Royal Decoy: A Book Review

After intervening during an attack and saving the princesses’ life, Clare finds herself learning the art of being a princess as she becomes the Royal Decoy.

YA author Heather Frost published her first series, the Seers Trilogy with Cedar Fort, but her for her second series, Fate of Eyrinthia, she’s decided to give self-publishing a try. Royal Decoy: Book One brings the action of fantasy and the emotion of romance and entwines them together for a fast-paced adventure everyone can sink their knives into!

My thoughts about Royal Decoy

One of the wonders of fantasy other genres often don’t adopt is multiple story lines with various points of view. The layering effect that takes place brings extra depth to a story, especially with a mystery involved. A mystery such as: Who is attempting to kill the princess?

Royal Decoy includes two paralleling stories in the world of Eyrinthia. Clare becomes the decoy for the brash princess in Davendra. Why? To protect the peace treaty and subsequent marriage between the princess and the prince of Mortise. Prince Grayson of Ryden spends his time doing everything his father, the king, asks, no matter how much he despises it. All to keep seeing the one person who brings him joy–the King’s prisoner, Mia.

To give insight into the minds of the characters, several points of view come into play. Frost marks who you are following at the beginning of each chapter, making it easy. Some of these points of view come in later than others.

The Good

Within the first few pages, this book had me hooked. In fact, it was the word hitched that made me swoon. Frost used the word this way: hitched to her feet.

Hitched doesn’t mean stood up. It doesn’t mean rose. But it works! I knew exactly what Frost meant, even though she’d changed the entire definition! I loved the way she used it.

But that isn’t all Frost does well. Her understanding of how the emotion within both fast-paced action and love scenes made me bring my Kindle downstairs–on my birthday–to sit and read Royal Decoy. Keep in mind, I write and read regularly. When I want to relax while reading, I only choose books I’m totally invested in. And I couldn’t wait to see what happened next in this book!

Oh, and I had no idea who the “bad guy” was at the end until Frost divulged the information. The idea of this character being the “bad guy” hadn’t even crossed my mind. But it all made sense. She’d even dropped breadcrumbs. I just hadn’t studied them well enough. THIS IS RARE for me. I almost always guess in advance and correctly. By the time I reached the unveiling, I’d ruled out most of the characters I’d considered, dropped a major breadcrumb, and was totally off.

The A-Little-Less-Good

I can’t label this section okay or bad. It’s nearly an indifference. And after finishing the book, I can’t wait to see how it all works out at the end of the series. But at one point, I thought, oh my goodness, everyone has a plan to destroy someone else!

This isn’t a book with one good side and one bad side. There are multiple groups with their own playbook. And I’m not entirely convinced I’ve run into all of them. This makes it hard to keep track of everyone. But I managed to do it, and I’m certain most readers can as well.

The Official Blurb of Royal Decoy

 SERVANT blackmailed into becoming a princess’s decoy.
A BODYGUARD determined to keep her alive.

A PRINCE forced to execute his father’s brutal laws.
A PRISONER used to keep him compliant.

A WORLD on the brink of war.

In one horrible night, Clare goes from kitchen maid to royal decoy. She has three months to become the princess’s perfect double so she can ensure her betrothal to an enemy prince. Desperate to survive, Clare throws herself into self-defense training, taught by her distractingly attractive bodyguard. The danger increases when a ruthless assassin begins stalking her, intent on ending the tenuous peace.

Across the northern mountains, Prince Grayson is his father’s ultimate weapon. He carries out the king’s harsh orders because the one person he cares about is his father’s prisoner. Grayson’s silent obedience is tested when his father plans to exploit the marriage alliance between two of their greatest enemies. If Grayson submits, the blood of thousands will spill. If he resists, the girl who means everything to him will die.

The fate of Eyrinthia hangs in the balance. Some want peace. Some want war. All will be thrown into chaos.

More Info

Purchase your copy of Royal Decoy on Amazon.

Follow Heather Frost at HeatherFrost.com and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.

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Vasilisa: A Book Review

Vasilisa knows she’s forest born, but what exactly does that mean? Others call her ogre-child, but that can’t be true. After all, she’s good, not evil.

M.L. Farb, author of the King’s Trials duology, has created Vasilisa, a fantasy fairy tale youth and adults won’t want to miss. First, read my review. Second, read the book. Third, enjoy the back matter that Farb stocked with questions, explanations, and definitions!

My Thoughts on Vasilisa

I may write women’s fiction, but I am a sucker for good fantasy. In fact, it may be my favorite genre. Why do I write women’s fiction then? Because I have no idea how to create worlds filled with magic and wonder. So, for now, I stick with what I understand: stories with a different kind of magic.

That said, I won’t set foot near poorly written fantasy, and plenty of that lands on Amazon. But self-published M.L. Farb is up there with some of my favorite fantasy authors. Jeff Wheeler, M.L. Forman, and Brandon Mull, to name a few.

Basics of the Story

Vasilisa takes readers into a world echoing that of Slavic Russia. The main character, born in the forest, now works as a servant on the lands owned by her best friend’s parents. Her forest heritage gives her strength, but to keep her mother and friend safe, she often allows others to bully her.

Like me, Vasilisa yearns for the forest. She aches to return to her birch trees. Her dreams call her there, but she has to wait. And waiting is especially difficult when she keeps getting in trouble. The lack of knowledge surrounding her forest heritage only adds to her longing.

This incredible novel tells of a young woman who finds herself while protecting those she loves. Called evil by others, now she proves her skills of trickery and deception can also be used for good.

Only Good

Farb labels her books YA, but adults will love Vasilisa as much as any other fantasy book. Public unrest, self-discovery, war, romance, and the choice to be good or evil pack these pages. Teachers and parents, this book is perfect to read together. The questions in the back only make it better. Whether you need a book for yourself or your child, you can count on a perfectly clean read with adventure at every turn!

Official Blurb

Vasilisa has always been strong. She’s strong enough to break the arm of the bully that daily taunts her. She won’t because she and her mother are servants at the Orlov manor, and her mother would be punished for her retaliation. Instead, Vasilisa bides her time until she is sixteen and can return to the forest.

Only Staver, the master’s son, shows her kindness. His friendship pulls as strong as the forest, but their classes are divided forever by law. She is a forest born, fatherless servant and her future at the manor holds mockery filled drudgery.

War threatens. The forest calls. Will she stay to protect the one who can never be more than a friend, or flee to the peace that the forest offers?

More Info

Purchase your copy of Vasilisa on Amazon; preorder for $2.99 through May 17, 2020

Follow M.L. Farb online
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The Worlds of M L Farb

I received a copy of Vasilisa in exchange of this review. All opinions are honest and my own. 
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Book Review Flight of the Spark

Iskra lives in a small village with an abundance of laws to keep her safe, but do they keep her from happiness too?

Award-winning author Evelyn Puerto has given us a gift: Flight of the Spark Book One of the Outlawed Myth Fantasy Series. Like many authors, she spent years writing her first novel, but as you’ll see below, those years were well spent.

A lover of borscht and liberty, Puerto presumably also loves her psychotic cat.

My Thoughts on Flight of the Spark

Most fantasy takes a few chapters for me to settle into as I get used to the world the author creates and work to pronounce the names of the characters (perhaps the one thing I’d change about the genre). Flight of the Spark starts with Iskra, the main character, traveling from her little village of Gishin to Shinroo with a friend and the traders. Because Puerto took the time to introduce the world in a way I could process as I read, the story of this 15-year-old traveling a dangerous path wasn’t hard to grasp. It opened up my ability to savor the story without worry of forgetting some worldly law.

At first, I expected my review to discuss how Flight of the Spark shows the vast differences between communism and capitalism. People burdened by the laws forced on them in the name of safety, and the people who soar because few laws keep them from their dreams–aka the riskers.

But the more I read, the more I realized that while the story does have similarities to communism with leaders who live lavish lives while commoners live in cookie-cutter hovels, it focuses more on one emotion everyone experiences: fear. The villagers surrounding Iskra may be burdened by laws and aspects of communism, but fear keeps them in bondage.

Fear kept Iskra in bondage. Then Xico, a risker, saves her from a bandit, and a new world opens up to her. With that new world fear crashes down, and she has to decide what matters most in life.

The story, alone, intrigued and later amazed me, but the writing and characterization reaches levels every author wishes to attain. The years Puerto spent perfecting this novel shines through, brightening her talent for all to see.

Flight of the Spark falls under the YA fantasy genre. However, it does have closed-door sex between a married man and a prostitute, which is shown later in a negative light through his grief. There is also closed-door sex between husband and wife.

The Official Blurb

Iskra doesn’t question the rules. The rules are there to keep her safe from those who are deemed unsafe or unfair. Anyone who breaks the rules is taken, never to be heard from again. But that’s the price everyone gladly pays for peace and safety. And no one wants to live like the Riskers–barbarians who reject order and justice, and could kill or be killed at any moment.

When a friend is taken because of Iskra, the guilt forces her to do the unthinkable: seek out the Riskers. Iskra’s quest to save her friend quickly entangles her fate with a cryptic prophecy and a young Risker named Xico, who ensnares her heart and is willing to put it all on the line to win her.

With every risk Iskra takes, the closer she gets to true freedom. But every choice carries a consequence. The choices she makes set events she never imagined into motion, and the price of her freedom could very well be her life and the life of the man she loves.

More Info

Purchase your copy of Flight of the Spark on Amazon

Follow Evelyn Puerto on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
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