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.

 

Recruits

recruitsAuthor: Thomas Locke

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: February 14, 2017

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An out of this world Fantasy adventure that will leave the reader aching for more!

Sean and Dillon Kirrel are twin brothers who have always enjoyed looking into the possibilities of other worlds. So much in fact, that they have sketched out what one might look like.  Shortly after they turn seventeen, they are approached by a man telling them he is interested in them for a potential job.  It turns out that he is looking to them for a unique gift they have, the ability to transition between worlds, including the one they have sketched and imagined.  He shows them how to transition between the different worlds and it is quickly clear that the twins are destined for great things in this world and beyond.

I haven’t read much science fiction, just not my go-to books, but the way Thomas Locke writes I think I might just have to add more to my pile. Recruits was a very interesting story.  For the most part, the story is set on Earth, and the times it is on another planet.  In this book, we don’t see enough of the planet to need a large amount of setup for the location.  And even though it talks about many different planets, it is mostly dealing with humans so you are not having to picture all kinds of different beings, except towards the end.  The writing was quick and clean without a lot of unnecessary information to slow down the story which I appreciated.

There were a few aspects that did leave me scratching my head. The twins are basically on their own at seventeen.  Their parent’s lack of involvement is explained but I didn’t totally buy it.  Additionally, the ending tied up all the loose ends and all but I didn’t feel it left it open well enough with suspense for the next in the series.  It also felt like there wasn’t enough closure and explanation; it was almost like, BAM finished.  The attack at the end could have been played out with a little more explanation.  Overall it was a very enjoyable read and fans of Science fiction and Fantasy are sure to love it.

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

The Fifth Petal

5th-petalAuthor: Brunonia Barry

Series: The Lace Reader #2

Publisher: Crown

Release Date: January 24, 2017

Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman

On November 1, 1989, a little girls is found, crying and almost catatonic, in some bramble bushes at a murder scene.  Three young women, including the girl’s mother, have been brutally murdered, and the little girl has been spared.  The women have all been accused of witchcraft, and the woman they live with, Rose Whelan, is a scholar on the Salem witches.  She is also accused of the murder.  The little girl, Callie, is taken in by local nuns and the only obvious repercussion to her is a large rose-shaped cut on her hand from the rosary she held tightly all night long.

Present day Salem brings another murder charge to Rose, who was exonerated of the murder of the three girls, commonly known as the Goddesses around town.  They are known for their sexual exploits and the pull they have on the men in town.  Rose has never been the same since the incident, and after this new murder accusation, she becomes catatonic and is hospitalized.  Callie is called to tend to Rose, and all of the secrets of her mother’s and Rose’s past are brought to light again.

Callie becomes involved with the son of a prominent “old money” family, and as she gets to know the family, she learns many more secrets about the Goddesses and Rose.  Close family friends also provide answers and provoke memories that Callie completely forgot.  Callie finishes Rose’s research about the hanging of several accused witches in Salem and discovers things that people have been keeping from her all her life.

This book is a long read that gives its readers many opportunities to figure out what happened to Callie’s mother all those years ago and why.  Just when the reader thinks it is figured out, however, something new comes along to challenge that theory.  There is a lot of backstory involved, which at times is confusing, but it all adds up to a thick, rich story.  Readers will need to pay attention to keep track of the huge cast of characters, both present and past, in order to piece together the events that happened the night Callie lost her mother.  I enjoyed the constant tease of the revelation that was then pulled back to reveal more to the story.  The unfolding of the characters’ involvement with one another and the murders is complex and adds another layer to the mystery of Callie’s past.  There is a bit of mysticism and fantasy at play, as several of the characters see visions, predict the future, and read minds.  All put together, The Fifth Petal is a mystery that has so much more.

I highly recommend this book to people who love mysteries with a bit of fantasy.  It does contain sexual situations, some profanity, and violence, and is therefore recommended for mature readers only.

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

The Returning

the-returningAuthor: Rachelle Dekker

Series: Seer #3

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: January 17, 2017

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The final book in the Seer series brings it full circle, just like another Dekker.

It has been twenty years since Carrington and Remko Brant have seen their baby Elise, who was taken from them as they were forced to leave the Authority City. No matter how far they traveled, she has never been far from their hearts and minds.  The man that took her is now the Authority City president trying to bring the city into a new era of peace.  The Scientist Roth Reynard is still there providing his Genesis Serum that takes away all memory of emotion keeping rebellion from happening.  The seers, with Aaron, have been tucked away until now and are ready to take their restoration to the rest of the world, starting with the Authority City.  They have a chosen seven that are going to rescue Elise and be at the forefront of the battle that is sure to come.  Elise is the key to the victory they hope to achieve as all they know will be tested.

As the third and final book in Dekker’s debut series, I can say she did a fine job wrapping it up. If you have read any of her father’s writing, it will be easy to see the similarities in his writing as well as hers.  For this reason, I am going to say that this book will be best read by those that haven’t read anything by Dekker Sr.  His work is great and is probably what will have turned most people on to Rachelle and her writing.  If you take her as a separate entity, which you should but is still hard, it will be much more enjoyable.  While the first and second book focused mostly on Carrington and Remko, they are not mentioned much here except for maybe a chapter or two.  That was an interesting change of pace, I wish there would have been a little more focus on them instead of going straight into the grown up children.  There was a lot to straighten out here and luckily all was wrapped up by the end.  My nit-pick for the book would have to be Jesse, for some reason he just didn’t click with me.  I can’t put anything specific down except for the times he was there never fully felt authentic.  The chapters went back and forth between several different points of views making the story flow at a quicker pace in my opinion. As a reader, you get to see more of the action from more characters without fleshing out those characters as much as if only one or two were the main focus.  Overall this was a very enjoyable read, probably the best of the series.  I would recommend this for fans of dystopian series with a faith base.

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

Check out our author interview here.

The Shattered Vigil

the-shattered-vigilAuthor: Patrick W. Carr

Series: The Darkwater Saga #2

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: November 1, 2016

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A second installment that reads just as good as the first!

As Willet and the Vigil thought there were in the clear, new dangers have emerged that are beyond anything they have ever faced. Not only are these new foes assassins, but they never spotted until it is too late.  As members of the Vigil disappear and murders take place, Willet must escape to face the threat and save the continent.

This has been a really enjoyable series by Carr. He is a master at developing his characters and creating new worlds.  His worlds will consume the reader so that you are caught up in the politics, religion, belief system etc.  The characters he manages to develop are very complex, but not difficult to relate to.  Even so, if you have not read the first book, this one may be a little confusing, but still enjoyable nonetheless.  I haven’t read anything outside of this series, but imagine it would be just as good as the Darkwater Sage.  If you are up for a good, clean fantasy, give this series a try!

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