Later, he settled in Washington, DC where he founded a software consulting firm, hosted the Urban Nation Radio podcast, and occasionally played the World Series of Poker. When not writing or enjoying time with his family, he prefers to take his Ducati motorcycle out for the occasional spin!

Alan Hurst | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram



Blog Tour Schedule

April 29th

Reads & Reels (Guest Post) http://www.readsandreels.com

Audio Killed the Bookmark (Excerpt) http://audiokilledthebookmark.wordpress.com

Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks (Excerpt) https://quirkycatsfatstacks.com/

Cup of Books Blog (Review) https://cupofbooksblog.wordpress.com/

Ity Reads Books (Excerpt) http://www.ityreadsbooks.home.blog

April 30th

Triquetra Reviews (Excerpt) http://www.triquetrareviews.blogspot.com

Didi Oviatt (Excerpt) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

Sophril Reads (Excerpt) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

Just 4 My Books (Excerpt) http://www.just4mybooks.wordpress.com

May 1st

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Interview) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

Breakeven Books (Guest Post) https://breakevenbooks.com

Cup of Toast (Interview) https://cupoftoast.co.uk

May 2nd

I Smell Sheep (Review) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

B is for Book Review (Guest Post) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

Jessica Rachow (Review) http://jessicarachow.wordpress.com

She Marie Blogs (Excerpt) https://shemarieblogs.com/

May 3rd

J Bronder Book Reviews (Excerpt) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/

Misty’s Book Space (Excerpt) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

The Speedy Reader (Review) https://speedyreadercom.wordpress.com

Banshee Irish Horror Blog (Excerpt) www.bansheeirishhorrorblog.com

The Faerie Reviews (Excerpt) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

Blog Tour Organized By:

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R&R Book Tours

In Partnership With:

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The Literary Lobbyist


I recently uploaded my Booktube Newbie tag video so check it out below if you are interested. I would love it if you subscribed but that is completely up to you!

Foreo International

Book Highlight: The Onyx Crown

To celebrate the release of Alan Hurst’s debut novel, The Onyx Crown, we are having a week-long book blitz! There will be an exclusive excerpt reveal, and a chance to win a digital copy of the book at the bottom! 

Front CoverThe Onyx Crown #1

Publication Date: January 27th, 2019

Genre: Fantasy/ Adventure

The Onyx Crown is an exciting foray into the world of African fantasy. From the searing heat of the desert to the vastness of the savannah, it tells the story of three children–Sania, Gesi, and Jorann who grow up in a pre-medieval era of wars and successions, not fifteen years after the greatest king in the history of the continent has been deposed and assassinated. They must overcome the traumatic circumstances of their birth as well as many dangerous trials to fulfill the destiny bestowed upon them as infants. Can mere children use their courage, wits, and uncanny abilities to defeat legendary warriors, entire tribes, provinces, and kingdoms–allowing them to lead the worthy to the greatest prize of all, the Onyx Crown?

Add to Goodreads

onyx crown poster - savannah

Excerpt

For the next few days, the three of them did virtually everything together, including games, horse riding, and spear training with the First Knight, who seemed to be getting sterner and tougher on them with every lesson. The First Knight, whose given name was Jorell Boro, was famed throughout the fourteen provinces as one of the best living warriors of all time. He’d made his name fighting for the upstart Regent Okon in his war of usurpation against the High King Toloron.

After Toloron was defeated, the regent rewarded Boro with the titles of First Knight of the Crown, Protector of the House of the First Prince, and the moniker “the Bloodless Death,” because supposedly his bladed spear could kill a person so quickly and with such precision that they would be dead before any blood was even visible.

Okon, along with the ruling conclave, also granted a treaty to Pala Jorell’s home kingdom of East Rhydor, including a guarantee that no Numerian troops would invade as long as the East Rhydor king or his son, the prince, were in power.

The First Prince had asked Pala Jorell to begin instructing Zadeemo in the ways of knighthood, and also Gesemni himself, most likely reasoning that Zadeemo would need a sparring partner when the First Prince was absent.

The First Knight had been reluctant to train a “commoner” in the higher arts of warfare but, at the insistence of both the First Prince and Zadeemo, had relented. Still, one could tell he took The Onyx Crown -26- great pains to make sure that Zadeemo understood some of the finer points of the moves he instructed, while not deigning to help Gesi.

Luckily for Gesi, he had tremendous aptitude and seemingly a womb-borne comprehension of instinctual combat. As such, he rarely needed the extra tutoring that Zadeemo couldn’t seem to do without. On this day, the two of them were instructed for quite some time on hand-spear counters, an ancient method of grappling that involved an unarmed warrior wresting the control of spears and other long objects away from their adversary. It was an extremely rough and unpolished method of fighting, and the First Knight took the better part of the morning explaining it to them.

Finally, the paladin suggested they work the puzzling elements out with a few rounds of sparring. Boro handed him a bladed spear and marked out a circle four en-yawo in diameter with his carving knife. Zadeemo was given a pair of lyocell gloves, which felt like silk but were made from the toughest fibers in existence. These were to be used to protect his hands from blade cuts.

Gesi shifted nervously. Always when they’d fought before they’d both been armed. Oddly, there’s a certain amount of safety involved when two weapons compete against each other. But with Zadeemo being unarmed, Gesi felt he’d have to be very careful. He was also very conscious of Zoe sitting on her tilbury, watching them both amusedly.

“Engage!” The First Knight’s voice rang out through the square as the boys stepped into the circle. Zadeemo immediately lowered his stance, thrusting the heel of his boot inside Gesi’s left calf to disrupt his balance, simultaneously snatching at the bladed spear handle.

Shuffle-stepping to counter, Gesi twisted the blade ninety degrees, forcing Zadeemo to withdraw his hands. He knew he was supposed to be nothing more than a punching target for Zadeemo, but in situations like this, his stubborn, competitive imoya always got in the way of things, and yes…he also wanted to show off a bit in front of Zoe.

Surprisingly, Zadeemo must’ve anticipated his counter because he nimbly moved to his left, crashing his knee into Gesi’s right thigh and causing him to grimace. Ducking underneath the spear, Zadeemo swung his right elbow fiercely into Gesi’s solar plexus. The few servants and townspeople who were looking on cheered loudly, including Zoe.

At that second, he felt like he was going to black out. Zadeemo may have been slower than a stuck rhino, but he had strength far beyond what most twelve-year-olds could muster.

Instinctively, he twisted his bladed spear to block the next grasping move he felt was coming, slid his left knee under Zadeemo’s right, and reverse-swung the spear in a sweeping arc toward Zadeemo’s chest. The cheering stopped, followed by a deathly silence as Zadeemo crashed down to the dirt awkwardly. Everyone was staring at Gesi. Some looked angry, some fearful, some puzzled. Even he didn’t know how he’d won.

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About the Author

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Alan Hurst is an author and entrepreneur. Hurst who spent most of his childhood reading Asian wuxia fiction, Marvel comics and encyclopedias is delving into trilogy territory with THE ONYX CROWN. He briefly studied religion at Harvard.  Later, he settled in Washington, DC where he founded a software consulting firm, hosted the Urban Nation Radio podcast, and occasionally played the World Series of Poker.  When not writing or enjoying time with his family, he prefers to take his Ducati motorcycle out for the occasional spin!

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Book Review: Sea Raiders by Carey Fessler

We finished a trilogy! As many of you know, we have been reading through Carey Fessler’s middle-grade trilogy. Well, we finished the last one which was called Sea Raiders so check out the review below.

SEA RAIDERS 127KB

Synopsis: The battle has begun, and the pirates want blood.

Twelve-year-olds Emma and Scott are on board the dive boat the Sea Urchin, anchored at night off Dragon Island when a band of trigger-happy marauders boards their boat.

So begins their battle to survive a modern-day pirate raid and escape their hostage situation so they can return home to their families. But not before having to fight for their lives and escape to a savage land and the last place on earth they wanted to return–Dragon Island. Can the young hostages stay alive and raise the alarm?

This was a great end to this middle-grade trilogy. The adventure just continued right where it left off and of course the main characters found themselves in another predicament.

There were some new characters added (rich Texans and pirates to be exact) that really progressed the development and culmination of the series. The whole series is set in Australia and the surrounding areas which are places I dream to travel to so it made it that much more exciting for me (exploring it in my mind’s eye if I can’t get there in person).

One thing I really liked was that the author showed their positive feelings about the LGBTQ+ community by making one of the main characters gay. It was revealed in a humorous way and really shows the progress we have made on this front. Kids should be introduced to this at a young age and should be taught that there is nothing wrong with being who you are and being able to love who you love. So I applaud and commend the author for being progressive and including it in their book.

I ended up really liking Brock (he is the mutant). His character developed into a nice and compassionate character compared to the old grump he was in the first book.

Overall, this was a great end to a fun middle-grade series and I hope this author writes another series because I will definitely read it.

Book Rating: 4.5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon or find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format by the author to read and give an honest review.

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