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“We have not yet slain the devil: how shall we determine who is to be our new god”

 

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The 1-line Review:

A seriously quotable fantasy novel .

The longer review:

There were at least 3 lines that I read and had to pause for a second because of how impressive the lines read. The first one that stopped me was “”We have not yet slain the devil: how shall we determine who is to be our new god.” that was a seriously awesome line to me. I can’t find the other 2 quotes for the life of me but there were a couple others that had some real pull.

The story starts off with a Ranger’s Apprentice feel and the rest falls in line with a story similar to The Beyonder’s series.  It is a lightning-fast non-magic fantasy.  The story is driven by political shifts and espionage, but not to the Level of Game of Thrones. This story would be a great read for a youngster who would love Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings, but are too young for those levels of reading.

I was impressed with the sage-ness of the character Mordecani. Many of the ‘quotable wisdoms’ came from him. The main character, prince Korbin, progresses well from start to finish and was a very likable main character.  Prince Korbin ages from boy to man and has to fight with feeling of Duty, and a justice of law that must be brought down upon him.

The strength of the writing and flow of the story overcomes any debut novel shortcomings I detail below. I very much enjoyed the book start to finish.

 

Where the book lost a star:

Half a star for character naming. Down to the end I was confused with character and location names. The author favored names beginning with A (Aeggis, Ascanth, Astrith, Adamah, Addrich) and R (Rotchardin, Raccanith, Radrin, Roald) .  The sound of many of the names felt too similar,  like how Angie and Angela are similar while Angie and Amanda are less so.

My other gripe was the interjection of a young character in the middle of the novel. There needed to be a flash back type memory or discussion placed somewhere  in the beginning of the novel to tie that character to something. Rather it felt completely out of no where.

Bottom Line:

This was a great debut, I expect the next to really build and flourish off of this first tale. The land of Adamah has real potential to flourish into a great fantasy realm.

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The Lost Branch

 

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The 1-line Review:

What can I say, I loved this book just as much as the first. The magic gets even better, the plot lines are deep and woven, and we get a great story line into the history preceding the main trilogy story line.

The longer review

Marcellus, Nicolai, and Corren have to handle new roles as King, Prince, and Head of the order. The Norther magical guild, The Osiris Colony threatens the balance of the realm with a claim to the powers of the Phoenix. The earth faeries face a challenge that will challenge their way of life. Can the new king and his brothers safeguard the realm of humans and fairies before the land they know is destroyed?  (you should read and see)

The magic continues to impress from the first book. The book dives into the history of the  Mapmaker and the earth fairies that added a great depth of knowledge to the character of Salerno as well as the origins of The Order.  There is still much to learn about the order, leaving mysteries for the next installment.

The Lost Branch matches the great depth the first book, Gift of the Phoenix, contained . Again the layers of major and minor plot lines are woven together so intricately, and feel separate but connected at the same time  I felt like there were several “mini ending” throughout the story that gave me a satisfying sense as each perspective plot line came to a close.

The main character of each chapter rotates among Marcellus, Nicolai, and Corren, with occasional chapters and excerpts centered around pro and antagonists. Each chapters grips and pulls you into a story line, only to be switched back into another characters story pages after. It ends up creating quite the page turner as you constantly are reading to get back to each character to see what happens next.

Bottom Line:

 I can’t wait for the next! this series is truly one of the great ones.

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The Dragon boy is back!

 

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(You can read the beginning of the book in that blog link up there!)

The 1-line Review:

Action and adventure are abound in a book even better than the first.

The longer review:

The Watcher of Zargon built upon the strong foundation built by Ben the Dragonborn. It was hard to put this book down, reading one chapters became eight as I tried to stretch my lunch breaks to get more reading in. Much less takes place at the school as Ben, Allison, and new student Mack are quickly dropped into Zargon. The rest of the story became a back and forth of

Zargonian war, family feuds, and diplomacy written in a way that is understandable and appropriate for the  intended reader (juvenile) while still being very entertaining for an adult reader.

 

I think the greatest improvements from book one stem from the growth of the author. Ben and Allison’s feelings and actions more accurately portray their age (14-15 years old) in this book. I felt they, particularly Ben, acted a bit younger than 13-14 year olds in the previous book. The Watcher of Zargon also has much better chapter to chapter flow than its predecessor; it sheds some of the episodic feel of the last book.

 

By the end of this book, readers of the six world series have journeyed with ben through 3 worlds, with the promise of an adventure on an unexplored world in the next installment. I certainly hope we get a story into each of the remaining worlds that have not been traversed by Ben and Allison.

Where the book lost half a star:

I’d say my only wish for for a bit more length to the stories. A little more dialogue and a interpersonal development will go a long way for the  coming stories. I think any youngins’ reading the next installment will already be invested in the series and be able to take a little more complexity without losing interest.

Bottom Line:

A series that is picking up speed and worth coming back to again!

 

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The Angels are back- The Afterlife book 2

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The 1-line Review:

A sequel as good as the first; solidifying The Afterlife Series as a series worth reading.

The longer review:

The Taking doesn’t disappoint; avoiding the sequel slump that can often stymie a series. The addition of a grumpy old protagonist adds an unexpected depth to the mix of characters. He is a needed balance to the amount of millennial thickheaded-ness  Aurora and Cindy bring to the table. (As a millennial myself, I hope the world doesn’t think we all act like them.) Aurora’s decision making doesn’t drive as much of the plot in book two as it did in book one; this is a big plus for the story line.

The story has a gradual build up in intensity ending in a great fight seen finish. The ending was full of action packed surprises and more of that lovely decision making by Aurora. Aurora does some crazy things in the end and again gets reprimanded by the arch angels.  Honestly, one of my biggest gripes is that I was truly excited for her to in trouble, but her punishment felt week compared to what I thought she deserved. Dang that girl got off way to easy.

Anyway all the other fledgling side angel characters don’t appear in this story, and the remaining characters all grow in depths from book one. There still is all the tendon ripping, bone breaking fighting you can take. And leave it to Aurora to have this lingering love triangle make its way from start to finish.

Bottom Line:

If you liked the first you will like the second. If you held off reading the first, i’d say this is a series worth getting into.

Where the book lost a star:

The prologue. I new right when I saw the word that points were coming off. The Ethan surprise would have been much better as bomb drop we didn’t know about in the middle of the story. Instead, we knew before the whole book got started. I have never been a fan of prologues, they almost always can be woven into the story in a better portrayal.

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A Different Me- Review


I was asked to read this for a review. It is far outside my normal genres, (But I never deny a request!) Having said that, it’s not the first time I have read this far outside my norm by request, but this has by far been my most impressive readI was surprised by this book, and think it’s deserving of 5 stars. This book will come highly recommended from me to its intended audience (Girls 13-18.)

I think the meaning behind the song “Demons” by Imagine Dragons and A Different Me are very similar. It is a strange comparison, but you’ll understand that correlation after reading it. Both sum up a concept of there is way more going on under the surface than you can possibly figure out from appearances.

I have never read anything from Deborah Blumenthal, but I could tell this was not her first book. The writing was on point, exceptionally so. Blumenthal managed to create not one or two, but an entire cast of characters that felt real and deep on a level that hard to attain. I was further surprised at the character development, specifically the main character Allie, as well as David and Amber. Being able to add such multi-level depth and development to multiple characters is no small feat. Allie begins as a typical high school girl, and her problems and value set are those of a high school. I felt like I was watching a person, not reading a character. Then through a set of outside influences, Blumenthal transforms Allie in a way that feels so natural that it is hard to believe the girl at the end was the same as the one in the beginning.

This book has the ability to leave a lasting effect on certain readers. The story is clearly meant for girls 13-18 and I think it will hit its intended audience right on the mark. All the characters signify many stereotypical personas encountered in high-school, then open up to levels of insecurities and deeper issues that many individuals deal with at some point in their lives.

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Magic Ain’t So Bad

The Quick Review:
Bad magic is a fun book to read. A blend of magic, mystery, adventure, and a little comedy give the reader plenty of reasons not to put the story down. The writing is up tempo and quirky and is a very nice change in storytelling from a typical third person.
This is the first book in a new series by Pseudonyms Bosch, as well as the first book I have read of this particular author. This series ties into his previous one, which I plan to read after reading Bad Magic.

Story Summary:

(Taken from Goodreads)

As in fake. Cheesy. Unreal. At least, that’s what Clay, who has seen one magic show too many, thinks.

When words from his journal appear mysteriously on his school wall as graffiti, he never imagines that magic might be to blame. And when the same graffiti lands him at Earth Ranch, a camp for “troubled” kids on a remote volcanic island, magic is the last thing he expects to find there.

But at Earth Ranch, there is one strange surprise after another, until Clay no longer knows what to expect. Is he really talking to a llama? Did he really see a ghost? What is the scary secret hidden in the abandoned library? The only thing he knows for sure is that behind the clouds of vog (volcanic smog), nothing is as it seems. Can he solve the riddle of Earth Ranch before trouble erupts?

Elusive author Pseudonymous Bosch introduces an extraordinary new series that will have you believing in the unbelievable.

The Longer Review:
I think this story is a more exciting read if it is the first Book you have read from the author. Not having the familiarity with the author’s previous works makes it hard to peg where the story is going, and this adds to the excitement of the story. I Thought I had the story figured out, but the plot line moved back and forth making it hard to figure out how the book would end.

The narration is third person. The stories read as if someone is telling you the story. The narrator adds plenty of anecdotes to the story as he goes, sometimes adding his own personal opinions. I liked it; it is a different style and keeps the story fun and active.

Clay is a nice main character. He basically comes off as a C student Skateboarder with a knack for magic tricks, even though he hates magic. He isn’t an exemplary kid, but not a bad one either. His nerdy Big-Bang-Theory parents who take a hands off approach to parenting attribute to much of his misguided-ness as well as dealing with the disappearance of his brother. His parents are unique as far as support characters I’ve read, nice to see them break the parent molds we commonly see.

Conclusion:

Definitely a good read. A magic-mystery Survivor feel to it. Easy to start on this series and not Bosch’s original series. The original stories are in the same story arc as these. I want to read Bosch’s previous series now that I have read this one.

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The Map to Everywhere

 

 

The Quick Review:
This is the best read of the year. I loved it so much I will buy the hardcover when it comes out, even though I got the E-book for free. This book series will fit well into a shelf filled with Brandon Mull and Rick Riordan. The cover is one of those covers that make you want to buy the book (because everyone does judge books by their covers) and the story doesn’t let you down. Everything about this story feels different, original, and all blends together perfectly.

Story Summary:

(Taken from Goodreads) To Master Thief Fin, an orphan from the murky pirate world of the Khaznot Quay, the Map is the key to finding his mother. To suburban schoolgirl Marrill, it’s her only way home after getting stranded on the Pirate Stream, the magical waterway which connects every world in creation (Apparently she shouldn’t have climbed aboard the mysterious pirate ship that sailed out of nowhere and into a dry Arizona parking lot. How was she to know?).

With the help of a bumbling wizard and his crew, they must scour the many worlds of the Pirate Stream to gather the pieces of the Map to Everywhere, but they aren’t the only ones looking. A dark and sinister figure is hot on their tail, and if they can’t beat his ghostly ship to find the Map, it could mean the destruction of everything they hold dear-not least of all themselves!

In Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis’ first installment of a fantastical new series, adventure, magic, and hilarity collide in the treacherous skies and dangerous waters of the Pirate Stream. Heart-pounding escapades and a colorful cast of characters will have readers setting sail through this wholly original and unforgettable tale.

The Longer Review:

This book had a lot of “Why hasn’t anyone thought of that before” moments. It felt very original. Fin, one of the two main characters is fresh and completely out of the box. Many of the characters just struck me as different I didn’t find myself thinking about stereotypical characters types at all. There is no info dump and all the characters still have some mystery about them by the end of the book.

The scenery and locations in this book are fantastic. There all unexpected and it is hard to guess ahead to what’s in store as Fin and Marill travel down the pirate stream. They, along with the corky wizard Ardent and stern Captain Coll, hope from realm to realm on a magic induced goose chase that is hard to foreshadow. The story is very well thought out, the authors must have layered and re-layered the plot along the way. Every little detail in every chapter is related to the ending. Things I read over as such minor details became important at the end. There was no fluff or unnecessary chapters.

I disagree with the reviewers who say this book is too confusing. Middle school readers will have a fine time following along with this book. If the intended reader can keep up with a Fable haven book, then they will be fine reading through The Map to Everywhere.

There are a bunch of visuals that are going to be added to the final version that were left out of the advanced read copy. I want to know what they are! The book doesn’t need pictures, the writing is great, but the inner child in me wants to see the pictures. I want to see the movie as well. Can we get started on making that? There’s going to be a lot of cgi involved, so they need to get started now.

Conclusion:
Again, my read of the year. And that’s after reading Some Riordan earlier in the year (one of my favorites.) This book has the potential to be huge. I really hope it is. I want this to become a long series.

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