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Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Lost Girl (Lost Knight #2) by Candy Atkins

First Impression: I adored the first installment, and can't wait to continue this series!


Characters: Old friends like Jonah and Dathid make appearances throughout, while a host of new ones are introduced and expanded upon. Agatha remains sullen for most of this second book, but begins to find herself towards the end. The author challenges us to look past the surface of judging people at first sight as well as our prejudice by having Agatha interact with her new fellow citizens, so different from herself.

World Building: Where Atkins really shines is creating a fantastic yet beautiful world to explore. Creatures, characters, and scenery are invented or borrowed from legend.

Writing Style: Easy to read for any age, and clean for YA.

What I Enjoyed: I fell in love with Ashra, the parallel universe Agatha returned to after her 13 years on Earth. Concepts like time and the finest details of armor or food immerse the reader in another world.

Deal Benders: I don't care for Agatha sometimes, as I feel she is a bit whiny. I would have liked her character to develop gradually, instead of all at once towards the end of this book. Also, her relationships with old friends like Jonah and Dathid don't change, while she forms very quick and strong attachments to others.

Overall Rating: 4 stars - I really enjoy this series, and look forward to seeing what new adventures book 3 brings!

Recommended Reading:
Rhapsody Child of Blood (Symphony of Ages, #1) by Elizabeth Haydon Magyk (Septimus Heap, #1) by Angie Sage

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Construct 11 Part II: Trust and Loyalty by Anna Lynn Miller

First Impression: I can't wait to read Part II in this dystopian series!


Characters: Daniel and the rest of the Seventeens grow and mature while acquiring knowledge the Leaders never wanted them to find. Caretakers (parents) show their human flaws, and a predator roams the Construct.

World Building: Life inside Construct 11 is appropriately depicted as confining. I can't imagine living in a world where the sky is only seen through the roof of a building. There's a not-so-surprising yet satisfying ending to this installment that makes me want to read the third!

Writing Style: I appreciate Miller's ability to write for all ages while keeping seasoned readers interested. Once in a while I wished for better conversations between the teenage characters however, as they felt very Leave It To Beaver.

What I Enjoyed: Many of the themes in this series and installment are new ideas. Secret lives and hidden treasures made me bring this book with me everywhere. The chracters are overall authentic and the plot deals with issues in everyday society.

Deal Benders: The women are all depicted as helpless and emotional children who need men to protect them - this really annoyed me even though it makes sense in such a closed society story. I would like to see stronger female characters in Part 3 please!

Overall Rating: 4 stars - I really like this story and want to find out if the characters leave the Construct. Hopefully creating space for capable females along the way.

Recommended Reading:

The Lying Planet by Carol Riggs City of Words by Steven J. Carroll Hurst (The Hurst Chronicles #1) by Robin Crumby Truth (The Geneva Project, #1) by Christina Benjamin

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Empyrean's Fall by Nicole L. Bates

First Impression: I can't wait to continue this series! Also, another gorgeous cover.


Characters: The Leroni are a humanoid alien species to the humans who've landed on a strange planet somewhat like their own while vastly and dangerously new. I found the relationships authentic and the conflict believable. Of course my favorite is the love between Jahira and Krnar.

World Building: Again Bates brings exploration of Empyrean with peril and delight. Creatures, flora and fauna, and a host of other new discoveries await. I'm always impressed with this author's careful thought behind the technology and medicinal practices, as well as the character daily lifestyles and adventures.

Writing Style: Approachable and easy to follow, while building a complex enough sci-fi escape. Creating a series enjoyable for adults yet innocent enough for YA is no easy task, but Bates surprises me yet again with this accomplishment.

What I Enjoyed: What did I not enjoy might be the better question here? I want this series to go on forever. My favorite parts of fantasy and sci-fi combine to create a fast-paced adventure with enough tender and reflective moments to be immersive.

Overall Rating: 5 stars - Feel good at times, gripping at others. Everything I want in a story.

For Fans Of: Rhapsody series by Elizabeth Hayden, Jurassic Park

Monday, May 28, 2018

Land of Nod, The Artifact (Land of Nod #1) by Gary Hoover

First Impression: Traveling to another realm is always a fascination of mine. Let's dive in!


Characters: Mainly about a group of kids who are a bit precocious and mature for their age. One of them happens to be from Earth, and the others from an alternate dimension of some kind. The themes and relationships throughout are a social commentary with valuable lessons for life outside the page.

World Building: I adored the setup, the science, and the creatures in <i>The Artifact</i>. Readers will easily visualize the other world, similar enough to Earth for us to imagine while fantastic enough to excite that fantasy world within.

Writing Style: Middle-grade accessible reading flow with dialogue and character thoughts that reveal the author's personality. The adults are supporting characters, and you get to see their decisions through the perspective of a young boy. It's not easy to regress the adult mind while reading, but Hoover manages to do so delightfully.

What I Enjoyed: The way Jeff enters the other world from Earth is so whimsical yet scientifically believable. I won't give it away, but I really liked that part. The gadgets and creatures are also intriguing. I look forward to seeing what Jeff and his friends get up to in the next installment.

Deal Benders: I thought this would be a bit more YA than Middle Grade, but it's not the end of the world. If you appreciate a nostalgic children's story every once in a while, definitely pick this one.

Overall Rating: 4 stars: Fast-paced and feel-good.

For Fans Of: The Chronicles of Narnia, Peter Pan

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Bottled by Carol Riggs

First Impression: I haven't read a genie story in a very long time - plus that cover looks magical!


Characters: Clean YA romance themes throughout with a touch of magic. Adeelah is a genie trapped by a sort of magic curse. After centuries of spoiled "masters", she finds one who will change her world. What is most important is the characters each grow and evolve throughout the story, making them come to life.

World Building: Everything was plausible, if yet fantastic. The background of how Adeelah comes by her powers, as well as the impact of her abilities are fully realized in this short book.

Writing Style: This is the third book I've read by this author. Riggs brings a wonderfully new twist on an old story.

What I Enjoyed: I want a sequel. Bottled will likely stay with me, as the relationships and plot were so different from what I've read lately. I wanted to pick this book up every chance I had, which speaks to its magic.

Deal Benders: I'm not sure of the intended audience. If written for YA, there are violent themes I would suggest for adults only.

Overall Rating: 4.5 stars for this short gem of a story. I wish for another installment, so now you have to write one - right?

For Fans Of: Aladdin, Harry Potter

Stars Uncharted by S.K. Dunstall

First Impression: A beautiful cover among the stars - take me away! 


Characters: Everyone has a unique personality with a sense of individual background and outlook. I would have liked more character development as the story progressed.

World Building: Set on space stations and ships, the universe feels realistic. Most of the building is spent describing the mod machines, ingredients, and history.

Writing Style: The Dunstall duo offers a fast-paced adventure with easy to read language. I appreciate their ability to create new words and ideas without making them confusing or distracting to the story.

What I Enjoyed: New technology and terminology is exciting to my creative mind, and is handled wonderfully in Stars Uncharted.

Deal Benders: I wanted more to happen than just a group of bad guys chasing down a group of good guys. Some parts were repetitive, and the ending left me feeling unresolved.

Overall Rating: 3 stars solid for an enjoyable among the stars.

For Fans Of: Firefly

Friday, April 20, 2018

Magic-Price (The Crown of Stones #1) by C.L. Schneider

First Impression: A cover full of emotion an an exciting magical premise.



Characters: Ian Troy narrates his painful journey of confronting his past to fight for his future. His family, friends, and enemies are well thought out and often relatable. I was saddened how all characters seem to be hopeless addicts to either magic or power. Although I don't like Troy very much, there are redeeming supporting mates to cheer on such as Jarryd. The connections and relationships are tangible and complex, making for a compelling story.

World Building: Rella and the surrounding world are from a simpler time before techonology and industry. The magic addiction and oppression, slavery, and obsession are difficult and heady themes throughout. Magic is written as something addictive and unpredictable with severe consequences - something not often considered in the fantasy genre so in love with the idea of magic.

Writing Style: Schneider weaves magic with words, like a song on the wind. No part of this story was boring or rushed, which is no easy task at 500 pages.

What I Enjoyed: The author has a gift for writing, and the characters are unique and dimensional. Ian's interactions with his companions felt authentic. It's not always clear who the "bad guys" are, which is often true in life. Whomever records history has the perspective of virtue.

Deal Benders: The sexual themes throughout this first book could definitely trigger some readers. I would rate it R for adult content, which seemed to be added simply as a show of violence. These themes felt cheap and egregious, as if the author was trying too hard to impress a lustful audience. I think there are better ways to create tension than to describe sex scenes in detail, as it usually detracts from the story. The violence, torture, and other themes made for a very bleak read.

Overall Rating: 3 stars - I enjoyed many parts of this book, so this was a tough one. I would have given another star for the excellent writing and characters if there was less extreme violence and a little bit of hope.

For Fans Of: Game of Thrones