The dry by Rebecca Nolen

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I haven’t read a book that kept me glued to it, in a while. This one did! The Dry was like an exciting combination of Stephen King and Tolkein. It reminded me a lot of the “The Dark Tower” series by Stephen King, but in a style that children and adults could understand and enjoy.

The setting of the book is fantastical and the description, detailed. You can visualize and feel “The Dry” ambience, which permeates the book. This is not just a quest, it is also a coming of age portrayal of Elliot Sweeney, and how he learns, adapts and becomes stronger with each new monstrosity that threatens him. His little fellowship is quirky and endearing and you can’t help but fall in love with each of the characters. Even the bad guys (bugs or worse) have well developed personalities.

I am in awe of the creativeness of Rebecca Nolen’s mind. To create a fantasy that is terrifying but believable is true genius. An exciting read and a wonderful adventure!

Gran-sdur: The Games – a great review by John Carter – (At 99 cents today – http://amzn.to/1zLPCiL)

Product Details Book One was good. Book Two is better. Bring on Book Three!

“Gran-sdur: The Games (The Pha-yul trilogy Book 2)”, by Jan Raymond, the second in her wonderful series will keep you turning pages to the very end and have you eagerly awaiting Book Three. I read Book One a while back but had no trouble jumping right into Book Two. The story and the characters came right back to me, which speaks to how well the plot and the characters were developed by the author. As the Circle of Five train and refine their gifts and abilities, each evolves and grows stronger. This is balanced well with the need for teamwork required to be successful at the games in which they participate. I was struck by how well Raymond portrays the emotions of her characters. There are plenty of scenes filled with action, but we really get a feel for the characters and how they evolve and progress by seeing how they respond and handle the different situations with which they are faced. Book One was good. Book Two is even better. The story flows well between the two offerings. Raymond’s descriptions and attention to details are amazing and the lead up to the thrilling ending will leave you wanting more! I’m waiting on Book Three. Highly recommended. Five well-deserved stars.

A lovely review for Circle of Five by Marcha Fox

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“A Circle of Five” kicks off the “Pha-yul Trilogy”, a Young Adult fantasy series. Rather than plunge the reader abruptly into a fantasy world, however, the author slowly transitions to other realms from the daily routine of five “normal” teenagers as they confront challenges encountered following a literal lightning strike which occurs during an after school detention session overseen by the school’s football coach.

The author did an excellent job naming the characters such that they stand out as individuals within a variety of races, ethnicities and financial situations. By the end of this volume you feel as if you know each of them inside and out which is accomplished through the omniscient viewpoint handled in such a way that, to the author’s credit, was never confusing.

Each of the five has his or her own problems, mostly related to their family situation. The details provided for each accurately demonstrate the insecurities and personality issues which can arise from a person’s home environment. These are ordinary teens living anything but a charmed life, other than the fact that most of their parents are affluent or were at some point. Just about everyone should be able to relate to one or more of the situations described from sibling rivalry to neglectful, disinterested or inebriated parents. This factor alone makes this story relevant to both teens and adults, specifically parents, who may see a bit of themselves from the perspective of teens. Life at that age can be overwhelming enough as they try to figure out who and what they are, much less having to do so with a lack of parental emotional support. In today’s world where most homes require two incomes to survive, to say nothing of the financial and emotional struggle of single parents, this situation is probably far too common.

These distinct individuals are not even friends as the story begins. In fact, some of them overtly dislike each other, contributing to plenty of conflict as each character struggles with their own personal issues, dealing with classes, plus being thrust into this exclusive group which involves grueling training they must undergo before and after school. Furthermore, all of this is required without knowing the whys or wherefores of where these abilities came from. While they get a glimpse of what these talents are they cannot control them at will, thus necessitating the training. About all they’ve seen was a quick flash trip to Tibet where they discover the coach is clearly an important figure who reports to a woman even higher in status in that world.

This story is the antithesis of waking up with superpowers and instinctively knowing how to use them, showing it may not be the bed of roses most would expect. The idea that development any skill to a high level requires discipline and hard work is an important concept and life lesson nicely woven into the plot. The teens’ struggles with their daily routine, personality conflicts and typical high school situations brought the characters to life. Their mundane challenges were detailed, realistic and relatable, lending realism to the story but somewhat understating the fantasy element, which the cover and prologue imply. Thus, anyone expecting the book to be heavy on the fantasy side could be disappointed since there is far more reality within the pages than escaping to another realm. The characters as well as readers are left in the dark with regard to various details with a few revelations in the final chapter. Nonetheless, as the first book in a series these questions will most likely be addressed in the sequels which have the advantage of being populated with fully developed protagonists.

Gran-sdur: The Games

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Review for Gran-sdur:The Games – I forgot how much I loved these characters! The start of the book was a bit slow, but that helped ease me back into the Pha-Yal world nicely. I definitely got a lot more of a feel for Mr Harris as a person this time too, which was a pleasant surprise. Suffice to say he’s actually become one of my favourite characters. As it was before, the team of five kids each bought their own elements to the story, and rounded it out nicely – although I was glad to see some competition challenging those bonds at times. I loved all their reactions, apart from when they grumbled about Mr Harris, and making them participate in the games was a great, adrenaline fuelling addition. Very clever of the author. Oooooh boy, but I can’t wait to see what happens next.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OZAEYTY

Scepter by Scott Collins

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Scepter is set in a fantastical land, but one you can relate to. Two young boys who’ve lost their parents to the realm have incredible powers that are both fascinating and useful. When the time comes for the older brother to be taken away, the younger decides to fight. It is a coming of age story for these two boys, who have lived in seclusion all their lives, hidden from the evil king who rules them. They soon make friends with youngsters as scared, as confused and who are trying to be as brave as them.

Scott L. Collins has made their journey in this book an exciting and fast paced tale, filled with mythical creatures, enchanting fairies and ugly goblins. The children are learning to adapt and growing stronger and braver through the story, brave enough to start attacking the king’s men. I feel the start of a quest here, which I hope to read about in the second book. A riveting read! I love fantasy and this one kept me up all night.

A lovely review for Circle of Five by Steve Lebel (Free right now for Mother’s Day)

Circle of Five (Pha Yul, #1)

Circle of Five, Book 1 of the Pha-yul trilogy is FREE for Mother’s Day. You can pick it up at http://amzn.to/OPW6I6

Here is one of the wonderful reviews for Circle of Five by Steve Lebel, award winning author of Universe Builders.

As the story opens, we are introduced to five different kids: Sebastian, the spoiled rich kid, Ryan, the school jock, Maya, daughter of a divorced doctor parents living with her mom, and Cassie and Sam, brother and sister in a dysfunctional family. They have little in common except the detention they share because of arriving late to school one day. In the days that follow, they puzzle through the mystery of what happened during that hour of detention.

The author, Jan Raymond, has a gift for description, easily creating vivid images of the children, the scenes, and even the family dynamics each child faced at home. She clearly understands students, their doubts and fears, and all the teenage angst that comes with that age. It was fun to watch the children come together as they trained under the demanding regimen of their mentor. I was as delighted as any of the kids when their powers began to emerge and to blossom.

Not just a story of emerging powers, it is a story of children whose training and hard work matures them and makes them better people. As they learn to use, control and strengthen their powers, the plot twists and turns through surprising directions as they discover themselves in a larger web of intrigue in which they face real life and death struggles where they must use their powers to survive. A fascinating story where each child, with his/her own unique personality and ability, has a critical role to play.

I loved the book and I am looking forward to the next book to see what happens next. Five stars!

Check out the other reviews at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20801439-circle-of-five?ac=1

Initiation Rayna Noire

Pagan Eyes: Initiation

This is the second book on Pagan culture that I’m reading, so it’s not a new topic. And since I’m already familiar with the Wiccan culture, I was able to appreciate the research that has gone into this book, about the present and the past. To be historically and culturally accurate while spinning a fantastic tale is indeed a work of art. Initiation is a fascinating read, well embellished and nicely crafted.

I like the subtle personality differences between Leah and Arabella and how Leah has to change to cope with the past and all that it brings. This is the first book in this series and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. A great read!