The Runaway King – Review

book cover for "The Runaway King" - a broken sword on a green background

The Runaway King is the second book in the Ascendance Trilogy.

Jaron has just barely become king when an assassination attempt forces him to begin making plans. As pressure mounts on his shoulders, he finally concludes that deserting the kingdom is likely his only chance to save it. Or, in other words, going to the Avenian Pirates is the only lead he has on how to begin saving his country. Resuming his old identity of Sage, he is forced into dangerous situations in hopes of pulling off a miraculous save. Jaron must face his past, learn his friends from foes, and who he truly can trust, or more correctly, who he cannot.

I really enjoyed this book. Jaron is the sort of character that you love and cannot help but be driven up the wall by at the same time. This new adventure is full of exactly the sort of ridiculous things I could see him doing, and he does them perfectly. Or not perfectly, I guess, but incredibly well, given what the actions themselves are. He is hilarious and determined to save the day,  no matter the personal cost.

I would give this a 4.6/5. Jaron is determined to save everyone and everything, and this book shows that determination perfectly.

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A Pirate’s Journey: Part Nine (Epilogue)

a 3 masted sailing ship at sunset

 

 

 

 

The island prison was utterly deserted, with no humans present other than Timberwolf’s crew and, hopefully, their captain. The island itself was not large, but the prison compound covered the entire land, so it took time before they found Timberwolf.

Theo found the grizzled man, and he called for the rest of the crew immediately. “Silas, Maldir, Red – you guys, I found him!”

There were no keys to open the padlocked cell, but Silas broke the locks using a chunk of rock he found on the ground. As soon as the door was opened, the entire crew rushed in to hug their captain, shouting, “Timberwolf, we missed you!

The captain was practically crushed under the weight of all eight boys, and pushed them off so he could wheeze gruffly, “I’m fine, I’m fine. I was only kidnapped for a few days, there’s no reason to get emotional about it.” He pushed himself into a sitting position against the wall. “I have to ask though, how did you boys manage to find me?”

“It was all Silas,” Red said, pulling the first mate forward. “He led us through thick and thin, even risked his life to save all of us.”

Silas blushed. “You did a lot too. It was your idea to go to Kincade . . .”

“Ah, he’s being modest,” Maldir smiled at him. “Silas was the best. None of us could have done any better.”

Timberwolf looked at Silas appraisingly. “Well, that’s quite impressive. I’m very thankful you took charge, Silas, and I’m proud to call you my first mate.”

“Thank you,” Silas said. Timberwolf’s approval meant the world to him. “Thank you so much.”

“No, thank you,” the captain said. He tried to stand up but groaned in pain; Algreve caught him before he fell. Timberwolf shook his head, grimacing. “Well, boy, since you’ve proven yourself capable of handling a rescue mission, I’d say you should be able to run our fair vessel while I recover from this ordeal, eh?”

Silas’ eyes widened. Timberwolf was asking him to stand in as captain? That was all he had wanted from the beginning, for Timberwolf to give him more responsibility. “Aye, captain, of course.”

“Then let’s get back on the ship, shall we?” Timberwolf, with Algreve’s help, began to limp toward the door. “I’m sure your crew is more than ready to return home, Captain Silas.”

A Pirate’s Journey: Part Seven

 

Halloway had obviously underestimated the abilities of Timberwolf’s crew, as there were only a few guards in the passages between Silas and his mates. Silas broke the other seven boys out of their cells without much effort. However, when they returned to the caves where they had arrived, the crew found that their ship was missing.

Fortunately, Algreve mentioned that he had seen a large port around the front of the hideout when they had first sailed in. Theo had managed to snag a map of the stronghold off one of the guards, which he gave to Silas. Then, with Silas leading, Captain Timberwolf’s crew snuck off to find their ship.

With the help of the map, it was relatively simple to find the docks. The hardest part was trying not to be seen, though Silas knew they would have to go out in the open to get to their vessel. Luck was on their side, as Timberwolf’s crew managed to stay hidden until their sprint to the ship. The lookout spotted them within moments, but by the time guards had arrived to stop the boys, everyone had boarded the ship and Silas had given the order to weigh anchor.

Never before had the crew worked so quickly or efficiently to put to sea, and Silas was prouder of his mates than words could express. However, they were not out of the woods yet, because there was no doubt that Halloway would pursue them. His ship was said to be one of the fastest on the water.

Once they were underway, Silas called Maldir up to the deck to ask if he could find the island the first guard had told him about. Maldir had already located the island and gave Silas directions on how to get there. It would only take a few hours to sail to the island, but Silas, catching sight of not one but four black-sailed ships tailing them, knew there was only a slim chance they wouldn’t be caught before they could rescue Timberwolf.

That was why he had a backup plan, one that even his crew was not aware of; he hoped he wouldn’t have to use it, but if the worst came to pass, he was willing to go through with it.

After all, it was the choice a true leader would make.

.   .   .

To Silas’ dismay, Halloway had almost caught up within the hour. Timberwolf’s crew had worked furiously to catch more wind in the sails, lighten the load of their cargo, anything to help them sail faster, but now they simply stood on deck awaiting their fate. The boys, so full of hope not long ago, were now as listless as Silas had been in his cell in the stronghold.

Silas left his position at the helm for a moment to walk about his crew. “Fear not,” he told them, grasping arms and squeezing shoulders. “I still have something up my sleeve, and I assure you, everything will be fine. You just have to trust me and let me do the talking.”

He returned to the wheel and pulled the ship about abruptly. Halloway’s ship approached quickly, and it docked beside Timberwolf’s vessel. A gangplank was thrown between the two, and then Captain Halloway himself, a sallow-skinned man, appeared on deck. “Well, Mr. Creed,” he addressed Silas, squinting at the boy. “It appears that you have lost. Surrender yourself and your crew may survive.”

“No, I don’t think that is going to work,” Silas said, a hand on his hip. “What if I were to duel you instead? If you defeat me, I will give myself up. However, if I defeat you, then you must let my crew and I go, and you must grant us free passage to rescue our captain.”

Halloway smirked, and Silas was suddenly reminded of José. “I admire your valor, but are you sure you would like to suffer defeat in front of your own crew?”

A Pirate’s Journey: Part Six

 

As night began to fall, the stronghold came into view. The ship made a wide circle around the rocky structure, trying to keep out of view. Algreve, once again in the crow’s nest, sighted the entrance to the caves and directed Silas toward it. José offered to steer, claiming he had the steadier hand, but Silas ignored him and guided the ship smoothly between the rocks. He pulled up beside a crag that resembled a pier and threw the anchor overboard before disembarking, his group following close behind.

José pointed out the staircase and the four boys began to climb, Silas leading the way. He could see a wooden door set into the stone wall at the top landing. Silas put a finger to his lips, signaling for the others to be as quiet as possible as he gently pushed the door open . . . to find a group of nasty looking pirates waiting for them.

One of them wrestled Silas away from the door, while another two grappled with Maldir and Algreve. The last one nodded at José and said gruffly, “Well done. The captain will be pleased.”

“I should have known,” Silas hissed. “You always did have the makings of a traitor.”

José leered at him. “No, I am simply a good first mate, unlike you.” He turned away from Silas and began to walk down the dark hall, away from the caves, calling back, “There are two at the cave entrance, and you can find the last three on the ship. Now, take them away.”

Silas was shoved into a dank cell with no light and no idea where the rest of his crew had been taken. He sank against the wall and a feeling of absolute hopelessness overwhelmed him. He had failed – not just Timberwolf, but the whole crew – and there was no one to save them.

.   .   .

Silas wasn’t sure how much time had passed since he was thrown in the cell, but he knew it hadn’t been more than an hour. In that time, Silas had been sitting listlessly on the ground; there was no point in trying to escape because he never would be able to do so anyway.

Silas choked back an angry sob and threw a punch at the wall. He gained nothing but bloody knuckles and a sore hand. It was all his fault. Sure, José had betrayed them, but Silas had been the one to trust him in the first place. He had wanted to lead the crew, but had led them toward nothing but their own imprisonment.

A sudden sound startled him out of his stupor. The sound was faint at first, but it grew in both volume and proximity until he could recognize it as a voice. It sounded like a guard talking to himself as he made his rounds. Moments later, a flicker of torchlight on the wall confirmed Silas’ guess, and with the short burst of light, Silas was filled with a strong determination to escape and save his crew; no, his family. He remembered Kincade’s faith in his ability to lead the crew. He remembered Maldir standing up to José without thinking twice about it. He remembered Red looking to him for confirmation when the other boy was the one taking charge.

Silas had so many people who believed in him, and he was determined not to let them down.

As the guard passed by his cell, Silas called out to him. The pirate stopped to sneer at the boy. “What do you want, scum?” Silas muttered something under his breath and the guard moved closer to hear him. “What?”

Quick as a diving sea eagle, Silas’ hand shot out from between the bars of the cell door and grabbed the man’s shirt, pulling him against the metal bars. Halloway’s guard struggled to get away, but the boy had a grip of steel.

“Let’s make a deal,” Silas growled. “You let me out and tell me where they’re holding Captain Timberwolf, or I’ll figure out how to kill you from inside this cell.”

The pirate, of course, chose the first option. He unlocked Silas’ cell, then told him that Timberwolf wasn’t at the stronghold. The captain was being held at a prison on a nearby island, with little security because of its utter isolation. After thanking the pirate for his cooperation, Silas took his keys, locked him in the cell, and went to rescue his crew.

A Pirate’s Journey: Part Five

 

“Nice to see you too, Silas.” The curly-haired boy’s grin changed into a smirk, amused despite the other having him by the throat.

“Whoa, mate.” Algreve pushed Silas away from the other boy. “What’s going on?”

How did one introduce the person who had made him feel insignificant for nearly half his life? Silas tried his best. He explained that the boy, José, had been the first mate of Silas’ old crew and that they had been nemeses for years. Everything Silas did, whether it was mopping up the deck or sparring, José could do better, and he would rub it in Silas’ face to no end.

“What are we going to do with him, then?” Algreve asked, looking down at José disdainfully.

“I can help you,” José responded in a matter-of-fact fashion. He went on to explain that he knew of their quest to find their captain, and that he could help them sneak into Captain Halloway’s stronghold.

Silas was very suspicious as to how José knew all of that, and said as much to his face. “Are you working with him?”

José said, “Yes, I was, until he threw me overboard and left me to the sirens.” He gave a bitter laugh. “So now I’m looking for revenge.”

Again, Silas grabbed the front of José’s shirt and shoved him against the mast. “Why should I trust you?”

“Well, how else are you going to get in? Knowing you, you don’t have any sort of plan.” José’s smirk grew as Silas’ face fell.

Maldir stepped toward him. “You should back off, mate. We can still throw you back in the ocean.”

Grateful that Maldir had stood up for him, Silas weighed his options. They could throw José back to the mercy of the waves, but he could potentially prove himself useful, if he was telling the truth. Could they trust him? He realized Algreve and Maldir were watching him, waiting for him to decide; this was his first test as stand-in captain. He only hoped he would pass it. “José, you can stay, but only if you agree to help us.”

The boy gave him yet another smirk as Silas released him. “I already did, didn’t I?”

. . .

By the next afternoon, the rest of the crew had been introduced to José, and they were all on deck as the new recruit spoke of his plan to storm the stronghold. He had only been to Halloway’s hideout a few times before, but he could recall there was a hidden back way that ships could sail to get into the caves underneath the stronghold. They could hide the ship in one of the caves and sneak in to the dungeons using a secret staircase, which was where they could find Timberwolf. If there were any guards, José would distract them while the rest of the crew could escape; he assured them he could take care of himself.

Silas thought it sounded far too easy, but it was the only plan they had. José could easily be taken out of the equation if needed, and if he attempted to double-cross them, well . . . Silas’ sword wasn’t just for show.

“Maldir and Algreve, you’ll come with José and me to rescue Captain Timberwolf,” Silas said, pointing at the two boys. “Gunnar and Angel, you two will keep watch at the entrance of the cave. Theo – you’ll watch over Daniel and Red, and keep the ship ready to leave at a moment’s notice.”

“Aye!” The crew shouted back, and even José gave him a small salute.

A strange feeling came over Silas, and he realized that his crew truly believed in him and in this plan. With that belief carrying them, the scheme might actually work.

 

Dread Nation

dread nation cover

 

The American Civil War comes to an abrupt halt at the Battle of Gettysburg when the dead begin to rise and attack the soldiers on both sides. Too busy dealing with the new threat to worry about each other or their differences, the issue of slavery is resolved. Or is it? Because former slaves are forced to be the front line in the new war on the dead, and Negro children are rounded up and sent to combat schools to learn the necessary skills. If they are lucky, like Jane McKeene, they are sent to a good school like Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore. There are far worse schools. But when Jane notices that several prominent citizens seem to have gone missing, she opens a can of worms that lands her and her friends in the soup. She is in far greater danger than she ever imagined and must find a way out of certain doom. But she can handle it. She’s a Miss Preston’s girl.

This alternative history has it all. Amazing, strong characters, evil villains, action, adventure and humor. And…zombies. Did I mention zombies?

4.5 stars.

DoloresS

Stealing Snow (Book Review)

Stars- 4/5

Summary — First kisses sometimes wake slumbering princesses, undo spells, and spark happily ever afters.
Mine broke Bale.

Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent her life locked in Whittaker Psychiatric — but she isn’t crazy. And that’s not the worst of it. Her very first kiss proves anything but innocent … when Bale, her only love, turns violent.
Despite Snow knowing that Bale would never truly hurt her, he is taken away — dashing her last hope for any sort of future in the mental ward she calls home. With nowhere else to turn, Snow finds herself drawn to a strange new orderly who whispers secrets in the night about a mysterious past and a kingdom that’s hers for the taking — if only she can find her way past the iron gates to the Tree that has been haunting her dreams.

Beyond the Tree lies Algid, a land far away from the real world, frozen by a ruthless king. And there too await the River Witch, a village boy named Kai, the charming thief Jagger, and a prophecy that Snow will save them all. (Goodreads)

Thoughts —  Honestly, this was one of the best takes on a classic fairy tail that I have ever read. The only other fairy tail retelling I’ve read and enjoyed is the Lunar Chronicles. I haven’t enjoyed any of the others I’ve read.
My favorite character would have to be Jagger, because he just had that personality that I’m always drawn to. He was like Jace, or Thomas Cresswell, or Carswell Thorne, sorry, Captain Carswell Thorne. (Lunar Chronicles thing, read it, it’s freaking amazing!)
Snow was really awesome, when you think of ice powers I don’t know what you think of, but I think of Elsa. Snow was nothing like Elsa. I loved her character. She was strong, sarcastic, and pretty brave and loyal.
The only part are really didn’t like about it was how Snow had three love interests. I understand having two, the competition is nice, but with three it gets annoying. Especially when the first known love interest is okay at first and then it’s kind of like, okay, it’s time to stop. Like, okay Snow, you have two other amazing guys that are like totally in love with you, forget Bale and just stop. I mean I didn’t hate Bale, but I didn’t love him. He had an important role in the plot, but what he does to Snow just annoys me.

Age — 13