Tag Archives: fantasy

Doon by Carey Corp & Lorie Langdon #review

 

As reimaginings go this is pretty good.

Had I been sitting around thinking “Someone really needs to retell Brigadoon as a YA fantasy series”… well um… no. But if I had this series would have met the expectations that I didn’t know I already had.

I am a theatre geek at heart and absolutely adored that one of the characters was also. Relating events to their musical theatre equivalent and constantly thinking of songs to suit the occurrences and mood really resonated with me. So I was a little disappointed that Kenna didn’t end up being the real focal point of the story – but the ending gives me hope for the next installment.

The real focus of the book is Veronica – Vee – a tiny slip of a dancer who has an appetite that I can appreciate.

The opening scene was a little rough and not quite completely believable. It is the only scene set in high school and it just felt awkward.  Stephanie and Eric both seemed more like 90210 caricatures than actual teenagers. Thankfully, once removed from the school setting, the writing and characters felt much more natural.

Best friends Vee and Kenna end up in Scotland after their senior year because of a bequest from Kenna’s aunt of a cottage. As in any good YA fantasy story that is where ordinary ends. This cottage happens to be next to the “Bridge of Doon” (did ya catch that?). And there are 2 handsome princes ready to match wits with our spunky American heroines and work together to save the mystical land of Doon from an evil witch.

About 1/4 of the way in I really got used to the switching between storytellers. Some chapters are from Vee’s point of view other’s from Kenna’s. While I m not sure how the book was actually written – it certainly feels like slightly different writing styles take the lead for each of the characters chapters. Oddly this helped to really bring the nuances of each character into focus and provide what felt like two distinct narrators – without being confusing or muddling.

The literal princes of this story are Duncan and Jamie. And both are quite dashing and everything one could want in a modern fairytale-ish story. Luckily they both have distinct and intriguing personalities as well.

I would like to have seen some more of the supporting characters really fleshed out. There were hints of what they could be if fully developed – and it was tantalizing – but ultimately I was left unfulfilled. Vee’s mom and Kenna’s dad both fall into this category as do some of the denizens of Doon.

Overall a very worthwhile read – I look forward to the next installment.

I was provided a gratis copy for review.

 

Guardians Inc: The Cypher by Julian Rosado-Machain #review

 

Tongue-in-cheek YA fiction is one of my favorite sub-genres.

Clever quips, eye-rolling puns and the like are sure to draw me in if done well.

Julian Rosado-Machain does them fairly well. He has created a quirky world with intriguing characters.

Thomas and his grandfather Morgan have only each other after the disappearance of Thomas’ parents while abroad. And it seems both of them have a unique skill set that can help ad ultra-secret ages old society to save the world.

Where this story becomes more intriguing than the slew of similar books in the genre is in how it ends up placing Thomas and Morgan on opposing sides of a race against time. This has set up what could become (and I hope does) a very precarious dynamic in future books.

And I now want gargoyles guarding my house as well.

At only 169 pages this is a very quick read and I imagine would easily hold the interest of most 8-12 year olds. I think it is also interesting enough to hold the attention of slightly older readers as well.

My only suggestion would be to perhaps slow it down just a tiny bit. At times it felt like we were speeding through exposition and plot at 80 mph when 50 mph might have been more appropriate.

Fae by C.J. Abedi #review

C.J. Abedi (which actually stands for sisters Colet and Jasmine) have started a new series in the realm of YA fantasy literature.

“Fae” is a welcome addition to the genre.

The entire story is based in Roanoke, North Carolina and draws heavily from the missing colony lore surrounding it. The Abedi sisters have created some beautiful mythology weaving the Fae into this narrative.

Caroline is busy trying to be a normal teen when she is drawn into this Fae world by the handsome and intriguing Devilyn. All of this is because of Caroline’s lineage, which she of course knows nothing about.

Helping to make this story relate-able is a fantastic set of supporting characters. Caroline has a best friend, Teddy, that anyone would be lucky to have. Devilyn’s grandfather is amazing and adds an incredibly interesting twist to the whole story. Caroline’s parents are near perfect and the depth of their caring for her is beautiful.

Chosen family vs. blood family is a large theme throughout this book. Are the bonds that we choose to create stronger than the bonds we are born into? What is loyalty?

In this very crowded field it is hard for a book to really break out and distinguish itself. Fae does this. It provides a well thought out story. The back-story and history are fully developed and well presented. The introduction to all of the elements flows well for the reader. The characters interact believably.

It is a well crafted story that deserves to find an abundance of readers.

I would also like to add that the cover is beautiful. Simple and evocative. Perfect.

I was provided a gratis copy for the purpose of review.

Beyonders: Chasing the Prophecy by Brandon Mull

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Really? That is how you are going to leave it? There is going to be another book or another series… right?

Those were pretty much my exact thoughts upon finishing this book (well, I may have cleaned them up a little bit).

When I picked up the first Beyonders book in Barnes & Noble shortly after it came out I ended up staying at Barnes & Noble until I had finished it. A completely unintentional read. I liked it. A lot.

I have been waiting for this third book for what seems like ages. And I was not disappointed. Jason and Rachel are leading the rebels to overthrow Maldor. Everyone’s favorite displacer is back along with the snarkiest seed person and all the other characters I became attached to in the previous 2 books.

Did you get that Brandon? I am attached to them. All of them.

As with the other 2 books this one is well written and thought out. Jason in particular is incredibly believable as a regular kid who somehow manages to make a place for himself in this new world.In as much as there can be believabilty in a a fantasy series Brandon Mull achieves it.

And quite cleverly the book wraps up the story line that was started in A World without Heroes but keeps open the opportunity for more stories.

If you haven’t read this series you should.

That is the non-spoiler review. If you don’t want to read any spoilers stop now.

I’m quite serious. I am going to throw in some blank lines and then some spoilers are going to fly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So – This can’t be the end. Jason still in Lyrian. Rachel back in our world. Something about a daughter. There have to be more books. I need to know more.

Now let us talk about Ferrin and Drake. That was just kinda rough. After everything Ferrin had gone through and done. The relationships he built. I understand it was honorable and noble – but it killed me. And this was after I had already had to deal with Drake. Again noble and everything but a blow to the heart just the same.

I guess that proves that you had done a good job. I was attached. The characters were more than just words on a page to me. So good job. But I still don’t like it. 😉

Deadweather and Sunrise – The Chronicles of Egg

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Well dagnabit – now I have one more YA fiction series to add to my list. One more series that I have to keep up with and wait impatiently between release dates for. Why? Because this is an awesome new series.

Rodkey has created a fascinating world. There are elements of fantasy mixed with allusions to our actual history. It is a complex world that took a couple of chapters to begin to fully grasp, but was well worth it.

The story begins with Egbert narrating his own tale. From the start it is made very clear that he doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of his family. His brother and sister are terrors – and that maybe putting it mildly. His father is a bit of an enigma – I am optimistically hoping we will learn more about him in another book.

Egbert lives on an island in the middle of an ocean that is populated by pirates. All different kinds of pirates. Some of the descriptions of house pirates and field pirates has me sniggering out loud. The creation of the inhabitants of the island and the descriptions of life there are priceless and cleverly unique.

Egbert is a very real young boy. He is not perfect. He stumbles through his misadventures in a slightly comical way, but you are always rooting for him.

One thing that Rodkey does extremely well is mixing in a believable amount of truly frightening experiences and circumstances without getting weighed down by it. The novel still keeps its upbeat optimistic feel. An excellent example of this is the character of Guts, yes, that is his name. I don’t want to give anything away – so just keep an eye out for him.

Millicent is another intriguing character. Despite not appearing through the entire middle of the book we manage to see a remarkable amount of character growth with her. She becomes a much more complex and interesting person that I was expecting.

I am finishing with this review now so I can go read the next book.

You should pick up the first book.

Now.

 

I was provided a gratis copy of this book for review.

 

Lichgates by S.M. Boyce

I love finding completely new fantasy worlds. Especially when they are well thought out and vivid.

That is what I found in “Lichgates” by S.M. Boyce.

Kara Magari gets to do something so many of us science fantasy junkies would love to do. Enter a fantasy realm and become a figure of legend. Three chapters in and I was already so jealous of this chick.

Not that it is all rainbows and lollipops for her. Boyce has a created a history for Kara that makes it easily believable that she would choose to devote herself to this new realm and put our world in her past. While that may seem like a small thing it is often one of the few loose ends in otherwise well-crafted books. A big pat on the back to Boyce for doing this well.

Ourea is a beautiful world. It has been well planned and shows sparks of creativity is the peoples that populate it. There are hints of some of our favorite races from other fantasy realms – but no blatant rip-offs. It is more of a nod to those races. The ruling hierarchy and how it works is truly fascinating. I am excited to see how that plays out.

The concept of personal freedom takes on a very literal meaning in this book. The debates we normally see around this issue take on a more real as opposed to philosophical tone because of this.

There was a little awkwardness in the dialogue at the beginning but after the first few chapters this disappeared. Perhaps the beginning chapters could use a slight tweaking to fix this.

Braeden is a fantastic character. Multifaceted and intriguing. Talk about taking battling an inner demon to a new level, Boyce has done it in this complex character.

I am excited to see what this series brings.

 

I was provided a copy of this book for review.

The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

Usually I really hate starting a series in the middle or anywhere other than with the first book, so it was with a bit of trepidation that I started The Lost Prince. This is book 5 in a series. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this did not keep me from enjoying the book at all.

Julie Kagawa does a wonderful job creating a story that can stand on its own, but still feels like it belongs in a larger whole. That is difficult to do. Perhaps it was made easier because this book starts the story of a different character than the other 4 books. Whatever it is – it works.

There have been a multitude of faerie (fairy) books in the last few years – some of them have been really great – the majority have been rather weak. It is hard to take was is essentially a well-known concept that everyone has some knowledge of (though very few actually know any detail about) and make it fresh and new without bastardizing it. Kagawa has managed to do just that.

Ethan is an imminently relatable character. Yes he is supposed to be a loner, outsider and all of that – but the reasons why he is such are what make him someone we all can relate to. He has a deep compassion and goodness that speaks to anyone. And the difficulty fitting in and worry about hurting others is something most have felt.

The faerie worlds created seem vivid and real. I would like to know more about them and the history and such, but I understand that is one of the problems coming into a series anywhere other than the first. I will just have to go back and read the rest of the books to get my backstory. Which is as it should be.

The prose of the book is excellent. It has a very modern feel and moves very quickly. The new takes on some familiar characters is fun and quirky. Overall the entire book has a fresh feel with a hint of darkness. It contains elements of some of the most popular genres without being cookie cutter. There are hints of steampunk and vampire, but on the whole it is a unique and fully created world.

 

I was provided a copy of the book for review.

Review: Dawn’s End: Outworld Apocalypse by Bonnie Ferrante

Dawn's End: Outworld Apocalypse
Dawn’s End: Outworld Apocalypse by Bonnie Ferrante
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dawn’s End and Outworld are connected by a single common denominator: Anastacia. Daughter of Nicole Newman – savior of Dawn’s End – and Alaric Morrel, Anastacia is considered what would be high royalty to its inhabitants. She and her family are forever welcome into Dawn’s End in the case she’d ever need to relocate.

Given the declining state of the Outworld due to extreme climate changes and the fallout caused by humans and their destructive behavior in the face of panic, uncertainty, and massive loss, Anastacia should really be looking into her relocation options.

She has a powerful ally within Dawn’s End, a longtime friend named Bedad. Through his love of science, and his love for Anastacia, he is an integral part in the struggle to save her, her family, and a handful of those she loves.

It’s a race against time and the elements, and challenges and roadblocks plague every turn. Will they reach Dawn’s End in time, and will Dawn’s End accept them all? Can the Outworld be saved in spite of itself?

Dawn’s End: Outworld Apocalypse is a light, fun read. I did not have the opportunity to read the first two books in this series, but I was able to read it alone without too much struggle. There is enough backstory peppered throughout to give a basic scaffolding to the reader. No doubt there exists a much richer, deeper understanding if the reader has actually read the first two books.

The apocalypse occurring in the Outworld is desperate and scary. I found the events a bit choppy, and perhaps that was the author’s intention, but the timeline of events in the book felt a bit warped. Much attention would be paid to a singular, seemingly-devastating event but then everything seemed to return to a slightly-altered status quo. I didn’t get the feeling that the characters’ worlds were shattering the way they “should” given the state of the world. Things remained mostly normal long after things should have flipped a complete 180.

I felt a few things were rushed while others were drawn out. Specifically, the devastation that took place within Dawn’s End regarding the children living there was a mere blip on the radar, while details about the Outworlders’ gardens were plentiful. I would have liked to have read more about the former, in greater detail that would have endeared me to their struggles. Similarly, the disbanding of the Council was abrupt, and I really longed for more information.

These criticisms aside, Dawn’s End: Outworld Apocalypse was a good read. I recommend it!

Disclaimer: I was provided this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

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