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Fantasy Book Review: Ranger’s Apprentice: The Early Years: The Battle of Hackham Heath

Ranger’s Apprentice: The Early Years: The Battle of Hackham Heath by John Flanagan

Synopsis:
When the former Baron Morgarath escaped to avoid punishment for treason, an uneasy peace fell on Araluen. But Morgarath, now in hiding, is already planning his next move, recruiting an army of savage, overpowering beasts known as Wargals. Newly crowned King Duncan knows he must assemble his troops for battle.

To find out the full extent of Morgarath’s plan of attack, Halt prepares for a seemingly impossible task–climbing the deadly cliffs of the Mountains of Rain and Night and venturing deep into enemy territory to spy. After all, the winner of this war could be determined by one wrong move.

At the Battle of Hackham Heath, the fate of a Kingdom will be decided. This origin story of how Halt came to be Araluen’s most famous Ranger – and how war will decide the future of the next generation – will thrill Ranger’s Apprentice fans and new readers alike.

Review:
While Halt ventures into enemy territory to scout, Crowley is tasked with getting the Queen to safety as she delivers her baby. Morgarath is amassing an army of Wargals that threaten the kingdom.

The Battle of Hackham Heath is the second installment in the Ranger’s Apprentice: The Early Years prequel series. The Ranger’s Apprentice series is an incredible, epic series that I’m happy to see continue in these prequels. Halt and the rest of these established characters are intriguing – and the stories are always engaging. This installment is well-paced with plenty of suspense and intrigue. Events build to the big battle as the name suggests. And the Rangers play a big role as the invading horde approaches. I can’t get enough of this series. This latest installment is another enjoyable story, and the next can’t come soon enough.

Fantasy Book Review: Wings of Fire: Talons of Power

Wings of Fire: Talons of Power by Tui T. Sutherland

Synopsis:
FOR EVERY VILLAIN, THERE IS A HERO…
Turtle isn’t one of the heroes he reads about in stories. If he were, he’d use his animus powers to help Pyrrhia—instead of keeping his abilities a secret, even from his own sister. Now that Darkstalker, the sinister and impossibly old dragon from Pyrrhia’s most notorious legends, has returned, Turtle knows his own role is simple: hide. And stay hidden.

The other dragons at Jade Mountain Academy, on the other hand, think Darkstalker is fascinating. He charms everyone he meets, including Turtle’s most skeptical friends. They all seem convinced that the ancient dragon has changed.

Turtle isn’t so sure. The more he watches Darkstalker from the shadows, the more Turtle knows that someone needs to stop the powerful dragon. A real hero. But Turtle is running out of time to find one, which means…he might have to try to save the day himself.

Review:
Turtle is content to hide and not let anyone know about his powers. If someone else can take down Darkstalker, Turtle is willing to let them do it. But unfortunately, he may be the only one who can follow Darkstalker, stay unseen, and make sure his friends stay safe.

Talons of Power is the latest in the Wings of Fire fantasy series for young readers. Dragons are the main characters. And these characters are complex and compelling and just plain fun to read. This latest story picks up immediately after the last cliffhanger, as Darkstalker wakes up. With plenty of drama, suspense, and a bit of humor – Turtle’s adventures build to another climactic cliffhanger that left me wanting more. As always, I eagerly await the next in this exceptional series.

Fantasy Book Review: The Bronze Key

The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Synopsis:
Students at the Magisterium are supposed to be safe. Under the watchful eyes of the mages, they are taught to use magic to bring order to a chaotic world.

But now the chaos is fighting back.

Call, Tamara, and Aaron should be worrying about things like pop quizzes and magic contests. Instead, after the shocking death of one of their classmates, they must track down a sinister killer… and risk their own lives in the process. As Call, Tamara, and Aaron discover, magic can only be as good as the person who wields it. In evil hands, it has the capacity to do immeasurable harm, unless it is stopped in time.

Review:
When it’s clear that someone is trying to kill Call, another student is murdered to cover the trail. And Call, Aaron, and Tamara take it upon themselves to investigate, as they don’t quite trust their authority figures.

The Bronze Key third installment in the Magisterium series. It’s a unique fantasy series for youth. Though it’s easy to compare to the feel of other series such as Harry Potter, because it’s set at a magical school. However, there is plenty that sets this story apart, the major difference being that the main character thinks he may become evil. The characters are engaging and the story is exciting and builds in each installment. Full of suspense, drama, and humor – the story is a wild ride that builds to a shocking ending.

Book Giveaway: Exo

Courtesy of Scholastic Press, I have a copy of Exo by Fonda Lee for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends January 20. I’ll draw a name on January 21, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Exo

SciFi Book Review: The Fever Code

The Fever Code by James Dashner

Synopsis:
Once there was a world’s end.
The forests burned, the lakes and rivers dried up, and the oceans swelled.
Then came a plague, and fever spread across the globe. Families died, violence reigned, and man killed man.
Next came WICKED, who were looking for an answer. And then they found the perfect boy.
The boy’s name was Thomas, and Thomas built a maze.
Now there are secrets.
There are lies.
And there are loyalties history could never have foreseen.
This is the story of that boy, Thomas, and how he built a maze that only he could tear down.
All will be revealed.

Review:
The Fever Code is a prequel to the Maze Runner series. The synopsis claims that “all will be revealed,” but I felt the story didn’t reach back far enough. The novel starts with the children being taken and the plague had already rampant. Years pass as Thomas and the other children grow up at WICKED – which drags a bit. And it’s never really fleshed out why Thomas was so special.

Once Thomas meets the other kids, events start happening a bit faster and Thomas uncovers more about the organization he works for. It’s all pretty predictable, with no real big revelations as promised. But while I was a bit disappointed with the plot, enough time has passed since I read Maze Runner that I enjoyed getting back into the story and characters. I actually wouldn’t mind reading the first novel again. It’s a fantastic and inspired world with engaging characters.

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: Crystal Storm by Morgan Rhodes

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Crystal Storm: A Falling Kingdoms Novel by Morgan Rhodes

Synopsis:
An epic clash between gods and mortals threatens to tear Mytica apart . . . and prove that not even the purest of love stands a chance against the strongest of magic.

MAGNUS and CLEO are forced to test the strength of their love when Gaius returns to Mytica claiming he’s no longer the King of Blood but a changed man seeking redemption.

LUCIA, pregnant with the child of a Watcher, has escaped the clutches of the unhinged fire god. Her powers are dwindling as she goes forth to fulfill a prophecy that will keep her baby safe . . . but could mean her demise.

JONAS treks back to Mytica with a plan to overtake Amara, but fate takes hold when he runs into the beautiful Princess Lucia and joins her on her perilous journey.

AMARA has taken the Mytican throne, but with no way to unleash the water magic trapped within her stolen crystal, she’ll never be able to seize glory and get sweet revenge.

And what kind of darkness will descend–and who will be safe–after Prince Ashur reveals the dangerous price he paid to cheat death?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter for a chance to win a set of the Falling Kingdom books by Morgan Rhodes, which includes paperback editions of Falling Kingdoms, Rebel Spring, Gathering Darkness and Frozen Tides and a hardcover edition of Crystal Storm (Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”): $63.00). In addition, four (4) Runner-up Winners will each receive a paperback edition of Falling Kingdoms ($11.00 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:01 AM (EST) on December 5, 2016 and 11:59 PM (EST) on December 16, 2016. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about December 19, 2016. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

SciFi Book Review: The Diabolic

The Diabolic by SJ Kincaid

Synopsis:
A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for.

Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe.

When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything.

As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire.

Review:
This story is told from Nemesis’ point of view. She’s been programmed from a young age that because she was engineered in a lab, that she’s not human. But she certainly has all the same feelings as a human – though no one, including herself, believes she’s anything more than property and a weapon. The character development in this story is amazing.

The Diabolic is a fast-paced, roller coaster of suspense, drama, political intrigue, and a bit of romance. Young adults and adults alike will enjoy the fantastic characters and captivating story. This is one that’s nearly impossible to put down. I enjoyed the author’s previous Insignia trilogy. But I feel her writing reached a new level with this novel. It was incredibly fun to read, from the first page to the last. It’s a wonderful stand alone story about a selfless girl who is willing to do anything to save those she loves.

Fantasy Book Review: Thrones and Bones: Skyborn

Thrones and Bones: Skyborn by Lou Anders

Synopsis:
The chase continues for the legendary Horns of Osius. Thianna and Karn’s quest to retrieve the horns from those who wish to abuse their power takes them to Thica, an ancient land where two tyrant queens reign supreme and where years earlier Thianna’s mother was labeled a traitor. Soon the two heroes are caught up in an epic battle for control of the kingdom, one that puts their very lives at stake. The only way to overthrow the queens is to beat them at their own game. But with an entire empire against them, how can Karn and Thianna hope to compete—or better yet, survive?

Review:
Skyborn is the third installment in the Thrones and Bones trilogy. Two malevolent queens have joined forces to control the dragons by use of the horns. And Thianna is discovers more about where her mother came from.

Desstra, who has gone through tremendous change since the last installment, has some wonderful interactions with her companions. I adore these characters as well as the fascinating worldbuilding. This children’s series is a fantastic and unique take on Norse mythology. Full of adventure, suspense, drama, and humor – I highly recommend the books for fantasy fans of all ages. I only wish the series would continue past just the trilogy.