The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber

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From the book: “Ever since the Delonese ice-planet arrived eleven years ago, Sofi’s dreams have been vivid. Alien. In a system where Earth’s corporations rule in place of governments and the humanoid race orbiting the moon are allies, her only constant has been her younger brother, Shilo. As an online gamer, Sofi battles behind the scenes of Earth’s Fantasy Fighting arena where Shilo is forced to compete in a mix of real and virtual blood sport. But when a bomb takes out a quarter of the arena, Sofi’s the only one who believes Shilo survived. She has dreams of him. And she’s convinced he’s been taken to the ice-planet.

“Except no one but ambassadors are allowed there.

“For Miguel, Earth’s charming young playboy, the games are of a different sort. As Ambassador to the Delonese, his career has been built on trading secrets and seduction. Until the Fantasy Fight’s bomb goes off. Now the tables have turned and he’s a target for blackmail. The game is simple: Help the blackmailers, or lose more than anyone can fathom, or Earth can afford.”

If you’re like me and you loved Mary Weber’s debut Storm Siren trilogy, don’t expect this series to be the same. It is a completely different world, a completely different genre–but it is just as gripping to read.

It took me a bit to get into the book, because it is so different from her Storm Siren world, but Weber had to build this world, write history for this dystopian Earth society, and give us reason to cheer for or want to strangle her characters (which I absolutely did on both counts). Once I felt at home with the Corps and gamers and ambassadors (and never felt comfortable with the Delonese…), I could not stop reading.

There are so many layers to this story, each one more intense than the one before, and many lessons that can be taught through this book. It could be a great classroom (or dinner table) conversation launcher for issues that we face (or, sadly more often, ignore) in our own society.

But the ending…

 

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*Thanks to BookBub for this pic.

I just have to say, there’d better be another book coming soon! Until then, read it!

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

 

The Toch Island Chronicles by Kat Heckenbach

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Angel doesn’t remember her magical heritage…

…but it remembers her.

Angel lives with a loving foster family, but dreams of a land that exists only in the pages of a fantasy novel. Until she meets Gregor, whose magic Talent saves her life and revives lost memories.

She follows Gregor to her homeland…a world unlike any she has imagined, where she travels a path of self-discovery that leads directly to her role in an ancient Prophecy…and to the madman who set her fate in motion.

 

 Seeking Unseen

It may be Angel’s wish…..

IT’S BEEN two years since Angel learned the magic chip of wood inside her locket would grant any wish. What is taking her so long to choose?
An alarming discovery about her beloved foster brother Zack makes the decision easy…but everything else gets complicated after she runs into her old friend Melinda, who demands to go along for the return to Toch Island.
…but it’s Melinda’s journey.
MELINDA doesn’t fit in with the magical freaks any more than she did with the losers back in Florida, but she never wanted to belong before. A secret world surrounds her where even the bugs have magic…
She’s more of an outsider than ever.
So when ex-con Doran Ashe slinks out of the shadows and offers her an easy road to powers of her own, Melinda follows him despite—or maybe because of—everyone’s warnings.
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Magic and mystery entwine – hidden in the web of time.

Melinda knew Kalek’s music created powerful visions, but it wasn’t supposed to actually send her into the past!

It definitely wasn’t supposed to bring someone back to the present with her. Especially not someone tied so tightly to Melinda’s own past, someone to prove, once again, that her family ancestry was made up of psychopaths who should never have existed.

Now it’s her chance to change her lineage–and history–forever.


When I began my journey to Toch Island in Protection’s Prison back in February, I knew this series would be good, but I had no idea just how wonderful the stories would be. Kat Heckenbach has created a realm that I long to actually visit. Her descriptions are vivid, her characters are full and complex, her plots are engrossing. I giggled, I cried (which I hate doing…thanks, Kat!), I didn’t want the stories to end.

I, very honestly, read all three of these novels in one day…I could not stop! I was sucked in instantly and did not want to leave. And to keep from dropping some spoilers, I’ll leave it at that. Great for everyone from tweens in age to teens at heart, the Toch Island Chronicles are books that I would highly recommend to all fantasy lovers. 🙂

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Invitation by Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, & Alton Gansky

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From the book: “Four strangers with gifts they don’t understand. A world falling into darkness. This is Harbingers.

“You’re invited on a journey of suspense and the supernatural as four of your favorite bestselling authors team up for a unique series.

“From the minds of Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky, Invitation compiles the first four episodes of HARBINGERS, each following a different character.

  • Brenda — the street hustling tattoo artist who sees images of the future
  • The Professor — the atheist ex-priest ruled by logic
  • Andi — the professor’s brilliant but geeky assistant who sees inexplicable patterns
  • Tank — the naïve, big-hearted jock with a surprising connection to healing power

“Brought together for the first time in “The Call,” the four soon realize pockets of darkness are emerging throughout the world. Whether it involves a mysterious house, the unexplainable death of animals around the world, or an otherworldly little girl, each puzzle they solve brings them closer to the ultimate explanation of what’s happening. But will they discover the truth in time?”

The idea of this series of collected novellas is wonderful: as they explain in the introduction, this group of author friends wanted to write engaging stories that could be read in one to two sittings. They see it as a kind of game for authors. Each author writes from the perspective of one of the four main characters, and each story builds off of the one before it. The stories are all unique, but work so well together.

They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, but altogether pretty darn cool, and I’d seriously recommend you pick up a copy of Invitation, HARBINGERS Cycle #1, as soon as possible. Happy reading!

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

Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland

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From the book: “What if it were possible to live two very different lives in two separate worlds? What if the dreams we awaken from are the fading memories of that second life? What if one day we woke up in the wrong world?

“Every night, a woman on a black warhorse gallops through the mist in Chris Redston’s dreams. Every night, she begs him not to come to her. Every night, she aims her rifle at his head and fires. The last thing Chris expects—or wants—is for this nightmare to be real. But when he wakes up in the world of his dreams, he has to choose between the likelihood that he’s gone spectacularly bonkers or the possibility that he’s just been let in on the secret of the ages.

“Only one person in a generation may cross the worlds. These chosen few are the Gifted, called from Earth into Lael to shape the epochs of history—and Chris is one of them. But before he figures that out, he accidentally endangers both worlds by resurrecting a vengeful prince intent on claiming the powers of the Gifted for himself. Together with a suspicious princess and a guilt-ridden Cherazii warrior, Chris must hurl himself into a battle to save a country from war, two worlds from annihilation, and himself from a dream come way too true.”

I stumbled across K.M. Weiland while on a blog hop, where I was so hoping to win some new books. Alas, I did not win (bummer), but I still managed to snag a book for free. I’ll admit that I’ve gathered quite a collection of free e-books, and many of them have been free for a reason, shall we say — unfortunately, not all of them are well-written, well-edited, or well-done. Dreamlander, on the other hand, was a very pleasant surprise.

With overtones of classics like Lord of the Rings and recent fantastic reads like Carr’s Darkwater Saga, not only is this book very beautifully crafted, with striking imagery, intense emotion, and complex characters, but it drags you into this land of dream vs reality and does not easily let you get back to your own normal, boring life. The story presents such a great premise (“What if your dreams were actually your other life lived in another place?”) with such rich detail and tangibility that you almost find yourself questioning what is real in your own life. It is a story that makes you think and feel and question and evaluate and really want to know what happens after the novel ends.

There is nothing better than a story that grabs you and won’t let you go, even after you’ve gotten to the last page, and Dreamlander is one of those novels for me. I would definitely recommend you snag your own copy. And, to make it even sweeter, it is currently free on Amazon or from K.M. Weiland’s website. Happy reading!

Firstborn by Tosca Lee

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From the publisher: “From New York Times bestselling author Tosca Lee comes the much-anticipated, fast-paced sequel to The Progeny about the powerful descendants of the most notorious female serial killer of all time.

“All at once, she remembers. The memories Audra had erased have returned. And now she knows why she did it.

“Now she must find her archenemy, the Historian, and put an end to the centuries old Progeny/Scion war once and for all. But first she has to rescue Luka, who is being held prisoner by the Scions, all while on the run from the law and struggling with her growing powers and their painful side effects.

“But when a bitter betrayal stalls her plans, Audra doesn’t know who to trust. With the help of a heretic monk, her Progeny friends, and the hacker, Jester, Audra fights to defeat the Scions and find a way to save other Progeny in the process. The final confrontation with her surprising nemesis will put her powers to the ultimate test.”

Seriously, I have been waiting (rather impatiently, I might add) more than a year for this sequel to Tosca Lee’s first book in the Descendants of the House of Bathory series (The Progeny, which I reviewed last year). And I actually had to force myself to put the book down and go out into the real world (although the whole time, my mind was flashing back to the story, wondering how it would all work out in the end)!

For me, the final book in a series is often a bit of a downer — it means that I don’t get to live with those characters anymore and, honestly, it hardly ever turns out the way I wanted it to. Not so with Firstborn. While I’m sad that I won’t get to experience life on the run with Audra for the first time ever again, I was totally satisfied with the conclusion of her story. The fast-paced plot twisted and flipped just as much as the first book in the series keeping my attention riveted (especially when I should have been paying attention to other things…). And even though I managed to kind of figure out some of the surprises beforehand, Tosca Lee wrote them in such a marvelous way that I still found myself gasping and smiling as I read.

Do yourself a favor — pick up a copy of Firstborn (and The Progeny, if you have not read it yet. And if you haven’t, what are you waiting for??). Firstborn is available for pre-order now and releases May 2.

Many thanks to Howard Books and NetGalley for the copy of this novel. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own!! 🙂

Tainted by Morgan L. Busse

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What Happens When Your Soul Dies?

From the publisher: “Kat Bloodmayne is one of the first women chosen to attend the Tower Academy of Sciences. But she carries a secret: she can twist the natural laws of life. She has no idea where this ability came from, only that every time she loses control and unleashes this power, it kills a part of her soul. If she doesn’t find a cure soon, her soul will die and she will become something else entirely.

“After a devastating personal loss, Stephen Grey leaves the World City Police Force to become a bounty hunter. He believes in justice and will stop at nothing to ensure criminals are caught and locked up. However, when Kat Bloodmayne shows up in his office seeking his help, his world is turned upside down.

“Together they search World City and beyond for a doctor who can cure Kat. But what they discover on the way goes beyond science and into the dark sphere of magic.”

So, this was my first foray into the steampunk sub-genre, and I’m sure glad I started with this one! What made the book great was that the steampunk elements did not overwhelm the story, did not hijack the tale as I assumed they would. Instead of steampunk practically being a character in its own right, the elements enhanced the plot in (most often) subtle ways. And the story was awesome – it began with a fascinating premise (“What happens when your soul dies?”) and grew into a powerful tale of love, loss, trust, and truth.

Morgan Busse is a marvelous writer. She must be if she’s made me want to be a steampunk fan 😉 If you’ve never tried steampunk, start here. If you are a huge fan of the genre, Tainted is also for you. I highly recommend it. Book two, Awakened, is supposed to be released sometime this Spring, and I’m very excited to grab a copy and see what happens in the next part of the adventure. 🙂

**Special Note: I received a copy of this book (along with many others) as a winner of the Christian Book Box, sponsored by authors Charles Franklin and Mandy Fender. If you head over to their websites (just click  on their names), you can enter to win your own book box and be blessed with a plethora of books by Christian authors and other goodies. I got the box last November and am still being blessed by it 🙂 **

Some Small Magic by Billy Coffey

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From the book:

She whispers, “I’m supposed to take you home.”

“Not yet,” Abel says. “Please, just not yet.”

“All Abel wants is a little bit of magic in his life. Enough money so his mom doesn’t cry at night. Healing for his broken body. And maybe a few answers about his past.

“When Abel discovers letters to him from the dad he believed dead, he wonders if magic has come to the hills of Mattingly, Virginia, after all. But not everything is as it seems.

“With a lot of questions and a little bit of hope, Abel decides to run away to find the truth. But danger follows him from the moment he jumps his first boxcar, forcing Abel to rely upon his simpleminded friend Willie—a man wanted for murder who knows more about truth than most—and a beautiful young woman who was already on the train. From Appalachia to the Tennessee wilds and through the Carolina mountains, the name of a single small town beckons: Fairhope. That is where Abel believes his magic lays. But will it be the sort that will bring a broken boy healing? And is that the magic that will one day lead him home?”

If you’ve not yet read a Billy Coffey novel, you are seriously missing out. His novels are brimming with mystery, wonder, and even magic, strumming the readers’ heartstrings with lyrical prose and spiritual beauty. And Coffey’s latest, Some Small Magic, hits all the right notes: I laughed, I cried, I sat in shock, and my heart smiled (and more than once for all of them!).

Abel and Dumb Willie are characters that you desperately wish you could hug, just hold them and love them. Yet, at the same time, they are such amazing examples of strength and perseverance that you have to kind of sit back  in respect. They are the type of characters that make you rethink what you really believe about the people around you, and that is a relatively rare and tremendously awesome thing to find in a story.

With shades of such beautiful novels as Of Mice and Men and The Book Thief, Coffey’s Some Small Magic is a tale not to be missed, but to be savored and reread for years to come. It releases March 14, 2017, so be sure to grab your copy and curl up for a wonder-filled story of love, hope, and Some Small Magic.

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