Whispering Pines – Book Review

Whispering Pines by Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski

Rae’s father vanished without a trace—and Rae knows what happened to him. But no one believes her when she says that her father didn’t run off, that he was actually taken. Now, a year of therapy later, Rae’s mother decides they need a fresh start, and so they move to a new town in the hope that life can return to normal.

The problem is, there is nothing normal about the town of Whispering Pines.

No one knows this better than Caden. He’s lived in Whispering Pines his entire life, and he’s seen more than his fair share of weird—starting with his own family, as the town is the perfect home base for his mother’s ghost hunting business.

When several kids go missing and then show up like zombies with their eyes removed, many locals brush it off. Just another day in Whispering Pines. But Caden has a dark secret, one that may explain why someone is stealing eyes. And Rae, who knows how it feels to not be believed, may be just the person Caden needs to help him put things right.

This middle grade fantasy has been compared to Stranger Things, and I definitely see the similarities. An evil creature from another dimension has been abducting children from this small town. And to amp up the creepy factor, he steals their eyes. I enjoyed the characters of Rae and Cade – both kids have lost someone dear to them and will stop at nothing to find answers. The mystery kept me guessing till the very end. Though, this is the first in a series, so there is plenty left to answer. And the suspense definitely builds throughout to a heart-pounding finale. I really enjoyed this fast-paced adventure.

Received in December

The following are the books, movies, television shows, etc. I received last month for review and/or giveaways:

Jiu Jistu DVD
Love and Monsters 4K Ultra HD

Ad Astra / Head of Zeus:
The Children of D’Hara by Terry Goodkind

Amazon / Thomas & Mercer:
Spin by Patricia Cornwell

Ballantine Books:
Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

Del Rey:
Star Wars: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule

Lore by Alexandra Bracken
Be More Chill: The Graphic Novel by Ned Vizzini
Star Wars The High Republic: A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland

Gallery Books:
Star Trek: Picard: The Dark Veil by James Swallow

Harper Collins Children’s / Balzer + Bray:
Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston

Planet Scum:
Planet Scum: A Bloody Pulp

Random House:
Black Canary: Breaking Silence by Alexandra Monir

Simon & Schuster Kids / McElderry:
Whispering Pines by Heidi Lang
Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

Subterranean Press:
The Dispatcher: Murder by Other Means by John Scalzi

Tor / Tor.com:
A History of What Comes Next by Sylvain Neuvel

Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire – Book Review

Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire by Dan Hanks

In post-war 1952, the good guys are supposed to have won. But not everything is as it seems when ex-Spitfire pilot Captain Samantha Moxley is dragged into a fight against the shadowy US government agency she used to work for. Now, with former Nazis and otherworldly monsters on her trail, Captain Moxley is forced into protecting her archaeologist sister in a race to retrieve two ancient keys that will unlock the secrets of a long-lost empire – to ensure a civilisation-destroying weapon doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. But what will she have to sacrifice to save the world?

Captain Moxley is a smart and strong woman with a mysterious past. And she’ll do anything to protect her sister from impending danger. Even when her sister and her boyfriend make not-so-bright decisions.

Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire is pure fun, adventure from beginning to end. It reads like a thrilling Indiana Jones-type movie. And as the mystery of the lost empire unfolds, dangerous foes press in. I only wish we learned more of Moxley’s backstory. I would like to see her fleshed out more along with her former relationship with a certain character. With a bit of fantasy, this drama and suspense-filled story was hard to put down. And an exciting and surprising finale left me wanting more.

The Guinevere Deception & The Camelot Betrayal – Book Reviews

The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.

To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land.

The Camelot Betrayal by Kiersten White

EVERYTHING IS AS IT SHOULD BE IN CAMELOT: King Arthur is expanding his kingdom’s influence with Queen Guinevere at his side. Yet every night, dreams of darkness and unknowable power plague her.

Guinevere might have accepted her role, but she still cannot find a place for herself in all of it. The closer she gets to the people around her–Brangien, pining for her lost love Isolde; Lancelot, fighting to prove her worth as Queen’s knight; and Arthur, everything to everyone and thus never quite enough for Guinevere–the more she realizes how empty she is. She has no sense of who she truly was before she was Guinevere. The more she tries to claim herself as queen, the more she wonders if Mordred was right: she doesn’t belong. She never will.

When a rescue goes awry and results in the death of something precious, a devastated Guinevere returns to Camelot to find the greatest threat yet has arrived. Not in the form of the Dark Queen or an invading army, but in the form of the real Guinevere’s younger sister. Is her deception at an end? And who is she really deceiving–Camelot, or herself?

I thought I was tired of King Arthur retellings. But this YA fantasy, from Guinevere’s perspective is highly addicting! In fact, she’s only pretending to be Guinevere. She has been tasked by Merlin to use her magical abilities to keep Arthur safe in Camelot where magic has been banished.

In The Guinevere Deception, she is new to Camelot and unsure who to trust. But the more she learns and divulges to Arthur, the more confused she becomes. Everything she has been told may be a lie.

In The Camelot Betrayal, Guinevere’s sister arrives – the one person who could reveal her deception and ruin everything. I love these characters and how they’ve been reimagined for this series. There is a sweet, innocent romance blooming between Guinevere and Arthur. There is more to Mordred and his side of the family than meets the eye. And the political intrigue combined with unknown magical forces, make for a fascinating plot. I thoroughly enjoy how this story has been unfolding. And I can’t wait for the final book in the trilogy. In fact, I wish it was a longer series as there is so much mystery and story left to reveal.

Received in November

The following are the books, movies, television shows, etc. I received last month for review and/or giveaways:

2067 Blu-Ray

Angry Robot:
Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire by Dan Hanks

Eaglemoss / Hero Collector:
Star Trek Nerd Search: Quibbles with Tribbles by Glenn Dakin
Ghostbusters Nerd Search: Eerie Errors and Suspect Ghosts by Glenn Dakin
50 Greatest James Bond Cars by Ben Robinson
Star Trek Cocktails: A Stellar Compendium by Glenn Dakin
Star Trek Voyager: A Celebration by Ben Robinson

Subterranean Press:
What Abigail Did That Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

Titan Books:
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales – Wings of Fury by Brittney Morris

The Trials of Apollo: The Tower of Nero – Book Review

Trials of Apollo: The Tower of Nero by Rick Riordan

Lester’s demigod friends at Camp Jupiter just helped him survive attacks from bloodthirsty ghouls, an evil Roman king and his army of the undead, and the lethal emperors Caligula and Commodus. Now the former god and his demigod master Meg must follow a prophecy uncovered by Ella the harpy. Lester’s final challenge will be at the Tower of Nero, back in New York.

Will Meg have a last showdown with her father?

Will this helpless form of Apollo have to face his arch nemesis, Python?

Who will be on hand at Camp Half-Blood to assist?

This is the fifth and final installment in the Trials of Apollo series, an offshoot of Percy Jackson. The Percy Jackson series was a favorite of mine, and this latest series is just as fun and exciting. As a punishment, Apollo has been sent to Earth as a mortal. Now, he is working with Meg and his other demigod friends to take down the evil king before he becomes unstoppable.

This finale doesn’t disappoint. With the odds increasingly against them, Apollo and his friends form unlikely alliances and face down an incredible foe. With a big showdown, suspense, drama, and plenty of humor at times to lighten the mood – middle readers to adults will enjoy this fantastic series. And while it’s not necessary to read the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series, it is helpful to know some of the characters who overlap. And Riordan proves once again that he’s a master at middle grade fantasy.

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