Category Archives: Fantasy

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Title: Serafina and the Black Cloak
Author: Robert Beatty
Genre: Children’s fiction, fantasy
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publishing date: July 14th, 2015
ISBN: 9781484709016
Purchase Link: Amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: “Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul.”
Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of the Biltmore estate.There’s plenty to explore in her grand home, although she must take care to never be seen. When children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is:a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s identity before all of the children vanish one by one.
Serafina’s hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic. In order to save the children, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.

My Review:

This book had a huge marketing hype around it. All the marketing, the intriguing description as well as the book-cover got me very excited about this book.
In many ways this book would be better off had the author invented a fictional family to go with the castle. Instead he chose to go with the family who are historically linked to the estate, and then he throws history all over the place. Of course all historical fiction does fictionalize a lot of things, but their fictional facts should in some fashion be linked to actual historical facts or theories.
The characters were easy to enjoy but they were a little flat. The mysteries are a bit simple and the books targeted audience (8-12 year olds) wouldn’t have much trouble figuring out the mysteries presented in the book. That is everything except Serafina’s own “past” which is barely foreshadowed at all and is just info-dumped on the reader in the end. Though it is pretty clear what she is, or it is very well displayed by the books illustrations, but the whole why and whens are just dropped in the end.
That aside, this is a book that can be enjoyed, particularly by it’s targeted audience, but the hype around it is insanely overplayed. This is a normal mediocre book which could have been much better had the story been a little more complex and with more colorful characters. If the novel had been longer and there had been more space for the character’s to evolve, this would have been a superb book.
By all means, this book turned out to be a huge disappointment.

Se the astonishing book-trailer below (I would watch that movie):

The Choice

Title: The Choice
Series: The Sidhe #2
Author: Cindy Cipriano
Genre: YA, Sci Fi & Fantasy
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Publishing date: June 9th, 2015
ISBN: 9781922200198
Purchase Link: Amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: For Calum Ranson, seventh grade brings changes in his relationship with his parents and his friends, and a confrontation with his bully. Calum’s talents have also developed to a level unheard of in the Sidhe world, and he surprises everyone when he cleverly catches the person responsible for casting Finley out from the Otherworld.
When Calum goes against everything he knows is right, he makes a choice that may cost him his friendship with Laurel. An old friend steps in, but her mysterious ways leave Calum questioning her motivation.

My Review:

Irish mythology is much complimented in this story, and it is because of the overtone of mythology that I was interested in reading this story. This book is a second book in a series, and it did not read well as a stand alone novel, but I have decided to not let that cloud my opinion of the book.
The characters were well written and came alive on the page, they were interesting even though I knew little of their background. The themes of the story were clear: friendship and loyalty, and the story was well crafted around them.
Even though “The Choice” is the second book in a series, it did easily explain the Sidhe’s world with its rules and limitations, so it was easy to get into the story and understand the realm.
As an overall, “the choice” had a good and entertaining story, which was well written with a  fastidious attention to details, but the fantasy elements could have been stronger.

 

Jack Staples and the Poet’s Storm

Title: Jack Staples and the Poet’s Storm
Series: Jack Staples #3
Author: Mark Batterson & Joel N. Clark
Genre: Christian, Children’s Fiction
Publisher: David C. Cook
Publishing date: June 1st, 2015
ISBN: 9781434707321
Purchase Link:

Synopsis: In this epic conclusion to the Jack Staples trilogy, Jack and Alexia must make an impossible choice during their final battle against the Assassin—one that could alter time itself and the fate of the world.

My Review:

Jack Staples and the Poet’s Storm is a worthy ending to the trilogy about Jack Staples. It is not the strongest book in the series, the first book was far more enjoyable. This third and final book offer a conclusion to the storylines from the previous two books.
At times it did feel like a chore to keep reading, but it was nice to see the loose ends coming to a conclusion.

Cottonmouth and the River

Title: Cottonmouth and the River
Series: Freddie Cottonmouth #1
Author:C. S. Fritz
Publisher: David C Cook
Publishing date: May 1st, 2014
ISBN: 9780781410335
Purchase Link: Amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: Meet Freddie Cottonmouth – A Boy Who Loves the River, Big Adventures, and a Furry Beast named Tug.

My Review:
The story of the lonely boy Cottonmouth, is a rather sad one. The little boy has lost both his parents, and he lives in an empty house alone. Every day he goes to the river, hoping for his parents to return. It is rather unclear whether his parents left him or if they died, though from the sound of the story I would guess that they are dead.
The monster Tug is a rather interesting character, and made me think of “Where the Wild Things Are” though he does not possess the anger or “the Wild Things”
The simplicity of the illustrations adds to this rather straight forward story. Cottonmouth finds an egg that can grant him anything he wishes (but not the return of his parents), but he must never eat it. Of course he is struck with temptation, and must face the consequences of his actions. It is a very moralistic sort of story.
The story is rather grim, but it has a few up-notes. It’s ending has a pretty clear hint to what’s to come next.

Jack Staples and the City of Shadows

Title: Jack Staples and the City of Shadows
Series: Jack Staples trilogy
Author: Mark Batterson & Joel N. Clark
Publisher:David C. Cook
Publishing date: March 14th, 2015
ISBN: 9780781411080
Purchase Link:Amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: The Assassin is closing in. Just as Jack and his friend Alexia discover what it means to be the Chosen Ones, they each face the test of a lifetime. For Jack it is a question of trust; for Alexia, of loyalty. Everything rests on their making the right choices, and on the completion of their missions. The Assassin expects they will fail, and that they will either join him or be destroyed. It will take all of the Author’s forces, the special gifts Jack and Alexia each have, and the help of their friends, Arthur and Mrs. Dumphrey, to overcome. But when the enemy makes a key move, and an important quest proves difficult, the prophecy—that they will both destroy and save the world—seems further from coming true than ever before.

My Review: Jack Staples and the City of Shadows is the second book in the Jack Staples trilogy, and it carries off from where the last book left off. The first few chapters are a bit slow to get through, and Mrs Dumphrey has quit a few lines that are trying a bit too hard to make her seem like an odd, wise, old lady. As soon as Mrs Dumphrey start speaking like a normal person and stop speaking in riddles and clichés the reading experience gets much more pleasant.
The action starts early in this book and the both Alexia and Jack has to carry their wits with them in the various situations they have to face. As the Assassin is closing in with all his power the two children of the prophesy is about to face the Test of their lifetime, it is important for them both to not make mistakes, but they are both only human and they are kids.
Just as the previous book there is a lot of time jumping in the narrative, and it is a bit hard to follow, but most of it ties together in by the end. Alexia’s back-story is explored a bit more, within the time-jumps, and we learn more about her characters.
The book is engaging and action packed, it is a good buildup for the next and final installment in the series. Hopefully the questions left unanswered in “Jack Staples and the City of Shadows” will be answered in “Jack Staples and the Poet’s Storm”

A Whisper of Wolves

Title: A Whisper of Wolves
Series: Guardians of the Wild #1
Author: Kris Humphrey
Publisher: Little Tiger: Stripes publishing
Publishing date: 31st March, 2015
ISBN: 9781847155962
Purchase Link: Amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: When hunters from her village disappear without a trace, Alice suspects that something sinister is at work. With the help of Storm, her wolf companion, Alice fights to save her village. The Narlaw are on the attack and it’s up to the Whisperers to stop them.

My Review:
This book did sound good. It is about a small village, it’s a girl with a wolf pet, and they have to save the village (and not the world). The writing is good and easy to follow, but the plot felt too simple, even for Middle Grade novel. Some of the trouble seemed to be very easily fixed, which resulted in not creating enough suspense. The double Point of view seems a bit wasted as the book is very short, and the two narratives is very similar so it is hard to tell them apart. Also, where were all the wolves? The title hints to something of a wolfwhisperer, but they seems to bring a vast amount of time listening the birds rather than having any wolves present.
This book is a fast little read, it is not a bad book but it did have room for more development of it characters; especially the relationship between Alice and her mentor.Hopefully future installments of the series will include more wolves.

Look into the Land of Dragor

Title: Gift of Charms
Series:
The Land of Dragor
Author: Julia Suzuki
Publisher: Dino Books
Publishing date: September 14th, 2014
ISBN: 9781782199243
Purchase Link: Amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: In a secret land, far away from the habitation of man, dwell the world’s remaining dragons — hoping the dragsaur beasts have vanished forever. Here they try to live their daily lives, but all is not well and their talents are fading.
Things change, when, from a strange egg, Yoshiko is born – a dragon with a unique destiny.

My Review:
Gift Of Charm’ is a charming book about dragons living in a land hidden from mankind. It is told in a light voice and the narration is very easy to follow. Young Yoshiko grows from a young hatching and into a confident young dragon. The book is aimed at middle grade and challenges that pre-teens are addressed and easy to recognize.
Yoshiko grows up in a very conservative dragon culture which doesn’t tolerate uniqueness. Because Yoshio is different he easily falls prey to the more prideful dragons in his class (a group of purple dragons)  and ends up being bullied by them. In this way the book encourages tolerance and acceptance of people’s differences.
The story was very enjoyable, though a lot of information was given through dialogue. This choice stayed consistent, and it fitted the narrative. Also the dragons was very people like, which was okay for this kind of book, though I would have liked to see some more dragon in the dragons.
Most of all this story as a very fresh breath of originality to it, which will help it stand out from other books in the genre.
Overall I found this story cute and enjoyable, and I really look forward to future books in this series.

Ennara and the Fallen Druid

Ennara Series (1)

Author: Angela Myron

Patchwork Press

Published: 30.10.2014

amazon.co.uk 

Ennara and the Fallen Druid was an action packed and entertaining book, and I believe that if I was in the age-group for this book I would have fully bought into it and loved it to no end. However, I did find the book to have a slowish/confusing start, and it took a while to get used to the setting. The setting is very fresh and it had an original feel to it.
As the story progressed more and more action was crammed into it, and I feel like the story was a bit too short so it couldn’t fully explore the elements thrown into it. Like, what reasons did the cat have for joining them? As much as I loved the cat, I did not see why the cat would join them, as cats are very self-sufficient creatures (which I love).
Additionally the trials in the Sunken City felt too easy, everything seemed to conveniently fall into place. A bit too conveniently, and things kind of went on being a bit too convenient from there, which made the ending not too satisfying. The ending would have been more satisfying if the main characters would have to work a bit harder.

Though these things aside, I believe that Angela Myron has great potential, and a few more books down the road she will know to pace everything perfectly. I’m looking forward to future installments of this series, and hope that elements that were left in the brief will be fully explored later.

Jack Staples and the Ring of Time

Author: Mark Batterson 
& Joel N. Clark
David C Cook
Published: 01.09.2014

amazon.co.uk || Waterstones.com

To begin with “Jack Staples and the Ring of Time” was kind of hard to get into. The time jumping was confusing and not very easy to follow during the first few chapters. The pace started off a bit slow but picked up through the book and after two-thirds of it I was hooked. The world is built well, and everything is explained in due time.

There is an ancient battle going on between good and evil, and we are just starting to see it. All humans and animals are born with scales on their eyes which prevents them from seeing the evil creatures for what they are, but the scales are starting to come off, so people turn into the “awakened.”
Jack Staples is born without scales on his eyes and he has the ability to walk through time., a power he has to come to terms with and learn to control. Just because you can walk through time, it does not mean that you can play god, somethings cannot be change no matter how hard you try.

It is easy to see “The Author” and “The Assassin” as euphemism for “God” and “the Devil”, as they portray their characteristics through their representation of ancient good and evil. The book portray a Christian moral, but in a concealed way and without making the reader feel preached to..

I did not like the character of Mrs. Dumphry,as most of her dialogue felt contrived and her “riddles” were more of less only consisting on well-chewed clichés. And she seemed more like a “plot-device” rather than a necessary character.

However, I look forward to read more of this series. and see where Jack Staples end up.