Thursday, May 19, 2016

Jaye L. Knight - Samara's Peril

Samara's Peril
The Ilyon Chronicles 

By Jaye L. Knight

Available on Amazon

Product Description (from Amazon)

When news arrives that Emperor Daican has been in contact with his chief war strategist, it signals potential doom for the country of Samara. Determined to intervene, the resistance in Landale, headed by Lady Anne, embark on a covert mission in hopes of unearthing further information. However, a shocking discovery leads to complications no one could have foreseen.

Armed with their newfound knowledge, they set out for Samara to warn the king. War is inevitable, and they must face two desperate battles—one on the walls of Samara’s great stronghold, and the other on the battlefield of Jace’s heart, where victory might only be achievable through great sacrifice.

About the Author (from Amazon)

Jaye L. Knight is an award-winning author, homeschool graduate, and shameless tea addict with a passion for Christian fantasy. 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. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Etsy.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

Ilyon. Have I talked about my love of Ilyon before?

Jaye has just released the third volume of her exciting series, so of course I signed up to review. And let me say up front: If you're not reading this series, what are you doing with your life????

The book begins with a ceremony based on the Jewish holidays, the Day of Atonement and Passover ... and with a return of Jace's insecurity over his soul. It doesn't help that one of the newcomers to their settlement lost his wife in a ryrik attack, and sees Jace as the epitome of everything he hates.

If you haven't read the previous books - ryriks are an extremely cruel and violent race, rumored to have been the first to rebel against Elom, and to not have souls, hence Jace's uncertainty.

Of course, in a world of persecution and political warfare, one doesn't have much time to sit around wondering if they have a soul or not, because war is brewing, and if they could just get their hands on the letters that the emperor has been sending... which sends our party to the home of Dacian's chief strategist in hopes that Kyrin might be able to get a good look at them - if only for a moment. Kyrin has a perfect memory and even a moment would be enough to implant the contents in her mind forever.

Of course, things never go as expected when it's a book, and when a Highly Anticipated Big Reveal occurs, we end up spending half the book at the knight's home. 

The second half of the book is the trip to Samara, a meeting with New Character who is Very Important, and then a bunch of battle scenes.

I loved the first half of the book. As in, completely and utterly adored it. So much fangirlly squealling occurred, and I could NOT put it down. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy the second part quite as much, as it frequently felt like I was just rereading Truth and Courage - the first two books of her Makilien Trilogy she wrote as Molly Evangeline.

I can't say much because most of what disappointed me were spoilers, but basically, there were a lot of action sequences ... and call me a strange reader, but I don't like action scenes. Setting up for the action - fun and glorious. Reading the action - tedious. Also, there was a huge element involving the New Character who is Very Important that I'd hoped would be handled differently. Not that it was handled badly, and it was powerful for what it was, but I was hoping to see something different.

Still, there was also a TON of character development, and relationship development, and tension packed conversations, and awesome new characters in the second half (King Balam!!!!!!!!!!!), so I still loved the book.

Jace grew so much in this book. Sure, at times I was utterly frustrated with the rut he'd allowed himself to fall into (especially when he'd been doing so well in the previous book!), and his refusal to admit to himself that he liked Kyrin (seriously, he would have spared himself so much trouble if he'd just admitted it to her). Yet though it all he remained so sweet, devoted, and protective of those he loved.

Kyrin didn't grow much in this book, but I loved seeing her interacting with her brothers. Seriously, you can tell that the author grew up as an only girl in a household of boys. It was awesome. Kaden did some growing up, though, when he was given command over Landale's fleet of dragon riders, and it was awesome. Marcus and Liam got some development too, and I think I may have swapped my fictional crush from Kaden to Marcus.

Also, Holden. I don't remember him much from the previous books, but he was awesome in this one. Seriously awesome.

As for new characters, there were many awesome ones. Like Samara's young king, who's a sort of a David/Aragorn character. I'm really looking forward to seeing what Jaye does with his character in future books. Lady Rachel had such a tragic backstory, but she emerged such a beautiful, graceful woman because of it. And there were many other characters that you're just going to love to meet ... and some characters you probably will regret meeting, such as our new villain. Let me just say, I'm willing to see almost every other Ilyon character repent and be redeemed, but this fellow has to die.

There were so many great lines and popping dialogue, some of which tore at my heart, other's had me fangirling so wildly.

Why are you still here reading this review? Go buy the book! Unless, of course, you haven't read the previous books yet, in which case, buy them first, read them, and then read this one. You won't regret it.

Note: As this series goes, it is getting more mature. Most older teens should be able to handle it, but it's not a children's story.

Genre/Theme: Christian, Fantasy, Persecution

Reading Level: Mature TEEN - high school to college 
Profanity: NONE - no offensive language 
Sexuality: SUBTLE - hinted, but not explicit - There are a few minimally-described kisses, and a few references to rape,  
Other: There's a nice bit of battle at the end, some torture scenes, and execution, and some other odd fights. Also, the opening scene involves the sacrifice of a lamb and its blood.   

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Morgan Huneke - Espionage

A companion to the Time Captives

By Morgan Huneke

Available on Amazon

Product Description (from Amazon)

“Sir Roland has invited us to visit for the Autumn Feast.”

“Do we have to go, Papa? I couldn’t feast with the most crooked politician in all of Briznom.”

As the daughter of a Briznomian vassal lord, Vannie Cumberland has spent her childhood immersed in the world of politics. Relations between Briznom and the neighboring country of Calhortz are strained due to the tyrannical rule of the strytes. A proposed alliance could calm relations between the two countries, but would come at the cost of Briznom’s freedom.

When her father’s political archenemy invites them to the Autumn Feast, Vannie uncovers an evil scheme endangering the life of someone close to her. Personal enmity comes to a dangerous head as Vannie struggles to expose the corruption and stop the alliance. Time is running out.

Events are becoming too big for her to handle. Will Sir Roland’s son help or will things finally spiral out of control?

About the Author (from Amazon)

Morgan Elizabeth Huneke is a homeschool graduate who lives in Georgia. She has enjoyed creating characters and writing stories since early childhood. Books have always been a big part of her life, never more so than when working at the local library. Her other interests include reading, playing the piano and violin, and politics.

You can connect with Morgan on her website, blog, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

Having read and loved the first two books in the Time Captives Trilogy, I eagerly awaited the final volume ... but then the author went and announced that first she had to publish a companion story set in the same world, but in the neighboring country.

Of course, I read it.

Espionage is a sweet little story, with a healthy dose of tension, centered around a very young heroine. Vannie has grown up surrounded by politics, as her father is one of her country's vassal lords (Their ruling system is something of an Oligarchy), and one of the few said lords who bothers to bring his children with him to court. When her father's arch-rival, Sir Roland, invites them for a friendly meeting at his castle, she smells a rat, but since she's only nine, and her father agrees to it, there's really nothing she can do to protest.

Once she reaches Sir Roland's estate, she meets Kyle, Sir Roland's son, who seems to be nothing like his father. Together they uncover a devious plot that involves a Stryte - which readers of the main Time Captives series would recognize as the invasive tyrannical ruling class Calhortz.

It was a good story, it really was, but I wasn't captivated by it like I was the main series. It was a nice addition to the world, but I didn't feel wowed by any high-concept ideas or great world-building. You meet a stryte and a few Merfolk, and that's it for the other races in the world, and there were only two or three mentions of the Time Captives. So while it was a good story, making it part of the Time Captives world almost felt forced.

It also had a very different feel from the rest of Morgan's work that I've read - instead of grand, sweeping tales with lots of characters and interspersed flashbacks, it's a very focused story, entirely from Vannie's point of view, since it's first person.

(It didn't help that I read this while reading another book which I found to be far more high-concept and kept me closer to the edge of my seat.)

This doesn't mean it wasn't a great book, it just wasn't quite the story I'd wanted.

Espionage is a story of faith, family, trust, forgiveness and resourcefulness. Vannie and Kyle are both great characters, as are their surrounding family and friends. The plot is tight and cohesive, and since there are fewer characters, they all seem far better developed. Things do get tense enough to keep you on the edge of your seat for a bit. It is a good addition  to the world, even if it isn't as spectacular as the main series, and I'm pretty sure you could read and love it even if you had no plans at all to read the main books. 

Note: I do recommend this story to younger children, as the cast itself is younger.

Genre/Theme: Fantasy, Christian

Reading Level: CHILD - children's literature 
TEEN - upper elementary to middle school 
Profanity: NONE - no offensive language 
Sexuality: NONE - not even hinted at 
Other: There is some fighting and an attempt at murder. Nothing gory, though.

Monday, March 14, 2016

C. F. Fruzzetti and M. I. Pearshall - The Light Bringer's Way

The Light Bringer's Way
(The Light Bringer's Series)

By C. F. Fruzzetti and M. I. Pearshall

Available on Amazon

Product Description (from Amazon)

In book two of the The Light Bringer series, THE LIGHT BRINGER’S WAY, Whitney and Reid arrive home after their first mission and Whitney is left wondering if and when her eyesight will return. More of Reid’s secrets are revealed and Whitney discovers together they can accomplish more than she ever imagined. THE LIGHT BRINGER’S WAY deftly weaves a physical journey of adventure through Africa rife with dangerous obstacles to obtain an ancient spear of pure energy with an emotional journey of love, trust and belief. The dark and deadly path she must travel down calls on Whitney to use her strengths to survive but will she once again be able to turn adversity into advantage? Each second counts in this young adult adventure as more truth comes to light and Whitney finally discovers Karen’s hold on Reid...or does she?

About the Author (from Amazon)

Best friends since childhood, Carolyn Fruzzetti and Meghan Pearsall always knew that they would work together on a creative endeavor. In 2011, they formed Pure Energy Books and released SUNDIAL, the first novel in a young adult series.
Originally from Alexandria, VA, Carolyn currently resides in Arlington, VA with her husband and two daughters. Carolyn has a B.S. in Public Administration from James Madison University and is a professional culinary graduate of L'Academie de Cuisine.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Rachel

Overall, I enjoyed book 2 of this series almost as much as the first one. The romance department rivets up a notch or so, and so does the action and adventure. The story picks up almost immediately at the closure of book one, so there is no interruption of the story line. In fact, the entire book takes place in very few weeks times and culminates on Halloween where the book ends with a bombshell of a discovery. The foreshadowing of this discovery is throughout both books, but believe me, you will probably miss it just like I did! Of course, the authors already have their third installment available, so no waiting to see how this will move the story along.

The story has the same setting, with another overseas adventure, this time stylized after Indiana Jones. There is even a mine train ride! The plot was excellent, speed without being too rushed, details without drowning in them, info dumps were kept to short clips in a fashion that made them seem natural. There were tons of new information that will thrill and amaze and keep you riveted at the edge of your seat for most of the story.

Basic Plot

The story opens with hours of the last books ending. The mission has been completed, but Whitney is now blind. Of course, she doesn't let that stop her. She may be blind, but she still has her intuition and she is perfectly healthy otherwise. She finds herself in a fight with Reid and manages to best him, proving to herself and others that she will manage life being blind if she needs to.

The group returns home and life resumes right where it picked up. Everyone in the high school believes Whitney was absent due to an allergic reaction to nuts, if only they knew the truth. But things don't really go back to normal, events have been set in motion, and nobody is safe, especially not the ever independent Whitney. Reid certainly has his hands full trying to keep her safe. Whitney isn't very sure she can trust Reid yet either, just what kind of hold does Karen have on him, rumors have it that she is his girlfriend and she wants him back.

But life is not going to drift back to "normal", by Chapter 3 there is a family emergency that has Reid whisking Whitney as well as her best friend Blair and Patrick off to the yacht. There they meet Reid's aunt, and she has a job for the 4 teens. The plane leaves in two weeks. She also drops some history and background into Whitney's lap and is shocked that she had no idea any of this was happening. Imagine discovering that most of what you thought was true about your life and the world around you was just a cover up for a whole sub world of people with special talents like Whitney and Reid.

The four teens arrive at their destination, where the adults will keep an eye on them as best they can, and begin to work their way toward the retrieval of a special artifact. Of course, the plans go awry almost as soon as they get settled. Que the Indiana Jones music, because shortly after they leave the plane in Chapter 8, the action will involve deep caves, molten rivers, poison darts, melting floors, mine trains, secret riddles and much more. Time is ticking. Nothing is as it seems. And everyone must face fears and learn to work together. The only other option is failure and death deep inside of the mountain puzzle.

As a whole, I enjoyed the "old world" explanations of history and how whole races of secret people with amazing talents have been manipulating legends and history from the earliest days of history. Peoples who hear more than others, see more than others, can predict time, and many more. Whitney was in for more than a few shocks and surprises.

The genre stayed true to the first book. A lot more kissing, but about the same as far as action, no gore - although their were bones. Language was mostly clean. Self Control was still a big theme, and so was learning to trust others and the importance of good communication. Whitney had a lot to learn about keeping secrets, and when it was important to share feelings rather than keeping them secret.

Genre/Theme:  Paranormal, CIA, Adventure, High School, 1980s, Sci-Fi
Reading Level:  TEEN - middle school and up
Profanity: Usually None .... but occasionally leans toward
 MODERATE - mild words & a few stronger expletives  (the text is really quite clean)
Sexuality:  MILD - descriptions of affection/desire   (lots of kissing)  some skimpy clothing and some wet clothing
there is a shower seen that is "interesting", it's an outdoor shower, so Whitney is fully dressed.  Quite a bit of snuggling and touching.  Also one accidental nude scene at the beginning - no descriptions - but to explain would be a plot spoiler, it involves a shared shower and accidentally walking in on the other person.
Other: The last several chapters are very intense – 
Indiana Jones adventure style, ESP and other skills

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Claire Banschbach - Adela's Curse

Adela's Curse 
Faeries of Myrnius

By Claire Banschbach

Available on Amazon

Product Description (from Amazon)
A curse. A murderous scheme. A choice.

A witch and her master capture a young faery and command her to kill their enemy. Adela has no choice but to obey. If she does not, they will force the location of her people’s mountain home from her and kill her. To make matters even worse, the person she is to kill is only a man struggling to save his dying land and mend a broken heart.

Count Stefan is a man simply trying to forget the woman he loves and save a land crippled by drought. When a mysterious woman arrives at his castle claiming to be a seamstress, he knows she is more than she seems.

Adela enlists the help of Damian, another faery, to try and delay the inevitable. He insists she has a choice. But with the witch controlling her every move, does she?

About the Author (from Amazon)
Claire Banschbach was born and raised in Midland, TX, the fourth of eight children. She was homeschooled through high school and is now a proud member of the Texas A&M University class of 2014. An avid reader of Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and many other adventure novels, Claire was prompted to begin writing her own fantasy novel at seventeen after several years of daydreaming.

She continues to write in her spare time (and often when she doesn't have spare time). When not scratching out stories and homework with pen and pencil, Claire partakes in the joys of watching the Boston Red Sox, Aggie football, and playing volleyball. She hopes her strong foundation in God will continue to guide her writing.

She is currently working on her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Texas Tech Health Science Center.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

I love fairies, have always been fascinated by magical people with wings, so when when Claire asked me to review Adela's Curse, I naturally jumped at the opportunity to read a new spin on the magical, mysterious folk.

Admittedly, it wasn't until last night that I actually sat down and devoured the book, but it wasn't the story's fault that I delayed so long. I was looking for a block of time that I could fully devote to reading, since it was in PDF format, and I didn't want to loose my place.

Reading this story was like coming home. It wasn't a grand, epic adventure, but a sweet fairy tale that can almost trick your mind into thinking you've read it before, yet still remain completely original. It's not a long story, though longer than your average fairy tale. Personally, I think Claire's writing style suits this sort of story better than the epic.

Adela was a sweet heroine. Considered average at best among the fairies, she prefers to spend her time in the forest, caring for the plants, for that's where her talent lies. However, when an act of kindness traps her in a witch's power, she finds herself forced to act as no self-respecting fairy ever would - lies, schemes, murder even.

There is a bit of a love triangle in the story, but one that made sense. Adela is forced to win the heart of Stefan, but at the same time, she and Damian grow closer as he tries to help her out of the magical entanglement.

The worldbuilding was excellent. I loved Claire's take on fairies, and I just wish I could have seen more of the world.

I'd recommend this story to anyone who enjoys fairy tales and fantasy.

Genre/Theme: Fantasy, 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 - a few kisses, but that's as far as it goes.
There's a lot of magic, of both the dark and light variety. Also, there's a nice battle scene at the end and people get hurt.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Morgan Elizabeth Huneke - The Crossways

The Crossways
Time Captives

By Morgan Elizabeth Huneke

Available on Amazon

Product Description

“M’lady, it has been fairly well confirmed that the Redona was hidden away by the merfolk at the conclusion of the Great War instead of destroyed as was commanded. My brother has confirmed to me Joseph’s belief that it was concealed at the Crossways.”
Toarna pressed her fingertips together in thought. “It must be recovered and destroyed as was at first intended.”

Emily, Allan, Jill, and Joey have been reunited with their long lost ancestors. But with that reunion comes the true beginning of their quest: free the rightful king of Calhortz so that he may be restored to his throne. The Redona, the only object that can free him from his long imprisonment, is rumored to be concealed in The Crossways, a mountain across the sea which cannot be entered.
A slave since birth, Adriel’s resentment and hatred towards the strytes only grows as his family is continually ripped from him. He longs for the freedom the Time Captives are prophesied to bring, but he doubts their existence, just as he doubts God’s love. Circumstances in Calhortz are so dire. How could they ever improve?
Who can enter The Crossways? Will the king ever be freed? Or will the slaves of Calhortz lose all hope of freedom before it is even offered to them?

The Crossways is the second book of the Time Captives trilogy, a tale of faith, family, fantasy, and a fight for truth and freedom.

About the Author

Morgan Elizabeth Huneke is a homeschool graduate who lives in Georgia. She has enjoyed creating characters and writing stories since early childhood. Her other interests include reading, playing the piano and violin, and politics. She is the author of Across the Stars and The Experiment.

You can connect with Morgan on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

Having quite enjoyed the first book of the series, I automatically shot an email to the author complaining about why I couldn't just read book 2 already (she and I had been chatting quite a bit - I don't normally do this with authors!), and she asked if I'd like to beta read book two. I said yes, and I loved it even more than the first book, despite tearing it to shreds with edits. I then read an edited ARC version.

While this series still doesn't quite make it to my "favorites of all time" shelf, it has the distinction of being one of the most unique portal fantasies I've ever read. Fourteen children, not all from one time, but all from the same family, had been brought to the world of Calhorz, in twenty-year increments, and frozen at the age of twelve, thus earning themselves the name "Time Captives." Now that they're all here, things are finally set in motion and they can begin freeing the land from the oppressive Strytes, starting with rescuing the true king, who is trapped on an island by a thing called the Bresmi, which can only be deactivated by a thing called the Redona, which is hidden a place called the Crossways. Lots of fun adventure going on there, as they escape from the Crannig Castle dungeon, and make their way across the sea.

But the true heart of this story is Adriel. A slave of the strytes, Adriel's life has anything but easy, and he's earned the title of a rebellious slave. The one bright point in his life is his younger sister, Rae, his only remaining family member - but even she is stripped from him when they're both sold, she to be a playmate to a young stryte, he to be a gladiator. His struggle with faith is so real and raw ... it might have brought tears were I a more emotional reader.

The backstory involving Eleanor was also intriguing, and heartbreaking, though I honestly wanted to throw her against the wall and tell her to wake up and count her blessings. Still, as her arc isn't finished yet, I suppose I can withhold my judgement a wee bit longer.

Worldbuilding was exciting. The author took more of a scientific approach to the fantasy world, which is something I always enjoy, and the world itself was such a delightful mix of eras, and peopled with interesting races. I enjoyed getting to know more about the world.

And ... I really don't have anything negative to say about the book (beyond throwing Eleanor against that wall). The writing style is a bit stiff, but it's been a vast improvement since the author's first book. Since I had the opportunity of beta reading the story, I was able to bring the issues I had directly to the author, and she dealt with them for the final version.

In short, this is a sweet little story that is another wonderful addition to the portal fantasy genre, and one that kept me up way past my bedtime reading multiple times. (And has me up way past my bedtime writing this review!) I enjoyed reading it both times, and I wish I had had this series back in my pre-teen years.

Genre/Theme: Fantasy, 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 
Some fantasy fighting and death, but nothing gory

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Morgan Elizabeth Huneke - Creighton Hill

Creighton Hill
Time Captives

By Morgan Elizabeth Huneke

Available on Amazon

Product Description (from Amazon)

“No one can mysteriously disappear leaving no trace. It isn’t realistic.”
“You’re right, Emily,” her grandfather said thoughtfully. “It isn’t realistic. However, a good many things happen in this world that are not realistic, things supernatural.”

Emily, Allan, Jill, Joey, and Anna have grown up on their grandfather’s tales of ancestors who mysteriously disappeared from Creighton Hill, the plantation home that has been in their family for centuries. When Grampa’s death forces them to move into Creighton Hill, the truth about the supposed disappearances is the first thing on their minds. Allan, Jill, Joey, and Anna’s, that is. As for Emily, why must they keep at their supernatural hogwash?

Could it be that their family really does just have an unusual history of early deaths? Most people seem to think so. But Grampa’s research has uncovered something different.

When mysterious writing matching descriptions found in ancient accounts begins appearing to the children, they know something’s up. They must find out what really happened to their ancestors, and work together to discover the reason behind the mysterious writings.

Creighton Hill is the first book of the Time Captives trilogy, a tale of faith, family, fantasy, and a fight for truth and freedom.

About the Author (from Amazon)
Morgan Elizabeth Huneke is a homeschool graduate who lives in Georgia. She has enjoyed creating characters and writing stories since early childhood. Her other interests include reading, playing the piano and violin, and politics.

To find out more, visit her website:

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

Portal fantasy is one of my favorite subgenres of fantasy. I love exploring fantasy worlds, and getting to share the culture shock with the main character is always nice. Unfortunately, I very rarely come across one that truly sticks out with a brilliant new twist.

Creighton Hill, with the Time Captives the series itself is named for, did.

I've been following this author for a while now, and quite enjoyed her first novel, Across the Stars, though there was definite room for improvement, so when she asked for ARC reviewers for Creighton Hill, I volunteered.

The heart of the story is pretty typical of the genre, a group of kids are pulled from this world into another one, and at the bidding of a prophecy, sent to fight some terrible evil with some really neat weapons. However, instead of all of the kids coming from the present day, saving the world, then popping back to discover that no time has passed at all, the Hubbard family has had a child go missing every generation since the 1800's.

Even more interesting is the fact that once the children arrive in Calhortea, time looses all affect on them, leaving them frozen at the age of twelve, and impervious to most injuries.

Most of the book is about Joey and his siblings, who are the modern generation of Hubbards. They're your typical Christian family, apart from the fact that they've had aunts and uncles disappearing for the two hundred years. However, there are flashbacks to George and Abigail, who had been two of the first to disappear.

The world itself was delightfully unique and well-built. We mostly get to know the Strytes and Kalicans in this book, but I'm looking forward to meeting more interesting creatures in the sequels.

I think the only issue I had with the book was that, at times, the conversations were a bit stiff. However, the sheer high-concept idea more than made up for it in my mind.

Also, a few of the characters were a bit flat, but with the sheer number that were in the book, it was hard to give them all proper development - I look forward to getting to know them better in the successive books.

Note: Based on writing style, I would recommend this more to younger kids, as I think I would have enjoyed this even more had I read it at ten or twelve myself - it's certainly the sort of story I would have loved!

Genre/Theme: Fantasy, Christian, Historical

Reading Level: CHILD - as a readaloud, TEEN
Profanity: NONE - no offensive language 
Sexuality: NONE - not even hinted at 
There was some fighting, including some death and an execution, but nothing was ever described 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

E. D. Phillips - Midnight Captive

Midnight Captive

By E. D. Phillips

Available on Amazon

Product Description (from Amazon)
Phaedra is cursed to sleep until true love wakes her. Hermione has a dark secret.

When Prince Sheridan discovers the two princesses wandering the woods outside the castle at night, he begins to wonder if there is more to Phaedra's curse than is readily apparent.

With the help of a minstrel out to prove a point, they must discover the secret before the princesses are trapped forever in the night.

About the Author (from Amazon)

No description available.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

I'm always on the lookout for good, new fairy tale retellings, so when a friend of mine contacted me asking if I wanted to take part of the release of Midnight Captive, I was thrilled ... though a bit wary. The three fairy tales it retells are Sleeping Beauty, The Pied Piper and The Twelve Dancing Princesses, three potentially darker tales, and its title and description didn't promise much light. As much as I love fairy tale retellings, I don't like it when they're dark and twisted.

I needn't have worried. After putting off reading for nearly two months, I sat down and read it in three sittings, in less than twenty-four hours. It isn't a long book, but I haven't been in a reading mood these last few weeks, and it takes a good book to keep me interested. I'm happy to report that Midnight Captive was one. Even in the darkest moments of the story, light shone through, and the effect was beautiful.

Of the three stories it retold, The Pied Piper remained the most intact, as the book was actually more a sequel to the tale. The other two were blended together, twisted by the Piper's strange magic and whims. Every night he summons the two princesses to dance with him from midnight to early morning, and neither can say a word about it during the daylight hours. Phaedra, because she sleeps though the whole day, Hermione, because she gets faint, or even sick when she tries to confess.

Princes have been coming from throughout the land in attempt to awaken the sleeping Phaedra, but few even suspect that Hermione is also caught by the curse. Prince Sheridan only realizes it because he sees them on their way back one morning, and Alyn, the minstrel, has his suspicions roused by Hermione's hatred of music.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book, it twisted beautifully, and I honestly had no idea where it was going when I first opened it (partly because I had forgotten the description, other than the fact that it was about Sleeping Beauty and involved a few other tales). Even though it blatantly stepped away from the plots of both Sleeping Beauty and the Twelve Dancing Princesses by the end, I still quite enjoyed it, because at its heart, it was a sequel to the Pied Piper. I quite enjoyed the nods to a few other tales, in particular Cinderella and Rapunzel. And I'm quite sure that Alyn the minstrel was inspired by Allan-a-Dale from Robin Hood's Merry Men.

However this was the author's first book, and a NaNo novel (as the acknowledgement implies), and it showed. The conversations could be brilliant, but sometimes they became redundant, as could the internal monologues. Hermione had to describe in great detail every dress she wore - which was possibly interesting if you're a dressmaker or fashionista - but I'm not. Some of the plot could have been strengthened, and there were a few plot elements, that, though they were brilliant, could have either left out and the story not missed them, or should have been mentioned sooner.

Also, I would have liked to see a bit of closure for the romance. It was well done, and I really liked the emphasis on sacrifice, but there wasn't any closure.

But I don't hold any of that against this lovely story. Indeed, I'd recommend it to pretty much anyone who loves fairy tale retellings. It's not something I'd read aloud to my younger siblings, but it's certainly something I would have adored as a younger teen.

Genre/Theme: Fairy Tale Retelling, Fantasy

Reading Level: TEEN - upper elementary to middle school 
Profanity: NONE - no offensive language 
Sexuality: NONE - not even hinted at 
Hermione sometimes throws up after attempting to tell others about the midnight escapades. Violence-wise, it's pretty clean until right at the end, which involves battles with harpies and the pied piper himself.  

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