Book Review: High Born by Natalia Leigh

high born

High Born by Natalia Leigh

A Fantasy Novel published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 22, 2014)


Blaer is the servant who wants the prince, but when her dreams of marrying for love are dashed, she runs away. She only means to go to the next town, but is chased into the forest. After being rescued, captured, imprisoned, slapped, threatened, and kept under close watch, Blaer must find out who she truly is and what she is really capable of to save those she loves.



 Forbidden romance, Princes and Princesses, Lycanthropy, Heroine, Series


My Review:

Blaer is a character that blossoms in High Born. She starts out as that whiny pathetic female character archetype who can hardly think on her own, let alone help herself out in times of trouble. She was on her way to being a static character and I was puzzled that she was chosen as the main character, that she was somehow “special.” It is her very uniqueness that pulls her out of her character rut and into a more dynamic and take-control person. Slowly, so slowly, she changes. That is, in fact, more realistic. If in real life people don’t change suddenly from weaklings needing to be rescued into heroes and heroines, neither should characters in books. Leigh gives us a complete character, one with misgivings and timidity, one who learns to accept who she is and what she must do, and becomes our perfect plucky heroine.

I was surprised at the oxymoron presented in this novel, that it was said Dominic was a stickler for traditions, but his actions did not support this statement. If Dominic were such a stickler with tradition, why would he deign to talk to the servant Blair? What is tradition in this world? I was left wanting for more description of time and place. The specific settings were very much developed, but the overall context of the world that they lived in was left unnaturally blank. How am I to know what “traditional” truly is if I cannot peg the time period? The dialogue does not suggest medieval or renaissance, although the use of kings, queens and servants, does. In my mind I rectified this because I thought of this novel as taking place in an alternate reality similar to our own. And that is what I love about Young Adult as a genre. It is approachable and understandable for such a wide audience. The dialogue is similar to our own. The characters and their problems are similar to us and our own. When Leigh adds the fantasy element, voile, a book is born.

I didn’t care for a lot of Blaer’s personality before she blossomed. She was kind of dense and pathetic as a person. If I can guess the caveats in the book when it is written in first person, she should too, or at least make guesses hereslf, but they go over her head entirely until a big reveal. She should have been able to guess or even know who Rowan’s father was, who the wolves at the bottom of the trees were. If “The makings of a great leader were in my blood.” (Location 4043), she should have been able to make these simple deductions.

I was worried when Leigh introduced her main fantastical element, because of its previous cliched use in literature. I didn’t have to worry. Other than the too serious label for the magical element: lycanthrope, I was not disappointed in the author’s use of the concept of animal transformation/werewolves.

I rather enjoyed the author’s subtle, perhaps even unintentional, minor character role reversal. It was a play on the traditional and the cliché. The mother held the role of the father and gave away her daughter’s hand for the good of the girl. This tradition is usually reserved for the girl’s father, going against her wishes and desires to give her a better life. The relationship between Blaer and Dominic was also akin to role reversal. Dominic had the very small role usually reserved for the wench the main character (a la a man) falls in love with and who has no personality.

I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a story with a female main character or a fantasy story with animal transformations.

This novel was published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform August 14, 2014 and is available on Amazon here.


TLDR Star Rating: 3.75


Links for more information:



Call for Indie Books for Me (Rachel Barnard) to Review

Dear Readers and Writers,

I love to read. I love to write. I love to tell the world my opinions. My current tbr (to-be-read) list is shrinking rapidly and I need new books! My preferences tend to lie in local authors of Indie books in the genres of YA/Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Action and Adventure. Have you written a book and are looking for reviews? Do you know of a really good Indie book that I should read and review? I want to support authors like me and use my talents to add to the melee that we call the internet. I post reviews on my blog here, on Goodreads and Amazon. I am now reading in both Kindle and print version. If I get the physical copy of a book, I require it to be signed by the author (which usually entails local events to purchase the novel or a giveaway. If you know of any author book release parties/readings/etc in the Bellevue/Seattle area I would love to know about them).

My dream one day when I’m a millionaire/billionaire is to fund Indie authors so that they can convert their novels into audiobooks.

Author Thursdays: At One’s Beast Book Giveaway* Ending and Character Names’ Meanings

Enter to win a copy of At One’s Beast, through September 14th


“You are not required to review the book if you win a copy. However, we encourage you do to so, as it’s the reason the publishers are giving us free books in the first place. People who review the books are also more likely to win more advance copies in the future.”



Alcina –  Derived from the Latinized Greek mythological name Alcinous meaning, “Strong-willed.”

Zosimos – Latinized form of a Greek name derived from  Ζωσιμος meaning “viable” or “likely to survive.”

Aethon – Ancient Greek word means “burning” or “blazing” or “shining.”

Chalysta – Variant and Female version of the Greek Kallistos, meaning “most beautiful.”

Eudocia – Latinized form of the Greek name  Ευδοκια (Eudokia) meaning “good thought.”

Mara – Means “bitter” in Hebrew.

Yuridia – Greek for “noblewoman.”

Marina – Feminine form of Marinus meaning “of the sea.”

Spyros – Greek short form of spyridon meaning “basket” or “spirit.”



If you miss out on the Goodreads Giveaway you can find the kindle/ebook version of At One’s Beast free during the September 19th – 21st weekend or purchase a signed copy at the Snoqualmie Block Party booth. 

FreeValley Publishing Authors: Upcoming Live Event at Snoqualmie Days

The Block Party - FPC


Remember that countdown timer on my blog? it’s for this event! Come see FreeValley Publishing’s booth and snag all those books you haven’t read yet. Check out new books by Rachel Barnard (At One’s Beast), Victoria Bastedo (Roots Entwine) and Jeffrey Cook (Dawn of Steam Gods of the Sun). For more information on FreeValley Publishing, check out their website here!

Authors will be available to meet you and to sign books. The event is at Center Blvd SE, Snoqualmie, WA from 10-5. Hope to see you there!


Author Thursdays: the Power Keeper’s Redemption

This is the start of a ‘trilogy’ I began planning some months back. How do you like the beginning? Do you like the first book’s title (the Power Keeper’s Redemption)?




Liesle held the switchblade steady in her right hand.

“Give it,” her voice quick-stepped over the two words.

“I don’t have it,” the man behind the counter said.

“We both know that’s a lie” Liesle stepped closer and the man stiffened, eyeing the weapon.

“I swear. I don’t have it. I. I sold it,” there was only pity in his eyes.

This made Liesle very angry and she swung the blade in an arc, jabbing the point up toward the man’s chin. He flinched, but she kept the knife from spearing into his throat.

“Where?” The question hissed through her teeth.

The sound of something dropping broke her from her interrogation and she swiveled on her heels without taking her knife from his throat. She saw nothing. She turned back to the man. He had not moved.

“Where?” she repeated.

“You can’t hardly be seventeen, you’ll get your chance to choose your own power.”

“Listen to me. I have waited for someone to choose the power of Repetition for a year. You were the only one. I can’t wait three more years, it’ll be too late. I need it now.”

A siren wailed in the distance.

Liesle narrowed her eyes at him, the knife wavering for the first time.

“I’m so sorry, Liesle.”

“Put the weapon down,” a power officer stood in the door of the convenience store.

Liesle continued to stare at the clerk, grimacing, and shaking her head. She slowly put the knife on the floor.

“You’re not the only one who needs that power,” the clerk said to her.

The power enforcer cleared his throat, commanding their attention. His eyes scanned Liesle’s history chart. He whistled out his teeth.

“Multiple counts of attempted robbery. Two counts of assault, one against an officer of the law,” the power officer read. “armed robbery is going to have severe consequences. You’re lucky that you’re still a minor,” the officer continued as he read down the list of her life’s un-accomplishments. His eyes grew wide. She knew what was coming. “Parents killed. You live with your grandparents now, eh?” He turned to her to ask. She scowled and glanced toward the abandoned knife on the floor. “And you are?” the officer asked, finally tearing his eyes off his scanner.

“Her cousin, Paulo,” the clerk offered.

“Really?” The officer said, elongating the word and looking from Liesle to Paulo and back.

A tear forced its way out of Liesle’s left eye and she reached up to brush it away. The officer spooked at the motion and leveled his weapon at her. At that moment another officer stepped into the convenience store.

It was all over. She had been caught again. This time she had committed a Grand Felony as a minor and through she held no power, the consequences would be severe. She was going to be taken from her home.

As soon as the power officers beckoned for her to accompany them to their vehicle, she panicked. Her feet pushed off and she was attempting to run between the two large men. She surprised the first officer enough to slip between his grasp, but the officer at the door was ready for her.

“Your reputation precedes you,” he said wryly as he shot her with a sedative-laced stunner. She passed out immediately, almost inviting the nothingness to consume her entirely and put an end to her miserable existence and her  unfulfilled undertaking of revenge.

North Bend Block Party Author Appearances!

2014 North Bend Block Party poster

The FreeValley Publishing authors will host a booth at North Bend Days. Come down, show your support, listen to some music, and play games! For more information on FreeValley Publishing, the authors involved, and the books available for purchase, click here.

Author Thursdays: The First 1000 Words of a Story by Rachel Barnard

A young boy stood silhouetted, perched like an animalistic predator awaiting a sign of its dinner. He pulled out a thinned and long instrument from a sling around his neck and blew into one end of it. A low drone undercut the wind in the air, whipping around the hill, wavering slightly in tone but never in pitch. The boy carefully stuffed the vuvuzela back in its place and turned to glance behind him. He was soon joined by three other boys, each carrying a different weapon that glinted fiercely in the dying light. One weapon was a simple instrument, only one piece of wood, easily grasped within one of the boy’s hands with a sharp metal piece attached to one end. The second boy carried his weapon with the awkwardness that usually accompanies unfamiliarity. His weapon was also quite lengthy but it tapered at both ends and was connected by a string. He carried a sling of small pointed arrows on his back. The third boy held in his hand a wickedly curved knife with a crudely cut but elaborately worked wooden handle.

The first boy tensed, peering deep into the distance. He was met by trees and bushes. His face lit up and he gestured to his buddies. They stopped shoving each other and bragging about their bravado back in the heart of the silver zone. They looked where the first boy pointed. Ten seconds passed and they were all still staring straight ahead, down the hill. A brushy bush between the bottom of the hill and the trees beyond shook itself, like it was shedding a layer of leaves. Two disheveled and dirty adolescents fell out of the bush running, trailing bits of twigs behind them. The four boys on the hilltop let out war cries. The first boy whooped and started running down the hill, leaving his mates behind. They didn’t wait a moment before racing after him, catching up steadily. Adrenaline pumped as they gathered speed down the hill. The two adolescents picked up their pace ahead of the other boys, sprinting as if their lives depended on it.

The four predators gained foothold on level ground and pounded after the two boys ahead of them. The trees became taller and taller as the chase took itself to the forest’s edge. The distance between the two parties waned, disappearing at a rapid pace. The four boys were long-legged and sure-footed, hampered only by the menacing weapons they brandished in their hands. The two ahead of them ran with a different speed, one fed by the fear of an untimely and early death at the hands of Los Ricos. The distance grew tighter and the first hunter hefted his spear, moving its glinty point from the sky to a horizontal point, aiming at the terror-stricken two in front. The boy knew that if he waited until they were all within the confines of the forest, his weapon would be less than useful. He straightened out his stride, gliding forward and readied his arm to throw. He released his spear at the same time that the two adolescents were about to vanish within the tangle of the trees. The taller adolescent let out a cry and grasped at his right arm with his left, still moving forward, but at a wounded pace. A growing rorschach
of red appeared on his dirt-crusted sleeve, mixing in with sweat and dust. His friend cried out as well but kept going, leaving his friend in his wake. The two melted into the forest. The four boys converged at the edge of the trees. The boy with the other long weapon hefted it up. The bow was fitted with one of the arrows in his quiver at his back and he walked forward. He was swallowed by the forest, followed by the rest of the clique. They were not cheetahs chasing their prey anymore, now they stalked like true hunters.

“That was a crap shot, Jorge,” the first boy, Carlos, said as he pulled out his primitive slingshot and a couple of spiked stone-sized objects from the same sack that housed the vuvuzela. He was careful not to prick his own finger; the spikes were filled with poison that dispersed when contact was made. He definitely had to handle his ammunition gingerly.

“He moved at the last second. It was a perfect shot,” Jorge whined, unsheathing a machete from around his waist, leaving the gps trackable spear lying on the ground behind him. Word was the Gypaetus would not pick up or use their weapons. What pussies Jorge thought to himself.

“Shut up! They can hear you,” whispered the archer, Luís.

“So?” waid Jorge, slightly louder than his normal voice. “Ouch. Stop it Esteban!” Jorge said even louder.

Esteban, the fourth boy was poking Jorge with the tip of one of his throwing knives.

“Come on. They’re getting away. Let’s go already,” said Luís.

“You want to use the heat sensor or the locator or go blind hunting?” asked Carlos, his slingshot at the ready, even though the two adolescents had run far beyond his shooting range.

“No blind hunting, stupid. We need to get points. Can’t fall further behind,” Esteban answered.

“Last kills for the day, then,” Jorge commented.

“Or night,” Carlos added.

“It shouldn’t take that long. These ones don’t seem too smart. Running out into the open. Tsk.” Esteban shook his head sadly and then grinned. “You may have gotten the first hit Jorge, but I’m going to take the kill.”

“There’s two of them. We can share you know,” Jorge answered Esteban’s boast.

“Not if I get there first!” shouted Carlos as he whooped again and took off into the jungle.

The other boys set off as well, spreading out to cover more distance.

Maple Valley Days a Success


(Photo courtesy of Sheri J. Kennedy)

What a beautiful booth! The new canopy tent worked out really well, easy set up and tear down. We sold a good number of books even though the weather was quite poor over the weekend and the entire festival had record low numbers of attendance. Jeff was wonderful and manned the booth the entire time! Go Jeff! We met a number of aspiring authors. Overall the event was a success and thanks to all for helping out.

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(Photos courtesy of Sheri J. Kennedy)

Steampunk Themed Release Party for Dawn of Steam Was a Hit

Dawn of Steam

What made Jeff’s release party such a success was how much fun it was to participate. We (the readers) had a chance to dress up and hang out in a cool venue. This was no Barnes and Noble, author behind a desk, book release or signing event. This was a full on party! There were lots of friendly people and lots of books. I had a great time and I hear Jeff sold a number of books there as well (a technical measure of success). Great job Jeff at organizing such a great time for everyone.

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Any excuse to dress up and I’m in!

Dawn of Steam Release Party (Renton, WA) this Saturday! Steampunk

dawn of steam 20140417_095514

This Saturday, from 4 PM to 8:30 PM at the AFK Elixirs and Eatery in Renton, come out to the Dawn of Steam release party! Come dressed in your Steampunk finest, snag a signed copy of the book, and chat with like-minded readers.

For more info on the event, click here.