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.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sarah Holman - The Destiny of One

The Destiny of One
The Destiny Trilogy


By Sarah Holman


Kindle Edition Available



Product Description (from Amazon)

Destiny – it's a word that plagues Maria Morris. What does God want her to do with her life? Should she go to college or does God have other plans for her? When her parents go missing during a business trip, Maria embarks on a quest that will change her life forever. Trying to fight against an overbearing Milky Way Government, Maria travels to earth in search of a lost prince and some crown jewels. Her faith is tested, however, when a new law is passed. Will Maria be able to find her parents and the crown jewels before it's too late? Is she strong enough to stand up for her faith even if it means never seeing her family again? Most of all, will Maria discover her true Destiny?

About the Author (from Amazon)

Sarah Holman, a homeschool graduate, lives in central Texas. When not pursuing her passion of writing, she can be found taking long walks, reading, sewing or spending time with her family. You can find out more about her at her blog www.destinyofone.blogspot.com

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra


I stumbled upon this author from one of the other authors who she had interviewed on her Homeschooled Authors blog (Molly Evangeline, I believe), and her first book sounded good, and since it was only 99 cents, I bought it.

It took me a while to get into, unfortunately, but once I connected with Maria, figured out what was going on, I was hooked.

The Destiny of One takes place a few hundred years in the future. People have developed advanced space travel, and have figured out how to live on planets with hostile environments. (No aliens have been discovered, by the way.) The world has also gone back to monarchistic government, but the current king, Wyndemere II, is not friendly to Christians. In fact he is currently trying to pass a law that will force all Christians to be branded – much like the Jews were forced to wear stars during the Nazi period. (And manner in which Sarah told the back story was genius! Not info-dumpy at all!) A few decades before, earth had been ruled by an God-fearing king … but it had been attacked by Wydemere's predecessor, and the line lost.

Maria is a normal nineteen-year-old girl who lives on Mars. She's Christian, and currently at the crossroads of life and trying to figure out what God's plan for her life is. While visiting her grandparents (who live on earth), she and her grandmother are attacked by a ruffian at the park. Her grandfather then takes it upon himself to teach her and her brother some tricks in self defense with both laser gun and light saber – and she proves to be quite good.

And then it's back to Mars. While Maria continues to contemplate her future, they suddenly loose contact with her parents while they are away at their job. Her uncle then reveals to her that their family is the keeper of the hints to where earth's royal jewels – and true prince! – are hidden. And so she takes a quick rocket ship ride back to earth to find the jewels. Should be easy.

Even though sci-fi isn't usually my genre, I ended up really enjoying this book. The cast of characters were delightful, especially Quint! (I've heard tell that Quint is a universal favorite with the readers, though.) And the message was well done.

However, I do have two issues, both dealing with the plot.

One. The story is told using what I call the flashback hook, which is one of my literary pet peeves. The reason it took me so long to get into was that, there I was wondering if Maria's ID would go through the system and she would get to return to Mars and then – bam! – there I was on Mars at the true beginning of the book, with muddy clothing and colleges being the thing to worry about. It took me quite some time before I could convince myself to pick the book and reacquaint myself with the younger Maria.

Two. I never figured out why the crown jewels had to be found first. To me, the logical thing would have been to leave them where they are (if they haven't been found in this long, you can be pretty sure that they're going to be safe for quite some time more) and find the prince first. Crown jewels can be safely retrieved once there's a guy to wear them and a throne for him to sit on.

But apart from those two issues, I really enjoyed the book, and was quite eager to read the next two when I managed to get my hands on them. (Which I since have done, and I'll review them later.)


Genre/Theme: Christian, Sci-Fi

Reading Level: TEEN - upper elementary to middle school 
Profanity: NONE - no offensive language 
Sexuality: NONE - not even hinted at 
Other: Quite a bit of fighting, some physical, some with laser guns. Maria gets a broken arm. Later, she is branded on the palm of her hand.



Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Rachel Rossano - Duty

Duty
A Novel of Rhynan


By Rachel Rossano


Kindle Edition Available




Product Description (from Amazon)

Duty to King

Tomas Dyrease, the newly made Earl of Irvaine and the
village of Wisenvale, owes his good fortune to his king and the recent civil war. When his benefactor demands Tomas marry the cousin of a noble, he obeys. However, no one warned him that she wasn’t a typical noblewoman.

Duty to Others

Brielle Solarius struggles to keep her village from starvation under the new Lord Wisten, her cousin. The men rode off to war and never returned. The remaining women and children face a dire winter if they do not find a solution soon. When she learns her cousin sold her into marriage to save his life, she isn’t surprised. However, she is taken aback by Lord Irvaine’s unpolished ways. Was this man a noble or a foot soldier?

Duty to Each Other

Bound by the words of their vows, they face a rough future. They must forge a marriage while battling betrayal, accusations of treason, and villains from the past. Survival depends on their precarious trust in each other. Failure could mean death.

About the Author (from Amazon)

Rachel Rossano is a constructor of sentences, a creator of metaphors, a painter of word pictures, and a storyteller. Or, at least she attempts to be one. Producing novels, novellas, and short stories, she endeavors to enchant, thrill, entertain, and amuse through her writing. Above all else, she attempts to glorify God with every tale.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra


I believe I have mentioned that I’m not usually one for the romance genre. However, I do find romances involving arranged marriages intriguing, so when the author, a fellow homeschooler, asked for reviewers for her newest release, I volunteered.

The story begins with Brielle’s discovery that her cousin has given her in marriage to the new lord of Irvaine. She isn’t too pleased with this, since she and her cousin have never gotten along. However, since the king is the one who gave the orders, she has no choice.

Tomas, her new husband, is a good man, though very rough around the edges. While he does insist that they show affection in public so that certain people don't get suspicious, he allows her her space when they're in private, allowing them to get to know each other.

Of course, once they are married, he must continue his journey to his new castle. That's when the plot starts thickening. A messenger follows them with the news that her village has been attacked and the women that had been in Brielle's charge are in danger - and Brielle's cousin is one of the attackers. When they reach Kyrenton, the capitol, more treachery awaits. The wife of the former Lord Irvaine is desperate to keep her position, and one of the lords had an old grudge against Tomas.

The book is fast paced, but there were only a few times that I became confused as to what was going on. I was impressed by how she handled delicate issues, and I was on the edge of my chair while Brielle was on trial because she was suspected to be in league with her cousin. The scene where Brielle is forced to take part in the big battle was well done and believable.

My only complaint is the fact that, while Brielle seems to have a strong faith in Kurios, which is what they call God in Rachel Rossano's world, I didn't feel that this faith was integral to the book. Yes she prayed to him often, but I felt that she relied more on duty and her own strength instead of that faith. However, that was just one drawback in an otherwise wonderful book.


Genre/Theme: Romance, historical fantasy


Reading Level:  Mature TEEN - high school to college 
Profanity:  NONE - no offensive language 
Sexuality:  MILD - descriptions of affection/desire – Frequent kissing between Brielle and Tomas, as well as mentioning of the marriage bed. The previous Lady Irvaine tries to seduce Tomas. It is mentioned that soldiers, after taking a city, have a tendency to take advantage of the pretty girls.
Other: There’s a war going on in this book. People fight. People die. Descriptions are kept to a minimum.



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Susan Weakley - The Prophecy of Atlantis

The Prophecy of Atlantis



By Susan Weakley


Kindle Edition Available.



Product Description (from Amazon)

She was supposed to be resting with the others in the castle, but one little ride down the beach wouldn't hurt. That's what the Princess of Atlantis thought as she rode across the wet sand on her horse. The salt water made her legs itch and her hair escaped the royal braids as she rode to the cove. Suddenly the witch appeared on her dragon, far above them. Lilliana would not be going home tonight.

Follow the Princess of Atlantis as she travels under the sea to escape the witch, meets new friends and discovers her destiny. Mermen, swordfish and a kingdom of magic make this adventure tale exciting and fresh.

About the Author (from Amazon)

No author description available

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra


I read this because it was on my Kindle and I was looking for a good mermaid tale and the mermaid book I had just tried was well … not what I enjoy reading. The book further piqued my interest when I found a Bible verse in the introductory pages.

I will admit that there were a few moments when I almost put the book away, but the fact that the book began with a Bible verse kept me reading. I’m pleased to say that, by the end of the book, I was glad that I had not put the book away.

This was not a mermaid tale inasmuch as it is an underwater story. You only saw mermaids a few times, and they were all bad guys. I was somewhat disappointed in that, but the fish that Lilliana interacts with completely made up for the mermaids. I was a bit surprised by the fact that Atlantis was on land, but it worked.

The story begins with Princess Lilliana’s twelfth birthday – and important birthday since she’s a princess. Today is the day that she is supposed to get a special birthday present that will help her out once she becomes queen – her Onsa – a present specially selected the Prophet.

Lilliana’s present is a beautiful white horse she names Spectrum. She’s quite pleased with him.

After that, she’s shipped off to her room where she’s supposed to take a nap. However, she wants to ride her horse, so she sneaks out to the stables instead. On the way, she overhears a conversation between her father and his advisers – a conversation about her and some sort of quest.

She soon brushes the conversation to the side and goes for a horse ride. She only intends to go for a short ride … but Spectrum has a mind of his own. They soon find themselves by the seashore – somewhere Lilliana was not allowed to go. Despite the fact that she hasn’t been seen in years, the Witch attacks them, and they are forced to take refuge underwater, where, much to her surprise, both Lilliana and Spectrum acquire gills.

After some mermen chase her away, she finds friends among the fish – who can talk. They try to get her back home, once they realize that she isn’t a threat, but she gets trapped by sharks and put in prison until she agrees to marry their leader. She finds herself in the middle of a war that will change the lives of everyone.

This was a lovely allegory. It’s not necessarily the best I’ve read, but by no means the worst either. If it weren’t for the verse at the beginning, I might not have recognized it, but since I knew to look for it, it was quite clear.

The characters in this book were, for the most part, rich and vibrant, and the plot twists were amazing. Don’t forget anything that is mentioned, for it just might end up being a saving factor!

I quite enjoyed this book, and am looking forward to the sequel, since there were quite a few loose ends that clearly need to be tied up. Lilliana’s ability to gain gills was never explained, and the war was declared to be “only beginning.”

However, this was a very good book, and I highly recommend it.


Note: Some of the torture methods of the sharks can be a bit scary, so I don’t recommend this for younger children.

Genre/Theme: Atlantis, fantasy, Christian, mermaids, fish.


Reading Level:  CHILD to TEEN
Profanity:  NONE - no offensive language 
Sexuality:  NONE – with the exception of the fact that a shark wants to marry Lilliana and, when she protests because of the fact that she’s not a shark, he tells her that it would work out. 
 Other: There was some name calling between the swordfish brothers. Injuries were fairly frequent, especially after they ran into the sharks.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ella G. Adams - A Magical Disaster

A Magical Disaster



By Ella G. Adams


Kindle Edition Available




Product Description (from Amazon)

Bridget stumbles into a small town only to find it enchanted by magic and about to be destroyed by dragons! Will Bridget be able to save the town before the dragons completely destroy it?

About the Author (from Amazon)

Ella Adams is a 10-year-old writer and illustrator. She enjoys reading mysteries and adventure stories. Ella also loves playing basketball, running track and cross-country, and playing chess. She is currently working towards a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra


For a book by a ten-year old, this was really good – especially when you take the pictures into consideration. The plot is, for the most part, predictable and the characters rely on the pictures for development, it’s no worse than many books I’ve read my younger sibs that we checked out at the library.

As the summery states, this is the story of a girl who finds a magical village only for dragons to attack. With quick thinking and a magical item that is mentioned during the tour she is given earlier, she defeats the dragons and is hailed the hero of the story.

The pictures are the gem of the story. While they are clearly done with some sort of paint program, they are very clearly recognizable as what the text is describing. The author holds promise as both an author and illustrator, and I’m eager to watch her career as she grows and matures.



Genre/Theme: Fantasy, Dragons, Young author


Reading Level: CHILD - children's literature 
 
Profanity: NONE - no offensive language 
 
Sexuality: NONE - not even hinted at 
 
Other: Dragons blow fire at houses. I don’t think anyone got hurt, though.

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