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.
 legacy-rewound

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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The List by Patricia Forde

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From the Publisher: “Fahrenheit 451 meets The Giver for tweens in this gripping story about the power of words and the dangers of censorship.

“In the city of Ark, speech is constrained to five hundred sanctioned words. Speak outside the approved lexicon and face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice Letta, the keepers and archivists of all language in their post-apocalyptic, neo-medieval world.

“On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, charged with collecting and saving words. But when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob Ark’s citizens of their power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but culture itself.”

While The List by Patricia Forde is categorized as a middle grade dystopian novel, I found it to be so much more than that. It is a compelling statement on the power of words to condemn, to incite, to change, to hurt, to heal, to love. Words are one thing that make us human, but they can also be used in horribly inhuman ways. Words can create, and they can destroy. And, as this story points out, if you can control someone’s words, you can control them. When we are not allowed to speak out, we can’t speak up for ourselves. And if we can’t speak up for ourselves, who will?

This is a lesson that young people desperately need: it’s the old “give them an inch, they’ll take a mile” idea. When you give up a freedom (the freedom of speech, in this case), you give those in power permission to take more and more away from you (usually in the guise of protecting you from harm) until you have no freedom left. And this story highlights that idea in a way that young people can understand and maybe even empathize with in some ways. It would be a terrific story to use in a middle grade classroom. I can only imagine the discussions it could spark.

I did enjoy reading The List and would recommend it to tweens and teens, not for its dystopian elements (which were nothing super extraordinary, but were decently well written), but for the greater lessons to be gleaned from its words.

The List will be released in America in August 2017.

 

Many thanks to Sourcebook Jabberwocky and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson

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From the book: “Sophie has long wished to get away from her stepmother’s jealous anger, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be her chance at freedom—but can she trust another person to keep her safe?

“Gabe knows he defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the orphan girl has stolen his heart. Though romance is impossible—she is his brother’s future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else—he promises to himself he will keep her safe, no matter what.

“When the pair are forced to run to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help—but also find their feelings for each other have grown. Can they find a way to protect Sophie while also safeguarding their hearts?”

This was a sweetly-told story, perfect for young ladies. Dickerson managed to stir together a lovely blend of not too much Disney and not too much Grimm. Sweet, but not saccharine; adventurous, but not dark, The Fairest Beauty is a wonderful retelling of the classic fairy tale. And it’s a story that I would gladly share with my god-daughter (and god-son, although he might think it was too “girly” 🙂 ), since it teaches some marvelous lessons about self-control and dependence on God.

If you’re a fan of fairy tales, check out Melanie Dickerson’s reimagined versions. They are pleasant reads, filled with the hope and goodness of God.

Protection’s Prison by Kat Heckenbach

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From the author: “Siophra’s magic enables her to Protect living things from harm. But there is no way to Protect herself from the heartache she feels over her father’s refusal to allow his precious Elven daughter to love a human.

“Her father’s anger pushes her to make an extreme decision, until her love for him, despite his cruelty, puts her in a place where her magic becomes necessary to keep him safe–a place where her Protection becomes her prison.”
My first thought before reading: seriously intriguing description. My first thought after reading: I’ve got to read the rest of this series! This was just a taste (a novelette – only around twenty pages) of the Toch Island Chronicles, and now I want the full meal. In this short story, Kat Heckenbach managed to develop a tremendously interesting world peopled (can I use the term peopled when we’re talking about both humans and elves??) with a set of multi-layered characters that I want to know more about. And I understand from others who’ve read the books already that this isn’t even the best of the lot – so, I’m really looking forward to reading Finding Angel, Seeking Unseen, and Legacy Rewound.
Even better? You can pick up the entire set of ebooks from Amazon for less than $5 right now! But don’t wait – this offer can’t last forever. I definitely encourage you to grab them up. Happy reading! 🙂

The Book of Things to Come by Aaron D. Gansky

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For years, Laurel has dreamed of a fantasy world she calls Alrujah–a place where she imagines herself to be the beautiful girl she doesn’t see herself as in her real life, where she doesn’t have to spend her days playing second fiddle to her “perfect” little sister or arguing with her mom. Laurel has written so much about this land and its people that it seems almost real to her. Her genius best friend, Oliver, has even taken her ideas and turned them into a video game. But when she wakes to find that she, Oliver, and two other teens from North Chester have been transported to this mythical land, have been somehow sucked into their own game, Laurel and Oliver will have to use all of their knowledge of Alrujah and all of their skills to find a way to get them back home.

I could not put this one down! The Book of Things to Come is fast-paced and well-written. The story is beautifully composed with a perfect score of detail and emotion. And while the characters are teenagers, this book is definitely not just for young adults (although, I’m quite sure they’d enjoy it, too!).

This is one I highly recommend for Christian fantasy lovers. You will most definitely enjoy getting sucked into Alrujah alongside Lauren and Oliver!

Bonus review (because I couldn’t wait to share!):

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The Blood Sword, book two of the Hand of Adonai series, finds Laurel, Oliver, Aiden, and Erica all still battling the evil forces of Alrujah to get to the Book of Sealed Magic before the Mage Lord does; and it finds Bailey Renee still searching for her sister. When these two worlds collide, will the Hand of Adonai prevail or be severed by the Blood Sword?

I thought book one was great, but I enjoyed book two just as much, if not more! The action does not stop and the characters grow in depth and complexity.

Definitely grab a copy! These books will draw you in and lead you to a greater understanding of the power of God to accomplish all things, even changing the hearts of those who have denied Him. Absolutely fabulous!

The Goblin Crown by Robert Hewitt Wolfe

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From the book: “Billy Smith is having a rough first day of high school. The new kid at exclusive Francis Drake Prep, Billy embarrasses himself in front of fiery, beautiful Lexi Aquino. He makes an instant enemy in Kurt Novac, the school’s surly star quarterback. Then suddenly Billy, Lexi, and Kurt are mysteriously transported to an underworld teeming with goblins, strange animal hybrids, and powerful magic–the fact that they’re stuck there is probably Billy’s fault, too. With help from an unlikely goblin leader named Hop, the teens soon discover that goblins can be both fierce and friendly, with their own rich language, culture, and history–a history that foretells of a human arriving to claim the Goblin Crown and lead them to victory against the deadly, invading Hanorians.

“Could Billy–anxious, awkward Billy–be the mythical Goblin King? Could saving the goblin race be his destiny and the key to getting him, Lexi, and Kurt back home?”

Reminiscent of Collins’ Gregor the Overlander series or Nix’s Keys to the Kingdom series, The Goblin Crown is a not-quite-traditional coming-of-age story filled with everything from glowing crowns to ridable bats. (And, seriously, who hasn’t wanted to ride a bat?)

The range of ethnicities and personality types – some bits are slightly stereotypical, yet others at least crack, if not break the mold – should appeal to a broad range of youth. It’s a fun fantasy tale, but there are some intense scenes and rather serious emotional issues that the characters work through making for a wealth of teachable moments peppered throughout the story that would make this an interesting book to use in a middle-grade classroom.

The Goblin Crown, the first in a series about Billy Smith and the Goblins, will be released on November 15th.

I received an advanced copy from Turner Publishing for review purposes I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble

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Orphaned as infants, Clara – brought by a stork, Maren – found in a seashell, and O’Neill – left under an apple tree, have always known their lives were not particularly ordinary. Clara and Maren live on Llanfair Mountain with Auntie Verity, a lovely woman who tells stories almost as well as she mixes herbal remedies. O’Neill travels the land with Scarff, selling fantastical tales and the goods that go with them. But when Clara notices that her sister, Maren, has begun to change, to grow iridescent scales and long for the ocean, Clara and O’Neill must set out on a wild adventure to save Maren by taking her to the sea. Beset by troubles, Clara and O’Neill worry that it will be too late for Maren. And through it all Clara wonders, “If my sister is a mermaid, then what am I?”

What a remarkable story! The instant I saw this book, I knew I wanted to read it, so I treated myself to a copy. Then, it won two awards at the RealmMakers conference – the Genre Award for Young Adult Literature and the first ever Realm Award for overall awesomeness (my description of the award)! And it definitely is fantastic!

The characters are wonderfully unique, yet she draws them so well, they are familiar and comfortable to be with at the same time. Even her villains are multi-layered and intriguing. Absolutely magical, for young adults and the forever young-at-heart! Grab yourself a copy, snuggle up with some hot black tea with honey and cinnamon (Spoiler Alert!! Make sure you make the tea yourself!!), and dive into Carrie Anne Noble’s lovely tale. I most highly recommend it.

And, seriously, now I want my own Osbert the wyvern. Where can I get one?????