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.

Lander’s Legacy by C.S. Wachter

Lander's Legacy by C.S. Wachter

When Pop-pop Ian dies, Lander is left alone, not fully understanding the unusual powers he has. He quickly realizes that he is being pursued and he needs to find Castor Elm, the only person Pop-pop said he could trust. To find Castor, Lander has to outsmart his pursuers to travel to Castor’s home.

On his way to Castor’s home, Lander finds friends in a city who help out at a mission. As any normal teen, Lander feels out of place in his unusual clothes and he wants to impress Becky. Becky and one of the other teen boys take Lander shopping. He feels comfortable with these teens and enjoys helping at the mission. He wishes he could stay here indefinitely. However, an unexpected and unfortunate event makes it clear that Lander needs to continue on the quest for which Pop-pop Ian has instructed him.

Upon arriving at Castor’s home, Lander is not welcomed with the open arms he expected. Frustration fills Lander because he has no where else to turn. When he accidentally reveals his ability to cause certain stones to glow, Castor suddenly becomes interested in Lander. When Lander explains what Pop-pop Ian has told him and that Pop-pop is dead, Castor informs his family that Lander will be staying.

“Lander’s Legacy” by C.S. Wachter is the first book in a new series from a writer who has already proven she can deliver good fantasy stories with her 4-book series and sequel, “The Seven Words” series.

Once again, she holds her readers’ attention as she spins a tale of suspense and adventure as Lander must learn more about his special powers. “Lander’s Legacy” is an enjoyable, easy read. Lander and the other teen characters are well written and it’s obvious C.S. Wachter knows some teenagers, as her characters are very much like the teenagers I know.

“Lander’s Legacy” is a coming-of-age fantasy novel that follows Lander on his journey to find his place in this world or maybe in another. It is a story that is fitting for middle grade readers as well as Young Adults and Adults.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a fantasy story of suspense and adventure. I look forward to the next book in this series.

A Weight of Reckoning by C.S. Wachter

A Weight of Reckoning: Sequel to The Seven Words by [C. S. Wachter]

A Weight of Reckoning by C.S. Wachter is the sequel to “The Seven Words” series. This series and sequel are a fantasy series that follows the life of Prince Rayne through many difficulties and hardships even as he serves as the Chosen Light Bringer of the One.

A Weight of Reckoning, as all of the books in this series, is very much a good vs. evil story. In A Weight of Reckoning, Rayne must face evil before his long-awaited wedding can take place. The question is, “will he survive this time?”

As in all of “The Seven Words” series, A Weight of Reckoning grabbed my attention right from the start and held my attention until the very end. The characters have become like friends as I have read this series. When you follow a group of characters through five books, if the author has done their job, you feel like you really know these people and they will have become people you care about. That is what C.S. Wachter has accomplished.

A Weight of Reckoning is also full of adventure and suspense, along with a touch of romance. There are unexpected twists that will surprise you. C.S. Wachter even manages to find a way to include some humor and wit, a welcome reprieve from the struggles Prince Rayne endures.

C.S. Wachter has a way of painting pictures with words, so that the worlds in A Weight of Reckoning, and “The Seven Words” series seem real, and the character descriptions bring the characters to life, not just physically, but their personalities are all distinct as well, making them leap off the page.

I have written reviews for the previous books in the series as well. To find them simply click on the “Categories” arrow in the side bar, select “Book Reviews” and scroll until you find them.

If you enjoy Fantasy stories, good vs. evil stories, and stories with adventure and a bit of romance, you’re sure to enjoy A Weight of Reckoning and the entire “Seven Words” series by C.S. Wachter. This was C.S. Wachter’s debut series and I look forward to more to come.

 

Unbreakable by Sara Ella

Unbreakable (The Unblemished Trilogy Book 3) by [Ella, Sara]

I completed my reading of Unbreakable by Sara Ella last night. This is the third and final book in the “Unblemished” series/trilogy. What a ride these books have been. Lots of romance, action, suspense, and struggles. Sara Ella did a fantastic job with her world building and creating fascinating, well-developed characters. These books kept me turning page after page.

However, when I finally reached Unbreakable, the page turning became an act of anxiety and anticipation. Would Eliyana end up with Joshua or Ky? Would she and her friends be able to defeat the Void? Which characters would remain alive at the end of the book? Whose hearts and lives would be intact, and whose would be broken?

I turned each page with trepidation because I wanted a certain outcome/ending. Would Sara Ella deliver?

This entire series was so well-written. The characters and their dialog were so realistic. I was pulled into each book in the series from the very beginning, and I fell in love with certain characters and wanted to see others defeated. There were fascinating connections between characters. There were twists and turns. Sometimes I gasped. Sometimes I smiled. But all the time, my heart pounded and my nerves were taught.

I will say, Sara Ella did do a good job of resolving everything in the end. However, with all the suspense and tension I felt throughout the series, especially the last two books, I have to say I felt like the end was too calm. The characters’ emotions didn’t seem to hold their tension and strength. Though the ending was satisfying, I felt that everything was too calm, quiet, and peaceful like walking out of an epic battle into a high school study hall where no talking is allowed. I guess I expected and wanted something more.

However, I still highly recommend these books to anyone who loves a good YA Fantasy read with incredible world-building, characters you can relate to, and intriguing romance, and I look forward to reading more of Sara Ella’s books.

Special Post: Interview with Laura Zimmerman, Author of the New Release “Keen”

Hi Everyone! Yesterday was a big day for my friend and fellow writer, Laura Zimmerman, as her debut novel, Keen, released YESTERDAY! It is my pleasure to interview Laura for this event.

Q: Keen is your debut novel. How long did it take you to get to this big moment?

Laura: Well, I began writing the rough draft of KEEN in July of 2017, but my journey to publication began much earlier. I’ve always loved to write and have spent years crafting my stories. (I’ve got bits and pieces of stories from when I was in elementary school and even a novel I started while in high school!)

It wasn’t until 2013 that my husband tired of watching me write novels, only to see them sit on my laptop. He gave me an ultimatum to try to get published or he would take one of my (very rough) manuscripts and would publish it on Amazon. *hides face*

I attended my first writers conference in April 2014. When I pitched my novel, the editor was real with me. The manuscript I had wasn’t ready. But she encouraged me to continue to attend conferences and to work on my craft. She said statistically the average time it takes for an author to get published is 5 years. Sometimes it takes less time, sometimes it takes longer. But for me, her words were right on!

Q: Have you always known you wanted to be a writer?

Laura: Actually, I wanted to be a visual artist when i was little. At age 11 I got bitten by the acting bug and was headed to Broadway. But in my senior year in high school I decided a degree in music would gave me more opportunities. I went on to graduate with a BMUS. All that time I wrote stories but only considered it a “hobby”. Until my husband suggested I get published, I honestly didn’t think it was something I could do. I haven’t always wanted to be a writer, but I’ve always been writing.

Q: What made you choose to write Fantasy Fiction?

Laura: Ha! I think my brain gave me very little choice in that. I’ve always been drawn to fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal stories. As a child I ate up Christopher Pike and Goosebump books like they were candy, and Star Wars has been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember. I’ve tried to write straight fiction, but somehow fantasy always bleeds through into my story! (I guess my head is in the clouds!)

Q: Where did you get the idea for a banshee character?

Laura: I was actually in the middle of writing another series and had no intention of starting a new one. But my teenage daughter asked me to watch the CW show Teen Wolf (that was on Netflix) with her. At first I humored her, but wasn’t really interested. However, like many shows, by the time I got a couple seasons in, I was really hooked! They featured a teenage girl banshee on the show and spent quite a bit of time building up to reveal exactly “what” she was. I was intrigued by the idea of a teenage banshee. I’d never read or seen anything else with that type of character. I began thinking on what it would be like for a teenage girl in high school to have to deal with the curse of being a banshee. Eventually I couldn’t stop thinking about it and had to begin writing. Once I did, I just never stopped.

Q: What is your favorite fantasy or mythological creature?

Laura: Mermaids! *swoon* I love anything mermaids and secretly want to turn into one. (The beautiful kind that don’t kill men, though. *wink*) I even bought my daughters mermaid tails to swim in when they were little. Of course, that’s easier said than done, so they really just wore them in the tub! Haha.

Q: What does your writing process look like?

Laura: I used to be solely a plotter, than changed over to writing by the seat of my pants. Now I’ve balanced out. I plot as much of the book/characters as I can by mapping out plot points and creating character arcs. But I leave it there and allow my creative juices to direct the story as I write. It’s hard to know the characters’ personalities early on, so sometimes writing the book helps bring their true personality out as I go. Which means some tweaking in rewrites but that’s what rewrites are for, right? Overall I feel like my stories flow much better and I’m less frustrated than writing strictly by plotting or writing by the seat of my pants. I like this balance and hope it continues to work for me!

Q: Is Keen a stand alone novel?

Laura: When I started writing it, it was. But since I like allowing my creative juices to flow while writing, it ended completely differently than I expected. In the final climax scene I planted a solid Easter Egg to allow for further books, although I did also tie up loose ends so it could be a stand alone just in case the publisher wasn’t interested in continuing the story. I had a good idea of where I wanted to go with books 2 and 3 by the time I pitched the novel to the editor but let them decide if there would be room for more books.

Q: What Fantasy authors have you read that have inspired you?

Laura: Wow. There are a ton of inspirational authors that have influenced me. JK Rowling is the obvious, along with some other big names like Ingrid Law and Jennifer A. Nielsen. But I think the ones that have influenced me the most are the authors I’ve met at conferences or through social media. My fellow authors in the #bookstagram community and those I’ve connected with through Realm Makers have influenced me more because I get to see their authenticity in their life and their writing. I’m so thankful for all the connections I’ve made with fellow writers and the way they’ve encouraged me in my writing journey. I wouldn’t be here today without the writing community!

Q: What makes writing for a young adult audience appeal to you?

Laura: I’ve always been drawn to reading YA and just never stopped reading it as I got older. I think it’s easiest to write what I know, so it feels natural that I gravitate toward writing YA. It helps that I’ve got two teenagers in the house to pull inspiration from as well!

Q: Have you begun working on another book?

Laura: Yep! I’m about to finish LAMENT, book 2 in the “Banshee Song Series”! *throws confetti* I’m not sure when that one will be released, but I hope you’ll enjoy that one just as much as KEEN!

Q: Where can readers purchase Keen?

Laura: The easiest way is to visit the L2L2 Publishing website. They have all the links where it can be purchased there. Both the paperback and the e-book version are currently available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as other distributors!

Q: What social media sites can Keen readers use to connect with you?

Laura: I’m active on Instagram @lauralzimmauthor, Twitter @lauralzimm, Facebook, and my website http://www.lauralzimmerman.com. I love connecting with fellow readers and writers!

Thanks for having me, Kelly! It was fun getting to talk about writing and KEEN!

You’re welcome Laura! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, and best wishes on your release of Keen!

Readers, If you like YA Fantasy stories, and want to read about a character unlike most Fantasy characters, pick up a copy of Keen today!

Summoned by Verity Moore

Summoned is the debut novel of Verity Moore. It is a YA Fantasy novel. The Prologue caught my attention and drew me in. However, as I read the first chapter, I felt the pace seemed slow and my interest waned. Not one to give up on a book too quickly, I continued to read and was thankful that chapter two was much more interesting, and from chapter two to the end I was hooked.

Summoned had lots of adventure, danger, and excitement to keep me turning pages. I really enjoyed the male main character, Kyam and his dog. For me, these were my reasons to keep reading.  As a dog owner and lover, I love the almost human qualities attributed to the dog, Castoff, in this story. I also admired Kyam’s loyalty, faithfulness, and determination, even in the face of disappointment and rejection.

Cierra, the main female character, seems to have to learn her lessons the hard way. She is stubborn and independent and often self-centered.  The contrast between her character and Kyam’s make for some humorous and interesting scenes.

I was disturbed with one scene where Verity Moore mentions a flock of birds, then tells how the birds fly, and she calls the birds “emu”. Emu are a real bird, native to Australia, and they do not fly.

When the book ended quite abruptly, I was disappointed. I don’t know why the book ended so quickly and abruptly. It is considerably short for a Fantasy novel, coming in at a mere 153 pages. Most Fantasy novels I have read are more than double that page count.

Another disappointment came in the back of Summoned where a page lists Pursued and Besieged as the two other books in this trilogy and says they are all available on Amazon. However, neither Pursued nor Besieged is yet available.

Although Summoned wasn’t what I expected, I did enjoy it and look forward to reading the next book in the trilogy, and I hope the wait isn’t too long.

Reflection: The Stranger in the Mirror

I apologize for not posting a poem here today for those of you who like my poetry, but I haven’t been feeling very poetical lately. Therefore, since I finished reading this book on Tuesday night, I wanted to write my review.

Reflection: The Stranger in the Mirror (Records of the Ohanzee Book 1) by [Smith, Rachel R.]

Book Blurb: An Heiress, an ancient prophecy, and a masquerade…

Nerissa, the Heiress of Chiyo, prepares for the masquerade celebrating the twentieth anniversary of a thwarted assassination attempt on her family. Longing to be admired for herself and not her title, she arranges to switch costumes and enjoy the ball in blissful anonymity. But, when the fateful night finally comes, a prophetic warning of a second attack arrives too late, and the evening turns from revelry and romance to violence. After being pulled from the chaos by an enigmatic guardian, Nerissa learns that the Royal Family has been concealing a formidable secret for generations—and it is only one of many that are about to be revealed.

My Review: Nerissa is a very interesting character, who captured my attention from the beginning. There are many characters in this story who add dimension and intrigue to the story. Rachel R. Smith does an excellent job at creating characters that make you care about them, cheer for them and draw you in to the story. Although, due to the somewhat complicated plot, some of the characters that seem to be important to the story are not developed as much as I would like to see. This could happen in the next book, however.

This story was filled with intrigue, danger and a touch of romance. Sadly, the romance may have ended before it really began, but there may be another romance beginning. The plot is strong and holds the readers’ interest, though it does tend to slow down a little too much at places.

Nerissa changes a lot from the beginning of this book to the end due to circumstances caused by the violence that erupted at the masquerade ball, another sign of a good author. An author who writes a story in which the main character shows growth and change of some sort from the beginning to the end of the story has done a good job.

Now Nerissa has difficult decisions to make. Will the decisions she makes lead to success or failure? Will the romance that seemed to bud during the masquerade be able to bloom, or will rules and regulations forbid it? What will happen to Chiyo and the people Nerissa cares about?

If you are a fan of YA fantasy or YA historical, you will probably be drawn into this story too.

I can’t say that I am a fan of the style in which the story is written. It is written in a serialized style with a story line that flows continuously through the books, and there are four books in the series. I have read series books before, but they usually have a fairly strong conclusion even though the story continues in the rest of the books in the series. This, however, ends right as a decision is made and they are planning their action, so the reader is left completely hanging and MUST read the next book to find out what will happen next. It’s an effective marketing ploy, but I still don’t like it. I am only thankful that with this particular book, the next two are already written and available and Ms. Smith is working on completing the final book of the series to be released in early 2017. However, if I had read this book and would have had to wait six months to a year for the next installment, I’m not sure I would bother. I don’t like to be kept waiting to see where a story will go next. Yes, all series do that to an extent, but not in the middle part of the major plot as this story does.

However, since the series is nearly finished and I do like Nerissa and a couple of other characters and want to see how things turn out for them in the end, I will most likely finish reading this series, but if Ms. Smith plans another series like this one, I don’t think I’ll pick up the first one. I have many books I want to read, and don’t want to have to be tied to one author’s work as I wait for another installment.