eBook: The Ancient Wish

I read this book at the beginning of the year. I attempting to catch up with my reviews, as I’ve fallen too far behind.

The Ancient Wish by S.A. Beattie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: 𝐎𝐧𝐞 π₯𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐠𝐒𝐫π₯. 𝐎𝐧𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐒𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐰𝐒𝐬𝐑. 𝐎𝐧𝐞 𝐜𝐑𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐑𝐨𝐦𝐞.

Being sixteen is hard enough, but now Maxena Saltash’s best friend has a new boyfriend, is bullying the shy girl at school, and thinks Max’s choice of career is as lowly as the rocks she wants to study. Grateful to be away camping with her family, Max follows a strange creature deep into a cave system. But when she emerges, everything is different.

Frightened and lost in an unfamiliar world, Max is on the run from bandits who mean to kill her and kidnap the creature she names Roo. Along the way, she meets cranky Hazel, who blames Max for destroying his home, and mistrustful Peng, a disfigured half-man, half-bird who just wants to be accepted. But when Max discovers she holds the key to a powerful prophecy it’s up to her to solve the clues, endure five trials, and claim the ancient wish.

If Max fails, her murderous adversaries will use the wish for their own malicious intent. She will never see her home or family again, and the magical world will fall to ruin. Will Max find the strength to stand and fight, or will she remain forever lost?

Join the magical quest in a fantasy world with a steampunk twist, laugh-out-loud moments, and edge-of-your-seat action inΒ π˜›π˜©π˜¦ 𝘈𝘯𝘀π˜ͺ𝘦𝘯𝘡 𝘞π˜ͺ𝘴𝘩.

My review: The Ancient Wish is a young adult fantasy novel. It’s the type of fantasy I have always enjoyed. The type that takes someone from our world into another world. The reason I love this particular type of fantasy is because (to me) it makes the storyline feel real, possible.

Maxena finds herself in an unknown place, trying to work out how she got there and how she’s going to get home. But every time she turns around something happens–and with or without her permission she is drawn into an adventure.

She is joined by Roo, who seems to be a magnet for trouble. And then there’s Hazel, a little annoyed by Maxena’s intrusion, and Peng, who doesn’t really fit in with society. They join forces and all have their reasons for continuing the journey to get Maxena home.

Maxena and her new friends make a good mix of lively characters. I especially liked Hazel, whose personality was quirky and he got me smiling on numerous occasions. I felt sorry for Peng, as I could relate to not always feeling accepted by others, but he was aloof in his manner giving the air of mistrust.

Something was always happening. They would get out of one troublesome situation, only to find themselves in another one which was worse. The plot is fast-paced and easy to read. The world had a steampunk feel to it, which I also enjoyed. I should read more steampunk. Anyway, I felt the author did a great job with her descriptions, as I could easily visualise the towns and the people around the main characters.

I enjoy this first book in the series and look forward to reading the next book later in the year.

eBook: Sha’Kert: End of Night

Sha’Kert: End of Night by Ishmael A. Soledad

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: No blurb found

My review: It’s strange how things work out. A couple of months ago, I made a comment to my husband regarding wanting to read a book about the Amish people/culture, and the very next day I received a review request offering a book with an Amish theme. Of course, I had to say yes please to the offer.

Sha’Kert: End of Night drew me in and kept my interest from the very beginning. What made it more rivetting was the science fiction theme weaved in with the Amish theme. It was well done and felt natural.

Set in the future, where my imagination was free to paint my own scenes using the author’s guidelines, the main characters find themselves on another planet. The stories of how they got there are full and deep. There are difficult hurdles to overcome, life-threatening decisions to make, and a very real futuristic world that could become a reality, which was a little scary. And then what they go through once they get to the unknown planet left me wondering how I would cope in the same, or similar, situation.

The characters are well defined and can easily be identified. The world-building is excellent. I had no trouble believing and accepting what I was reading. The writing was exceptional.

The landscape was vivid in my mind and I kept returning to the book because I wanted to know what would happen next. There is more I would like to say, but I don’t want to give anything away. I guess I can say that I asked myself several times, would I survive if I were there. What would I do? Unfortunately, I cannot give the answer without giving a spoiler.

There was something deep in regards to the writing of this book. To be honest, although I’ve thought on it for a few days I am unable to verbalise it or put it into words. I don’t know what it is, but I feel as if I missed something, or didn’t understand something that should have been plain, that the deeper meaning of the storyline went over my head. Thing is, I don’t think this issue has anything to do with the way the author wrote the book. I believe my mind couldn’t grasp whatever it was because I’ve been unwell over recent months. And that saddens me.

I enjoyed the book. It held me captive for many weeks (I’m a slow reader these days). I am so happy I was given the opportunity to read this brilliant story and recommend it.

I received a review copy of this book, and this is an honest review.

Audiobook: The Woman in the Green Dress

The Woman in the Green Dress by Tea Cooper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: 1853 Mogo Creek, NSW

Della Atterton, bereft at the loss of her parents, is holed up in the place she loves best: the beautiful Hawkesbury in New South Wales. Happiest following the trade her father taught her, taxidermy, Della has no wish to return to Sydney. But the unexpected arrival of Captain Stefan von Richter on a quest to retrieve what could be Australia’s first opal, precipitates Della’s return to Sydney and her Curio Shop of Wonders, where she discovers her enigmatic aunt, Cordelia, is selling more than curiosities to collectors. Strange things are afoot and Della, a fly in a spider’s web, is caught up in events with unimaginable consequences…

1919 Sydney, NSW

When London teashop waitress Fleur Richards inherits land and wealth in Australia from her husband, Hugh, killed in the war, she wants nothing to do with it. After all, accepting it will mean Hugh really is dead. But Hugh’s lawyer is insistent, and so she finds herself ensconced in the Berkeley Hotel on Hunter St, Sydney, the reluctant owner of a Hawkesbury property and an old curio shop, now desolate and boarded up.

As the real story of her inheritance unravels, Fleur finds herself in the company of a damaged returned soldier Kip, holding a thread that takes her deep into the past, a thread that could unravel a mystery surrounding an opal and a woman in a green dress; a green that is the colour of envy, the colour buried deep within an opal, the colour of poison…

My review: I was looking for something different to listen to while on my treadmill each morning and came across this audiobook. It’s set in Australia, and as I know of the two locations (Mogo Creek and Sydney) and have visited them, I decided to borrow this book.

The author wrote the story over two timelines and then merged them together. It was well done. I especially enjoyed reading about the hardships of the two eras – 1853 and 1919. Both eras would have been difficult to live in, and I could appreciate those difficulties and felt like I experienced them because of the way the book was written.

The taxidermy element was interesting to read as well. It’s a craft I know little about, but I believe the information given would be correct, especially the bit about arsenic. I also appreciated how the author wove the issues early Australia had between the new settlers and the original inhabitants of the land into the storyline as well. I believe many atrocities occurred back then. Many never recorded in history.

I class the story as a drama/mystery. There was a tiny bit of romance, but nothing overbearing. The characters were written well and fit together nicely. I was interested in the main characters, from both eras, and wanted to know what the harsh times and the storyline had in store for them.

I would recommend the book and would read more by this author.

Audiobook: The Wizards of Once, Books 2 & 3

I read, or listened, to both of these books in March 2021.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Twice Magic by Cressida Cowell

The blurb: This was once the story of a young boy Wizard and a young girl Warrior who had been taught since birth to hate each other like poison.

But now, the boy Wizard and girl Warrior have been brought together in the Badwoods and they have witnessed the shocking consequences of the Stone That Takes Away Magic. They will need to cast aside their differences once more–for an Evil Spell has broken free.

It’s up to Xar and Wish to find the ingredients. But it means entering dangerous territory unannounced…

My review: I have been borrowing most of the audiobooks I read from my local library. I read the first book last year in July. The books are so popular that I had to wait for a … very … long … time to get my hands on book 2. It was worth the wait.

The adventure continues for our two heroes – Wish and Xar. The plot is fast-paced. There’s no time to get bored, too much is happening. And the characters are intense, funny, different, and work so well together even if they do argue and screw things up for each other.

I enjoyed the pace and the humour. And, again, I especially enjoyed David Tennant’s reading of the book. He truly brings the book alive.

Again, totally recommended.

Knock Three Times by Cressida Cowell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb: Xar and Wish are heroes with a huge task ahead–confronting the Nuckalavee is not for the faint-hearted. But with Magic and Iron together, they might just have a chance of saving their beloved homes from those who seek to destroy everything they hold dear. The third electrifying book in The Wizards of Once series fizzes with magic and introduces us to a host of glorious new characters: bears and piskies and magical pins and needles to name but a few.

My review: And we arrive at book three of the series. I believe there is one more book after this one, but I don’t have access to it yet.

Book 3 changed a bit, went in a slightly different direction. For me, that had something to do with a storyline that loosely fell into a Hogwarts feel as several chapters were in a school. Apart from that, the story continued to twist and turn. The characters are learning and growing, and betraying, because things are getting serious. Everyone is after them, including their parents. And, yes, sparks will fly. (You’ll get my meaning when you read the book.)

The books continue to be a fast-paced, exciting read. And the narrator, David Tennent, continues to bring the story and characters alive. I am thoroughly enjoying this series.

eBook review: The Box-Car Children

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb: The Boxcar Children tells the story of four orphaned children, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny. They create a home for themselves in an abandoned boxcar in the forest.

My review: This book was written in 1924, and I read the original text.

The book was written by a school teacher, so she was around children a fair bit so must have had a good understanding of how they behaved. The thing to remember when reading the story is that it was written almost 100 years ago, so the reader should expect some odd descriptions and old-fashioned speech. And, I guess, out-dated values too.

I easily put those things aside and took the story as-is. Four orphaned children run away and make a life for themselves. The older children take care of the younger ones. They find ways to manage. They find shelter and earn money to buy food. I can’t imagine children today doing these things, but I accept that this is only a story. It’s for entertainment purposes only.

It’s also aimed at children’s imaginations. I would have loved the story as a child and I loved it now because it allowed my imagination to fill in the blanks. I believe children who can read by themselves will enjoy the adventures of the boxcar children.

eBook review: Tales from the Red Sun Village

Tales from the Red Sun Village: Volume 1 by Mark Swaine

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The blurb: The legendary warrior Kamui Li visits the people of a settlement in the badlands of Purgatoria. In a bid to build morale, the dangerous Samurai recounts three campfire stories to the nervous people of the village to help them overcome their fears of this dangerous new world.

The Midnight Foot Masseuse
A down on his luck chef encounters a demon living under his bed, a demon with a penchant for giving foot massages that somehow improves his life, but at what cost.

Plus a Few Upgrades
A tech savvy girl purchases a cursed videogame console from a car boot sale, and now she’s in the fight for her life whilst avenging her brother’s.

The Child’s Ward
A monster seeks weapons of mental mass destruction as an ignorant teen keeps vigil over a sick infant in the children’s ward of a hospital.

My review: This is speculative fiction for young adults. The audience around the camp fire appear to be much younger, but I definitely would not allow younger children to read the book as it might give them nightmares.

The stories within the book are tied together by the campfire gathering. And there is a reason for the children being told the stories, but I won’t spoil it for you. Just know that they are not random fables.

The stories themselves are … gruesome. Consider them, for the most part (except the last story), to border on horror. There is blood and guts, be warned. Fortunately, I’ve read my share of horror so I’m fine with it, but some people don’t like reading graphic fighting scenes. The book will not appeal to everyone.

I haven’t read any other Red Sun Village books, and this book didn’t give me enough information to know if the story fits in with the other books or not.

The stories vary. The first one felt totally different to the others. It was well written and held my interest and had a neat little twist at the end. The second story was based on gaming. I’ve played PlayStation games since the beginning and I’ve killed countless zombies during that time, so you could say I enjoy gaming. But the story was too long for me, and because of that, my attention waned. I guess I prefer to play the game, rather than read about it. But I feel certain that the target audience will feel part of the team and will love it. The last story felt a little disjointed. Or maybe I was slow in catching on because I have been unwell recently. I didn’t realise what was happening at first, so I felt confused. When I did catch on, it all made sense.

I liked the way everything was brought together at the end. That was well done. And I especially liked the very last message.

What I didn’t like about this book was the cover. To be honest, I would never chose to read the book based on the cover as it does absolutely nothing to catch my attention. Personally, I think that’s a shame as I believe many people make decisions to read books based on the cover alone. In my opinion, an updated cover would do wonders for the book overall.

Regardless of the cover, I believe the book will be well received by readers who enjoy details that allow the scene to be alive in their minds, and can envision themselves amongst the action.

I received a review copy of this book, and this is an honest review.

Not accepting books for review

Due to a health issue, I am currently NOT accepting books for review. I have every intention of completing the books that I have already accepted. The timeframes given remain the same, for now. I will contact you if I need more time.

This decision is not permanent. I need time to adjust to my medication and cannot allow myself to feel pressured. As soon as I am able to, I will return to accepting books for review, because I love books and I love reading. More importantly, I want to help new writers as much as I can.

eBook review: Ethaze & the Shadow Court

Ethaze & the Shadow Court by J.P. Kaeden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: Eleven-year-old Ethaze always believed her mother had died when she was little and that her father had abandoned her. When her Grandfather passes away, she learns her mother had been traded to the Fae. Leaving her village to rescue her mother, Ethaze discovers the existence of an uneasy truce between men, Fae and the Gods over the planes of existence.

The Order of Gafannon, a sect of blacksmiths trained in the old ways, are mankind’s protection against the Fae, providing the iron which disrupts their powers and binds them as mortals. Ethaze is drawn into the Void, the space between realities, where she encounters the imprisoned rogue Fae of the Shadow Court, those who have rejected the truce and have sought to establish their own power. Ethaze’s quest for her mother is part of something larger than she could have ever imagined.

My review: Presently, I seem to be reading books that are difficult to fit wholly within a defined age group. The main character in Ethaze and the Shadow Court is eleven, which should make this book for middle grade or younger readers. But I don’t agree with that. Ethaze is eleven, yet she comes across as around 16 to me. In my opinion, the book is for young adults.

However, the genre is simple to determine. Set in another world. Portals. The Fae. Yes, it’s a fantasy story.

The storyline grabbed me from the beginning. I liked Ethaze’s determination and wanted her to succeed in her quest from the start. Yet our path is never straight forward and we often get waylaid in real life, so it’s not surprising that poor Ethaze ran into all sorts of trouble on her journey. Her good nature and ethics see her wanting to help people, but it’s sometimes hard to know when and where to place trust. We also need to accept help from others, because sometimes we cannot reach our goal alone, but that too has its drawbacks.

I liked the relationships Ethaze created with the other characters, good and bad. They were convincing. Also, I enjoyed the way the author shared crafting techniques in a way that felt natural to the storyline. I don’t know if the blacksmith details are true or not, but I believed every word and that’s the important thing.

Allowing the reader to use their imagination when reading a book is important, in my opinion, and the author gave descriptions that didn’t drone on and bore me but allowed me to envision Ethaze’s world. I appreciated that.

The only negative thing for me to say is that the book has a lot of grammar errors that need addressing. Little things that are confusing, and other errors that are quite distracting, spoiling the reading experience. A good edit will improve the story tenfold. But if you can ignore these imperfections, you’ll find a good story worth reading.

Despite the errors, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would happily read book 2 when it’s released.

Recommended.

I received a review copy of this book, and this is an honest review.