September 30, 2016
Elementals is the first book of the Arula Series written by Michael S. Anstead.
Denise is a simple barmaid from Terra. When she is arrested by the Guardians of the Empire for a crime she doesn’t know about, she has no choice but to trust the man who saved her, the man she only knows as the Storyteller.
The Storyteller, whose name Denise eventually learned to be Simon, takes her to safety and introduces her to an old woman Denise believes to be a Witch. They are soon joined by another woman, Sofia, Simon’s younger sister.
It seems like Simon and Sofia are part of an ancient plan to reunite the Twelve Kingdoms of Arula by reinstating the Council of the Circle. Twelve members of the council are said to be Masters of magical orbs while twelve are mortals elected by the people. The Council of the Circle ruled Arula for over two thousand years until a war broke out within the council. Arula was divided into twelve kingdoms which one by one fell to the Empire of the South.
Besides the steady and consistent pace, this book offers a great plot in addition to remarkable characters. The concept of magical orbs which include the elementals: air, water, fire, earth and the Lost Orb, is intriguing and certainly will pique the interest of the fantasy genre enthusiasts. The author successfully wrote vivid descriptions of the kingdoms and keenly portrayed fighting scenes.
Moreover, the author created formidable characters. My favorite, however, was Denise. Not only was she smart, but she was also patient, diligent and obedient. She practiced her skills with passion and performed whatever task assigned to her. She knew when and what to ask, and knew when to keep quiet. She was also very observant thus she learned fast and learned well.
However, I had a problem with the ending of the book. Though I understand the necessity of not revealing much in preparation for the succeeding books in the series, I would have preferred more enlightenment. Still, this is one great book (with a fantastic cover!) and I would love to read the other books in the series.
Congratulations to Michael S. Anstead (@ArulaNovel) on such an amazing book!
September 28, 2016
The Night Before Christmas is a children’s picture book by Rose Collins. This colorful and enchanting book is a retelling of the classic Christmas story by Clement Clarke Moore, ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas, but with an awesome twist.
In this picture book, St. Nick visits the welcoming house of a family of four cuddly bears. While the cute little cubs are warmly tucked in bed, Papa Bear hears a sound and rushes outside to see a beautiful red sleigh pulled by eight flying reindeer and driven by lively and chubby St. Nick.
While remaining faithful to the Christmas classic, Ms. Collins altered a few words in the original story, probably to make her version more understandable to the younger generation. This book, with its vivid and colorful pictures, brings out the spirit of Christmas in every single page. The pictures are so alive that the reader can almost feel the warmth emanating from the fireplace and can touch the snow resting on the evergreens. Even the font used for the story has an embossed look making the words appear as if they are floating on each page.
Needless to say, this is one beautiful and charming Christmas book, perfect for children and grown-ups alike.
Congratulations to Rose Collins for such an amazing book.
September 26, 2016
Talk to the Moon is a romantic historical novel written by Katlynn Brooke.
After reading his godmother’s diaries which recount events that transpired between 1945 and 1947, Gabe Blanchard is burdened with deep dark secrets that he would rather not know, secrets about his father, his mother and his inheritance.
Gabe’s godmother Holly and her sister Eva move from South Africa to Rhodesia to work in King’s Kraal Mission. They meet and befriend other people from the mission including Faye, Avril, Gerald, Neil and the administrator Mr. Parrish and his wife Tootie. As they attend social events, they are introduced to other people and meet more friends including Tony and Eric. While Eva is obviously attracted to Gerald, Gerald seems to have eyes only for Holly. Holly, however, enjoys Tony’s company as much as he enjoys hers.
This was not only a romantic fiction but also a novel that began with mystery that kept the reader hooked from the first to the last chapter. The author successfully strung the reader along, keeping him interested and anxious with anticipation. Moreover, the author was able to put the startling climax at the last few pages of the book which justified the long wait. Furthermore, the writing style was casual that made for easy read.
In addition to the exciting plot was the cast of realistic and well-developed characters. Though smart, sensitive and level headed Holly was undoubtedly the main character in the book, my favorite was her sister Eva. Eva was spirited and jovial and she always speaks her mind. I also liked Faye but her role was too small for such a great character. Needless to say I enjoyed this book a lot, except for a few errors in the copy I downloaded.
September 21, 2016
Accidental Cinderella is a romance fiction for young adults written by Emily Evans.
Ella is the new girl in Erskine Preparatory School, an exclusive boarding school for the elite. Though she’s happy to be there on a scholarship, she knows right away that she doesn’t fit in.
Still, being in St. Erskine is better than staying in Texas with her stepmother. Here she has sweet and vivacious Penelope Penworth and her brother Hale, who lets her know early on that he is not dating for reasons he doesn’t wish to discuss with the new girl.
However, the new girl has a lot more on her plate at the moment besides not-dating senior and shady suitemate. She just learns that St. Erskine doesn’t offer scholarships. If that is the case, why is her tuition paid in full and who paid it?
This is more than a traditional romantic story for young adults. This is about family, friendship, passion and even prejudice. This is something that young readers will learn a lot from. It promotes loyalty between siblings and between friends. It encourages young people to pursue their passion and be the best they can be.
However, it seems that the author focused more on the plot than on descriptions and character development. With a few shocking revelations, the plot is no doubt a great one. Though the settings were fairly described, I prefer more details and movements. In addition, the back stories were too brief making the characters less developed than they should have been.
Still, it was a great read and I enjoyed it immensely.
September 17, 2016
Sandy’s Story is the third book in the Ditch Lane Diaries written by D.F. Jones.
Sandy, like her friends Ruby, Anna, Jerry and Lee, is one of the Campbell Ridge wards. While Ruby is a dreamer and Anna is a healer, Sandy is a clairvoyant. As a reporter, Sandy uses her gift to get the truth for her stories and make sure justice is served. However, when a murder near Music Row leads her to a very important book, she is hunted by an evil man, Nick Steele, and some supernatural beings.
She reunites with the other wards and together with their guardian angels prepare for a prophesied battle catalyzed by the book she keeps. Sandy eventually learns the consequences of her actions not only to herself but to her loved ones as well. She turns to her guardian angel, Baldric, who protects her at all cost and breaks the rules of heaven by falling in love with his ward, which puts Sandy in even more danger.
This is a fast-paced, action-packed, ultimately romantic and suspenseful continuation to an already exciting series. The action started as soon as the book began and never stopped until the end. The reader is kept clinging to the book, holding his breath in anticipation of the climatic ending. At the end of the book, the reader is left satisfied but with a teeny bit of hope that, somehow, this is not the end of the story about the Campbell Ridge wards.
September 11, 2016
Bear Princess is the Royal Bears Book 2 in the Bear Shifter Paranormal Romance written by Emma Alisyn and Danae Ashe.
The book features Miahela, princess of Casakraine. After Mia’s brother, Andrei, ran away with his human mate, Hannah, it falls on Mia to assume the role as the Heir to their mother, Queen Izobelle. As per ancient law, a female heir cannot take the throne unless she is mated.
Unbeknownst to everyone, Mia already meets her mate, Dami, whom she knows since she was 16 as a commoner from Khaihalland Mountains. Mia is now torn between her duty to her people and her duty to her heart.
When Mia is introduced to an alpha male, Malvin Dacus, Clan Chief of Talogren, to begin the official courtship, she discovers a shocking truth about her mate which he kept from her all these years.
I found the idea of this book new and original, making it very interesting. The style of writing is casual and easy to read. The characters are endearing especially Mia, a smart, strong, brave and duty-bound princess. She is not the traditional female who waits for a male champion to save her or to make things right for her. She speaks her mind and she is willing to go through anything just so she can prove herself to everyone. She is confident and she has reasons to be so.
However, I would have liked to learn more of the nature of bears. I would have preferred more scenes while the characters were in their Bear forms to know how they differ from other animals. Moreover, I simply could not visualize a community of bear shifters who use the latest of technology. It may be too subjective on my part, but the idea of gadgets and claws seems incongruous to me. Finally, the copy I downloaded from Amazon is cluttered with too many errors that need thorough editing.
All in all, I enjoy this book immensely and I would be happy to read the third part of the series.
Congratulations to Emma Alisyn (@) and Danae Ashe on such a great book.
September 6, 2016
The Drift is a Hans Larsson novel written by Chris Thrall.
It features Hans Larsson, a former Navy SEAL who took his seven-year old daughter Jessica on a yacht trip crossing the Atlantic. During their preparation, they meet Penny Waters who became a close friend and a third member of the crew.
The book started with an exciting and emotionally moving scene of a father and daughter adrift on a raft on the Atlantic Ocean. The story then flashed back three months earlier and recounted how Hans procured their beautiful yacht Future and met Penny.
I find the pacing of this story inconsistent. Given the exciting introduction, the long narratives of how the trip began seem to be a little dragging. The added historical facts did not help the pacing either. The back stories on Hans which were told by bits and flashes gave an adverse effect on the development of his character. Though the story picked up nearly halfway of the book, the introduction of additional characters dampened the excitement which was just starting to build up. Finally, the ending was anticlimactic making the book felt incomplete.
I learned later that this book is only the first part and that there is more to the story. That may explain the cliff hanger ending, forgotten characters and unfulfilled quests. This may be a style to keep some readers wanting for more, but, this may not work for other readers who want books with resolved conflicts and answered questions.
On the lighter note, I want to commend the author on so many points, first of which is the great plot. The theme including fatherhood and friendship gave this adventure story a light and emotional feel to it. The back stories and additional historical details are much appreciated as well as the vividly described settings and secondary characters.
With my interest piqued and curiosity aroused, I would very much like to read the second part of this story.