Friday, December 25, 2015

‘Gambit’ (The Prodigy Chronicles #1) by C.L. Denault

5 amazing stars!

Captivating tale of adventure and mystery, narrated by a leading lady with sharp wit and a backbone.

Extraordinary world-building and word-crafting; ‘Gambit’ captivated and intrigued me from the very first chapter.  Denault’s superior writing style was a joy to read!  This book was very tough to put down and yet it was over far too soon; its 550+ pages flowed smoothly.  Can’t wait to re-read ‘Gambit’ before diving into book 2 in the Prodigy Chronicles!

The complex and developed characters were the best part of this book; their motives, their secrets, their interactions.  Denault’s characters kept me guessing right until the cliff-hanger ending; not a bit was predictable.  The plot moved forward at a comfortably steady pace, never a dull moment, and nothing felt rushed or forced.

A must-read for fans of well-written YA romance/adventure/dystopia with developed characters and settings.  A must-read for most readers!  (I don’t usually enjoy dystopia, but ‘Gambit’ was amazing!

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Untamed: A Splintered Companion (Splintered #3.5) by A.G. Howard

5 stars!

'Untamed' contains three novellas set in the 'Splintered' universe, including 'Moth in the Mirror' which was previously released as a stand-alone novella after book 1.

The other two tales are charming and insightful; one shows memories of Alyssa's father, as narrated by her mother. 

The last novella included here accounts for approximately half of 'Untamed' and provides readers with glimpses into the mortal life Alyssa and Jeb share, as well as the immortal life she and Morpheus share. 

A wonderful addition to the collection, 'Untamed' is a must-read for all 'Splintered' fans!

Friday, December 18, 2015

‘Simon Says: Tips for the Intrepid Time Traveler’ (The CHRONOS Files, #3.5) by Rysa Walker

5 stars!

Excellent addition to the 'Timebound' series. "Simon Says" gives readers insights to Simon and Kiernan's travels and Simon's point of view during some of the first, critical meetings between main characters. A must-read for 'Timebound' fans!

Simon Says’ is currently available as part of the Kindle Unlimited Program!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

‘Death, the Devil, and the Goldfish’ by Andrew Buckley

4 stars!

Another well-written action adventure by Andrew Buckley!  Humorous and entertaining; the seemingly separate paths of an investigator, an inventor, loan sharks, eccentric rich men, Death and the Devil himself combine with a penguin and a goldfish for some world saving/domination and a lot of laughs.

Perfect for fans of Christopher Moore!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

‘Stiltskin’ by Andrew Buckley

5 stars!

Incredibly well-written action adventure involving several fairy tale characters! Comparable to Neil Gaiman's 'Neverwhere' with respect to extensive world building, character development, and hidden plots during the journey through worlds that wouldn't make sense to the casual observer. Ended on a cliff hanger, hope to see a continuation soon!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Heartblaze: Secret Soul (Heartblaze, #1) by Shay Roberts

5 stars!

‘Heartblaze’ has the absolute happiest-ending/cliffhanger I’ve ever read, if happy-ending cliffhangers are possible.  This emotionally engaging page-turner was devoured in less than 12 hours.

‘Heartblaze’ is narrated from four key points of view, connecting several characters in one clear central plot line.  It is incredibly well-written and has a carefully planned plot and cast of characters.

There are soul mates, there is romance and adventure, there are vampires, were wolves, were bears, ghosts, and a powerful witch.  This enchanting and expansive tale covers several different time periods and important historical events, as well as different landscapes such as a gothic mansion and a rural mining town.

An excellent choice for fans of fantasy, supernatural, or historical fiction.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Moonlands by Steven Savile

3 stars!

With Moonlands, author Savile began with an enchanted setting and fantastic plot, full of magic, hidden worlds, various supernatural species, a plan to set the former Queen’s heir upon the throne when she reached a certain age; and then executed it poorly. Relationships between characters felt shallow and unexplored, Ashley’s childhood backstory is non-existent prior to her family moving into a new house in London shortly before the story begins, and backstory for other characters is minimal at best. Many different species of supernatural beings were mentioned, as occupants of the Moonlands, but details were only given for the Fae and Wolfen; not even the Elves, from whom the King Under the Moon hailed. 

The multiple first-person viewpoints were never confusing; however, the main character’s narrative was not mature enough to be believable for a girl nearly 16 years old. Overall, her character was rather immature, and I was very disappointed in the writing style and reactions for several important and big-reveal scenes.

Great idea, hopefully other readers will enjoy more.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

‘Ride the Wind’ by Starla Huchton

4 stars!

‘Ride the Wind’ is a re-telling of ‘East of the Wind, West of the Moon’ set in the fairy tale world established in Huchton’s 'Shadows on Snow' and 'Stillness in the Sky'  A well-written and enjoyable tale with Huchton’s signature enchantments.

All 3 Flipped Fairy Tales are available as part of the Kindle Unlimited program!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Caught in the Glow (The Glower Chronicles #1) by Eva Chase

3.5 stars!

‘Caught in the Glow’ is a refreshingly original love story with a slight supernatural twist.  Set in the real-world thriving Los Angeles music scene, Tether Society member Avery Harmen is assigned to a young indie rock star who recently scored his first record deal.  The Tether Society strives to protect unsuspecting talent from Glowers, supernatural beings who would drain all their inspiration and happiness and send them spiraling to a premature demise. 

Well-written and told from Avery’s point of view, ‘Caught in the Glow’ is a quick, fun read with witty banter and a few steamy scenes.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Interview with Erica Lucke Dean – author of Splintered Souls (Flames of Time #1)

Dreamer J: ‘Splintered Souls’ is a fun book with soul-mates as a way of explaining the supernatural element of time-travel.  How did you come to think of soul-mates as the explanation?  Which came first, the desire to write about soul mates or the desire to include time travel?

Erica:  I think they came to me at the same time. The idea of soul mates searching for each other through time just seemed like the romance of the ages. And adding a few twists to the mix was all me. J

Dreamer: Where and when did the idea for ‘Splintered Souls’ originate?  How long have you been working on this series, or dreaming up the characters?

Erica:  Last summer, I had a medical condition that required me to take this awful medication that made me sea sick when I got up and walked around, so for three weeks I stayed in my bed and wrote a book. I’m working on the sequel now, and I’m thinking about calling the doctor to see if I can get a refill. LOL

Dreamer:  Were there any influences in creating the characters, the charming old house, or the town atmosphere?

Erica:  When I was six years old, I spent a summer in Maine with my parents, and I’ve always loved the waves crashing against the craggy shore. There’s just something magical about Maine to me. So I knew that’s where the book had to be set. As for the town, I wanted something like Kennebunkport without being Kennebunkport.

Dreamer:  Do you have siblings?  Would you have made the same choice as Ava; turning down Georgetown after all that hard work, to help your family cope?

Erica:  I do have siblings. Two sisters. And I’d like to think I’d have made that same choice. Just like Ava, family means a lot to me. And Georgetown would still be there after a year or two of the smaller school.

Dreamer:  Are you a fan of supernatural series?  What types of supernatural beings do you enjoy reading about or watching? (Vampires, werewolves, witches, fairies, zombies, etc)

Erica:  I’ve never watched Supernatural, though I may be the only one in existence who doesn’t. LOL. I used to love True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, and the old-fashioned scary movies of my youth (let’s not ask how far back those go!) And let’s not forget Harry Potter and Twilight. Yes, I was a Twi-Mom.

Dreamer:  Are you a fan of other time-travel series?  Which ones?

Erica:  I haven’t read any of the other time travel series yet. I did read the Time Traveler’s Wife, and I loved that movie. But other than being fascinated with the idea of going back in time, I haven’t gotten into the other books like that. I hear Outlander is amazing, but I haven’t started it yet.

Dreamer:  What’s in store for Ava, Maddox, and Laith as your series progresses?

Erica:  There is much in store for them as things go on. When we catch up with them in the next book we’ll find Ava and… wait! I can’t give out spoilers. You’ll have to let me whisper in your ear sometime. J Just know I have a lot in store for them, and I can’t wait for it to be available.

Dreamer:  Are you currently working on the next book in the ‘Flames of Time’ series?  When can eager fans get their hands on a copy?

Erica:  I am in the middle of the sequel now and I know exactly how everything ends. And who Ava ends up with (and doesn’t end up with.) But I’m not telling. You’ll just have to wait. But I promise not to make it a long wait. J

Dreamer J’s Review:

After her father’s unexpected death, Ava decides to move with her mother and younger brother and attend University of Maine, rather than Georgetown.  Set in more of a high school atmosphere than college, Ava finds herself befriending a clique of girls who enjoy nothing more than gossiping about, or kissing, hot guys.

Ava is drawn to a mysterious hot guy herself, and when he finally introduces himself, Ava’s world quickly spirals out of control.  Caught in the middle of a centuries-old curse, which is revealed slowly throughout the book, she finds herself caught between twin time-traveling brothers, Maddox and Laith.  There are twists and turns along the way, leading to a surprise cliff-hanger ending.

‘Splintered Souls’ was a quick and easy read.  I enjoyed the tension between the clique-ish girls and battling brothers.  Best of all was the connection between the main characters and the involvement of soul-mates as a way of explaining the supernatural link between them.  Looking forward to the next chapter in the Flames of Time series!

Perfect for fans of Rysa Walker's 'Timebound' book series and the CW show, 'The Vampire Diaries.'

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Excited to host an interview with author Erica Lucke Dean tomorrow!

Splintered Souls
By Erica Lucke Dean
Genre: Urban Fantasy

When Ava Flynn walks away from a scholarship to Georgetown and moves into her grandmother’s abandoned summer home in coastal Maine, she steps into the center of a centuries-old curse. On her first night, she notices a mysterious leather-clad stranger looking up at her third-story window. For weeks, everywhere she goes, Ava catches more
glimpses of him, but she can never get close enough to find out who he is. 

Over three hundred years ago, Lady Catherine Fairchild risked everything to protect her unborn child, sending a ripple through time that would change Ava’s future. As the mystery unravels, the horrifying consequences of Lady Catherine’s choices drag Ava deeper into a world she never knew existed, trapping her in a conflict that’s been raging since before she was born. A winner-take-all battle for her soul.

Author Bio:

After walking away from her career as a business banker to pursue writing full-time, Erica Lucke Dean moved from the hustle and bustle of the big city to a small tourist town in the North Georgia Mountains, where she lives in a 90-year-old haunted farmhouse with her workaholic husband, her 180lb lap dog, and at least one ghost. When she’s not writing or tending to her collection of crazy chickens and diabolical ducks, she’s either reading bad fan fiction or singing karaoke in the local pub. Much like the main character in her newest book, To Katie With Love, Erica is a magnet for disaster, and has been known to trip on air while walking across flat surfaces. How she’s managed to survive this long is one of life’s great mysteries.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

'Silver Hollow' by Jennifer Silverwood

3.5 stars!

An enchanting and intricate read; Silver Hollow is surely a magical word, and following our main character, Amie, takes concentration.  I re-read/skimmed Silver Hollow immediately after finishing it and found lots of clues scattered throughout the book, but they are easy to dismiss as not-essential-to-the-plot and easy to gloss over.  I found this book even more enjoyable as I went through and discovered all the clues I missed the first time.

Careful; here there be dragons, and magic, and wrights, and King Arthur (sort of), and hobgoblins, and other things that go bump in the night.  Though there were two romantic possibilities for Amie, I would not declare this anything close to a love triangle.  As Amie is new to everything in the magical world of Silver Hollow where nothing is as it seems, her friendships and relationships take time to develop naturally.  As this is a book of mystery right up until the end, there is little else to say without giving away spoilers.  I whole-heartedly enjoyed the ending and Amie’s romantic choice.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

‘Spelled’ and ‘Casted’ by Sonya Loveday

4 stars!

This fun two-part series follows Jade as she learns the truth of her ancestry, discovers her own magical abilities in a hidden world of spell casters, and tries to set things right.  She is joined by several friends and her pre-ordained soul mate.

While I feel this series might be best for a younger audience, particularly for Jade’s protests against doing things with a boy before she is ready; there is also a ton of bad language used as things go wrong for the characters.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

I have spent the last week or two re-reading this brilliant series of fairy-tale re-telling by Marissa Meyer.  Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Snow White, and her wicked Evil Queen all feature in their own stories in this shared world and connected series of books. 

Cinder:  Cinderella is a cyborg!  Set in a futuristic New Bejing; Cinder has two stepsisters, a mean stepmother, and a handsome prince.

Scarlet: Little Red Riding Hood and Wolves that go after her grandmother!

Cress:  Hacker extraordinaire, Cress is locked up high in a satellite orbiting Earth, with hair grown down to her toes.

Fairest:  Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the most wicked Lunar queen of all?

Winter:  First two chapters released (for free!) today and are every bit as fantastic as the rest of the series.

There is still time to read these books before Winter is released on November 10, 2015!  Happy reading!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Apprentice (The Black Mage #2) by Rachel E. Carter

The second book in the Black Mage series is even more captivating and magical than the first!

After working their minds and bodies hard for a year at the realm’s most prestigious magic Academy in order to secure one of five spots in each category of Combat warriors, Alchemists, and healing Restoration mages, twins Ryiah and Alex are back for their Apprenticeships.  Ella, Prince Darren, Priscilla, and younger brother Derrick are back too.

Much was at stake for Ryiah during her three-year apprenticeship; concerning both her training and her love life.  While the continued absence of insta-love is quite enjoyable, ‘Apprentice’ did feature a love triangle; a well-thought-out and plot-driven love triangle.  There were times throughout this story that I couldn’t decide which of the charming and talented boys I wanted Ryiah to end up with.  Never has a novel so gripped my attention and influenced my emotions the way this book has; when Ryiah hurt, I hurt.  When Ryiah was happy, I was happy.  Through Ryiah’s eyes, I understood fully what was special about each of the boys, and why it was so hard to choose between them.  Excellent writing on author Rachel Carter’s part!

The continued trend of elaborate and vivid descriptions of training and battle scenes was delightful.  I especially enjoyed when the characters dressed up for fancy events.  More background information was provided regarding the politics and geography of the realm which the Mages defend, as well as its neighboring lands.  Characters continued to grow, some of which becoming complex with admirable, or at times, devious motives.  Character interactions felt natural.

This book was read in less than 24 hours and held my attention the entire way through.  I absolutely cannot wait to find out what happens next!

Strongly recommend reading ‘First Year (The Black Mage #1) (for $0.99 until Halloween!) before reading ‘Apprentice (The Black Mage #2)’ and ‘Candidate (The Black Mage #3)’ (releasing on October 27, 2015!)

Review of 'First Year: Black Mage #1'

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Two-Face and Chaos (The Assassin at Court Books 1 & 2) by Nia Davenport

3 stars each:

These quick, fun reads are a perfect distraction while working out on a treadmill or elliptical, but truth be told, they’re both a bit repetitive.  These YA novels contain the typical romance, deception, and lies that come with life at Court, with supernatural undertones thrown into book 2.  'Chaos' ends on an intriguing cliffhanger.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Time's Divide (The Chronos Files #3) by Rysa Walker

5 time-bending stars!!     Wonderful conclusion to Rysa Walker’s Chronos Files!

I greatly enjoyed this fast-paced page-turning conclusion just as much as the rest of the series; it continues to have a fantastic plot, meaningful character development, and comedy in all the right places.  So glad Walker has created and shared such an entertaining tale!

Much was at stake for Kate at this point in the story; with the Cyrists’ plan for catastrophic global change, Kate had to act quickly.  It’s amazing how many adventures occurred in 1 “day” for Kate.

I greatly enjoyed the explanation and use of "splinters" and time-travel math.  Glimpses into an alternate-reality future were thoughtful and creative.  The ending was fantastic; Kate "gets both guys" in a fair and reasonable way; Kiernan ends up with a Kate who remembers him, who's in love with him, and they have a family together.  Meanwhile, Kate also gets to end up with Trey, and they're in love.  Really like that there's a Connor Dunne in existence, even if it's not the same Connor we've grown to know and love.

From the beginning and through conclusion, this series has been a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable read for young adults of all ages, as we follow Kate through multiple adventures through time.

Strongly recommend reading the first two books in the series, ‘Timebound’ and ‘Time’s Edge’ before reading this, as the characters are well-developed and some are already well-traveled.  It would be helpful to understand where they are at before beginning book 3.  While reading the two novellas are not necessary to enjoy ‘Time’s Divide,’ this book includes a few Easter Eggs if you have read them.

Reviews of other books in this series:

Time’s Echo (Novella 1)

Time’s Edge (Book 2)

Thanks to Rysa Walker for allowing me to join her group of beta-readers! Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Time's Mirror (The Chronos Files #2.5) by Rysa Walker

5 stars!

Rysa Walker’s ‘Time's Mirror’ is a real treat for Timebound fans! Written from the perspective of a rebellious and teenage Prudence Pierce, we finally get to see what led to the crazy, older ‘Mother Prudence’ referenced throughout the Chronos Files. This novella follows Pru as she uses the medallion for the first time and travels to 2306 to meet Tate Poulson and Morgan Campbell, who then lead her to Saul Rand, in an effort to fix CHRONOS headquarters after the blast. The Pru we meet here is around the same age as Kate, though she learns about the future and time travel and what happened in the blast from Saul’s perspective, rather than Katherine’s. 

As always, Walker’s writing style is captivating. I only wish we could see more events from Pru's point of view. This novella simply is a must-read for fans of the Timebound series!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Splintered Souls (Flames of Time #1) by Erica Lucke Dean

4 stars!

After her father’s unexpected death, Ava decides to move with her mother and younger brother and attend University of Maine, rather than Georgetown.  Set in more of a high school atmosphere than college, Ava finds herself befriending a clique of girls who enjoy nothing more than gossiping about, or kissing, hot guys.

Ava is drawn to a mysterious hot guy herself, and when he finally introduces himself, Ava’s world quickly spirals out of control.  Caught in the middle of a centuries-old curse, which is revealed slowly throughout the book, she finds herself caught between twin time-traveling brothers, Maddox and Laith.  There are twists and turns along the way, leading to a surprise cliff-hanger ending.

‘Splintered Souls’ was a quick and easy read.  I enjoyed the tension between the clique-ish girls and battling brothers.  Best of all was the connection between the main characters and the involvement of soul-mates as a way of explaining the supernatural link between them.  Looking forward to the next chapter in the Flames of Time series!

Perfect for fans of Rysa Walker's 'Timebound' book series and the CW show, 'The Vampire Diaries.'

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Splintered Souls on Goodreads!

Splintered Souls on Amazon!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Crystallum (Primordial Principles #1) by Laney McMann

4.5 stars!

'Crystallum' was an exciting page-turner.  Devoured in 3.5 days, I could hardly bare to part with this book when real life got in the way of reading.  I often needed to know what happened next, needed to re-read the last paragraph because the most recent twist revealed didn’t sink in the first time, and now I need to read the next book!

With 'Crystallum,' McMann has dreamt up a detailed and intricate world, complete with its own rules and alliances within the different factions of the Primordial race.  This YA novel includes romance, action, and decent character development.  I only wish the author had not created an insta-love between two characters and then spend time later in the book justifying why they were so good together.

McMann’s writing style is different than I’m used to; the book begins with an action scene and dialog between two main characters, harmless and clever banter between two guys who have clearly known each other for ages.  But the dialog and the action from the first scene isn’t explained clearly until about 20% in.  The rest of the book contains both action and romance and typical high school drama, and every once in a while, another big-explanation or big-reveal bomb is dropped.  Maybe I’m just used to more subtle reveals or more set up at the beginning of a book.

I really enjoyed the story, despite the female lead, Kadence, always needing help from Cole.  The characters and the mystery of the Primordial race were very intriguing.  I recommend this page-turner to any reader who enjoys YA, supernatural, and fantasy.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Ugly Stepsister by Aya Ling

5 stars!!

A magical page-turning tale set in Victorian times.  Captivating and charming re-imagining of ‘Cinderella,’ from an Ugly Stepsister’s point of view.

When Kat accidentally tears a page of the hardcover copy of ‘Cinderella’ in her attic, she is magically transported to the beginning of the story, and finds herself in the body of the uglier of the stepsisters. This excellent YA fairy tale is 445 pages of beautiful world-building, vivid descriptions of places and attire, and a story that didn’t want to end any more than you or I wanted to put it down.  Devoured in a few short sittings, I wish the tale hadn’t ended and I look forward to reading any future entries in the Unfinished Fairy Tales series by Aya Ling.

This is a different spin on ‘Cinderella,’ including some unexpected plot points involving themes of children’s’ rights and workers’ rights movement in old-fashioned Story Land.  Equal rights for women and an involved governing body that looks out for the impoverished are also touched upon.  These plot additions made the tale more enjoyable for me, as it sets Ling’s work apart from the other, stricter re-tellings.

Currently part of the Kindle Unlimited program.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Hook by K.R. Thompson

3.5 stars

‘Hook’ follows the adventures of Archibald Jameson, educated fourth son of a London businessman, as he gets kidnapped by pirates under Blackbeard’s orders and placed on the Jolig Roger.  This was a fun and enjoyable light read, narrated from Hook’s point of view, as he adjusts to pirate life.  Familiar elements involve navigating a ship by stars, Smee the surgeon who enjoys rum a bit too much, a more fleshed out Tiger Lily, a flying Peter Pan, and a hungry crocodile.  While this book focuses more on Hook's time at sea and does not follow the typical chain of events that Disney’s ‘Peter Pan’ does, I enjoyed it just the same.

Currently part of the Kindle Unlimited program.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Never Never by Brianna Shrum

3.5 stars

‘Never Never’ begins as 12 year old James Hook prepares for his first year away at Eton School in London.  He meets the one and only Peter Pan in Kensington Park and agrees to come away for a one week holiday before he becomes an Eton man.  But Peter Pan has something else in mind…

Readers follow as young James transitions into one of Pan’s Lost Boys, though he continues to dream of going home one day to his parents and growing up.  As the anti-Pan, a boy who *wants* to grow up, Peter is not satisfied with him for long.  Hook escapes from the Lost Boys and their strange past times, and has some adventures on his own before taking his rightful place as Captain of the ship he himself dreamt up as a child in London.

As a big fan of all things Peter Pan related, I was ecstatic when this book arrived in the mail from the publisher.  This is a delightful, different spin on the characters and plot, and I enjoyed learning Hook’s motivations for disliking Peter Pan and Peter’s reasons for wanting Hook dead.  It was a fun read, even if the story did start a little slow and end in familiar territory.  The unexpected events and characters in the middle were most enjoyable for me.  Definitely a great read for fans of Peter Pan and fairy tale retellings.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Last of the Firedrakes (The Avalonia Chronicles, #1) by Farah Oomerbhoy

4 stars!

Aurora Firedrake, the last of the Firedrakes, grew up in ‘our world,’ entirely unaware of the magical realm of Avalonia and her past.  When she is brought to a faraway land, she must quickly adapt to a new lifestyle, political upheaval, and a cute boy who doesn’t ever seem to stick around long enough.

In her debut novel, Oomerbhoy skillfully puts together a captivating tale with mages, fairies, shape-shifters, and more.  We follow the coming-of-age adventure of Aurora as she navigates uncharted territory; both in new lands and boys.  Along the way, she forms friendships, attends magic school for mages, makes several bad decisions, has a few awkward conversations with boys, and struggles to do what she thinks is right.  Everything you can expect from a teenage girl who has recently discovered a new world.

The book is narrated entirely by Aurora; readers gain insight to her thoughts, feelings, interpretations, and memories.  We can experience fancy ball gowns, extravagant meals, and lavish castles through exquisitely detailed descriptions.  Readers also enjoy knowing her thoughts on the handsome and mysterious boy that intrigues Aurora.

‘The Last of the Firedrakes’ held my interest and kept me flipping pages to find out what happens next.  I found some similarities to the Harry Potter series and some ideas related to King Arthur legends, but those familiar aspects only made me want to read more.  Recommended for any YA or fantasy reader.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Mad About the Hatter by Dakota Chase

5 stars!

'Mad About Hatter' is a brilliant and humorous spin-off of the traditional ‘Alice in Wonderland’ tale, in which Henry, Alice's brother, finds himself in the mysterious oft-talked-about Wonderland after a dinner with Alice. This is an enjoyable YA book with no love triangle; there is a straightforward, gradually built romance that feels natural. The romance is between Henry and Hatter, and if you were to replace Henry's name with Alice, or any other feminine name, the YA (PG rated) romance would mostly read the same. Nothing feels forced, there is no mental breakdown over, "oh no, I kissed another boy," just a pure YA romance in the middle of Wonderland fun and all the topsie-turvy antics that come with it. Recommend for any YA reader who enjoys a new take on fairy tales!

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Shattered Blue by Lauren Bird Horowitz

5 Stars!  Fantastic magical tale, very fun read, could not put down!

“Shattered Blue” is beautifully interwoven with multiple points of view and remarkable poetry mixed in. We meet Noa, the heroine, as she and her family struggle to deal with the loss of her older sister (several pages are incredibly sad, be forewarned if you have experienced a loss recently.) Interactions between Noa’s friends and family members feel authentic; there is a lot of love and support. Things begin to seem easier when Callum slowly enters Noa’s life and their developing romance is enjoyable to watch. 

Horowitz writes from the point of view of three main characters in “Shattered Blue,” Noa and brothers Callum and Judah. Each section adds different perspectives as the plot develops.

“Shattered Blue” is incredibly well-written and has a carefully planned plot and cast of characters. There is plenty of action and magic, secrets and plot twists, surprises, hidden romances, and little high school drama thrown in for fun. 

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Lumière (The Illumination Paradox #1) by Jacqueline Garlick

4 stars!

The beautiful cover art of ‘Lumiere’ first caught my attention, and when the description mentioned a steampunk invention and an unknown world, I was excited to read this book!  It was everything I had hoped for; a fun adventure through a descriptive fantasy world with well-developed characters and enough mystery to keep me guessing until the end.

In ‘Lumiere,’ we follow main character, resilient Eyelet, as she flees the only home she’s ever known and unknowingly runs into the perfect person for her situation; clever and resourceful Urlick.  As a guest in Urlick’s strange house full of mysterious and intricate inventions, in a geographical area she hadn’t known existed, Eyelet discovers what happened to the world the night her father died, the night of the Great Illumination.  As Eyelet and Urlick team together on a quest in attempt to make her father’s machine function and undo the consequences of that fateful night, they encounter vapours, beings that behave as ghouls, and evil, power-hungry ordinary men.  A good portion of this book is action-adventure, traveling through the well-described scenery of a dystopian altered-Earth.

Garlick’s tale includes a fascinating combination of magic, science and steampunk, with the potential for hidden worlds, Valkyries, talking ravens, and delightfully wonky inventions.  The characters are easy to root for, having human qualities, kind hearts, and noble intentions.  Their various physical deformities endear them to each other, and the reader.  That Eyelet and Urlick developed feelings for each other over time and thanks, in part, to the various situations they found themselves in is a refreshing break from the popular YA-genre ‘instalove.’  Their entire interaction, including their feelings for each other, is realistic and develops over time.

‘Lumiere’ is written mostly from Eyelet's point of view, with several chapters narrated by Urlick.  This book is suitable for younger audiences and enjoyable for older YA readers as well.  Looking forward to the sequel, Noir, releasing on 8/18!

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Curse of Ash and Iron by Christine Norris

5 Stars! 

Excellent re-imagining of ‘Cinderella’ with a steampunk twist; a satisfying and magical tale told from dual perspectives, of Ellie and Benjamin.  ‘A Curse of Ash and Iron’ is an old familiar tale set in a new place with some different characters and a refreshing twist on the plot.  The tale touches upon key elements of the traditional ‘Cinderella’ story and provides a much more in depth look at the inner workings of the plot.  Set in Philadelphia in 1876 amidst the introduction of scientific inventions, Benjamin Grimm divides his time between working at the theater and building inventions of his own.  When his childhood friend, Ellie, suddenly appears in the theater one night, his world is forever changed. 

Benjamin is a man of science and invention, with great plans for a career as an illusionist; every aspect of Ellie’s life has been touched by magic.  It was delightful to watch as each tries to convince the other of the validity of what they believe in, and the seamless interweaving of steampunk invention with magic elements was cleverly written.  Norris’ well-developed characters provide the audience with insight to their motivations which makes for a fantastic version of ‘Cinderella’.

Also immensely enjoyable was the not-so-evil stepsister, Rebecca.  Though Ellie bears the brunt of her stepmother’s cruelty, Rebecca is also robbed of certain freedoms and does not add to Ellie’s hardship.  Class division and gender equality in society are mentioned, but not overbearing.  I found it to be a fantastic addition to a timeless fairy tale, as it is rare that one thinks of those things when enjoying ‘Cinderella’.

‘A Curse of Ash and Iron’ sports a strong plot with well-developed characters, a pleasant and G-rated romance and a satisfying ending.  Language and themes are suitable for younger audiences and enjoyable for older YA readers as well.  I highly recommend this enjoyable tale to all YA and fairy tale fans.

received a copy from Curiosity Quills in exchange for an honest review. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Last Knight (Pendragon #1) by Nicola S. Dorrington

Magic! Dreams! Adventure! Merlin! Arthur and his knights!

‘The Last Knight’ begins a bit slowly but picks up when Cara meets Lance, Wyn, and Percy.  Her strange dreams always seem to come true, and with her mother in a mental institution, her father brings her to a therapist when she can no longer sleep through the night. I enjoyed the dialog, the teasing and flirting, between the main characters, as well as homage to Arthur/Merlin legends. I found it refreshing that a romance developed slowly, rather than the all-too-common insta-love in YA novels. 

The best part of this novel was the time travel portion; it was exciting and brought a new level of adventure and exploration to the tale. Cara’s character also matured for having taken this trip.  The ending, however, was the least impressive part of the tale. The ending wasn’t so much a cliffhanger; it plainly many left things unresolved.

Received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

First Year (The Black Mage #1) by Rachel E. Carter

5 stars!

Carter’s book about mages is captivating and magical, mostly in character development and vivid descriptions of training and battle scenes.  We follow the main character, Ryiah, through her first year at the realm’s most prestigious magic Academy where she trains hard with her twin brother Alex and friends they have picked up along the way.  Clear your mind of all things Harry Potter; this is a very different depiction of magic school.  Here, magic isn’t taught, it’s an innate ability one either has or does not have.  While there are lessons at the Academy for geography, history, and math; there are training exercises for physical fitness, weapon wielding, and magical casting.  Attendees at the Academy work their minds and bodies incredibly hard their first year in order to secure one of five spots in each category of Combat warriors, Alchemists, and healing Restoration mages.

Though witty, brave, hardworking and dedicated to beating the odds against her, Ryiah starts out insecure in her own abilities, performance, and chances at succeeding.  As two of several low-born first years with enough potential to participate at the Academy, Ryiah and her twin Alex have considerably less schooling and training under their belt than most of their comrades when the year begins.  This only motivates Ryiah to practice harder with weaponry and casting and to study longer hours in the library.  Throughout her first year, we follow her progression of increasing skills and increasing confidence.  This growth feels natural and watching her improve is satisfying.

Also satisfying is watching Ryiah’s usual realistic and sarcastic demeanor turn into fluttered heartbeats and speechlessness as the mysterious Prince’s behavior leaves her confused about both his intentions and her reactions.  There is no insta-love or insta-crush or love triangles in the First Year; a welcome and refreshing change in the realm of magical YA stories.

Some things could have been expanded upon more, and likely will be in the three books to follow.  While several characters had personalities and back stories of their own, the realm in which the school exists is not as well developed.  Nor is the danger Ryiah faces on the road along the way to the Academy in the first chapter.  Still, the book held my attention and I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

I received a review copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Timebound (The Chronos Files #1) by Rysa Walker

5 Stars!

With ‘Timebound,’ Rysa Walker seamlessly integrates a time travel element into an exciting YA novel with well-developed and fun characters while creating an enjoyable pseudo-love-triangle. Details of the clever time travel mechanics are explained clearly as we follow as the main character, Kate, learns of her family’s inherited genetic characteristics that make time travel possible for them, and the unthinkable actions taken by other factions of her family.

‘Timebound’ follows Kate as she copes with a timeline changing out from under her and endeavors to re-establish what once was. Kate is an incredibly likable character with believable emotional and logical reactions to her continually changing circumstances. Issues of altered memories, morality and ‘right or wrong’ are handled extraordinarily well.

A fair and reasonable pseudo-love-triangle exists between Kate and Trey, the guy she falls for prior to the timeline change, and Kate and Kiernan, the guy she meets while traveling through time. Kiernan seems to have the advantage of having built a relationship with Kate in a different timeline prior to his first meeting with the Kate we follow. Kate may end up with the same advantage if she successfully returns the timeline to where it belongs; in that she would remember the relationship she built with Trey, but he would not.

All in all, a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable read for young adults of all ages, as this is not a simple tale of one time travel trip, but rather several adventures through time.

Reviews of other books in this series:

Simon Says (Novella 3)


Amazon - Currently available as part of the Kindle Unlimited program!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Glass Magician (The Paper Magician Trilogy #2) by Charlie N. Holmberg

5 stars!

More varieties of Magic! More Adventure than the first book! More characters and challenges!  The Glass Magician expands on the various types of magic in Holmberg’s reimagined world where magic school and magicians co-exist with the human world that we know today.

The relationship between the heroine, Ceony, and her love interest, has evolved ever so slightly, which will please those readers who enjoy the magic and adventure aspects of this series, but may disappoint readers who wish for the romance to bloom faster.  It reminds me of the slow steps towards an early first love, which is special and irreplaceable.  That Holmberg can remind me of it so vividly is credit to her magical words.

As with the first book, this sequel is fairly action-packed at times, but also delves deeper into the characters and their relationships and friendships with each other.  The book ends with just enough of a cliff hanger to make waiting for The Master Magician a manageable challenge.  Looking forward to reading the conclusion to this unique and creative series!

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this enchanting tale in exchange for my honest review.


Amazon: Currently available as part of Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program!

The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Trilogy #1) by Charlie N. Holmberg

5 Stars!

Magic! Adventure! Romance between a strong female heroine and a kind-hearted and worthy man!

The Paper Magician introduces readers to Holmberg’s reimagined world where magic school and magicians co-exist with the human world that we know today.  There are a variety of materials which can serve as a source for magic, and this book primarily concentrates on Folding paper.  Paper, once Folded, that has enough power to beat inside a person’s chest as a temporary heart.  Paper (and words) powerful enough to enchant and warm the hearts of readers of all ages.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy in exchange for my honest review!

Amazon: Currently available as part of Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program!

Prince of Hearts (The Elders and Welders Chronicles #1) by Margaret Foxe

5 stars!

Most of the characters in Foxe’s “Prince of Hearts” are full of surprises, as is the plot. Pleasant surprises, that is. Part mystery (there’s a serial killer), part romance (surprising even the leading lady, Aline Finch), and part adventure (traveling in various steampunk airships), “Prince of Hearts” has captured my heart.


Amazon: Currently available for free with Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program!

Indexing by Seanan McGuire

5 Stars!

Read 'Indexing' all at once, got to follow the Aarne-Thompson Index Management Bureau (ATI) investigate real life fairy tales and prevent the Narrative from wreaking havoc with the unsuspecting human world. Main character Henrietta Marchen is a "709, Snow White" whose story has been averted. Her team includes a Wicked Step Sister, an Elf shoemaker, and a human whose brother died as a result of Narrative interference.

The cases are interesting and exciting for fairy tale fans, including The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, Pied Piper, Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, and others.

This is an excellent take on fairy tales, written in first person, enjoyable characters, laughs to be had, and an all around good time through and through.  Excellent work, and highly recommended!


Amazon: Currently available for free with Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program!

Clockwork Dreams by Fan T.C.

4.5 Stars for an excellent spell wielding adventure full of dreamscapes, witches, and a lovely young lady to narrate the tale as she discovers her family's involvement in the centuries long war between witch hunters and the magical beings long since forgotten.

Received Clockwork Dreams in a Goodreads Giveaway.  I thank the author for the opportunity to enjoy such a rich magical world.  Above is my honest and unbiased review.


Amazon: Currently free to read on Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program!

Spelled by Betsy Schow

3 Stars

Spoiled-Brat-Princess Dorthea begins her tale confined inside the Emerald Palace due to a centuries-old curse put on her family. When her selfishness and irresponsibility unleashes a new curse upon her lands, and all of Story, she is forced to adventure out to find the Wizard of Oz for help. With only a sharp tongued servant girl and her betrothed (a magically enchanted chimera) for company, the three find themselves adventuring through the magically altered kingdoms and trading humorous fairy-tale inspired barbs along the way. Though Dorthea is highly unlikable, readers will likely find themselves rooting for her, which is a testament to the author's writing ability.

Schow's creative retelling of "Wizard of Oz" has all the makings of a wonderful fairy-tale; wicked witches, flying monkeys, princesses and a seemingly endless supply of charming prince suitors.  'Spelled' also contains a plethora of fairy-tale and pop culture references.  All in all, a fun read.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.



The Woodcutter by Kate Danley

4 Stars!

Charming re-imagining of various fairy tales.  This book is slow to start, but everything mentioned serves a purpose later on, and the journey through the Wood and the 12 Realms is enchanting, full of faeries, pixies, and humans.