Saturday, September 20, 2014

Rachel Heffington - Fly Away Home

Fly Away Home



By Rachel Heffington


Available on Amazon





Product Description (from Amazon)

Self Preservation has never looked more tempting.

1952 New York City:
Callie Harper is a woman set to make it big in the world of journalism. Liberated from all but her buried and troubled past, Callie craves glamour and the satisfaction she knows it will bring. When one of America's most celebrated journalists, Wade Barnett, calls on Callie to help him with a revolutionary project, Callie finds herself co-pilot to a Christian man whose life and ideas of true greatness run noisily counter to hers on every point.
The new friendship sparks, the project soars, and a faint suspicion that she is fall for this uncommon man grows in Callie's heart. When the secrets of Callie's past are exhumed and hung over her head as a threat, she is forced to scrutinize Wade Barnett and betray his dirtiest secrets or see her own spilled.

Here there is space for only one love, one answer: betray Wade Barnett to save her reputation, or sacrifice everything for the sake of the man she loved and the God she fled. The consequences of either decision will define the rest of her life.

About the Author (from Amazon)

Rachel Heffington is a Christian, a novelist, and a people-lover. Outside of the realm of words, Rachel enjoys the Arts, traveling, mucking about in the kitchen, listening for accents, and making people laugh. She dwells in rural Virginia with her boisterous family and her black cat, Cricket.

Rachel released her debut novel (Fly Away Home) in February, 2014, and is looking forward to the publication of her Cinderella-inspired novella (The Windy Side of Care) in the Five Glass Slippers collection being published by Rooglewood Press in June, 2014.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

Historical Fiction is one of my favorite genres. I love visiting the years gone by, tasting the memories I came too late to experience for myself. However, most Historical Fictions are either stuffed so full of historical facts they become dry, or they're just overly sappy romances set in a different era, and half of the (few and far between) facts are inaccurate. Also, I prefer stories set at least two hundred years ago, preferably in some exotic country like China or Germany.

So it was with great trepidation that I approached this story. I had heard great things about it from my friends, some of whom had had the privilege of beta reading it, so I was willing to give it a chance. The fifties aren't my favorite era, and this was also a romance, but I still purchased a kindle copy as soon as it came out, and then sat down to read it.

I can't say that I read it in one sitting, or even completely in order (because I did skip ahead at one point to glance at the ending), but I was soon sucked into the rise and fall of the the story. Since I skipped ahead at one point, it obviously was dragging at one point, but I honestly don't remember where it was dragging. 

Callie was an interesting main character to follow, a mix of stubborn naivety, and jaded cynicism.  It's clear that she has been hurt somewhere in the past, and she's trying to leave that past behind her. She wants happiness and success, goals the reader can't help but wish her the best, but she thinks she can find them in the wrong places. Paired up against her is Mr. Wade Barnett, who is the personification of her ideals. He already moves through the circles she wishes to reach, already seems to have the respect she hungers after, and most importantly, he seems content - even happy - with his place in life.

I love the format the author used for the story, first person from Callie's point of view for the most part, but at the end of many of the chapters we get a letter from Mr. Barnett to some friends of his giving his side of the story. I haven't seen very many dual POV before, and I found this quite interesting.

The story begins with Callie trying to write obituaries for the paper she works at when her boss walks in with the news that she, the dispensable employee, has been chosen to work with Wade Barnett on one of his more experimental projects. We learn from his letters that he was looking specifically for her, as she was the last of her family, and he feels the need to find closure with this family for some reason.

Contrary to what her former boss had expected, their magazine, Ladybird Snippets, flourishes. What's more, she and Mr. Barnett get along very well, despite the fact that she finds him rather old-fashioned. She finds his insistence of talking about Christianity annoying, but he does introduce her to all sorts of famous people she had always dreamed of meeting.

Her path to greatness seems set and sure, until Jules, the non-dispensable worker who didn't get to work with Mr. Barnett, becomes jealous. He doesn't realize that her move had been meant as a demotion, and thinks that he should have gotten it instead. He threatens Callie, telling her that if she doesn't dig up some dirt on Mr. Barnett, her own great secret, the past she's been running from, will be brought out into the open for all to see.

She doesn't want to do this to him, because she's come to genuinely respect him despite his oddities, but self-preservation has been the name of her game for years. However, digging up dirt proves harder than she thought, since the man's life is pretty much spotless.

This book felt like I was watching one of those old 50's movies. I had honestly been transported back to that day and age, and I loved how the fictional characters interacted so easily with the truly historic. The conversations snapped with wit, and only once did we get one that felt preachy. The plot was simple, yet complex, and though I didn't quite understand why Callie's secret was so horrible, it may be because I don't live in that era. It did serve as a way to tie a few backstories together, and for that I give it points.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I look forward to more from the author.




Genre/Theme: Historical Fiction, Romance


Reading Level: TEEN - upper elementary to middle school 
Profanity: LOW - few mildly offensive words, mostly at the beginning
Sexuality: SUBTLE - hinted, but not explicit, 
Other: 
References to murder, some smoking, and drinking.




Thursday, September 11, 2014

Melody Jackson - The Dragon Within

The Dragon Within



By Melody Jackson


Available on Amazon





Product Description (from Amazon)

Are dragons good...or evil? 

Kaena Armae doesn’t really care either way. No one’s seen a dragon in over twenty years, so why should she even care? 

But when she comes face to face with the shocking truth in the forest near her home, she is forced to choose sides in a feud that 
started centuries ago. 

And the real war is just beginning. 

Now, Kaena must convince opposing sides to join together to combat an ancient evil, or face the destruction of their whole world, forever. 

But what if they’re fighting the wrong enemy?

About the Author (from Amazon)

Melody Jackson lives in the unbearably hot state of Arizona, (well, at least it's a dry heat) and enjoys writing, singing, playing guitar, and, well, more writing. She lives with her crazy family, as well as a menagerie of animals, including her four siblings, cats, and one grumpy chinchilla.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra


I have mixed feelings about this book.

For an author's first book, it wasn't bad, In fact, I found it to be a very clever slant on dragons. The character cast was engaging, the worldbuilding delightful, and the spiritual truths well done. The plot kept me on the edge of my seat, and I had NO idea how things could possibly sort themselves out. However the characters also had a habit of falling flat, and the plot jerked uncomfortably in places, and there were formatting issues.

The book begins with a Kaena trying to catch a chicken that has run into the forest - dragon territory. When she actually runs into a dragon and finds herself able to communicate telepathically, and, when men attack and she's able to use a sword despite - as far as she can remember at least - never having picked one up in her life, she begins to question everything she thought she knew. Then the dragon gives her an egg, which hatches in her bedroom, and she then has to conceal the cute baby dragon that grows, as is typical of dragons, rather quickly. The common opinion on dragons is that they should be eradicated.

Her brother, Jarden, is of that opinion. In fact, he's working with the guy who's at the head of dragon eradication, who he thinks is his uncle. He discovers her baby dragon, and tries to get her to give it up. When she refuses, he feels he has no choice but to bring the matter to the "uncle."

With help from her father, who has also realized that she has a dragon, but is on the dragon's side, she escapes, and flies away to the house of someone who he told her would help her. While there, she discovers that her memory had been wiped as a child, and that her real parents are leaders on the dragon's side, and that she used to come here as for sword training. But even here she isn't safe and she and Toran, the son in this household, have to run again. Eventually, they end up where her parents are, and then in the middle of a war.

It was a very detailed world, and I can tell that Melody put a lot of time and effort into it, though I found a few details, such as timing, hazy. Also, one of my favorite characters, Treya, is obviously half dragon - she has a pair of blue wings - but when you meet her parents, both appear to be human. Also, I would have liked a scene where she and her half brother actually sat down and talked about their relationship once he found out about it, but it never happened.

As for the spiritual side, while I really liked how she managed the theme of how everyone has an evil nature, "the dragon within" per se, and especially Jarden's struggle. However the Sacrifice scene, while it isn't the worst allegory ever done, there was a high level of "blink and you miss it," and I think I blinked. Also, the Jesus character was a bit too fond of "bending the rules" for me to be comfortable with.

And, finally, the formatting. I don't like to bring formatting into reviews, but this one had two big issues. I read the Smashwords version, and I don't know if Kindle has the same issue, but first of all, the book is in the file twice. Literally. Part of the reason I had no idea what was going to happen next was that, I thought I wasn't yet half-way through the book when things started to tie up. And then it ended and went into character lists and such. And then the story started over. The other problem was that, in the first go-round of the story, the first line of every chapter was missing. The same didn't seem to be true of the second go-round when I skimmed over it to confirm that, yes, the book was here twice.

But all that aside, this was a very good book for a first-time author, and I enjoyed my journey through this world that Melody created. The plot was thought-provoking. And, while I went into the book hoping for a story about half-dragons (for some reason, I had that theme on my mind when I came across the book), I wasn't disappointed in the plot I found. I fully intend to read the sequel when it comes out.


Genre/Theme: Fantasy, Dragons, Adventure, Christian 


Reading Level: TEEN - upper elementary to middle school 
Mature TEEN - high school to college 
ADULT - self-explanatory 
Profanity: NONE - no offensive language 
Sexuality: NONE - not even hinted at. I think there was a kiss at the wedding at the end, but that would be as far as it went. 
Other: Lots of fighting and people dying. At one point, Teran goes to a 




Monday, May 26, 2014

Jaye L. Knight - Resistance

Resistance
Ilyon Chronicles 


By Jaye L. Knight


Available on Amazon





Product Description (from Amazon)

“Don’t you know? Animals like you have no soul.” 

Could God ever love a half-blood all of society looks upon with such fear and disdain? Jace once believed so, but when a tragic loss shatters the only peace he’s ever known, his faith crumbles as the nagging doubts he’s tried to put behind him descend on his grieving heart. With them come the haunting memories of the bloodstained past he longs to forget, but can never escape. 

Taken from home at a young age and raised to serve the emperor, Kyrin Altair lives every day under a dangerous pretense of loyalty. After her unique observation skills and perfect memory place her into direct service to the emperor, Kyrin finds herself in further jeopardy as it becomes increasingly difficult to hide her belief in Elôm, the one true God. 

Following the emperor’s declaration to enforce the worship of false gods under the penalty of death, many lives are endangered. But there are those willing to risk everything to take a stand and offer aid to the persecuted. With their lives traveling paths they never could have imagined, Jace and Kyrin must fight to overcome their own fears and conflicts with society as they become part of the resistance. 

(Christian Fantasy/Clean New Adult/No Magic)

About the Author (from Amazon)

Jaye L. Knight is a 25 year old independent author with a passion for writing Christian fantasy and clean NA fiction. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God's love shines as a light to offer hope.

Jaye is a homeschool graduate and has been penning stories since the age of eight. She was previously published as Molly Evangeline.


O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

Persecution. When I hear that word I think of either a Historical fiction set in Rome or WWII, maybe a contemporary set in China or the Middle East, perhaps even sci-fi, especially dystopias. Fantasy is certainly not what comes to mind.

I knew when Jaye, who previously wrote under the name Molly Evangeline, announced this series that I would love it. I have enjoyed every single one of her books I have read, and when she contacted me to ask if I wanted to review Resistance, I jumped at the opportunity.

None of my high expectations were disappointed. Instead, they were blown away.

The two main characters were Kyrin and Jace, and I'm not sure which one I preferred. Kyrin has the inability to forget anything – which places her in a position to work directly for the Emperor, and Jace is half ryrik – the most violent race in Ilyon, rumored to be the first to fall from grace. She is faced with keeping her faith in Elóm, which is what God is called in this world, secret, since her country is hostile to it. Jace and Rayad, the man who rescued him from the life as a gladiator, are on the run from the same government for belief in the same Elóm. Jace, however, is struggling with his belief, since it is a commonly held belief that ryriks have no souls, and therefore cannot be saved.

I may love Kyrin a little bit more, however. She's a twin, you see, and she and her brother, Kaden, are one of the best twinsets I've ever read about. They each have the other's back. He's so fiercely protective of her, while she tries her best to keep him out of trouble. I've said it before, but I don't mind saying it again. I love twins.

And then there was the worldbuilding. I loved Dolennar, the world of her Makilien Trilogy, but Ilyon was so fresh and unique. Most worlds, Dolennar included, are built on a Medieval Europe pattern, but Ilyon tastes more of Rome and China, and I don't see nearly enough of that. Instead of a few races that you mostly get to know on a general level, each of the peoples of Ilyon are fresh, new, and varied. Sure, we haven't met all of them, but I can tell that Jaye has put much work into developing them.

Characters and world aside, it was the message, the heart of the story that blew me away. I've read plenty of books about persecution, but very few are set in my favored genre of fantasy. And even fewer tell it with the power and grace that Jaye achieves in this book.

Plot? I've said with her trilogy that she's a master at plot twists, and while there weren't many plot twists in this book (though I'm sure that will change in future installments), this merging of fantasy and persecution left me at complete loss as to how everything might turn out. I don't think I was ever surprised, but there were plenty of times when I couldn't see how Jaye could bring them out of a difficulty. (And the only reason I knew she would was that it's the first book of a six volume series)

I'm at the edge of my seat in anticipation for the next book, but I'm afraid I'll have to wait at least another year for it.

Note: While it is a clean book, and violence is well-handled, the book is marketed towards older teens and those in their lower twenties, and I certainly wouldn't protest that decision. It deals with some pretty tough topics.

Genre/Theme: Fantasy, Christian, Persecution


Reading Level: Mature TEEN - high school to college 

Profanity: NONE - no offensive language 
Sexuality: SUBTLE - hinted, but not explicit. The female “goddess” doesn't wear as much clothing as Kyrin would like her to, and she doesn't let her brother clean that side of the , there are allusions to the non-followers of Elóm doing stuff, but nothing is described. There was some kissing, but between side characters.
Other: 
Jace is a former gladiator and half ryrik, which is an extremely violent race, and while he tries to suppress his natural instincts, he does get involved in some fights. Also, the Emperor is not beyond using violence to get what he wants.




Saturday, April 26, 2014

Jack Lewis Baillot - Stretch of Loyalty

A Stretch of Loyalty
Because of Loyalty Trilogy


By Miss Jack Lewis Baillot


Kindle Edition Available




Product Description (from Amazon)

Prince Lachlan's only crime is that he is the youngest son of the king, a selfish man who took what he wanted no matter the cost. Now Lachlan's life is in danger because his father's last law was that the last of his sons left living will be the new king.

Lachlan's half brothers are determined to get rid of him first before they work on killing each other, but their plans are foiled when Lachlan is saved by a young girl named Magda. Knowing Lachlan would make a better ruler than any of his brothers, Magda flees into the wild, hoping to find help and safety for the boy in one of the neighboring kingdoms. Instead, all Magda finds is rejection.

But help might be closer then she thinks, and it comes in the form of a grumpy, one handed hermit, an elf with a sense of humor, and two dwarf brothers. Together, they might have a chance to save the boy - but what price do you pay to keep a stranger alive? Just how far are they willing to go to make sure he is kept safe?

About the Author (from Amazon)

Jack Lewis Baillot is the author of the Haphazardly Implausible series. She isn't impossible, just a bit unlikely.
You can learn more about her and her writing at her website. http://missjacklewisbaillot.blogspot.com/

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

I have the highest respect for this author ... I'm coauthoring a book with her, after all. I thoroughly expected to enjoy this book just as much as her Haphazardly books. However, while I found the theme of the book new and intriguing, the world building was very generic ... which isn't, in itself, a bad thing, but it mainly manifested in huge infodumps of description. The one unique people group that Jack created, I could never quite get a good mental image of because they were described as having the bodies of minotaurs and heads of wolves. I understood the wolf part ... but the body of a minotaur is basically the body of a really strong man. Unless, of course, she was using a different definition of minotaur, of which there was no sign of that in the text. Minotaurs weren't mentioned unless they used as comparison for this people group. 

Plot was great, except for the fact that they managed to run into every monster that wasn't supposed to exist anymore. The first time, it was exciting. The second time, interesting. But the third time ... it was just plain ridiculous and felt like a bid for more words. I also had some issues with the back story, especially concerning Magda's father ... and when, exactly, he died. Hopefully that will be explained in the sequel however. 

The characters were, I'm sure, wonderful, but I was unable to connect, partly because some of them relied on the stereotypes of the fantasy genre, and partly because I had trouble keeping conversations straight. Possibly, had I read the print version, it wouldn't have been so bad. But the kindle version is badly formatted, and I finally came to the conclusion that she must have uploaded a PDF file, which just goes wonky when it is translated into a Mobi. Also, Jack is very good at confusing homonyms. The first time she used "board" instead of "bored," it was funny, because they were on a boat and reminded me of roleplay I was in once. After that, all I could do was cringe every time it happened as I pictured the character described as a piece of lumber. Since I had had the privilege of editing the first few chapters, I had caught several ... but was disappointed to find that the chandelier was still spelled "Chandler." (I was pleased to find that she had corrected most of her then/than misuse, which had been my biggest issue with her first book.)

I am looking forward to the sequel. As I said, the theme was very good, and I honestly have no idea where Jack is going with it, which is always a good thing. Having read so many fantasy books, its hard to find one that I can't determine where the author plans to go with it. But this isn't the story of an epic war (not yet, anyways) it's the story of fugitives hiding a potential king. The message of the Creator is well handled, and I can thoroughly see Stefan's struggle with belief. Personally, I recommend a good combing for homonyms, and an upload in a doc format - from my experience, that's what talks to Kindle the best.


Note: There isn't any real magic in this book, so I recommend it to any fantasy fan who is squeamish about that part of the genre.

Genre/Theme: Fantasy, quests, Christian



Reading Level: CHILD - children's literature to
TEEN - upper elementary to middle school 
Profanity: NONE - no offensive language 
Sexuality: NONE - not even hinted at, although it is mentioned that the King, Lachlan's father, had a different mother for each of his four sons, and he gave up on marriage after his second wife.

Other: Lots of fighting, though not much description. The three older princes are trying to kill their youngest brother, and aren't very particular about who gets hurt in the process.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Molly Evangeline - Trust

Trust
Makilien Trilogy


By Molly Evangeline


Kindle Edition Available



Product Description (from Amazon)

Struggling to cope with the losses of battle, Makilien seeks to live each day in trust of Elohim's plans. As the conflict of hope and reality war in her mind, a sudden arrival changes everything, bringing to light a new scheme wrought by the remnant of Zirtan's men.
Finding herself witness to a shocking act of treachery, Makilien is thrust into the very center of the dangerous plans. Trust is something she must give carefully as those who appear trustworthy fail even as those she would least expect could hold the key to success. Can she and those around her secure their safety and freedom or will they find themselves outwitted by their enemy's final act of dominance?

About the Author (from Amazon)

Molly Evangeline is the oldest of three, all of whom are homeschool graduates. Since graduating she has actively pursued her writing career and is the author of the historical adventure series Pirates & Faith. She currently lives with her family in Wisconsin where she continues to focus on her writing and other creative endeavors.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra



After receiving and reviewing the first two books of the trilogy, I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation for book three. When it came out, it had a special introductory kindle price of 99 cents, and I just happened to have 99 cents in my Amazon gift card balance … so I snatched it up. I had it read within twenty-four hours. (The only book I can claim to have read within twenty-four hours its release)

And it's taken me … ten months to get around to writing the review. I really need to get on the ball with this reviewing business.

I approached this book with much trepidation. On one hand I already loved the world and most of the characters, and I really wanted to know what was up with the cliff hanger ending … but it was the last book in the trilogy, and I didn't want it to end. Also, I was left with a blah taste in my mouth from the last book's repetitiveness … and I didn't want to read the same book for the third time in a row.

I needn't have worried. This book was delightfully new, different, surprising, amazing, wonderful, and I'd almost come to like Makilien by the end of the book.

The book begins a year after the events of Courage. Unlike the previous two books, it began not in Reylaun, but in Elimar, where Makilien and Vonawyn are hiding behind a tree while strange men are shooting at them.

And they had thought the battle was over.

Things make even less sense when they discover that the orders given to the men are signed with a "V" rather than the "Z" that would have pointed to Zirtan. Someone is putting Zirtan's army back together and pestering them again.

On a more personal and emotional level, Makilien is still, after a year, trying to get over the fact that they hadn't been able to find a certain someone at the end of the great battle at the end of Courage. What's worse is that, just as she was beginning to accept that he has died, she has begun waking up in the middle of the night with strong urges to pray for him.

The plot twists in this book were amazing. Every time I thought I had everything figured out, it would take a new turn and I was left gasping for air. And every time it made complete sense! 

As for Characters, despite the fact that I never connected with Makilien, everyone else was superb. There were many old faces, many new faces, and no one felt out of place or forced upon me. One new person was the identical twin to one of the old characters a twist I absolutely loved. I may or may not have mentioned this before, but I love twins.

As for romance, Makilien's was beautiful. As for the other two, the one I had known about from book two still left me unsatisfied. I hadn't seen them together enough in Courage and they didn't get a single moment together in Trust until the epilogue. The new one, however, was sweet and sad. I hope he someday realizes that he can have a happily ever after, even if he had been a force for evil for so long. There was another one hinted at, and I liked the hint, but I would have preferred to see her and her people in person. Guess there wasn't time for it. And there are two characters that I strongly suspect will fall in love when she gets older. She's still seven right now, but he's an elf, so there's time.

My hugest qualm with this book is that the Jesus character, who had been so important in book one, received only one or two mentions. I admired the theme of trusting in God, or Elohim, but I would have liked His Son to have received more credit.

But everything else, every twist, every new character, every part of the theme of Trust was amazing. It was a perfect conclusion to the trilogy, and while I'd like more, I don't think the author plans to write more ... which is a pity unless you consider the fact that her upcoming Ilyon series is going to be twice as long and thrice as exciting!


Note: Highly recommended for teen girls who love fantasy but don't want the magic so often prevalent in the genre.

Genre/Theme: Christian Allegory, Fantasy, Adventure


Reading Level: TEEN - upper elementary to middle school 
Profanity: NONE - no offensive language 
Sexuality: NONE - I think I remember some kissing, but that was it.
Other: 
As with the former two books, there's war going on. People get killed trough various methods (including poisons), people are tortured, whipped, made slaves. It can be quite frightening at times.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Katie Comstock - Moonbeam

Moonbeam



By Katie Comstock



Kindle Version Available


Product Description (from Amazon)

Moonbeam lives in the magical land of Glaucio. She is the daughter of Fiona, lead mare of the main herd on in the land. When Fiona is brutally killed by Abaddon, Moonbeam is thrust into command of the herd. She must battle against Abaddon and his evil forces using her innocence and a gift from Stardust. Abaddon wishes to kill Stardust, the stallion in charge of all the land. Moonbeam and her friend, Comet, must fight together with mares and stallions of other herds to prevent this. If Abaddon succeeds, the land of Glaucio will be cast into 300 years of darkness, evilness and despair.

About the Author (from Amazon)

Ever since I was little, I've enjoyed anything to do with reading or writing. Any book I could get my hands on I devoured. Writing proved to be a wonderful way to temporarily get out of doing my math. I didn't write very much until my Mom bought me the One Year Adventure Novel (www.oneyearnovel.com) curriculum in the fall of 2009. This curriculum taught me how to come up with a compelling plot and characters. Through this curriculum, I've written two books, one of them in the process of being written and the other, Moonbeam. 
I have wonderful parents and four awesome younger siblings. When I'm not writing, I enjoy riding my horse, playing piano, ballet, reading and listening to music. I've been homeschooled since preschool and love the flexibility it gives me to be able to write more. 

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra


This is a book which I wish I could have liked more than I did. I first heard of it through an interview she had with Landry's Academy, and it sparked my interest. Unfortunately, I failed to bookmark the book, and while I remembered the title and the author's first name, I forgot her last name … and searching “Moonbeam” and “Katie” didn't come up with anything.

And then I was reading through the backposts on the Homeschooled Authors blog – and there she was. I didn't have the money to buy the book at the time, but as soon as I did, I snatched up a kindle copy. I read it in a day.

As I stated before, I wish I could have liked it more than I did. It's not that it was a bad book – it was delightfully unique, and for the most part the horses acted like horses (one of my pet peeves in animal books is when you could say that they're human and not change a word in the book – I've read such books before). Also it's a Christian allegory, one of my two favorite flavors of Fantasy.

Yet for all of its charm, it fell flat for me. I knew when I picked it up that the author was only sixteen – it was one of the reasons I wanted to read it – but it showed. There was a lack of maturity to the writing (especially the conversations, which is a biggie with me) and many of the characters. There was nothing to set it apart from other allegories (other than the fact that it was about horses, rather than regular people), indeed, I found it rather predicable, having already read many books in the genre.

The story begins shortly after Moonbeam, the titular character, finds that Abbadon, the leader of the bay horses, has killed her mother. There are two colors of horses in this world. White horses follow Stardust, the Jesus figure of the book, and bay horses are those who are in rebellion against Stardust.

While she is still trying to come to grips with her mothers death, a new horse shows up, Daryn, a messenger of Stardust to tell her that a great war was being set in motion and to ask her and Comet, the stallion of their herd, to join them. Since her mother was the leader of the herd, Moonbeam is to follow in her footsteps … of course going to help means that she has to find a substitute for a while, but her friend, Ellipse, is perfect for the job.

Then they go with Daryn, train for the battle, meet new friends (the stallions and lead mares of other herds), and have the battle.

After that, I found it rather predictable, since I already knew that it was an allegory.

I really, really wanted to love this book. I enjoyed it, definitely, and the author shows lots of promise, so I will continue to read her books (I follow her blog, and while she hasn't published anything else, some of the books she's working on sound very interesting), but this one fell flat.


Note: This would be a good story for younger girls, maybe eight to twelve, who love horses, but don't mind it if it gets a bit scary.

Genre/Theme: Fantasy, Christian, Animals


Reading Level: CHILD - children's literature 
Profanity: NONE - no offensive language 
Sexuality: NONE - not even hinted at 
Other: Fighting between horses, some death, but not much is described.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Alison Pensy - The Emerald Staff

The Emerald Staff
A Custodian Novel



By Alison Pensy


Kindle Edition Available


Product Description (from Amazon)

Publication Date: April 22, 2011
Faedra was enjoying the fact that everything was back to normal, well as normal as it could get when you had the ability to manipulate energy, were protector of an ancient Fae amulet, and lived with a fairy guardian 24/7. Her dad had even started dating. Yes, all was right again in Faedra’s world, or so she thought…



About the Author (from Amazon)

Alison was born and raised in England and grew up near a medieval city called Norwich, which is where much of the inspiration for her young adult books comes from. She has traveled extensively and the experiences and inspiration gained from that are priceless. 
Moving to the States in 2001, Alison started out in California, but the pace of life for a country girl was overwhelming and she eventually settled near a small town in mid Missouri with her menagerie of animals.
Alison also runs a tax and accounting business, which keeps her very busy during the day and especially for the first few months of the year where she goes into "headless chicken" mode.
Alison started writing a few years ago when she became so fed up with the real world, she decided to create her own. 
Alison also writes adult romance under the pen name Adrianna Blakeley.
O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

After I reviewed book 1 of the Custodian Novels, The Amulet, the author found my review and asked if I would like to read and review the next two books as well. I agreed, and she sent them to me.

Unfortunately, that was about the time that my life went crazy, so it's taken me a lot longer than I would have liked to get around to reviewing.

The book begins a few months after The Amulet, Faedra has begun to settle back into her life as the custodian, and has almost gained control of her Energy-manipulation power. All is going well, Faen, her Guardian and boyfriend, has started college with her, and her father has even started dating again!

She hasn't met the lucky lady yet, but her dad says that she'll be at the approaching Halloween party that they're hosting. Faedra is delighted … until the lady walks in the door. Turns out, it's the woman who killed her mother, and tried to kill Faedra in book one. Let's just say, Faedra takes exception.

Trying to control her energy power and not reveal to the whole party that she's not a normal human, she goes outside with Faen to blow some steam. However, Mr. Bennet and the girlfriend soon follow them and the girlfriend forces him to do a big reveal – he's not Faedra's real dad. Then she makes her dramatic exit, Mr. Bennet in tow. She leaves behind a black stone with a red dot in the center. If Faedra doesn't turn herself in before the stone is completely red, well let's just say she won't like the consequences.

Faedra decides to see if there's any way to rescue him. She travels back to the Faerie world and discovers that the only way of tracking her father's kidnapper is to find the Emerald Staff … which belongs to a dragon. Not only is finding him hard enough, but he won't give up the staff unless they return to him his only egg (which he lost in a bet when he was a younger dragon).

Overall, I liked this book. Tension was higher than the book before, but less mystery when it comes to the villain. There were many twists and turns, some of which I smelled coming, others caught me completely by surprise. The old characters are as charming as they were before, and the new ones were delightful. For the most part. There's one character that shows up at the end that's not so nice … but he was well done, nonetheless.

My one annoyance with this book was the fact that the main romance is a forbidden romance. It was fairly well done, and I already knew about it from the first book, so it wasn't so bad. Forbidden romances just annoy me, so no offense to the author. Also, one of the new characters, while he is charming, borders on the too charming. I liked him, felt sorry for him even (since he's the last of his kind), but I was slightly annoyed with him.

But apart from the romance, I really enjoyed the book. It's a very interesting twist on fairies, though not extremely radical.


Genre/Theme: Fantasy, Romance,



Reading Level:  TEEN - upper elementary to middle school 
Profanity:  LOW - few mildly offensive words 
Sexuality:  MILD - descriptions of affection/desire There's quite a bit of kissing between Faedra and Faen, and there's one character who's described as having “thought with what's in his pants”Other: Lots of fighting, especially with magic. Nothing graphic, though.
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