Tag Archives: ya

Fantasy Book Review: Wizard for Hire

Wizard for Hire by Obert Skye

Synopsis:
Fourteen-year-old Ozzy lives near Portland, Oregon, and is desperate for help. His scientist parents have been kidnapped after discovering a formula that enables mind control. Their work was so top secret Ozzy is afraid to go to the police, but without help, he fears he’ll never find his parents. Then he stumbles across a classified ad in the local newspaper that says “Wizard for Hire. Call 555-SPEL.” Ozzy has read about wizards in books like Harry Potter, but wizards couldn’t actually exist today, could they? After Ozzy meets the wizard Labyrinth–aka Rin–he’s even more skeptical.

Sure, Rin dresses like a wizard, but the short robe and high-top tennis shoes seem unorthodox, as does Rin’s habit of writing notes on his shoes and eating breakfast for every meal. Plus, Rin doesn’t even cast any magic spells, which means that the unexplained coincidences that start happening around Ozzy are just that–coincidences.

With the help of a robotic-talking raven invented by Ozzy’s father, a kind and curious girl at school who decides to help Ozzy, and, of course, a self-proclaimed wizard who may or may not have a magical wand, Ozzy begins an unforgettable quest that will lead him closer to the answers he desperately seeks about his missing parents.

Review:
Ozzy has lived alone in his home in the woods for years, after his parents were kidnapped. When he sees and ad for a Wizard for Hire, Ozzy seeks the wizard’s help in finding what happened to his parents. Rin doesn’t act or look like the wizards Ozzy has read about, but he’s the one person Ozzy can trust.

Wizard for Hire isn’t exactly a fantasy story, as there isn’t really any magic – other than an intelligent, mechanical bird. This middle grade novel has some wonderfully, colorful characters. While the story starts out a bit slow, as Ozzy grows up on his own and tries to go to school, there is a lot of fantastic character development. And there is still plenty of humor, mystery, adventure, and suspense as the story continues. I thoroughly enjoyed this start to a new series. And I appreciated that there wasn’t a cliffhanger ending and that the story seemed mostly wrapped up. But these characters are a lot of fun, which readers will love to read more about.

Book Giveaway: Burning Magic

Courtesy of Disney Hyperion, I have an extra early copy of Burning Magic, by Joshua Khan for one lucky winner!

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

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Burning Magic

Fantasy Book Review: The Dragon’s Curse

The Dragon’s Curse by Bethany Wiggins

Synopsis:
Six months ago, Princess Sorrowlynn stood beside Prince Golmarr to defeat the glass dragon. But when the prince almost killed her after inheriting the dragon’s curse of hatred, he went into hiding to keep Sorrow safe . . . from himself.

Now the princess has been training to become a great warrior, with the hope of finding Golmarr. But her search proves difficult when she discovers she has been wed to the prince of an enemy kingdom. Desperate to end her forced marriage and be reunited with her true love, Sorrow must find a way to escape her captor husband. But there’s just one more dangerous obstacle in her way. A two-headed dragon is hunting her and will stop at nothing until she is dead.

Can Sorrow summon the courage to wield the only sword that can defeat the beast and save her world from the destruction of the dragon’s curse?

Review:
Princess Sorrowlynn has been living and training with her betrothed’s family while he tries to overcome the emotions from the dragon he killed. But Sorrowlynn faces another obstacle with the man that she loves, when she discovers that her father has married her off to another prince instead. Her father thinks the marriage was for political reasons, but this new prince knows about her new magical abilities. Meanwhile, a two-headed dragon is hunting Sorrowlynn and she begins having visions of a young woman asking for her help.

The Dragon’s Curse is the second installment in an exciting, fantasy trilogy. Sorrowlynn is now a stronger person, with the bravery and fortitude that I was hoping she’d gain. This latest story is well-paced, with plenty of action, drama, mystery, and a bit of romance. There is no middle book slump here. The characters are engaging and the plot is unpredictable. The suspense builds to a surprising finale – that left me wanting more and impatient for the final book in the series.

SciFi Book Review: Scythe

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Synopsis:
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery: humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now Scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Review:
Citra and Rowan are confident and determined young adults who stand up for what they believe. Because of this, they are both chosen to be an apprentice to a scythe. Neither of them wants to kill, but it will keep their families safe from “gleaning” (death).

Scythe is the first in a fantastic, dystopian series for teens. The subject matter may be hard and a bit dark for some. But this has to be some of the best worldbuilding and character development I’ve ever read. To keep the Earth’s population under control, scythes kill without prejudice. And despite having their own governing body, the scythes each have their own philosophy and way of gleaning. Some are much more brutal than others. Citra and Rowan have to make some hard choices and are forced into some heart-wrenching situations. With plenty of plot twists along the way, this story is engaging, thought-provoking, and intense until the very end. I can’t wait to jump into the next installment.

Book Giveaway: Isle of Blood and Stone

Courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers, I have an extra early review copy of Isle of Blood and Stone, by Makiia Lucier for one lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends April 13. I’ll draw a name on April 14, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Isle of Blood and Stone

Fantasy Book Review: The Traitor’s Game

The Traitor’s Game by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Synopsis:
Nothing is as it seems in the kingdom of Antora. Kestra Dallisor has spent three years in exile in the Lava Fields, but that won’t stop her from being drawn back into her father’s palace politics. He’s the right hand man of the cruel king, Lord Endrick, which makes Kestra a valuable bargaining chip. A group of rebels knows this all too well — and they snatch Kestra from her carriage as she reluctantly travels home.

The kidnappers want her to retrieve the lost Olden Blade, the only object that can destroy the immortal king, but Kestra is not the obedient captive they expected. Simon, one of her kidnappers, will have his hands full as Kestra tries to foil their plot, by force, cunning, or any means necessary. As motives shift and secrets emerge, both will have to decide what — and who — it is they’re fighting for.

Review:
After three years in exile, Kestra is abducted by a group of rebels. She is forced to find and bring back a legendary blade that may not even exist. But Kestra must go along with her orders or her guard and handmaiden may suffer. As Kestra learns more about the Olden Blade and her own heritage, everything comes into question.

The Traitor’s Game is the first in a new YA fantasy series. Kestra is a strong female protagonist – likable, savvy, and definitely not a damsel in distress. There is a complex love interest with a conflicted captor. Full of drama, intrigue, suspense, mystery, and a bit of magic – this is a promising start to a must-read series. The story has many unpredictable twists along the way to an ending that made me eager for the next installment.

SciFi Book Review: Star Wars: Cobalt Squadron

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Cobalt Squadron by by Elizabeth Wein

Synopsis:
Will Rose and Paige help save a planet, or will their actions lead to all-out war?

Review:
Sisters Rose and Paige Tico are a part of the resistance and the bomber group Cobalt Squadron. Paige is a gunner and Rose a brilliant technician. Cobalt Squadron assists Atterran citizens from a First Order blockade. The people of Atterra are dying from a lack of resources – a scene all too familiar for the Tico sisters.

Star Wars fans were introduced to Rose and (briefly) Paige in The Last Jedi. The sisters have a sweet relationship and unbreakable bond. This is an exciting story with plenty of drama and intrigue. However, I would have liked a bit more character development – especially from other members of the Cobalt Squadron. Not knowing some of the characters better, lessens the impact of events. This quick, fast-paced read is a just one short adventure that ties in to an event in The Force Awakens – and ends just before The Last Jedi. I can’t get enough of these new characters.

Fantasy Book Review: Mysteries of Cove: Embers of Destruction

Mysteries of Cove: Embers of Destruction by J Scott Savage

Synopsis:
Arriving in San Francisco and investigating the area in secret, the young riders are reunited with Kallista’s father, Leo Babbage, who reveals that the humans in the city are working as slaves to the dragons, but that they don’t want to be rescued–himself included. He says they are being protected by their new master: a huge, powerful white dragon who lives in an impenetrable tower fortress overlooking the city. Kallista is stunned by the news. Why would her father ever willingly want to work for dragons?

Trenton and his friends are confronted by the guards and their mechanical dragons are seized. Evading capture, the young riders escape and begin looking for a way to break the white dragon’s hold over the city–and over Leo. Working with the kids from the city, the young riders track down the source of the dragon’s power to an underground chamber that is accessible only through an underwater passageway below the tower fortress.

With the white dragon watching their every move, Trenton and Kallista will need every bit of creativity and ingenuity they can manage to find a way to retrieve their stolen dragons, enter the tower fortress, and take down the dragons once and for all.

Review:
Kallista, Trenton, Plucky, Simoni, Angus, and Clyde have been hunting dragons when they arrive in San Francisco. But this is a city of humans who are serving the dragons and seem to live in harmony. Even Kallista’s father seems to be brainwashed into using his skills to help the dragons rather than his own kind. A large white dragon rules the city and seems impossible to defeat – especially when it doesn’t look like the teens can trust anyone.

Embers of Destruction is the final installment in the Mysteries of Cove trilogy. This wonderful steampunk fantasy has built to an exciting finale. The characters are engaging and this latest story is the best yet. San Francisco is a dangerous and mysterious place where no one can be trusted and a new, deadly breed of dragons patrol. This action-packed, dragon-hunting episode doesn’t disappoint. And there were some fun surprises along the way that tied up the arc from the previous novels. I thoroughly enjoyed this last adventure.