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.  

Friday, March 6, 2015

Claire M. Banschbach - Rise of Aredor

Rise of Aredor
Rise of Aredor

By Claire M. Banschbach

Available on Amazon

Product Description (from Amazon)
Lost in a foreign land and separated from his family, Corin does his best to survive as a slave in the household of a Calorin lord. With newfound friends he fights for survival in ambushes and wars. For one act of bravery, he is awarded his freedom and returns to a home that has been invaded and ravaged by the Calorin armies. When Corin sets foot on Aredor's shores, he has one goal in mind: find his family. He is driven into the forest, where he is reunited with childhood friends. From the shelter of the woods, they begin a spirited rebellion against Corin's former cruel master, who now holds sway over Aredor. Follow Corin's path in his quest to free his imprisoned brother, find a father who has vanished, and ultimately free his country in The Rise of Aredor.

About the Author (from Amazon)
Claire Banschbach was born and raised in Midland, Texas, 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. Though she loves reading and writing, her professional goal is to become a physical therapist in order to assist people in leading a full life. When not scratching out stories and homework with pen and pencil, Claire enjoys watching the Boston Red Sox and Aggie football, as well as playing volleyball. She hopes her strong foundation in God will help to guide her writing.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

From the first time I heard about this book several months ago, when the author posted in a forum I frequent asking for reviews, I wanted to read this book. Unfortunately, I was rather overwhelmed at the time, and had to turn down the offer. However, last month she contacted me again, and since my plate was relatively emptier, and she's about to release the sequel, I agreed to it.

I read it in one night, staying up well past midnight to do so, but more because I was reading a PDF file and didn't want to loose my place, than because of the story itself. I was thoroughly intrigued by the premise, but it jerked awkwardly, especially at the beginning,  

The basic plot? The book's description did a pretty good job of sharing it. I don't know if I could do any better without telling you the whole book. The first half was a lot of set up and battle scenes, and could probably have done without a few of the chapters. The second half was about how Corin frees his native country from the oppressive power of the country that enslaved him. So, in a way, it's kind of a Joseph story, but more fighting.

A lot of reviewers are comparing the story to The Horse and His Boy, and it's a comparison it fully deserves. After all, if you have a missing prince named CORIN, made a slave in an Arabian-esque country called CALORIN (Calormen, anyone?) ... yeah, obvious connections can be made there, yes? However the writing style was very different from Lewis. It read more like a Henty novel, save for the fact that it didn't take place in actual history, and our hero wasn't married at the end. Good characters that can be sometimes hard to connect with, and an intriguing, twisting plot that took forever to get going.

A lot of readers are comparing the second half to Robin Hood, and I can see that ... but it reminded me more of William Wallace, since they weren't fighting off an oppressive government, but rather oppressive invaders.

But as much as I love Henty and Narnia, they didn't mesh well in this book. The magic of Narnia is the delightful world, and the rich truths that Lewis conveyed. The magic of Henty is the in-depth history and all of the historical figures that the hero rubs shoulders with. Rise of Aredor had neither, as its world is quite fictional, though realistic. While God - called Lleu - did have a presence in the book, He was usually only mentioned when things were going terribly wrong and they could no longer do it on its own. I would have liked to have seen the characters ask His guidance when making their troubles, to have seen a bit stronger faith. It made sense in the first half, but in the second, I would have really liked to have seen the characters asking Lleu's guidance BEFORE they made all of their grand schemes.

I did like the book, not enough to put it on my list of favorites, but enough that I'm tempted to buy a copy for my cousins (three rowdy boys who would love this sort of story) for Christmas, and enough that I'm eager to read the sequel, which is waiting for me on my Android. The author has a lot of potential, and I can't wait to see where the series goes.

Note: For some weird reason, I thought there were going to be eagle riders in the book. (Not sure where I got the idea, might have been the fact that I didn't look at the cover closely enough, and it got confused with another picture I'd also seen about that time). There were none. So ... yeah, slightly disappointed there.

Genre/Theme: Adventure, Non-magical Fantasy, Christian, 

Reading Level: TEEN - upper elementary to middle school 
Profanity: NONE - no offensive language 
Sexuality: NONE - not even hinted at. Not really any romance, either. 
There was some drinking, including some drunken enemy soldiers, however it was no more prevalent than in a typical medieval historical fiction. QUITE a bit of fighting, and torture (including, but not limited to, whipping and a poisoned knife), and the main character spends most of the book injured. Nothing graphic, but there's a LOT of it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Rachel Rossano - Honor

Novels of Rhynan Book 2

By Rachel Rossano

Available on Amazon

Product Description (from Amazon)
The Earl of Dentin excels in his position as Securer of the Realm. But the king’s order to pluck an orphaned child from a loving home unsettles Dentin. When a dark-eyed woman challenges his honor regarding the mission, Dentin finds himself unable to justify his actions or get her out of his mind. Something about her lack of fear intrigues him.

Lady Elsa Reeve attempts to avoid the marriage of convenience her brother and mother demand of her. She understands the need to pay off her brother's massive debt. She only wants her family to consider her wishes in the process.

As Elsa becomes further entangled in a snare of her brother’s creating, only one man defends her. But can she trust Dentin, her unlikely champion, and his motives? With a murderer on the loose, Elsa’s fate in jeopardy, and a traitor plotting against the king, Dentin finds his priorities shifting in an unexpected direction.

About the Author (from Amazon)
Rachel Rossano specializes in clean romantic fiction set in historical-feeling fantasy worlds. She also dabbles in straightforward historical romance and not-so-strict speculative fiction.

A happily married mother of three small children, she divides her time between mothering, teaching, and writing. She endeavors to enchant, thrill, entertain, and amuse through her work. A constant student, she seeks to improve her skills and loves to hear from readers.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

After reading and reviewing Duty, the first novel of Rhynan, I was eager to learn what happened next, and was thrilled when the author offered me a review copy. It did take me a while to actually get to read the story, but that was not for lack of eagerness. I just had a VERY busy last two weeks.

Once I opened up the book and immersed myself, I couldn't put it down ... except that I had to go to bed. First thing the next morning, I was reading again, and was finished by noon. The plot twisted here and there, and while I'll admit that I could see where it was going by the time I was halfway through the book, things were just so convoluted, I still couldn't put it down!

Dentin, the hero, is not a young man, nor does he have many friends. As the Securer of the Realm, he holds many secrets, and has gained more than his share of enemies as he performs the king's bidding. And, as the book opens, he fears making an enemy out of one of the few friends he has, as the king desires to take custody of the child Sir Irvaine and his wife have been fostering, and thus gain a level of control over him.

Elsa, the heroine, is caught in a situation typical of medieval heroines. Though her father has promised her choice in her marriage, her brother wants to marry her off to pay his "debts of honor," and her mother is pressuring her to marry soon - after all, her younger sister has just been married, why hasn't she?

Normally, their paths wouldn't cross, nor would he take especial notice of her ... but she has taken interest in the young boy he must pluck from his foster parents and - though she doesn't know it - has become entangled in a plot involving the princess herself. Although he's just trying to keep her safe, he finds himself caring for her - as he has never cared for a woman before.

When her father's murdered, the game changes completely. Her previous marriage choices disappear as her brother promises her to one of the most despicable men in the kingdom, thus dooming her to a life of misery.

Compared to the previous book, this story had the better plot. As much as I loved Duty, there were a few moments I lost track of what was going on. With Honor, I was frustrated by the multitude of secrets, but I always had a firm grasp of what was going on. Part of this was the fact that we had narration from both the hero and the heroine. I would have preferred it if the author hadn't used first person for both of them, but it was well marked, and there were only a few times where I lost track of who "I" was.

I will say that I preferred the romance of the first book, however. Elsa and Dentin were sweet, but I think it went a bit too fast, especially for two people who didn't fall in love easily. Also, Dentin called himself "unmarriagable" because of something in his past, but I don't think we ever learned exactly what it was. I would have liked a bit more closure in that area.

Worldbuilding was well-done. It's set in a fictional medieval set of countries that, apart from the fact that didn't actually exist, could well be our own world. We see more into the politics and power-play in this book, and I enjoyed seeing how she built the laws of her country.

I loved the story, just as I have loved everything else of Rossano's work that I have read. I'm thoroughly looking forward to the next book!

Note: A sweet romance for those who love romance, and filled with lots of political intrigue if that's what you prefer.

Genre/Theme: Romance, Christian, Non-magic fantasy

Reading Level: Mature TEEN - high school to college 
Profanity: NONE - no offensive language. Several distasteful characters swear, but we're never told what, exactly, they say
Sexuality: SUBTLE - hinted, but not explicit. Kissing and a few veiled references to the marriage bed. 
Lots of fighting, including a duel to the death. There are no battles, as in the previous book, most of the power-play is political. Elsa receives some abuse from her potential husband. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Jaye L. Knight - The King's Scrolls

The King's Scrolls
The Ilyon Chronicles

By Jaye L. Knight

Available on Amazon

Product Description (from Amazon)

Following the harrowing events that brought them to Landale Forest, Jace and Kyrin have settled comfortably into their new lives and the mission of protecting those under the emperor’s persecution. The fast approach of winter brings with it the anticipation of a quiet few months ahead. That is until the arrival of four mysterious, dragon-riding cretes who seek aid in a mission of great importance—not only to their own people, but to all followers of Elôm.

Hidden in the vast mining valley north of Valcré, a faithful crete has spent years sharing his knowledge with the destitute miners and their families and is known to possess what may be Arcacia’s last surviving copies of the King’s Scrolls—the Word of Elôm. Joining the cretes, those in Landale must find the crete teacher and bring him to safety, but it is a race against time. Should Daican’s men find him first, execution and the destruction of the Scrolls is certain.

When disaster strikes, all seems lost. Could Elôm have a plan even in the enemy’s triumph?

About the Author (from Amazon)

Jaye L. Knight is a mid-twenties homeschool-graduated indie author with a passion for writing Christian fantasy and clean new adult 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. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

I'm honestly not sure where to start with this review. I've loved Jaye's books since she was Molly Evangeline, and her Ilyon Chronicles are next to the Chronicles of Narnia for my favorite fantasies - even after having read one book. I didn't know how book two could be any better, but when Jaye asked if I would review it for her, I naturally jumped at the opportunity.

I had NO idea what would happen in the book, but had assumed that the plot of looking for the mysterious Crete and the scrolls he possesses, would be most of it. I was wrong, they actually found him fairly early on. This is a story of the importance of scripture, its value in strengthening a Christian's walk, as I had anticipated, but it was also the story of how God is still in control even when  things are spiralling into a mess and seem to be going horribly wrong.

The characters in this book were amazing, both the ones that we already knew from the first book, and the new faces. Jace and Kyrin are adorable, and I had a moment of hyperventilation when her father asked what the status of their relationship was. Kaden was so wonderfully protective of Kyrin, and I loved the fact that he got a dragon of his own in this book. I was expecting him to do that some time in the series, but not quite this soon. Technically, other characters received dragons, but Kaden's the only one who matters. And I loved the scenes with Prince Daniel. Poor fellow, I hope he finds Elom, and soon!

As for new characters, I loved the Cretes, especially Tallas and Timothy. They were both so sweet, each in their own way. Leetra was very interesting, and even though she rather annoyed me at the beginning, by the end, she'd grown on me. Also, I loved getting to know Kyrin's family. Kaden's still my favorite of her brothers (because he's her twin, and twins are awesome) but they're all amazing, each in their own way.

The villains were amazing as well, the sort that you just have to hate, though feel sorry for at the same time.

If there is any complaint I have, it's that one of my favorite characters died (can't say who, though!). I was in denial until the last moment, and even several moments after that, as I hoped and prayed that someone would be able to rescue him in time. BUT ... it was necessary to the plot, and really, in this genre, it's not realistic for characters to not die. After everyone survived book one, I knew that someone would have to go down in book two ... didn't keep me out of denial, however.

Also, I got lost a bit in some of the action sequences, particularly at the end ... but action sequences get me lost frequently, so it probably was just me. The end itself was so very sweet, and I'm really looking forward to book 3, whenever it comes out.

Note: I recommend this to anyone who loves Christian fantasy, or inspirational stories of life under persecution. There is no magic, if that's something that you watch out for.

Genre/Theme: Fantasy, Christian, Persecution

Reading Level:  TEEN - upper elementary to middle school to
Mature TEEN - high school to college 
Profanity: NONE - no offensive language 
Sexuality: NONE - not even hinted at 
Characters die, get whipped, get burned by dragons, and are otherwise injured 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Vicki V. Lucas - Toxic

The Trap Series

By Vicki V. Lucas 

Available on Amazon

Product Description (from Amazon)

In a fantasy world, a reckless teen must join forces with a determined student and an insecure musician to fight terrifying armies and powerful sorcerers to purify the poisoned water that is sweeping across the land.

While facing global annihilation from toxic water in Eltiria, Kai is trying to save his sister from death. But when he seizes his only chance to make enough money to pay for healers, his plans are torn to shreds, and he finds himself battling monsters as he is chased farther away from his family.

Lizzy travels to a nearby city for safety, only to watch her older brother dragged away from her by monsters from myths. Running for her life, she must find a way to reunite her family as she is thrown into choices that lead her further from what she wants. Taryn knows it is his destiny to save the world through magic and is on his way to begin his journey to greatness. But then his beliefs are challenged as he is thrown off the path he has chosen for himself and into a life he never desired.

Guided by a mysterious winged horse named Eladar, they discover that the world is not what they thought and everything they believed was wrong. Can they locate the source of the poison and find their faith as they battle to find the truth in a world of chaos and destruction?

About the Author (from Amazon)

Vicki V. Lucas has always struggled with the question "What are you going to be when you grow up?" She received her Bachelor's in Psychology...only to find herself with no desire to counsel people. She obtained a Master's in Teaching English as a Second Language. Teaching at universities and colleges gave her incredible experiences and unforgettable friends from many different countries. However, the distant mountains called, and she responded. After traveling through quiet places, she settled in Missoula, MT with her family. She has begun to write the Christian YA fantasy stories she heard on the wind.

Toxic is the first of these stories. Set in the fantasy world of Eltiria, it is the tale of a young untrained warrior who has been sent on a quest to purify the poisoned water of the world. Together with the help of Lizzy and Taryn, they seek to find a solution for both their world and their own problems.

Vicki loves to hear what you have to say. Please leave a review or visit her webpage at But if she doesn't respond very soon, just remember that she may be off in the lonely mountains.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

I picked this story up for free at least a year and a half ago. I sent it directly to my android app, since I loved the cover and thought the theme sounded intriguing. I gobbled down the introduction and first chapter or so, and then the POV changed to a completely different character who I didn't identify with ... so I put it down and read something else.

Ever so often I would pull it back up and read another chapter, but for some reason, I couldn't connect to the story. It was following three very different characters on three very different paths, and I couldn't stay interested.

The other day, however, I stumbled across it on my new kindle, and since I really wanted to finish the book, pulled it up, prepared to plow through another chapter - except that suddenly the three stories converged and I was now interested! I finished the book that very day.

The three main characters are Kai, Lizzy, and Taryn. Kai is the son of a crippled race jockey, and his younger sister is sick with the plague. He wants to find a cure for her, and also achieve the fame that his father lost. Lizzy is the daughter of traveling musicians, who doesn't measure up to her older brother. She desperately wants to prove herself to her parents and earn their love. Taryn wants power. He thinks he has natural magic - and some of the people from the temple he talked with seemed to confirm it. There's also a wind spirit named Foehn, who was an interesting character.

The uniting issue they face is the fact that the water is poisoned. 

Kai seemed to be the main character, but unfortunately, I didn't connect to him, much preferring Lizzy's and Foehn's stories. So I kept wandering away from this book.

And then the three protagonists met, and from that moment on, I couldn't put the book down, and by the time I'd finished, it was on my list of the best Christian Fantasies I've ever read. The worldbuilding was amazing, though weird at moments (Zombie - I mean, Untwanted army anyone?). The plot moved quickly, and twisted enough I couldn't tell how it was going to end. And the Christian message was well done.

This was not an allegory. Yes, there was a Jesus figure, but he belonged to the world's history. I was really impressed with this, since prior to this book, I don't think I'd ever read a fantasy that had dealt with our Lord's Sacrifice and had chosen to treat it as history. It didn't loose any of its power for that, and it still played a huge role in the plot.

I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone.

Genre/Theme: Christian, Fantasy, Adventure

Reading Level:  TEEN - upper elementary to middle school 
Profanity: NONE - no offensive language 
Sexuality: NONE - not even hinted at, although one young man, after being stabbed in the stomach jokes that, had it been any lower, he wouldn't have been able to father any children. 
Lots of fighting. Some dabbling in magic, but it is portrayed as bad.

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