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Friday, July 4, 2014

DynoMoon review Return to Camelot trilogy

Hey addicts! I'm back again with a review of a three book series called Return to Camelot by author Donna Hosie. I tend to not put up reviews of books that I didn't like, but as my blog cohort reminded me, Miss Little Book Addicts house of books does not promise to like all books we review. We give our honest opinions, so in that spirit here we go: (and grab some popcorn because it could be a bit of a long one since I'm going through three books. Extra butter for me please! LOL)

Legend tells of King Arthur, mortally wounded at the hand of the traitorous Mordred in the final battle of Camlann. Before he was taken to the magical Vale of Avalon, Arthur declared that one day he would return, when the kingdom of Logres was once more in need of his leadership.

That day has now come.

It is hard to make friends when you’re constantly on the move. Seventeen-year-old Natasha Roth’s father is a diplomat, and so her mother – who is paranoid about terrorists – has moved Natasha and her brother, Arthur, to their eighteenth house in seventeen years: Avalon Cottage, deep in the heart of a Welsh forest.

Yet the terrorists are closer than they realize.

While out running, Natasha falls into a hidden tomb and awakens the legendary knights of Camelot: young warriors who have been in an enchanted sleep for a thousand years. All have been waiting patiently for the return of Arthur from the mysterious land of Avalon.

And now the knights are awake, they intend to reclaim their king.

When Arthur goes missing, Natasha joins forces with his girlfriend, “Slurpy” Samantha, in order to look for him. Natasha believes Samantha has fewer brain cells than an amoeba; Samantha believes Natasha is a freak. Retracing Natasha’s original steps to the hidden tomb, they bicker their way into a Welsh mountain and beyond, to the realm of Logres where the Knights of the Round Table are rallying once more.

Natasha falls in love with Sir Bedivere, the most loyal of knights to Arthur. He may be in dire need of a 21st Century razor, but he still possesses a set of lime-green eyes that can melt the soul. Yet just as Natasha starts to find confidence in this mystical land, Samantha deserts her. People who play by the rules are of no use to “Slurpy”. Samantha will take her own path to Arthur, aided and abetted by the dark arts which she willingly absorbs from a hot young stranger called Mordred.

A race across magical yet deadly lands is on. Natasha battles dwarf-riders, dragons, and eventually “Slurpy” to reach Camelot, where Arthur is held captive by the barbarian Saxon, Balvidore.

Natasha’s woes become numerous. What will happen to her and Arthur when the knights realise the eighteen-year-old boy they thought was their king, is in fact a math student with appalling taste in girls? Can two people with a one thousand year age gap really have a relationship? And for the love of all things holy, how is a girl supposed to ride bareback in a pair of skinny jeans?

Seventeen-year-old Natasha Roth and her older brother, Arthur, are reunited once more with the Knights of the Round Table. Unfortunately their joy is not shared by Arthur’s girlfriend, “Slurpy” Samantha, whose hatred of Natasha has not been lessened by time or distance since the Roth family relocated to London.

But Natasha’s happiness is short-lived.

The knights come with ill news from Logres: a magical darkness has fallen over the land. The Lady of the Lake, Nimue, is battling against her former lover, Merlin, whom she imprisoned before the enchanted sleep. He has been freed and Natasha soon discovers that her own actions the previous year unlocked more than just a gateway between the past and the present. When “Slurpy” disappears, a frantic Arthur decides they must leave the 21st century once more and return to Camelot.

With her beloved Sir Bedivere at her side, Natasha follows the sound of the bells and leads Arthur and the knights back into Logres. But there are more than bells ringing in her head. Natasha starts to suffer from terrifying visions in which she sees the destruction of Logres.

As the darkness continues to infect the living, the people start turning on each other, accusing outsiders of witchcraft. Terrified that Natasha will be hurt, Sir Bedivere takes her, the dwarf Byron and Byron’s sister, Guinevere, into the safety of his father’s castle. Yet nowhere in Logres is free from fear and suspicion, and Sir Bedivere unwittingly leads Natasha into a terrifying chain of events in which time itself is manipulated.

Natasha must uncover the truth about the danger to Logres and those she loves. Who is the real threat to Arthur? Can myth and legend become fact? What is the secret that “Slurpy” is now hiding?

And for the love of all things holy, when will Logres invent saddles?
Natasha Roth and her older brother, Arthur, have removed the magical darkness that had fallen over the land of Logres.
But all actions have consequences.
Nimue, the Lady of the Lake, is now a sworn enemy. Natasha realises that the only way the land of Logres will truly be at peace is if the sorceress is removed forever. So with her beloved Sir Bedivere, the feisty Guinevere, and a trusty brethren of knights, Natasha plots to free Logres from the malevolence of Nimue once and for all.
Yet Arthur also has problems. Now a father to Mila, he starts to witness a terrifying change over his girlfriend, Samantha, as she struggles to contain the awakened powers of Morgana.
With dark magic coming at them from all sides, Natasha and Arthur decide to make use of the Falls of Merlin: a mystical landscape of waterfalls that connects 21st century England with the mystical world they fell into. A place that does not exist in the future.
And by the end, they will know why.
As Natasha finally discovers the truth about her past link to Logres a tragedy will strike at her very heart. Can Arthur get his young family back to the 21st century and still continue to be the king that Logres demands he be? What is the secret that Sir Gareth has been hiding all this time?

And who is the true owner of Excalibur?

I'll start by saying that this series is a self published one, which is cool by me, there are some great ones out there. BUT this one had a lot of the same pitfalls that are unfortunately common among some self pub's: grammatical and plot errors which I feel would have really benefited from a good editor. Book one especially felt like a first draft to me, and maybe if an editor took a really strong red pen to the series I may even be swayed to like it. Over all this series left me kinda flat. I do however give full credit for having cool covers that are well done and are a clear link to one whole series.

I got these books a while ago, when I met a blogger who said she was apart of this author's street team. The chick was a really nice lady and very convincing so I checked out ratings on the different book sites and decided to give this a shot.
Well I love most things King Arthur related-But I regrettably have to say I am not a fan of this series, and that is a shame because the idea of it is good.
The first book, Searching for Arthur was easily my least favorite.

My biggest problem with this series as a whole is 3 things: 1- Natasha, the heroine, we will get in to that one in a moment. 2-the time travel of it all and calling Camelot Logres, again we will get to that below. 3-The entirely unneeded excessive cursing, sex and graphic violence.

Characters: starting with Natasha- She's just so stereotypical! And whiney, and bratty, and comes off more as a 12 year old instead of a 17 year old. I wanted to relate to her and feel bad for the things she had been through with her family--trust me, my family put the Dys in Dysfunctional--but I just couldn't, no matter how hard I tried over the three books. Also it really bothered me that with absolutely no training or apparent physical strength, this girl was able to pick up a big ass sword and fight in battles with it WITHOUT ANY kind of training. Totally unrealistic, and one of many points like that.

Arthur- obvi, King Arthur brought back to life, and Natasha's older bro-her only family member that is ever on her side and sticks up for her. Yet for some reason, his girlfriend is constantly allowed to trash talk his sister in front of him, call her a freak, and he does nothing about it........ so much for a caring big brother. Plus this Arthur had several of the traits that I have never liked about how King Arthur is often portrayed (even in some of my favorites!), kinda blind to what is really going on around him and not really thinking about the consequences of his actions. You'll see what I mean in book 2.

Samantha- aka "Slurpy" or "Lady Puke". Okay, how can you give a character those nicknames? (they were both used by Natasha, another indication of her immaturity) And no surprise, she is a vessel for Morgana. She got on my nerves with her pettiness and lack of thinking things through. Plus I couldn't connect with her AND I hated that she was painted in a ho-ish color because she wasn't afraid to flaunt what her momma gave her. Plus her whole plot line throughout the entire series was too obvi.

Sir Bedivere- The Knight in Shining Armor........and the only one of the knights I remember with any kind of clarity- partly b/c of his unfortunate beard (but I did like the bearded squirrel! **Ooh squirrel***) It seemed that this Knight was the only one who got any real back story or depth to his character. There are several Knights in this series, a few of which I can't recall the names of, yet are super hot, but it takes more than hotness to create depth for a character. Again this is very unfortunate, because I still think there was a lot of potential there. (Plus I keep getting Bedivere's name mixed up with Mordred's bad guy ally Baldivore)

The time travel--this series is all about it. But you can't rely on Dr. Who to tell you everything you need to know about flipping through time. There were just so many plot holes because of this and there is only so many I can deal with before I get annoyed. This is why I am super picky about what time travel books/movies I read and watch. Logres, okay I can give you that, making the story your own, props for that. But could you please give us more atmospheric description? I don't really care that much about the clothes you so vividly describe, I want to know more of what this land looks like! I couldn't tell one place from another, even using the gory battle scenes as a marker.

Point 3 from above-- I am no prude, young, but still no prude. Nor am I squeamish when it comes to gore--300 I adore you! Hot Spartans **oh squirrel** Sorry, bout that. Anyways, I think everything that is put into a book NEEDS TO HAVE A PURPOSE, and to me the excessive cursing, battle scenes that seemed to get more and more gorier as they came along, just brought me down. (This was way worse in the first book than the other two. Again see my annoyance over Natasha's sword use) And the sex..........
If you've seen any of my other reviews you know I have no problem with the whole "insta-wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am-love". I love it actually, so the whole "MY LOVE" thing several people have gotten all up in arms about, doesn't bother me. What does bother me is how quickly and easily Natasha falls into bed with Bedivere, after like what, a week or something like that of knowing him. Yes teens do tend to go at it rather quickly, without any thought of the consequences, but I don't think we need to further the appearance that that kind of behavior is okay for our teens. (Plus Natasha thought Slurpy a slut for the way she acted with her brother--pot meet kettle.)

Despite all of this, I believe in giving people and books second, and even third chances. I did like the idea of this series. In all my reading I've learned that I some times like the later book in a series way more than the first. Example- Harry Potter. I didn't really like the first book, liked the second only a little more and a little more with the third. But then WHAM the fourth book got way better and that up hill curve only got taller and better with each book of the series. This has happened to me with at least seven series I can think of right now.

After letting my annoyance with book 1 some time to cool, I opened book 2 The Fire of Merlin. It started better than the first, but to be honest after the first several chapters I kinda heavy skimmed--as I call it-- through the rest of the book. Especially after seeing that Natasha was still her annoying, immature self; but I'm used to that now.
Merlin- I'm still not sure if I like him or not--a good thing in D.H's favor, in my opinion.
Guinevere- the only female I actually liked and felt a connection too. Her and her snappy dwarf brother were great and the relationship between them was super cool. (I can't help but think that this was the author's chance at a do over for Natasha and Arthur)
Sir Bedivere has a hot brother, really? Sadly I didn't get on with him. And that's too bad.

As you can see from the book 2 blurb, Natasha's honey walks them right into crazy trouble, saw that one coming.  I will however give D.H. props for how a character we thought would be good turned into a big baddie; I like those kinds of twists! Even if this one was a bit obvi from the get go that it was going to happen.
Which leads me to book 3 The Spirit Of Nimue, which I read hoping for one last chance a redemption for this series.

I was let down again, though admittingly not nearly as much as with the first book. I would give this one a 2.25 star, where as the others would only get 1.5 at best.

Okay this is a pretty sound thrashing, sorry, but I gotta be honest. HOWEVER, this is just MY OPINION! We all know that not all books are going to be 100% loved. If you can look past the time travel plot holes, lack of development for several characters, a stereotypical heroine and a few other things then you'll probably like this series.
It was fast paced, definitely had one or two things that kinda made up for book 1, and has a seriously good following of fans on Goodreads. But then we all know about GR so........

For me, as far as Arthurian retellings go, Meg Cabot's Avalon High is still one of my favorites. This one sadly falls towards the lower third of that list. PLEASE, leave me your comments and lets have a civilized, respectful conversation if you think I am wrong in my opinions. Maybe you can even get me to change my mind.

MLBA and I welcome all discussions so long as they remain respectful on both sides and don't turn into blown out drama because someone reacts without thinking and attacks a blogger or author. That is called internet and Goodreads bullying and we have no tolerance for it here on this blog or anywhere else.

I promise my next review is a good one!
Peace out! DynoMoon

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