The Ravenstone: The Twain by Diane Solomon and Mark Carey

The Ravenstone : The Twain by [Diane Solomon, Mark Carey]

As a Book Reviewer, I received a free ebook copy of this book for my honest review.

About the Book:

The Ravenstone Part 2: The Twain by Diane Solomon and Mark Carey is the second book in their “Ravenstone” series. It is a fantasy story. The two main characters, thirteen-year-old twins, Nadia and Aidan must time travel several times throughout this book in order to do what they have been called to do. They must face dangers and an enemy they thought they would never see again.

My Review:

The Ravenstone Part 2: The Twain was even more exciting than the first book. This time there is more adventure and danger for Nadia and Aidan. A couple situations the twins find themselves in had this reader on the edge of her seat. There is a very fascinating chapter that involves a unique twist. The twist includes a dilemma that disturbs Nadia until closer to the end of the book, where another character explains what really happened to Nadia. I really liked that character’s explanation. The story is very well written, although I did notice more errors in this book that should have been caught by an editor than in the first book, there were not so many as to distract me from the story. Ms. Solomon and Mr. Carey did an excellent job creating tension and suspense in this story. They also created some interesting characters for Nadia and Aidan to interact with in the story.

This story addressed natural disasters and global warming in a unique, interesting, and plausible way. It was a fun and exciting read.

The story held my interest and kept me turning pages, especially in the last third of the book when the tension and suspense were at their peak. Before reaching the end of the book, I found myself hoping there would be another adventure for Nadia and Aidan in the not too distant future, and the ending definitely points to that possibility.

I highly recommend this book, as well as the first “Ravenstone” book, for anyone who enjoys fantasy stories that include time travel, suspense, and adventure. Also, both books are clean reads and are fitting for ages 10 through adult. I would also recommend them as family read alouds.

I give this book 5 stars.

The Ravenstone: The Secret of Ninham Mountain by Diane Solomon & Mark Carey

The Ravenstone is the first of a two-book set of fantasy stories by Diane Solomon and Mark Carey.

About the Book

Aidan and Nadia, thirteen year old twins, find a mysterious mirror while they are supposed to be cleaning out the attic. When the image of an old shaman appears and attempts to communicate with them, they are stunned. Then they find the Ravenstone, and this is the beginning of their adventure to a time and land of Celtic princes and a shapeshifting raven.

My Review

This is a delightful story about twins living in a wonderful home with loving parents. They have a quirky grandmother living nearby as well, and their family history is fascinating and holds a bit of mystery of its own.

Diane Solomon and Mark Carey did an excellent job of creating characters that pull the reader into the story right from the start. Their personal lives and their travel adventures keep the reader turning page after page. The story is very well written and well edited as there are no errors to cause a reader to stumble out of the story even for a moment.

As Nadia and Aidan travel back and forth in time, the reader is often kept on the edge of their seat wondering things like: will they get back to their own home and time; will they be captured; will they find what they are looking for.

The story is clean and acceptable for middle grade and up, and would even make a great family read aloud. It would also be a great gift for your avid reader.

If you like stories with mystery, adventure, and time travel, you’ll enjoy The Ravenstone.

I give this book 5 stars.

As a book reviewer, I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Macario’s Scepter by M. J. McGriff

Macario's Scepter: The Magian Series Book One by [MJ McGriff]

Macario’s Scepter by M. J. McGriff is a fantasy novel for young adults and adults. It is the first book in “The Magian Series”.

About the Book

Samara feels stuck in a bar on an island she longs to escape, but she ran to this grubby tavern to escape a broken heart. Now she just wants to get back on a ship and sail away.

The night she plans to leave this tavern for good, the crooked boss steals her money pouch and tosses her out with a message to never come back. Then the man she fell in love with and who broke her heart shows up and offers her a chance at a secret treasure and a chance at revenge — an offer she can’t refuse.

Both Samara and her twin, Seraphina, a nun, end up on the Pirate Baz Blackwater’s ship facing a heap of trouble that includes a determined fire breathing sea serpent, but Samara is the Chosen One — chosen by Macario to wield his magic scepter and save her world.

My Review

In the beginning chapters of the book, the plot seemed rushed and the characters weren’t developed enough for me to determine if I liked them or cared about what happened to them. However, the adventure and action kept me turning pages.

About halfway through the book, the character development became better rounded and I liked the main characters and wanted to see them achieve their goals. The adventure and action continued and the pace of the plot slowed but not so much as to bore me or stop me from turning pages. On the contrary, I enjoyed the action, adventure, struggles, and relationships between the characters.

There was one thing that I found to be a distraction throughout the book — quite frequently a sentence either included an extra word or was missing a word. There were grammatical errors as well, and one scene had quite a mix-up in characters’ points of view.

Other than that, I really did enjoy the story. It was high energy with lots of action, danger, and fighting. After all, it is a fantasy story with pirates. Also, it was clear at the end, that another book will follow, but the end of this book leaves the reader satisfied, instead of ending with a cliff hanger. This greatly pleased me.

I would not suggest this book for children under fourteen or fifteen years of age due to the use of quite a bit of profanity, and one of the fighting scenes, in particular, was a bit graphic.

I give this book 4 stars.

As a book reviewer, I was given a free copy of this book for my honest review.

The Rose Princess by Ivy Hollins

The Rose Princess: A Sleeping Beauty Retelling (Fairy Tales of Parsilon Book 1) by [Ivy  Hollins]

The Rose Princess by Ivy Hollins is the first book in her “Fairy Tales of Parsilon” series. It is a retelling of “Sleeping Beauty”.

About the Book

Talia is quite happy living her normal village life until one day a strange woman comes to visit. Suddenly Talia’s life is turned upside down and she is whisked away to a castle and betrothed to a Duke. She is told on her next birthday, in just six months, a curse that was placed upon her years ago, will cast her into eternal sleep.

However, she and her betrothed have been having mysterious dreams for years and neither the Duke nor Talia are about to stand still and just let the curse happen. After all, isn’t there a way to stop every curse?

My Review

I have not read very many fairy tale retellings, nor am I a big fan of fairy tales. However, I have read one fairy tale retelling in the past that I found so well done and so unique, I am often willing to read a new fairy tale retelling, looking for a new, unique story.

I must also say that I am not really very familiar with the original fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty. Oh, I know she was cursed to eternal sleep and that there was just one way to awaken her and break the curse, but that really is the extent of my knowledge of the story.

As I began to read the pages of The Rose Princess, I found myself spellbound by the story. I could not stop turning the pages. I really liked Talia and wanted her to be set free from the spell.

At first I wasn’t convinced that the Duke was the man for her. I simply wanted her to find a way to break the spell and be free to live her life and seek her own love. However, as the story unfolded, I began to care about the Duke and understand his character better, and so I began cheering for him as well.

Ivy Hollins created many interesting mythological creatures to add to this story, and there is a battle scene that is absolutely spectacular. The transformation of Talia from common village girl to the Rose Princess was wondrous and her sense of justice was wise, and a bit telling. Ms. Hollins definitely put some new spin on a classic fairy tale, much to my delight.

As I read the sentence Talia decreed upon one who fought against Talia’s kingdom, I found it to be the perfect lead into the next book in “The Fairy Tales of Parsilon” series–a retelling of my second favorite of all fairy tales. Therefore upon reading the very last page of The Rose Princess, I immediately did a search for the next book and was delighted to find it. I purchased an ebook copy and look forward to reading it as soon as my schedule allows.

If you like original fairy tales or fairy tale retellings, you will be delighted with The Rose Princess by Ivy Hollins.

I give this book 5 stars.

As a book reviewer, I received an ARC of this book for my honest review.

Final Chance by E. B. Roshan

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Final Chance is the second book in the “Shards of Sevia” series by E. B. Roshan. I also read the first book, Wrong Place, Right Time.

Final Chance is very different than Wrong Place, Right Time. The story setting is the same: the city of Dor and some smaller towns or cities near Dor. The situation also remains the same: trouble between the Tur and Sevian people. There is fighting and killing, but not disturbingly graphic.

About the Book
Preen is a young woman who makes a decision that does not please her family. Then the story jumps ahead a couple years and the unrest and fighting are still happening, and now Preen finds that she is able to smile at her daughter’s cute expressions and behaviors as Preen has begun to put the pieces of her broken heart together again, after the capture and death of her husband, Rama. She even has plans to remarry. Then Rama calls one night. He’s alive! He wants her to return to Dor, a city filled with danger and violence.

My Review
E. B. Roshan is a very talented writer. Her descriptions are rich and paint vivid pictures in the reader’s mind — pictures of people, cities and all environments and surroundings. She uses all five senses.

In addition, it’s obvious that E. B. Roshan has intimate and experiential knowledge of the places and people of her stories. She pulls the reader into her stories in such a complete way, they really feel the character’s feelings and experiences. Her stories and characters are so real.

Page after page I followed Preen through physical danger, emotional turmoil, fear, doubt, and guilt. Several times the story had me on the edge of my seat, and at least once, the story made me shed some tears. When a story moves me and stirs my emotions like this, it is a good story — one that will stay in my memory for a long time to come.

If you haven’t read one of E. B. Roshan’s books, I highly recommend them. And it doesn’t matter if you read Wrong Place, Right Time or Final Chance first because, though they are a series, they can also easily be read as stand-alones.

I look forward to more books by E. B. Roshan.

I give Final Chance by E. B. Roshan 5 stars.

I received an ARC for my honest review of this book.

Soothsayer by Kathryn Amurra

Soothsayer is Kathryn Amurra’s debut novel. It was published in the beginning of May 2020.

About the Book

Soothsayer is set in ancient Rome. Aurelia has always valued love and happiness over titles and power. Her kind father indulged her desire to marry for love, allowing her to turn away suitor after suitor in her pursuit of love. However, when her father dies, she is placed in a predicament that doesn’t allow her the freedom to choose. If she is to protect her mentally challenged brother, she must marry the elderly governor of a nearby province.

Cassius, a Roman centurion, and captain of the governor’s guard, is to escort Aurelia and her unpleasant aunt to the governor’s estate. However, one mishap after another seems to threaten this journey, and soon Cassius finds himself escorting Aurelia alone. Cassius’s only desire is to carry out his duty and keep his heart unaffected by such things as love.

My Review

Soothsayer grabbed my attention from the very beginning and didn’t let go until the very last page. I felt disappointment with every loss and challenge that Aurelia had to face. I understood her distaste for a man a great many years older than she and hoped for another way for her to keep her beloved brother safe. I admired her courage and determination to do what she believed she must do, sacrificing her own dreams.

Cassius, a man of few words, but also a man of honor. A man who could be trusted. Also, a man who had a troubled heart and believed he wouldn’t remain in this world very long. I hoped he would be able to experience what every human needs, but that he felt a need to deny himself.

As I read about the journey of Aurelia and Cassius as their paths crossed and they helped one another, I grew to love these characters and wanted to see them happy by the end of the book.

Kathryn Amurra’s writing is strong. She paints pictures in the reader’s minds, grips their hearts with emotions, and keeps them hoping for the best. This book was so well written and I found no errors, and therefore had nothing to distract me from the story. I related to the internal struggles of the characters, as well as some of their external struggles. I loved the ancient Roman setting, as historical fiction is one of my favorite genres.

This was definitely an exceptional debut novel, and I will be looking for more books from Kathryn Amurra in the future.

I give this book 5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book for my honest review.

Ranger of Kings by C. J. R. Isely

Ranger of Kings (William of Alamore Series Book 1) by [C. J. R. Isely]

Ranger of Kings is the debut novel of C. J. R. Isely and is the first book in the “William of Alamore” series.

About the Book

Will, a common village boy, has always dreamed of becoming a knight. When he is suddenly, and unexpectedly, called to train as a squire in the castle of Alamore, he cannot believe it is real. He faces the challenge with the great determination to succeed, but soon finds out there is more to becoming a knight than he ever imagined.

Even at the beginning level as a squire, Will is suddenly thrust into action, danger, and battles he isn’t ready for but meets with determination and perseverance. He makes friends among the squires and finds that one of his friends has a knack for finding trouble.

Then one night, Will discovers something disturbing about his father, and the more he learns the more danger Will faces. Not only is Will suddenly thrust into a war, but is faced with mysteries about his father, about the Ranger, and about what lies beneath the castle of Alamore.

My Review

C. J. R. Isely is a talented writer. She has woven a tale filled with mystery and intrigue, action, danger, and adventure.

I was drawn into the story from the very first page and stayed up late several nights turning the pages because I just couldn’t put the book down.

C. J. R. Isely created delightful characters, each with his very own personality, character qualities, and unique voice. I found it to be fun to read the interactions between Will and his two closest friends. Their courage was inspiring and their banter made me laugh.

It was also quite clear that C. J. R. Isely possesses a lot of horse knowledge, as horses play a major role in this story as well. Each horse was also unique, and it was clear that C. J. R. knows what it takes to properly care for horses, how to ride horses, and how to train horses.

There were some small technical mistakes scattered throughout the books as far as wording is concerned, which I always find to be a distraction. However, in this book, as I was fully engaged in the action, mystery, and battles, they were more easily overlooked and less of a distraction.

Another thing I really liked about the story is that C. J. R. Isely gave me a satisfying ending. Though Ranger of Kings is the first book in a series, Ms. Isely wrapped up the ending with just enough resolution and a change that gave the story the feel of an ending even though I know there is more to come.

I really enjoyed Ranger of Kings by C. J. R. Isely and highly recommend it to those who enjoy action, adventure, mystery, danger, and fantasy. There are a few profane words within the story, but they are few and far between. There are also some bloody descriptions of those who were in battle, but I didn’t feel that they were gory or overdone. I would recommend this book for YA and adult readers, and, possibly, some middle grade readers.

I look forward to the next book in the “William of Alamore” series.

I give this book 5 stars.

Crystal Shadows: Gripping New Blood by R. J. Parker

Crystal Shadows: Gripping New Blood Kindle Edition

About the Book:

Crystal Shadows: Gripping New Blood by R. J. Parker is a middle grade fantasy story.  Sarah Field lives alone with her father, until she and her friends make a shocking discovery in Sarah’s attic — her grandfather, whom she thought was dead! He reveals an amulet — the Tellum Deos. He wants to know if Sarah can give it life so that they can use it to fight the powers of darkness.

My Review:

R. J. Parker did an excellent job creating interesting middle grade characters. Sarah and her friends are fun to read about, even though sometimes the things they say are quite random and don’t seem to fit what is going on in the story. Their curiosity helps them to discover Sarah’s grandfather, but also gets them into some interesting predicaments. The four friends have a close relationship.

Sarah also has a close relationship with her father, until she and her friends discover her grandfather. This causes her father to come a bit unhinged and creates stress, tension, and conflict between Sarah and her father.

The characters and the story line kept me turning pages. I kept waiting to see what the powers of darkness were going to unleash and what Sarah and her friends might have to fight against.

There were some disappointing things in the book: first, R. J. Parker used a lot of pronouns, especially when characters spoke, and sometimes the pronouns were mixed up or it was confusing as to which character the pronoun was being used for; second, the powers of darkness only unleashed one problem near the end of the book, but Sarah and her friends never used the Tellum Deos against it and the ending didn’t feel complete and didn’t offer a resolution to any part of the story. Therefore, it seems like this may be the first book of a series, though that isn’t mentioned anywhere; and finally, there are one or two characters introduced as “Sarah’s friends” at the end of the book that were never part of the story up until that point.

Despite these disappointments, I must say that I enjoyed the story and it kept me turning pages. I finished this book in just four days. The characters are definitely what kept me turning pages, even though the story line was also intriguing. I don’t think most adults would enjoy this story, but I would highly recommend it for middle grade children and even some YA. I hope that R. J. Parker does write, at least, a sequel to this book. I would like to read more about Sarah and her friends and actually see them use the Tellum Deos against the powers of darkness.

It was a difficult decision for me to come to a star rating for this book. But, based on how well it kept my attention, how quickly I read through it, and how much I liked the characters, I have decided to give it four stars.

 

Special Saturday Post: The Falcon and the Stag by C.J.R. Isley

The Falcon and The Stag: A Tale of Alamore by [C. J. R. Isely]

The Falcon and the Stag by C.J.R. Isley is a short story that introduces her “William of Alamore” series. It is a story of kingdoms and knights, and two brothers, the oldest who had been prepared to take the throne, and the youngest who wanted it.

This short story is filled with tension, suspense, conspiracy, and sibling rivalry. C.J.R. Isley does a fine job introducing the characters and showing their personalities and character, drawing the reader into the story and encouraging them to choose sides.

C.J.R. Isley captures and holds the reader’s attention from the first to last page, writing strong dialogue and tense scenes of confrontation and sword-fighting. C.J.R. even manages to throw in an unexpected twist or two.

This story is acceptable for young adults and adults. It may also be acceptable for middle grade readers, though there is some violence — nothing too graphic.

This short story is well worth the read, but be warned — after reading it, you’ll want to pick up the first book in the series, Ranger of Kings, which is exactly what I plan to do.

I give The Falcon and the Stag by C.J.R. Isley 5 stars.

Wrong Place, Right Time by E. B. Roshan

wrongplacerighttime

About the Book:
Anna Belko is a young woman living in the city of Dor. There is unrest in the city. Anna meets Boris Merkovich at a cafe called Oksana’s, when she stops for a cup of tea. A relative of Boris’s was killed but he doesn’t have time to grieve because he has to run the cafe. He nearly spills a pot of tea in Anna’s lap, and she prays for him.

Boris is deeply touched by Anna’s prayer for him and so begins a love neither of them expected.

However, stuck in a city filled with hatred, it soon becomes clear that the hatred isn’t just “outside” and Boris and Anna’s relationship is threatened.

The story, though centered around Anna and Boris, includes several other characters, including Anna’s parents and one of her brothers, whom she is close to. The story is filled with danger and troubles between the Sevian people and the Tur people.

As the violence escalates near their home, Anna’s parents decide to move to Dovni where things are not so volatile. Anna remains behind with her brother.

My Review:
The plot kept me turning pages. The characters captured and held my attention. The characters were realistic, and I cared about them and what happened to them. My heart ached for Anna and Boris as they struggled with their environment and their feelings for one another.

E.B. Roshan did an excellent job showing the difficulties of living in an area where danger and hatred are a part of everyday life. Not only did E.B. Roshan clearly show the dangers, Roshan did an excellent job expressing the thoughts and feelings of the people stuck amidst the struggles.

The story was very well written. Though it was a story about hatred and violence, the violence was not overly descriptive or gory.  It did not need to be to touch the reader’s heart and help the reader understand the setting and what was happening. I also liked how Roshan showed that hatred is a choice and no one has to allow it to consume them.

E.B. Roshan wrapped up the ending quite nicely, but even so, I was sad to finish the last page and say goodbye to these characters.

I really enjoyed this story and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a well written story filled with struggles and different types of loving relationships.

I give this story 5 stars.