The Realms of God

Realms of GodAuthor: Michael Livingston

Series: Shards of Heaven #3

Publisher: Tor

Release Date: October 29, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A terrific ending to a fantastic trilogy!

Twenty years has passed and we find that time has once again continued to move on. King Juba and Cleopatra Selene have reigned in peace without interference from Augustus Caesar or Tiberius.  The ark of the covenant has been safely place in Petra in an abandoned tomb, continually watched over by Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus, who are also raising Miriam, the daughter of Caesarian and Hannah, who gave their lives protecting the ark.  But evil still lurks by the way of the demons released by King Juba while trying to get revenge for Tiberius’s rape of Selene.  The demons have acquired two of the shards and are now in league with Tiberius to retrieve the remaining items and will stop at nothing for ultimate power.  Can the unlikely band come together a final time to make a stand to protect the world?

I have not enjoyed a series this much in a long time. After reading the first novel, I couldn’t wait for the second.  After the second, I endured another agonizing year for the third.  After the third, I am happy to say that I enjoyed the conclusion even though I long to see it continue out even more.  The character’s personalities really brought this to life for me.  It helps that I’m a huge fan of ancient Rome as well.  I haven’t been much of a historical fantasy fan in the past, but this series has put it on the map for me.  Bringing together some of history’s well known characters and coupling them with an intriguing story is the way to go!

This particular book did not make me research as much as the first two did on the campaigns of Octavian. Even so, I did have to look up more on the city of Petra to get a feel for where I was being taken.  Livingston is a master of tales and I highly recommended this series to all book lovers.  There is some slight harsh language and a brief sex scene, but nothing is really explicit.  Even so, mature YA readers and up should handle this book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Unraveling

UnravelingAuthor: Sara Ella

Series: Unblemished #2

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: July 11, 2017

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The second installment in the Unblemished trilogy is a great read that will leave you aching for more.

Eliyana Ember has always wanted her world to be a fairy tale. After a defeating her grandfather and saving the second Reflection, El starts to only trust what she can see and touch.  The Kiss of Infinity she once shared is nothing but a memory and now that she is becoming queen she doesn’t know if she is prepared to deal with any of it.  The Verity is cast within her soul and therefore leaves Joshua by her side ready to rule her birth land.  Even with all she has, she feels something is missing.  The Callings, she and others have had as magical powers, begin to fail and El wonders if her connection to Ky Rhyen is somehow involved.  Light and dark cannot coexist and El needs to find the answers before the Callings disappear altogether.

This book is outstanding, as long as you have read the first. If you come into this having as a standalone or don’t have Unblemished fresh in your mind, you will likely have difficulties.  There is so much that is set up in the first book that is relevant to Unraveling in order for everything to make sense that it is very important to have the first firmly in your mind when starting this one.  The characters develop much more fully here along with the world.  This is very different from our own, but also similar in many, many ways.  I enjoyed the introduction of new characters and the interaction they had with already established characters.  One of the best aspects is it is a very clean book without losing the intensity of the story, a very rare trait to be found today.  Other than making sure you have read the first book, I can’t think of anything negative to say about this book.  I can’t wait to see what the third installment has in store.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow

Sofi SnowAuthor: Mary Weber

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: June 6, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

If you were to combine The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Host you would be looking at The Evaporation of Sofi Snow.  So much going on it will easily leave you wanting more.

It has been eleven years since the alien race, Delonese, and their ice-planet arrived in Earth’s atmosphere. Since that time, Sofi Snow has had vivid dreams of the aliens.  Earth is now ruled by corporations instead of governments and Sofi and her brother have been forced by these corporations to participate in fantasy fighting.  Sofi is the gamer while her brother, Shilo, is in the arena.  During one of the games a bomb explodes in the arena killing many, including Shilo, or at least that is what everyone but Sofi believe.  She has dreams he is alive and is certain he has been taken by the Delonese.  She must get to the planet and find her brother; the only problem is the only ones allowed are the ambassadors.  Sofi convinces, Miguel, the youngest ambassador who she was close to once, to take her with him to the planet.  Miguel has found himself in trouble as he is being blackmailed to make sure a certain corporation is blamed for the attack.  Together Sofi and Miguel find more trouble, deceit, and unthinkable things than they could have imagined.

Patience. That is the word that comes to mind when describing this book. If you are not patient with what is happening and willing to give it time, at least more than what you would an average book, you are not going to enjoy it.  I really thought I might not finish this one but am very glad I did.  The beginning was slow to get going, very confusing with the set up, and the world the characters found themselves in.  I am not a gamer, which is probably a good target audience for this one, and I think that slowed me down at the beginning. Once I was about halfway through, it didn’t matter that I am not into video games because the story took off in a direction that didn’t have very much to do with the games.  At this point, I was very happy I decided to stick with the book.  The story was engaging and the characters kept me guessing as to what was about to happen with them.  The ending left it wide open for a sequel, which I am anxiously looking forward to.  It is refreshing to see a YA sci-fi thriller out there that kids can really enjoy.  There were several points that I give the author credit for surprising me with the twists and turns I didn’t see coming.  I recommend this book to YA readers that are looking for a thrill ride in the gaming world and so, so much more.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Eye of the Storm

Eye of the StormAuthor: Frank Cavallo

Publisher: Create Space

Release Date: August 11, 2016

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An interesting Sci/Fi novel that will take the reader to another world full of danger and mythical creatures.

Eric Slade is a retired Navy SEAL that now works in remote parts of the world making documentaries. When he is hired by Dr. Anna Fayne for a new mission, he thinks it will be just another day at the office for him. When the two, along with the rest of their team, are caught up in a mysterious storm and sent through a rift in space/time, they end up stranded in a strange lost world.  Eventually they are the only two still alive and are desperate to survive and find a way back home from the savage land they now find themselves in.

This book is one I thought I would really like. I enjoy fantasy novels and this one sounded very interesting.  Unfortunately for me, Eye of the Storm went farther to the sci/fi aspect than fantasy for my liking.  I believe that lovers of science fiction will thoroughly enjoy this book though.  The story was good, but when getting into the science fiction and mythical terminology I found myself lost more often than not trying to figure out how to say something or what it was even talking about.  I think a glossary at the front might help readers as a reference for some of the harder words and what they refer to.  There is a little bit of everything in the story: action, romance, adventure, danger and science beyond our world.  Some of the characters were more relatable than others, I think that was the way the scenes were set up more than everything.  There was a lot of potential here but it fell flat for me.  I do recommend this to readers that love science fiction novels with a little bit of fantasy and romance sprinkled in the mix.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Jorie and the Magic Stone

JorieAuthor: A. H. Richardson

Publisher: Serano Press

Release Date: December 26, 2014

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A magical tale with dragons, hidden stones, treasures, and, of course, evil forces trying to stop Jorie at every turn.

Marjorie, who prefers to be called Jorie, has gone to live with her aunt. She has a vivid imagination and lets it run wild at her new country home.  With her fire-red hair flowing behind her, she runs around the estate and quickly meets a new friend, Rufus, who lives next door.  Together they find a mysterious land beneath the Tarn that is full of enchantment, danger and adventure.  They meet a good dragon, the Great Grootmonya who sends them on a quest to find the three Stones of Maalog and return them.  Jorie is in possession of the first stone, which will lead them to the next.  Along the way, they have to deal with evil dragons and even worse creatures to accomplish their mission.

Jorie and the Magic Stones is a fun story that will be a good edition for young readers.  This isn’t one that everyone will love, but for those that enjoy fantasy novels, this is going to be one to add to their list.  I liked the characters, especially the kids, they had spunk.  I had a few points that I got confused on, but it was probably because I was reading The Magician’s Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia), at the same time and there are several similarities between the two books.  The target audience of young readers will enjoy the short chapters and fun characters.  The travel between worlds made me feel like I was in the story and couldn’t wait to see what they would find.  I recommend this book to young readers looking for adventure in an entertaining story.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Kingdom of Oceana

OceanaAuthor: Mitchell Charles

Publisher: Butterhorse Media

Release Date: November 27, 2015

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A beautiful tale set on a beautiful island that makes for a fun and exciting read.

Sixteen-year-old Prince Ailani has always been in his brother’s shadow and feels that he is where he is destined to be. They live on the island of Hawaii, where there is adventure, surfing, shark taming, fire walking, and even a thousand-year-old curse that they are about to unleash on their paradise. The boys discover an ancient tiki mask at a forbidden burial ground. Then without knowing it, they set about a chain of events that will send the islands of Oceana out of control.  Prince Ailani must get in touch with his inner strength, and his ancestral spirit animal in order to overcome the obstacles they are about to face.

It pains me to say that I have had this on the shelf for a while and just now picked it up. This was a fun adventure that is rich in history and full of fun.  Mitchell Charles did a great job of creating a wonderful tale showing sibling rivalry at its most intense, magic, love and so much more.  While reading, I felt like I was on the islands, and wished I was there experiencing the beauty.  That’s the great thing about a well written book, it can transport you to a magical place you might never be able go to in real life.  The mythical elements were fun to read.  I particularly enjoyed the playful banter between Ailani and the Kahula.  It had just enough humor to keep me smiling but not so much that it took away from the suspense and mystery of the story.

Since I have finished I keep looking and hoping for a second book to come out and continue the story, fingers crossed it will still happen.   I think this could be considered a great YA read, especially with the length, not too long to intimidate younger readers but enough to fully flesh out the story.  I recommend this book to readers that enjoy a good thrill set in a beautiful and magical place.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Valiant

 

the-valiant

Author: Lesley Livingston

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: February 14, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Sword fights, Julius Caesar and betrayal worse than Brutus makes for a captivating and impressive story.

 

 Fallon has always dreamed of being a warrior in her father’s army.  But the Celtic King has other plans.  Having lost his oldest daughter, Sorcha, to the armies of Julius Caesar, he refuses to let Fallon suffer the same fate and gives her hand in marriage to the brother of the man she loves.  She flees in the night and is captured and sold into slavery.  She ends up in the hands of an elite training school for female gladiators owned by Caesar. She now finds herself placing her survival in the hands of the man she has hated for longer than she can remember.  Fallon is in for the fight of her life as treachery is around every corner and she doesn’t know whom to trust.  To top it all off, she finds herself falling in love with a roman soldier, something she never would have dreamed.  With danger ahead, Fallon will have to use all her training to stay alive and prove how valiant she can truly be.

 

 I don’t even know where to start, other than to say that this was such a powerful and exciting story I am sad to see it end.  This is the type of book that you almost hate to read because you know that whatever you read next isn’t going to stand much of a chance of being even remotely as good.  Usually with a good story, it starts with a coincidence and only one.  From that point on, everything needs to come together as the characters should do and act.  That is a hard feat to accomplish but was done so well here that I loved every moment of the story.  There were so many twists that played out beautifully.  I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say the reveals of who some of the characters actually were and how they tied in together had me smiling and pumping my fist at how well Livingston pulled it all off.  This is a story that is unique, genuine, and highly entertaining.  I can’t really say which group of readers I will be recommending this too because I don’t want to leave anyone out that would enjoy the story as much as I did.  There is something here for almost everyone, in my opinion.  I heard there is a sequel coming out and that can’t come soon enough.  This will for sure be one of my top picks for the year.

 

 I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.