Book Review: ‘The Sage’ The Witch’s Ambitions Trilogy Book 3 by Kayla Krantz

‘The Sage’ is an excellent conclusion to the trilogy that tells the story of Lilith and her pursuit of the truth about her identity and her destiny in the magical community. 

Like the first two books in the series, the story is fraught with tension, twists and suspense that keep the reader deeply engaged in the story while Lilith, Willow and the Elemental Coven fight for both survival and justice. 

This is an excellent story, and is really well written.  I found the whole trilogy to be highly original and very compelling. 

Book Review: 'Winter's Curse' by April L Wood

‘Winter’s Curse’ is a very original and engaging YA paranormal romance novel in which Winter must overcome not just one, but two curses, that stand between her and future happiness. 

The story is well crafted, with some intriguing twists and turns and a few surprises along the way. Winter and her friends are likeable characters, while those who work against her are clearly intended to be disliked. The magical clans, their qualities and the social structures and rules by which they live are original and interesting, which adds another layer of complexity to the story and helps to drive the complications of the plot. 

This is a book that reminds the reader that real friendship and true love transcend the boundaries of class, heritage or alliance that people try to put on them, and that it’s more important to choose what is right than to settle for what others might decide or impose. 

Book Review: ‘Sentinels of Oz’ by JB Trepagnier

‘Sentinels of Oz’ is Book 1 of the Emerald City Academy series, a reverse harem adventure set in the not-so-wonderful-anymore land of Oz.

Francesca and Saffron, daughters of the witches of the East and the West, embody the struggle of those who deal with notoriety in the family and trying to claim what is rightfully theirs, despite the prejudice and judgement of most of the populous. In this, the author gives the readers an intriguing perspective, from which Dorothy and her friends are not necessarily heroes they have been made out to be. 

The characters are quirky and highly individual, but also relatable to readers. Each has strengths and flaws, motivations and priorities. The central characters also share a mission and a desire for justice, which binds them together and positions the reader alongside them. I really enjoyed the snark and sarcasm of Francesca, and I appreciated the fact that even though the four central characters had known one another all their lives, they could still disordered other. 

The story is a highly engaging blend of fantasy and mystery which draws the reader in and keeps them guessing to the end.The ending balances the resolution of some questions with the development of others, making the reader both satisfied with the conclusion and keen for the next book in the series.

This book should not, however, be mistaken for a children’s story. The story contains adult and sexual content which is definitely not appropriate for younger readers. 

Overall, this is a fun and enjoyable read.

Book Review: ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern

The story of Le Cirque des Rêves is magical and fantastic, drawing the reader into a world of illusion, mystery, and wonder. It is a story full of contrasts: light and dark, reality and illusion, cold and heat,  truth and deceit, life and death. Richly imaginative and sensory, the story is absolutely captivating. Yet at its very heart is a secret so cold and dark that it doesn’t even seem to be compatible with such a wonderful tale.  

While the lines and boundaries are blurred, and morality is highly subjective, the reader is drawn strongly to certain characters: Celia and Marco, Poppet, Widget and Bailey, and becomes deeply invested in their stories. 

I loved the story concept, the settings and the characters. I very much enjoyed the clever Shakespearean references, some of which were very obvious while others were much more subtle and covert, possibly going undetected by readers less familiar with the works of the Bard. 

However, I was frustrated by two aspects of the book. Not only was the plot development very slow… and I do mean  s  l  o  w, I found the author’s regular forays into writing overtly in second person incredibly annoying and distracting, particularly in conjunction with present tense. Was this story set at a series of specific points in history,  as the dates at the beginning of chapters suggested, or was it happening right now? Either way, I’m perfectly certain I am not, nor was I ever, actually there. When I encountered this on the second page, it was so jarring that I almost put the book down for god, thinking the whole narrative might be like that. 

Never one to quit a book early, I kept going. The story was good enough for me to almost manage to forget while reading that the writing is in present tense, but the second person perspective interrupted the flow of the narrative and broke my concentration every single time.  I understand that the intent was to immerse the reader into the story, but it actually had the opposite effect on me, and it happened far too often for me to easily forgive. 

As a result, the book left me with mixed feelings and wondering if I was being petty because I didn’t like it as much as I wanted to. I know it’s very much a matter of personal taste, and I’m glad I persisted with it, but I can’t deny that I am disappointed. As a lover of fantasy, magical stories, and dark fiction, this should have been everything I wanted in a book, but it wasn’t. 

As the old saying goes, it’s a fine line between love and hate. I find myself standing on that very line, still unsure of which way to fall. 

Book Review: ‘Becoming a Hero’ by C.R. Garmen

This is a fun fantasy story full of action and adventure for Paul Paulson and his donkey, Gilbert, who set out on a journey and find themselves landing in more danger than they ever anticipated. It’s a story that reminds the reader of the power of friendship and loyalty, and the importance of working together to solve problems and achieve what needs to be done. 

The story moves at a good pace, full of twists and turns that engage the imagination and keep the reader guessing. There are a few macabre moments, effectively balanced by the optimism of the central characters and the humour and positive tone of the writing. 

‘Becoming a Hero’ is an entertaining and enjoyable novella with a good moral and valuable messages that will suit for Young Adult and older readers.

Book Review: ‘The King’s Traitor’ by Jeff Wheeler

Third in the KingFountain series, this book continues the story of Owen Kiskaddon and his life as A duke and advisor to King Severn of Ceredigion.  Once again, there is good continuity in the storyline and the central characters, with new complications and personalities entering the narrative as the plot develops. 

The story is beautifully told. The world building and characterisation are rich and complex, bringing the kingdoms and settings to life and populating them with engaging, relatable characters who the reader comes to know intimately.  Even those who belong to the upper echelons of society are shown to have very real concerns and inner conflicts with which they must wrestle. The ways in which different characters resolve those issues reflect the best and the worst of human nature, pitting good and evil against one another in a very personal way. 

As with the previous books in the series, there are connections between this story and the popularised version of the life and personality of Richard III which are clearly discernible, although this story focuses far more on Owen than it does on King Severn. The story maintains an original and unique plot that sets it apart from those events and distinguishes it as as an outstanding work of fantasy rather than historical fiction.  

This book and the series to which it belongs are most excellent, and will please all lovers of epic sword and sorcery fantasy books.    

New Release: ‘Mya’ His Majesty’s Elite Book 1 by Missy Sheldrake

‘Mya’ is a standalone prequel to the Golden Squirrel Award winning ‘Keepers of the Wellsprings’ fantasy series by Missy Sheldrake. It is a magical high fantasy adventure for the whole family. 

Her voice is her power. 

As the daughter of a vagabond scoundrel, aspiring minstrel Mya has spent her childhood wary of her magical voice while traipsing through dangerous jungles in pursuit of her father’s dream—fortune and glory.  

She never imagined Pa’s latest scheme would have her tangling with thieves, sailing across the world on a ship full of pirates, kissing a prince, meeting the foxy elf of her dreams (literally), and dodging the grasp of the most dangerous Sorcerer in Cerion, all the while wondering: Where is Pa? 

A mysterious note promising he’ll meet her soon pushes Mya toward options she never considered before. She could go on living at the mercy of her father’s endless plots, or create the home she’s longed for in Cerion, and finally embrace the power of her own voice.

Missy Sheldrake is an epic daydreamer and a muse of positivity who weaves worlds full of character-driven, complex fantasy adventures.

In 2014, she dusted off an unfinished, Tassy Walden Award-winning manuscript from her college days, started writing her first novel, Call of Kythshire, and never looked back. In four short years, she completed the five-book Keepers of the Wellsprings series, an epic high-fantasy young adult adventure that was awarded the Golden Squirrel Independent Book Award in 2017 for Best Fantasy!

When she isn’t writing, Missy can be found creating fantastical artworks in paint and clay, wandering hidden forest paths, and concocting plots for imaginary people who are beyond real to her.

Find out what she’s up to next at http://www.missysheldrake.com, on Instagram @m_sheldrake, on Twitter @missysheldrake, and on Facebook as Author/Illustrator Missy Sheldrake