Spark by J.M. Hackman

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About the book:

Brenna James wants three things for her sixteenth birthday: to find her history notes before the test, to have her mother return from her business trip, and to stop creating fire with her bare hands.

Yeah, that’s so not happening. Unfortunately.

When Brenna learns her mother is missing in an alternate reality called Linneah, she travels through a portal to find her. Against her will. Who knew portals even existed? But Brenna’s arrival in Linneah begins the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, including a royal murder and the theft of Linneah’s most powerful relic: the Sacred Veil.

Hold up. Can everything just slow down for a sec?

Unwilling yet left with no other choice, Brenna and her new friend Baldwin (Um, hello, Hottie!) pursue the thief into the dangerous woods of Silvastamen and beyond. Exactly what Brenna wanted to do for her sixteenth birthday. Exactly. When they spy an army marching toward Linneah, Brenna is horrified. Can she find the veil, save her mother, and warn Linneah in time?

And more importantly, why on earth doesn’t this alternity have Belgian waffles?


My review:

Spark is J.M. Hackman’s first full-length novel, and I spy a promising career behind Brenna and her Firebrand abilities!

Hackman’s writing style is relaxed, but also drizzled with lyrical imagery and a liberal sprinkling of snark that conveys a perfect teenage girl voice. One of my favorite descriptions was of morning in Linneah: “Dawn had arrived, holding hands with a vivid orange-streaked sky.” Such beautiful imagery! But you can also see the teenage snark in her description of some food in Linneah: “A large platter held a boar lizard roast, which like the cliché, tasted like chicken, but had the consistency of pencil erasers.” 😀

I enjoyed Brenna. She’s a lovely heroine, flawed but feisty. Naïve enough to get herself into bad situations, but also just skeptical enough to get herself back out and all with a sense of humor.

This was only book one of the Firebrand Chronicles, and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. I’d recommend you grab your own copy of Spark and dive into the adventure! Happy reading! 🙂

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Iridescent by Kait Spangler

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About the book:

Things are more than they appear…

Aly Roberts wasn’t expecting much out of small town Airyville, North Carolina. She certainly wasn’t expecting to get caught up in a conspiracy involving the town’s gated community, Lagniappe. The people of Lagniappe are private, and Aly’s new friend, Riley Monroe, is certain that they’re hiding something. Lagniappe’s secrets are dangerous, and uncovering them may just change their lives forever.


My review:

I so wanted to like this book: strange happenings, weird family members, conspiracy theories, superhumans…

But unfortunately, it left too much to be desired for me to recommend you read it. The writing was fairly amateurish, which I could probably have overlooked if the dialogue and plotting would have been stronger.

The main characters are teenagers, but you’d still hope they’d have some common sense locked away somewhere! The young girl is just moving to a new area, and the first person she meets is a boy in her class who is completely obsessed with a nearby housing development. And she still wants to talk to him after she learns this? Aly’s cousin, the one Aly of course thinks is weird, just happens to live in that particular gated community. Why wouldn’t Aly just ask her cousin what’s going on and save everyone in the story a whole lot of trouble? No common sense…

The story got weirder as the writing regressed, and it took all I had to finish reading it. Do I care what happens in the next book in the series? Not really. But I’m guessing the characters will do stupid things which land them in difficult situations that they are miraculously saved from for bizarre reasons.

Sorry, I hate to say this about any book, but I don’t recommend you read this one. It ended up being a bit of a waste of time for me and that breaks my heart. Bummer!

Mythical Doorways by Fellowship of Fantasy

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About the book:

Eleven Tales of Magical, Mysterious, Mythical Doorways!

Step through portals and into adventure as the authors of the Fellowship of Fantasy take you on another journey into fantastic worlds. Travel through time, space, and realities to encounter monsters, mechanical foxes, and the Fates themselves. You’ll fly with dragons, save implausible beasts, and perhaps find your true home. Choose your path wisely, for dangers lurk in the lands beyond.

In the third anthology from the Fellowship of Fantasy, eleven authors promise you journeys into fairy lands hidden within the modern world, futuristic universities, and lands of ancient myth. So what are you waiting for? Cross through our Doorways for the adventure of a lifetime!


My review:

This was a fabulous anthology filled with a magical blend of stories all swirling around the common theme of doorways and how they can change a life. Each author brought a new angle on the power, the promise, the pressure, or the predicament of passing through a doorway to find all that could be on the other side.

I did have a few favorites, including Savannah Jezowski’s “Well of Fate,” based on Norse Mythology and with a squirrel for a main character; Bokerah Brumley’s “Door Number Four,” whose main character I could totally empathize with in his fear of failure; Laurie Lucking’s “Threshold,” a sweet tale of having to choose; and Arthur Daigle’s “Idiot’s Graveyard,” about the Sorcerer Lord Jayden and his assistant Dana and how they save the kingdom. I also really enjoyed H.L. Burke’s “Jericho and the Magician’s Daughter.” Having read the first of her Spellsmith & Carver Gaslamp Fantasy series, it was really cool to read the backstory of some of the characters in those books. I will admit that there was one story I didn’t finish—it just wasn’t my cup of tea. But that’s the beauty of an anthology: there’s something for everyone!

If you’re looking for a great read, grab your own copy today (they are free on Amazon!!). Not only will you enjoy the anthology, you might even find your next favorite author from the talented bunch at Fellowship of Fantasy! Happy reading 🙂

The Wounded Shadow by Patrick W. Carr

wounded shadowAbout the book:

The kings and queens of the northern continent lay siege to the Darkwater Forest, desperate to contain its evil. But rumors of gold and aurium have lured deserters and the desperate into its shadow, creating a growing army held in its sway. Desperate after the death and dissolution of their greatest ally, Willet and the Vigil seek the truth of what lies at the heart of the evil they face. They delve the mind of an old enemy and find an answer far worse than they could have imagined.

Danger stalks the cities of the north, striking at the rulers of the kingdoms. As Willet and the rest of the Vigil seek to find answers, the group is scattered with an ever-growing darkness around them. Will they discover a path to keep their land safe, or will an ancient evil reclaim the world it once called its own?


My review:

So I’ve been sitting here for a while trying to come up with the words to describe just how much I liked this third book of the Darkwater Saga (and how much I hope Patrick Carr doesn’t wrap this series up, but continues it forever!!), but words seem rather inadequate. It was just so good, it took my breath away a bit!

I really liked the first two books (and the introductory novella) in the series, but I loved The Wounded Shadow. It was absolutely crammed with everything I love in a good read: terrifically crafted and intelligent characters, intricate world building, intense and exciting adventure, good and evil, love and heartbreak, and fabulous wit. Willet, Gael, Rory, Bolt, and all the characters that I have gotten to know over the first books, I came to cherish in this book, and I already miss spending time with them! I have a feeling I’ll be re-reading this series. 🙂

Patrick Carr just keeps getting better, and I can’t wait to see what he has for his readers next!

Many, many thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for the digital copy of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

 

The Story Peddler by Lindsay A. Franklin

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About the book:

SELLING STORIES IS A DEADLY BUSINESS

Tanwen doesn’t just tell stories—she weaves them into crystallized sculptures that sell for more than a few bits. But the only way to escape the control of her cruel mentor and claw her way from poverty is to set her sights on something grander: becoming Royal Storyteller to the king.

During her final story peddling tour, a tale of treason spills from her hands, threatening the king himself. Tanwen goes from peddler to prey as the king’s guard hunts her down…and they’re not known for their mercy. As Tanwen flees for her life, she unearths long-buried secrets and discovers she’s not the only outlaw in the empire. There’s a rebel group of weavers…and they’re after her too.


My review:

The first time I heard about this book last year, I knew I had to read it. What a captivating idea: a storyteller who weaves tales into crystallized sculptures! And once I got my little hands on this book, it outpaced my expectations so greatly. 🙂

I was drawn into Tanwen’s world immediately and didn’t want to ever come out! Tir is well-built and easy to imagine and filled with a charming cast of characters you can’t help but fall in love with.

But the story itself is the best part of all. It is a tale of finding strength in weakness, of love conquering even death, and of the power of art to bring beauty and truth and hope. The Story Peddler is a delightful tale with a compelling message and you don’t want to miss it!

How do I put into words how wonderful this book is?? It’s pretty impossible, but I will say that Lindsay A. Franklin has brought a fascinating premise to extraordinary life, weaving her own story strands into a lovely piece of art for all to enjoy. And I can’t recommend it highly enough 🙂 Buy it! Buy it now! Preorder it and then wait by the mailbox for it to arrive, make a cup of tea to relax after all the anxiety of waiting, then snuggle in for a fabulous read!!

Many, many thanks to Lindsay and Gilead Publishing/Enclave for the advanced copy of this wonderful book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

Unbreakable by Sara Ella

unbreakableAbout the book:

Eliyana Ember is stranded in a foreign country in the Third Reflection with no passport, the inability to mirrorwalk, and zero clue where the nearest Thresholds back into the Fourth or Second might lie. Her mind is a haze, her memories vague. She knows a wormhole from the Fourth sent her here. She remembers her mom and baby brother Evan. Makai and Stormy and Joshua . . .

Deep down El realizes she must end the Void once and for all. Is there a way to trap the darkness within its current vessel, kill it off completely? To do so would mean sacrificing another soul—the soul of a man Joshua claims is a traitor. But he’s lied to her before, and even El senses Joshua can’t be fully trusted, but one thing is certain . . .

The Void must be annihilated. And only the Verity—the light which birthed the darkness—can put an end to that which seeks to kill and destroy.


My review:

I waited ever so patiently for the finale to the Unblemished Trilogy to arrive. And now that it has, I’m sorry to say that I’m a bit disappointed. Maybe it’s just me, but I guess that the first book was so good, nothing could quite compare.

Don’t get me wrong: this finale has lots of feels, even a few cheers and tears. Yet, I felt a bit let down by it. To me, the story seemed to drag in places, and I got to the point that I wondered if it would ever end. I did love how some of the characters grew, but felt that a lot of the internal extemporizing could have been edited for time.

Unbreakable was a good read, but I can’t call it a great read. I’d still recommend you dive into the first of the series, Unblemished. However, I don’t think you’ll be too heartbroken if you don’t make through the entire trilogy. Bummer!

Many thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for the digital copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

Scarlet Moon by S.D. Grimm

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About the book:

The hunted Feravolk are counting on Jayden, a seventeen-year-old, dagger-wielding, storm-detecting orphan, to save their race. Maybe they should have thought of that before they killed her family.

The land of Soleden is dying because the sorceress queen hunts and kills the people who cared for all nature, the Feravolk. Through their special bond with animals, the Feravolk have become more than men. Faster, stronger, masters of camouflage and stealth. Only a Deliverer born the night of the Blood Moon can save them from extinction.

According to prophecy, Jayden is a Deliverer, but it’s not a destiny she wants. She has no sympathy for either side. The Feravolk killed her family, so they can die for all she cares. And fighting the queen with nothing but daggers and her special abilities—storm predicting—is a suicide mission. Destiny can pick someone else.

Except hiding from destiny proves difficult; Deliverers attract powerful Protectors. Jayden’s is one of the Feravolk, so he can’t be trusted. But he makes her feel safe. Makes her want to save his race. If she chooses to keep hiding, he’ll remain one of the hunted, but he’ll protect her even if it means his death if she faces the queen. Making the right choice has never been so excruciating, especially since the prophecy says nothing about the Deliverer’s success, or survival.


My review:

This book had a lot to live up to for me: more than a year before I read the book, I saw a video on how the cover was created, and it so intrigued me, that I had to read it! And the read was just as good as the cover design 🙂

The writing flows so well, it’s very easy to get caught up in Jayden’s world, but the author has plenty of twists to throw in to keep you wanting to know more. It’s a traditional good vs evil tale, yet the author keeps you guessing as to who is actually good and who may have other motives. The characters are diverse and well-drawn, and the author gave them all just enough highlights and shading to deepen them beyond the basic young adult ingénues.

Good to know there is a sequel, since she left me hanging at the end! Definitely looking forward to picking up Amber Eyes (Children of the Blood Moon, Book 2), but until then, I suggest you grab your own copy of Scarlet Moon and dive into the adventure! 🙂

 

Small disclaimer: if this doesn’t make much sense, please forgive me. I’ve finally given in and gotten sick after staying healthy all fall and winter! Blast my allergies that weakened my immune system!!!! But at least it gives me an excuse to stay in bed and read 🙂