On the eve of the royal wedding, a mysterious missive arrives at the castle, threatening to cast a shadow over Darian and Marisa’s joyful celebration. And as they prepare to embark on the honeymoon trip of a lifetime, dark forces of the Apollyon Order are mustering in the east; calling upon an ancient, evil beast with the power to destroy the stronghold of Crocetta. In danger of losing everything, Marisa and Darian must enlist the help of the Crimson Knights from all over the Carnelian world to defend their kingdom. But this time, it might not be enough.
About Cheryl Koevoet
I was born in a suburb of Portland, Oregon where I grew up and lived during my elementary and high school years. After that, I traveled a thousand miles to a sunnier south to study graphic design/communications at Biola University in La Mirada, California. After a couple of years, I returned to the Pacific Northwest to continue my studies at Portland State University.
While vacationing with my family in 1989, I met a young Dutch officer on board a cruise ship, and we were married three years later. I sailed with my husband around the world to more than 55 countries, seeing the world and enjoying the multi-culture experience. In 1994, we settled in The Netherlands to raise our four children outside the city of peace and justice, The Hague.
First published in 2013, The Carnelian Legacy was my debut novel and its sequel, The Carnelian Tyranny was released in 2014. The third book in the series, The Carnelian Destiny, is scheduled for a Spring/Summer 2016 release. My next project, Broken Bloom, is about a young woman living in The Netherlands in 1634 during the notorious tulipmania phenomenon.
When I’m not writing, I enjoy reading and catching up with family and friends via social media.
Get the first book, The Carnelian Legacy on audiobook for a special low introductory price! Just click on the picture above.
(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
Three months after her trip through the vortex, Marisa MacCallum is having second thoughts about her engagement to Darian Fiore as she struggles to adjust to royal life.
But when palace spies uncover a secret plot to assassinate the royal family and eradicate the Crimson Knights, Marisa and Darian must put their plans for the future on hold to stop Savino da Rocha and his legion of warrior giants from stealing the throne.
After narrowly escaping an attempt on her life, Marisa is left to defend Crocetta while Darian marches off to war. But when Savino strikes at the heart of the kingdom with supernatural powers of darkness, Marisa must wage an even greater battle against the spiritual forces bent on destroying her family and ending the Fiore dynasty forever.
[Full disclosure: I requested and received a free ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review.]
Normally, I try to avoid books that deal with heavy religious themes. They just aren’t for me as most of them come off as overly preachy and generally obnoxious. With that said, I did love The Carnelian Tyranny, which basically follows the story of the life and death of Jesus Christ in an alternate world. So what made this book different from so many religion-themed books I’ve read? Well, for one there’s not all that much preaching. Yes, there are scenes where the characters pray and debate their faith but it never comes across as Cheryl Koevoet herself saying to her readers “You must accept Christianity”. No, it was just a book where faith is presented as a normal part of many of the charcters’ lives and that was that.
And what really separates The Carnelian Tyranny from many other books I’ve read with similar themes is that while the religious aspect is part of the plot, it’s not necessarily the main focus at all times. No, Marisa’s doubts about her engagement and her role as the future ruler of Crocetta are front and centre. There’s also the whole Savino angle as our devious Count isn’t going to take Marisa’s perceived insult toward him lying down. So the religious plot and the political plot are intertwined in a way that feels quite natural, particularly in a society generally modeled on Medieval Europe. And of course there’s also Marisa and Darian’s relationship, which becomes strained because Darian doesn’t understand why Marisa is so reluctant to get married young and Marisa is having a hard time accepting her new high status even though she knows it’s her duty (and her birthright).
Marisa in this second book is a little more confident and just a little more sure of herself. She’s working hard to learn the language of her people as well as the customs and responsibilities being a ruler of Crocetta involves. Marisa has Darian to support her but their relationship obviously isn’t perfect. They argue and fight but you can always tell they love each other deeply. I can’t go into much detail without spoiling some amazing plot twists, but when they get separated it’s this love that keeps both of them going even when things seem completely hopeless. Best of all, Cheryl Koevoet doesn’t neglect her secondary characters as she lets us see things not only from Darian and Marisa’s points of view but also those of Marisa’s brother Marcus and a few other notable characters.
With a relatively unpredictable plot and some great character development, The Carnelian Tyranny is a solid second book. On top of that, there was also some great world-building as readers were introduced to the politics of the entire world of Carnelia because Crocetta is not as isolated as it may appear. There are outside forces constantly at work and not all of them are friendly toward Marisa as the new ruler. The only real quibble I have with The Carnelian Tyranny is that I felt everything was wrapped up too neatly in the end. There weren’t any outside threats other than Savino when the story was over despite the fact many countries/kingdoms would love to attack anyone near them when they’ve proven weak (as history has shown us time and time again). And one of the outside kingdoms that came to Crocetta’s aid didn’t actually play that big of a role in the war against Savino. I felt there was more to explore in the way of international politics.
However, if you loved The Carnelian Legacy, you’ll probably enjoy The Carnelian Tyranny as much as I did. I can’t wait for the third book.
I give this book 4/5 stars.
(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
Marisa MacCallum always believed that the man of her dreams was out there somewhere. The problem is—he’s in another dimension.
After the death of her father, eighteen-year-old Marisa’s life is on the verge of imploding. She seeks comfort on her daily ride through the woods of Gold Hill, but when a mysterious lightning storm strikes, she is hurled into the ancient, alternate dimension of Carnelia where she is discovered by the arrogant but attractive nobleman, Ambassador Darian Fiore.
Stranded in a world teeming with monsters, maniacs and medieval knights, Marisa is forced to join Darian on a dangerous mission to negotiate peace with his cousin and archenemy, Savino da Rocha. Along the way, she starts to see Darian’s softer side and finds herself falling in love. But once she learns that he is locked into an arranged marriage, her heart shatters.
When Savino falls for her charms and demands her hand in exchange for peace, Marisa is faced with an impossible choice: marry the enemy of the man she loves or betray them both and become the catalyst for a bloody war.
[Full disclosure: I requested and received an ebook through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
Some books you can tell right away that they’re going to be amazing. (Or amazingly bad.) Others it takes a little while to tell. And still others, like The Carnelian Legacy, you really aren’t sure of until the very end. I’ll explain.
From the first page, I loved The Carnelian Legacy. Marisa is a young woman who has gone through the unthinkable: not only did she lose her mother at a very young age, she just lost her father in her last year of high school. She’s grown up so quickly because her life has been shattered and then, when she seeks out a little peace in the woods of Gold Hill she’s thrust into a whole other dimension. Not only that, she’s stumbled into the middle of a very dangerous political situation where even the slightest misstep could mean the deaths of thousands on her conscience. When Marisa met Darian and Arrie (the prince and the diplomat, respectively) I began to have my doubts about The Carnelian Legacy. Although I loved the beginning, I felt apprehensive about where Cheryl Koevoet was taking the story. Was she going to turn a fairly interesting and unique premise into your typical love at first sight story?
Throughout the novel, there were times I would have answered yes and times I would have answered no because of the many, many plot twists. Some were predictable and some weren’t. But what really clinched it for me is in the end when I thought I had figured out everything and seen through the upcoming stereotypical plot twist, Koevoet changed the rules. In a good way! She defly dodged a predictable trope by combining many other older tropes to create something new and fresh. It was such a relief. So when you’re reading this book, you really do have to give the plot a chance right up until the end. It might turn out the way you think, but the journey will be very, very surprising.
That said, even if the plot had fallen flat on its face, I would still have enjoyed the book. Marisa is a character after my own heart. She grew up way before her time and had to play the adult from a very young age. Not only that, she had to decide whether risking everything for love was really worth it or whether she should do the responsible, practical thing that might bring about love in time. So you could say I’m a bit biased but Cheryl Koevoet really made Marisa come to life. She really portrays her frayed emotional state well without making her melodramatic. Anyone who has experienced loss in their life will understand Marisa’s frequent mood swings and crying spells, believe me. Especially since not only did she lose a parent, she lost her remaining family and was transported to another dimension where only a handful of people speak her language.
Darian is a wonderful male lead. Some people will probably be frustrated with him and all his contradictions but I think it made him far more realistic. He, like Marisa, has had to shoulder adult responsibilities from a young age and that has made him slightly paranoid and unwilling to trust anyone. Just when you think he’s on the brink of opening up about his past or his feelings, he shuts down once again as he reminds himself of his duty. His romance with Marisa is far from straightforward, just like in real life. Confessions come from both sides at inconvenient times, feelings don’t always stay constant and both sides make enormous mistakes at one time or another. But that’s what really clinched The Carnelian Legacy for me: it was very realistic in its depiction of a relationship with so many outside forces exerting pressure on it.
The world-building was also very good. While this is obviously not a political thriller, Koevoet did a good job of making the politics of the kingdom believable. Everyone had their own motivations, even the secondary characters, and nothing was as it seemed. She also presented a very interesting view of alternate dimensions that I haven’t really seen in science fiction/fantasy before. I can’t explain it without spoiling some of the plot points, but suffice it to say you’ll be pleasantly surprised. There was even a realistic depiction of religion in the kingdom that I thoroughly enjoyed because Koevoet was able to create religious characters without being preachy (unlike some authors). It was a refreshing change.
Basically, while I was very skeptical about the novel at times I am so glad that I stuck with it because it really is amazing. It’s definitely one of my better NetGalley finds and I can’t wait to read the second book, The Carnelian Tyranny.
I give this book 5/5 stars.
(Cover picture courtesy of Catherine Stine’s blog.)
The year is 2089. Temperate climate has replaced Arctic ice, and much of what is now the United States is a lethal Hotzone, cut off by an insurmountable border from its northern, luckier neighbors, Ocean and Land Dominion. It is rumored that roving Hotzone nomads will kill for a water pellet or a slice of insect loaf, and that the ZWC, a dangerous Hotzone activist group, has infiltrated the border to the northern Dominions.
Up in Ocean Dominion, all eighteen year-old Varik Teitur wants is to party on SnowAngel Island with his friend Audun and flirt with college girls he dreams of joining next year in his quest to become a doctor. Instead, he inherits a vast sea farm, following the death of his father, famous marine biologist Professor Teitur. Five weeks later, ZWC member Marisa Baron breaks into the farm’s secret seed vault and a fellow activist poisons the farm’s agar crops, the world’s food source. In order to save the last agar seedlings Varik is forced to journey to the Hotzone in search of Fireseed, a plant his father supposedly developed with magical hybridization properties.
Varik takes Marisa along. Aside from being a terrorist, she’s the beautiful daughter of Melvyn Baron, the biggest real estate mogul in Land Dominion, and the professor’s old rival. Oddly, she knows lots about Fireseed, and what Hotzone land Professor Teitur bought to test the crop, before becoming embittered and trashing the project. No one except Varik knows whether Fireseed once existed off the drawing board. Might the refugees in Vegas-by-the-Sea have answers, or the bizarre Fireseed cult in the Chihuahua desert? Varik, the reluctant hero, must risk burning in the Hotzone, as his mother did, to save the ailing agar, and the world.
(Summary courtesy of Amazon.)
[Full disclosure: Catherine Stine mailed me a copy of FireSeed One in exchange for an honest review.]
Despite the fact that FireSeed One takes place in a highly creative, well-built possible future, I have mixed feelings about it.
For whatever reason, I could not connect with any of the characters. Not a single one piqued my interest and I really didn’t care about what happened to any of them, even the main characters. I’m not sure why this was, but it felt like there wasn’t enough emotion in the writing; I didn’t truly feel the stress Varik was under, his growing love for Marisa, his worry about the augur seeds, etc.
This could be because the world of FireSeed One is so strange and takes a lot of getting used to your first time around, meaning that after a couple read-throughs, my opinion could change. Varik and Marisa are decent enough characters with highly believable backstories, so there is definitely a lot of potential here. It could also be because I am far from the age group Catherine Stine has targeted, as it is a ‘middle years’ novel. Who knows?
Despite my problems with the characters, I had no problems whatsoever with the world of FireSeed One. Catherine Stine has written about a future that’s both exciting and frightening, depending on where you live in said future. It won’t win any awards for including hardcore science, but the scenario she describes is very plausible, depending on whether you think climate change is real or not—a controversy I’m not going to get into. The abandonment of people in the Hotzone is also, sadly, plausible because I have very little faith in humanity if there are dwindling resources in a rapidly changing world.
FireSeed One is a great novel for older tweens and young teens and I suspect most people will connect with the characters much better than I did. So if you’re looking for a novel with decent characters, excellent world-building and a fast-paced plot, you’ll enjoy FireSeed One.
I give this book 4/5 stars.