Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! This year I thought I'd jump in among all the romance novels going on sale and offer three non-romancy books for free by way of variety. (Because who doesn't love epic journeys to northern mountains to find freedom and hope any time of the year??)
Thus, I give you Branwen's Quest, Finding Hope, and Journey to Freedom (numbers 1, 4, and 8 in the Warriors of Aralan series, respectively). "Well that's great, I'll just skip all over the series," you grumble. Yes... yes, you will. And that's fine, because each of them is a sort of beginning in the series, and can be read without reading any of the previous ones. They'll only be free for three days though, (February 16th-18th), so have at it! (And when you do read them, be a good egg and leave a quick review on Amazon or Goodreads. They mean the world to indie authors like myself!)
Branwen's Quest (Warriors of Aralan #1)
When the royal herald came announcing a mandatory Tournament of Warriors, Branwen was the last one to get excited. Sure, she was a good enough archer, but why should she be forced to go to the tournament just because the king said so? She had nothing to prove! Yet when she got there her competitive spirit took over and she succeeded—enough so that she was singled out by the king to take a difficult journey with three others who were as different as night and day from each other. Why? To recover the king and queen's missing crowns. Will they ever be able to overcome their differences and get along to complete their mission, or will they fall prey to an unexpected danger posed from within?
Finding Hope (Warriors of Aralan #4)
Branwen’s fourteen-year-old daughter Rhoslyn, is intrigued when she comes home one day to find three strangers in the house, arguing with her parents. Who are these men? Two of them appear to be the same age as her father, but one of them is younger—much younger, about her age. He turns out to be Allister, Rhoslyn’s cousin, and he with his father and uncle have come all the way from Norwynnd. Needless to say, Rhoslyn and her best friend Bradyn get off to a bad start with Allister when they find him unusually secretive, and instead of deterring Rhoslyn with his bad attitude, Allister unwittingly encourages her curiosity. She knows he has a secret, and she’d determined to find out what it is. To complicate matters, a dark-skinned man from Calima, Aralan’s closest neighboring country, appears the day after Rhoslyn’s relatives, bringing with him a new religion, and it looks like he’s going to be there a while due to his broken leg. While he’s there he insists on telling others about his faith, and Rhoslyn doesn’t know what to think. Why is her cousin so secretive? Why does this man from Calima think she needs God? And most of all, why have her relatives from Norwynnd come to Linfort now, after all these years?
Journey to Freedom (Warriors of Aralan #8)
Josiah is a prince... albeit one that has just about had it with his hypocritical parents and grandparents, the ruling family of Aralan. Sure, he's not that much different than they are, really—but when they turn down a small country's plea for help in an oncoming war, Josiah is furious. A full one-eighth of his blood comes from that country, and he can't believe his ears when they send the emissaries away without a promise of assistance. So he flees the castle, hires a cook to feed him in his travels, and breathes the free forest air for the first time in his twenty-one years of life. Sleeps on the ground for the first time in his life. And argues—constantly—with the most stubborn cook he's ever met in his life. Emma is not one to take orders quietly, despite coming from the poorest part of Freymont; a stark contrast with her sweet-tempered, eleven-year-old sister named Hadassah. Add in Josiah's crazy hermit uncle, a pair of mischievous identical twins, an unheard-of amount of sass, a war of epic proportions, and a betrayal or two—and you have a Journey to Freedom.
I tend to read a lot of classics, as well as new-and-awesome independent authors, and January has been no exception. Christmas brought some more Jane Austen into my life, which I couldn't resist, and Disowned by Sarah Addison-Fox had been on my radar for a while, so it's safe to say January's reading material was great. If you like books that are quieter and not so action-packed, these might be for you!
My rating: ★★★★
Emma is a very solid four-star read for me. Austen has a way of bringing you right into the world of her characters, and making you care about little, everyday happenings, as well as the bigger, not-so-everyday stuff… like getting married. (I mean ‘cause you know it’s going to happen, being Jane Austen and all.) :P
Previously, I’ve read two other Austen novels: Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility. I find them to be a pleasant variation from the typical “save the world,” type things I usually read, and going back in time to the eighteen hundreds is another plus. (I kinda sorta love that time period, *cough*.) The problem with having read two Jane Austen books before, however, is the fact that by round three, they begin to become a little predictable—there always seems to be a Mr. Collins, Wickham, and Darcy, to use Pride and Prejudice terms. (I won’t say more than that for fear of spoilers, but I saw who the main character, Emma, would end up with almost from the very beginning.)
Speaking of Emma, at the start of the book she was quite the “nonsensical girl,” as Mr. Knightley once put it, almost to the point of being irritating. However, by the end she had grown a lot, as a character, and as a person. I thought that it was a refreshing arc, because Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice already had a good head of sense on her shoulders, as did Elinor from Sense and Sensibility, but Emma was more relatable because she wasn’t perfect. (Also, she had declared that she would never marry—an extraordinary thing, given the time period and the fact that she’s in a Jane Austen novel. While I don’t think either extreme of the Marry-or-not-to-Marry spectrum is good—after all, we should be after what God wants in our lives—she wasn’t so bent on upholding that declaration that couldn’t be persuaded otherwise.)
As for the other characters--Mrs. E was infuriating, Mr. Knightley by far my favorite male character, Harriet quiet and sweet, Mr. Woodhouse funny and endearing despite his obsession with health, Mr. and Mrs. Weston just the sort of lovely people you want to associate with, and Miss Bates… holy cow, that woman could talk—just to name a few.
The reason I didn’t give it four stars despite the super-satisfying ending that gave you time to enjoy it before dropping you back into the real world again, was the fact that it did drag a little at times (although that might just be my attention span to blame there), and everyone lived Happily Ever After™. I know it’s Jane Austen, but I felt like the end of Harriet’s subplot was just a little thrown in, so you wouldn’t feel too bad about Emma’s turning out all right in spite of everything.
Those are my only complaints, however. Although Pride and Prejudice still reigns as my favorite Jane Austen novel to date, this one’s a close second, and is definitely worth the read!
Welcome to Katelyn Buxton Books! I'm a Christian author and blogger, with a passion for writing stories that are not just enjoyable, but also lead people to Jesus. Feel free to look around, and enjoy your stay!
Progress for round four of edits on Warriors of Aralan #9: