Under the Whispering Door

Author: T.J. Klune

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: September 21, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A book with character development better than any I’ve read in a long time.

Wallace Price worked as an attorney and was not the best person he could be before passing away from a heart attack. When he wakes up at his own funeral, a reaper is ready to collect him and take him to where he is supposed to cross over. At first, he doesn’t want to believe he is dead, but it quickly becomes evident that is the case and this is more real than he would like it to be. When he meets Hugo, the owner of a unique tea shop that is supposed to help him cross over, he doesn’t feel ready to leave just yet. He is given one week to finish figuring out what he needs to do before crossing over.

I want to start with the good points of this book: the character development of Wallace was stellar. Kind of hard to have character development of someone that dies but Klune did a phenomenal job of making this character that starts out despicable as someone you want to root for and see come out happy in the end. What I didn’t know when I picked this book up was it was a book dealing with LGBTQ issues, not a book I normally pick up. The story and characters were well written and readers that enjoy these issues will want to pick this one up.

The Oasis King

Author: Mark David Pullen

Publisher: Morgan James Fiction

Release Date: February 28, 2023

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A cross between Narnia and Journey to the Center of the Earth (movie, not the book,) made for a great fantasy adventure book for young readers.

Dylan, Jack, and Tripp are cousins spending a week at their grandmother’s farm. As they are out exploring, they are transported away to the Valley of the Oasis, a land unlike anything they are used to. In this strange land, they find creatures extinct in their world, talking animals and Tripp’s father, Martin, who has been missing since before he was born. Martin and his dogs have been pursued by a Stranger with green skin and other odd features that seems to be from another time and place. As the boys stick close to Martin, they work together to try and find a way to get them all back home.

With elements of both Narnia and the Journey to the Center of the Earth movie, this book made for a fun adventure for younger readers. I would say this book was good, not great, but also not bad. For such a short fantasy novel, Pullen did a pretty good job of setting up this different world we find our characters in but left me with several questions about the world; how they actually ended up there, since the boys’ method was different than Martin and what is to come next. I understand his thought process of keeping it short to attract young hesitant readers but there was a lot left unanswered and several head scratching moments. I don’t want a fantasy book that is super hard to understand, but also need this new world to make sense which I felt was lacking here. This is the start of a series and I am looking forward to seeing what is coming next for these characters and hopefully seeing the Oasis world built up more and expanded in a way to make the story come together fully. I would recommend this to young readers that enjoy fantasy but don’t want a 500 page book that is full of words they won’t understand.

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

Fairy Tale

Author: Stephen King

Publisher: Scribner

Release Date: September 6, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A book that is full of magic, fairy tale creatures, adventure, and a full escape from the crazy world we live in.

Charlie Reade has had his share of ups and downs growing up. His mom died when he was young causing his dad to drink too much, which left Charlie to grow up on his own. Later, after Charlie’s Dad has stopped drinking and their relationship is on the upswing, Charlie meets a dog named Radar who leads him to her owner, Howard Bowditch. Howard hurt himself and needs help. After years of being a recluse, Howard lets Charlie into his life and ends up sharing a secret with him on a tape minutes before dying. He tells him that inside his shed is a stairway leading down to another world, a world Charlie must see to believe and once he does, nothing will ever be the same.

This book is like a book within a book in certain ways. I read the first few hundred pages, which could have been a book on its own, and then the story took off in another direction that was creative and had a way of bringing fantasy into reality in way I haven’t read in a really long time. It has been an incredibly long time since I have read anything by Stephen King, and I had this one recommended to me by a friend. I’m glad he did because it was so different from anything I have read this year that it made it that much more enjoyable. I do feel like 50-100 pages could have been slimmed down in the middle and made it a more enjoyable read. At times I got lost in the other world and all that was happening, along with the massive number of characters throughout, some with only appeared for a few moments. Charlie and Radar were a great pair and a great way to show love in a different way. To me, this was a great Stephen King book, it wasn’t gory or crazy scary, just a fun escape into the world of fiction and fantasy.

Blood Scion

Author: Deborah Falaye

Series: Blood Scion #1

Publisher: Harper Teen

Release Date: March 8, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An interesting debut that was brutal, bloody and full of action and complex characters.

Sloane lives with her grandfather after her mother disappeared. She has a deep secret inside that if revealed would be the end of her. She is a Scion, a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods. If her emotions run high, she can incinerate her enemies; so, keeping her powers hidden has kept her alive while the Lucis’, those that rule the country, hunt the scions down and kill them. On her fifteenth birthday, Sloan is drafted into the Lucis’ army and uses this as a way to get on the inside and destroy them from within before they hurt anyone else she cares about.

Blood Scion is one of those unique books that was a bit of a slow start with the world building but once it got me, I didn’t want to put the book down. This was definitely a dark book at times and not one for a young audience; even though it is marketed as a YA book I would keep this to the older teen market as much as possible with some of the more mature themes. Sloane is an interesting character and developed really well throughout the course of the book. I would love to see more from her in future novels in the series, so I got really excited when I found out this is a duology. The story does wrap up nicely at the end but is left open for more to come when the author decides to expand on this storyline. There were several characters that played smaller roles that I would like to see expansion on their character arc, each of these minor characters really helped pull the story together. While the premise overall was unique to me I did notice hints of other stories throughout, especially the Divergent series, just minor moments here and there that made me think of the other series. Overall, I would recommend this to older teen readers that enjoy a good fantasy read that has lots of action and adventure.

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

Kelcie Murphy and the Academy for the Unbreakable Arts

Author: Erika Lewis

Publisher: Starscape

Release Date: March 1, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fun and engaging read for young readers looking for tales of magic, mystery and so much more.

Kelcie Murphy has always felt unwanted going from foster home to foster home and never knowing who her parents are or where she is from. While on a field trip with her school, she is attacked and ends up being transported to another world, a world at war. The Academy for Unbreakable Arts is the kind of place Kelcie has only dreamed of but never thought existed. She is now training with warriors and finding her hidden powers that will hopefully help her find her parents and her past. Kelcie learns that she is a Saiga, one of the most ancient beings in the Otherworld and one of the most powerful. Together with her new friends she will have to fight to save herself and her new school before it’s too late.

Kelcie Murphy starts out fast and doesn’t let up; this is the exact right kind of book I look forward to recommending to young readers looking for fantasy, magic, adventure and a great story. I loved the way Kelcie used all the hardships she went through to bring out the strength she needed to prove to herself and others she belonged. This is a story similar to Harry Potter; it is her 12th birthday when she finds out about a world beyond her own with magic, friends and her past she knew nothing about. There is a lot of world building throughout the entire book which sets things up for what I am hoping is many more books to come. The plot is fast paced and very interesting, I found myself breezing through the pages to find out how it would all end up. The relationships that Kelcie has with her friends and classmates add to the tension of the story with some not liking her from the beginning and some, like Niall, taking a liking to her and being a good companion. It is hard for her to believe she could have friends after being on her own most of her life, this new concept makes her everyday life so different than what she is used to. All these different dynamics made the story realistic in terms of how different kids act and treat others and moved the story along at a great speed. I highly enjoyed this story and recommend it to young readers looking for books on magic and full of adventure.

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


Author: Tracy Wolff

Series: Crave #4

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Release Date: February 1, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

For what I once thought was going to be the end, it sure does a fantastic job setting up more to come for fans of this fantastic series. Even when I want to stop reading, I can’t put the book down! Too good!!!

Just when things started to calm down, everything falls apart again for Grace and her friends. Flint is about to lose it; Jaxon is changing by the day and Hudson is shutting himself off from Grace as they are about to face their biggest battle yet. To survive, they are going to need an army of their own, the Gargoyle Army. The only problem is they have been frozen in time for a thousand years. The group works together to battle the most dangerous villain around, but with every battle they take on, they are faced with more and more challenges and not everyone is going to make it out alive.

I must give Tracy Wolff a hand, it is hard to write a book over 700 pages and keep the reader interested and even aching for more after turning the last page. Plus, the woman must write like a fiend with the next two coming out later this year also, insert happy dance! This series came to my attention last year and I have been hooked since. If you are fan of teen fantasy, especially books such as Twilight, Hunger Games and even Harry Potter, you will love these. There is more language and other adult themes than I would prefer, especially being marketed to teens, but if you can look past those aspects while reading it will be a fun series for you.

Probably one of the aspects that impressed me the most is Wolff’s ability to create this world and characters in a way that made it so believable unlike many of today’s authors can come close to. In this fourth installment, readers see Grace in even more trouble and dealing with her feelings for Hudson; the way this relationship is written got me in all the right places. Grace is the perfect female protagonist with amazing secondary characters to keep the story moving at a remarkable pace. Again, to write a book over 700 pages and keep the reader’s interest shows her talent and she obviously listens to her fans and gives them what they want with this story and these characters. Readers do need to be aware of the mature themes throughout and subject matter that is not appropriate for younger readers in my opinion. For the older readers that enjoy this type of fantasy series don’t miss this one.

Rise of the Light Bringer

Authors: Ted Dekker & Rachelle Dekker

Series: And They Found Dragons #3

Publisher: Scripturo

Release Date: November 9, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The final book in the Dragons series goes back to “Old School, Dekker” for me. Still a great read but nothing spectacular.

Jack is fighting to make Earth safe for the rest of his family and crew to come home but finds problems at every turn. The Red dragons are trying to convince him they are the only way to survive while the Silvers try to show him love is the way. All he has been taught growing up will be put to the test in order to save humanity.

Anyone who has ever read anything by Ted Dekker, especially his early works will recognize a lot of the writing in this final story in this series as “classic Dekker.” I call it that because it is nothing new, it is a different character and setting but a lot of the very same imagery as found in his other books. There is a lot of great Christian content in showing that love wins out in the end over fear and if we will look to “Yeshua,” for love and not let the fear of all that is going on in the world take us over we will flourish. At this point in the story I got a little tired of Jack and his wishy-washy attitude. He needed to make up his mind on what he believed and let the story flow in that way, which would have made me as a reader a lot happier with how it played out.

I got this series for my son, and I look forward to the discussions we can have after he reads these. It is appropriate for readers age 9 and up but I believe adults will also enjoy this series as well.

Journey to the Silver Towers

Authors: Ted Dekker & Rachelle Dekker

Series: And They Found Dragons #2

Publisher: Scripturo

Release Date: November 9, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The second book in the And They Found Dragons series picks up where the first left off and continues the adventure readers will enjoy.

After landing on Earth as some of the sole survivors after a nuclear war, Jack now searches for a way to take down the dragons after most of his team died upon arriving. The more Jack explores, the more he discovers things are not as they seem with the dragons and the other humans he finds after arriving on Earth. Those on Earth have been bowing down to the Red dragons and following all they command, especially the take down of the Silver dragons. Jack quickly learns that the Silver dragons are not bad but are the key to helping make Earth safe for everyone to live once again. Now he must convince the others who are blind to the love the Silvers give before it is too late.

This is the second book in the And They Found Dragons series and readers will enjoy the continuation of the adventure. This book looked more like classic ‘Dekker” writing for me. The first started out a little different but this one looked more like the writings of Ted Dekker that I have read for many, many years. Even though this is written by both he and his daughter, I really only see his writing style here. Jack is a great main character and readers will enjoy going on the adventure with him. This is probably my favorite book in the series. The content is just right for young readers, but older readers will get a lot out of this as well with the imagery throughout. Overall, this was an enjoyable read and one I look forward to my son reading and being able to discuss with him.

The Boy Who Fell From the Stars

Authors: Ted Dekker & Rachelle Dekker

Series: And They Found Dragons #1

Publisher: Scripturo

Release Date: November 9, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The start of the new Dekker series is full of mystery, drama and dragons! What more could readers ask for?

In the near, distant future most of humanity has nearly been wiped out by nuclear war and only a little over 100 souls are able to survive by escaping on a shuttle named Arc. While they have been away from Earth, the nuclear devastation brings forth more unexpected problems, Dragons. Any teams that have been sent aren’t able to live because of reactions to the dragons, until they find out kids are not as susceptible to the toxins from the dragons. One child, Jack, is immune to the toxins and he is not fit to go on the mission with the other kids chosen to travel to earth and slay the dragons. When one of the other kids falls ill, Jack is the only choice to help complete the mission to make it safe for all of humanity to return to Earth.

The first book in the new series by Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker will set readers off on an adventure that is out of this world. With characters that young readers will be able to relate to and a story that has adventure, fantasy and much more, readers young and old will enjoy. I have been a Dekker fan for a long time and bought this for my son for Christmas. I wanted to read them before him so we could discuss the stories afterwards and am glad I did, I enjoyed the story and can’t wait to see what happens next. Jack is a great lead character, but I have to say Sammy is my favorite so far. The first book ends with just enough of a tease to keep me aching to start the next immediately. This looks to be a great new series for young readers to enjoy.

The Final Judgement

Authors: Ted Dekker & Kara Dekker

Series: Dream Traveler’s Quest #4

Release Date: January 1, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The final book in the series wraps things up nicely and gives readers a great finish to a fun series!

Theo and the gang must work harder than ever to defeat the evil around them in this world and “Other Earth,” before time run outs. All that they have worked for comes down to this and the lessons they learned about life, love and what it all means.

Fans of Ted Dekker will love this series and how it all concludes. Theo and his friends are great characters for young readers to follow and root for as they battle the forces of good and evil and learn about life and so many other great lessons. I gave this series to my son for Christmas a few years ago and just now got around to reading them all myself. I have been a Dekker fan for many years and love how things connect back to his other books. I can’t wait for my son to read the rest of his collection and tie it all together. I recommend this series for young readers that are looking for great books that will keep them excited about reading and learning.