Posted in reviews

Garkain (The Uluru Legacy #1) by Anna J. Walner Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman searching for her birth parents discovers she comes from a truly shocking lineage, and must come face to face with a history and secret that will tie into her ultimate fate in author Anna J. Walner’s “Garkain”, the first in the ULURU LEGACY series.

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The Synopsis

Amelia was dropped at a hospital in Houston 25 years ago. After searching for her biological family for years she receives a vague text: “It’s time for you to come home, we need you, the Colony needs you.”

The Colony is a secret society in the Outback of Australia, driven from Europe in 1788 to the prison colony of New Holland to begin anew. Her mother is Garkain, her father Larougo. Two different bloodlines, two different societies. One Vampire, one Werewolf. Given away instead of killed, she’s being called home for a purpose.

She’ll agree to things she thought she never would, become things she never thought existed, and agree to a bargain that will change the Colony forever.

The vampire rule book has changed in this imaginative series that defies expectations. Blending worlds together as a delicious escape in a new and unique way.

Welcome to your new obsession.

The Review

What a unique and original take on the urban paranormal genre of YA Fantasy. The way the author elevates and changes the mythology of vampires, werewolves, and the paranormal overall was inspired to say the least. The mythos balanced out the incredible setting of Australia in this novel, a setting not often seen in a YA Fantasy series. 

The novel itself is very character-driven. The focus on Amelia is evident from the start, slowly introducing her evolution from a self-reliant young woman searching for answers to a powerful paranormal leader in the making. Her relationships with characters like Roan and her mother really elevate the narrative, drawing the reader in as Amelia serves as the eyes and ears of the reader themselves, exploring this fascinating world first-hand. 

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The Verdict

A memorable, engaging, and iconic first novel in a brand new YA Fantasy and Urban Fantasy series, author Anna J. Walner’s “Garkain” is a must-read novel for fans of paranormal storytelling YA genre is known for, but with a twist. The updated mythos of vampires, werewolves, and everything in-between makes this story shine, and the characters really keep the reader invested in this evolving narrative. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Anna is the author of two fantasy series, The Enrovia Series, and The Uluru Legacy. She is the author of five books, which range from fantasy to memoir.

A mother and a published author, she finds time for her passion in the evenings. Growing up as an introvert she gravitated to the classics, and fantastic worlds as a means of escape.

Over time the urge to create her own stories took control.

https://annajwalner.com/

https://www.instagram.com/annajwalner/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCE4ybn-YRrDMytAUKN9Bu9g

https://www.bookbub.com/books/garkain-book-one-of-the-uluru-legacy-series-by-anna-j-walner

Posted in reviews

Cold Hearted (Villains #8) by Serena Valentino Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

The true origin of one of the most notorious evil stepmothers is revealed in author Serena Valentino’s “Cold Hearted”, the eight book in the VILLAINS series.

The Synopsis

It’s a familiar tale: A kind and beautiful young girl, reeling from loss. A doting father, frantic to bring a mother’s love back into his daughter’s life. And the selfish, cruel woman who insinuates herself into that family―a woman so unfeeling, so cold hearted, that when her new husband dies, she makes the girl a servant in her own home.

But who is that evil stepmother, that icy lady of the house? How did she become so closed off that, in the face of a child’s grief, she thought only to seek wealth and power for herself and her abhorrent daughters? Before that fateful ball, before the glass slipper and the prince, there was another story―a story of love and grief, of hope and of dreams dashed. It is the story of Lady Tremaine.

Even the coldest of villains are sometimes wives and mothers, women who loved and lost and hoped for

something grander for their lives . . . once upon a dream.

The latest novel in Serena Valentino’s deliciously devious Villains series introduces the most famed and hated wicked stepmother of them all―but turns everything you know about her on its head.

The Review

A truly haunting and engaging story, the author has masterfully brought to life the story of Cinderella in a whole new light. Seeing the story through Lady Tremaine’s eyes was amazing, not only showcasing who she was before her marriage to Cinderella’s father, but showcasing how all the girls of the household became victims of his cruel nature. Even Cinderella, beloved by her father, found herself a pawn in his game of control. The pacing of the novel really helped draw readers in, while the setting changes from London to the Many Kingdoms highlighted the change in magic and it’s effect on those not of that world.

The character growth was definitely the highlight of the narrative. The story helped balance the original characters and gave them more dimension. From Cinderella inadvertently giving her father the means to push Lady Tremaine over the edge to the inclusion of the Fairies and their dark counterparts, The Odd Sisters, and even the tumultuous path that put the step sisters in the path of villainy, readers won’t be able to help feeling sympathetic towards the women.

The Verdict

A brilliant, entertaining, and chilling take on a classic fairy tale, author Serena Valentino’s “Cold Hearted” is a must read YA novel of the summer. Capturing the essence of classic fairy tales and elevating the narrative to include much more well rounded characters, the book is one readers won’t be able to put down. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Serena Valentino has been weaving tales that combine mythos and guile for the past decade. She has earned critical acclaim in both the comic and horror domains, where she is known for her unique style of storytelling, bringing her readers into exquisitely frightening worlds filled with terror, beauty, and extraordinary protagonists. The books in her best-selling Villains series are best enjoyed when read in the following order: Fairest of All, The Beast Within, Poor Unfortunate Soul, Mistress of All Evil, Mother Knows Best, Odd Sisters, Evil Thing, and Cold Hearted.

https://www.serenavalentino.com/

https://www.twitter.com/SerenaValentino

https://amzn.to/3qS8knn

Posted in reviews

Spells Trouble (Sisters of Salem #1) by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Twin witches must avenge their mother’s murder, stop an ancient evil from taking over their town and ultimately fulfill their destiny in authors P.C. and Kristin Cast’s “Spells Trouble”, the first in the SISTERS OF SALEM series. 

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The Synopsis 

Double double, twins spell trouble…

Hunter and Mercy Goode are twin witches, direct descendants of the founder of their town of Goodeville. As their ancestors have done before them, it is now time for the twins to learn what it means to be Gatekeepers–the protectors of the Gates to different underworlds, ancient portals between their world and realms where mythology rules and nightmares come to life.

When their mother becomes the first victim in a string of murders, the devastated sisters vow to avenge her death. But it will take more than magic to rein in the ancient mythological monsters who’ve infected their peaceful town.

Now Hunter and Mercy must come together and accept their destiny or risk being separated for good.

The Review

A truly mesmerizing and haunting fantasy and supernatural YA series comes to life in a one-of-a-kind way, blending history and culture with mythology and the true concept of family. The family dynamics of the Goode sisters are engaging, to say the least, highlighting their differences as the two sisters who have always been close find themselves lost and drifting apart off and on throughout the narrative after the brutal loss of their mother. The history of Sarah Goode from the infamous Salem Witch Trials and tying her story into that of her descendants was an inspired choice for story and character growth, which helped elevate this story. 

What was the biggest draw for me as a reader was the incredible attention to detail both historically and mythologically, not only exploring the impact and culture of the Salem Witch Trials to a fantasy setting, but incorporating ancient gods and goddesses and mythological creatures from not just single mythology, but multiple mythologies. From bloodthirsty Norse monsters to ancient and sometimes even obscure goddesses of Greek origin made this narrative feel larger than life, while the balance came from the intricate relationship between the sisters, as well as their relationships with their friends as well.

The Verdict

An entertaining, shocking, and haunting YA fantasy and paranormal read, authors P.C. and Kristin Cast’s “Spells Trouble” is a must-read novel for YA fans this summer! A perfect blend of mythology, history, and family dynamics, the shocking final moments of this narrative will leave readers anxious to get a glimpse into the next book of this series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Authors

P.C. CAST

PC was born in the Midwest, and grew up being shuttled back-and-forth between Illinois and Oklahoma, which is where she fell in love with Quarter Horses and mythology (at about the same time). After high school, she joined the United States Air Force and began public speaking and writing. After her tour in the USAF, she taught high school for 15 years before retiring to write full time. PC is a #1 New York Times and #1 USA Today Best-Selling author and a member of the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame. Her novels have been awarded the prestigious: Oklahoma Book Award, YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Prism, Holt Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, Booksellers’ Best, and the Laurel Wreath. PC is an experienced teacher and talented speaker. Ms. Cast lives in Oregon near her fabulous daughter, her adorable pack of dogs, her crazy Maine Coon, and a bunch of horses. House of Night Other World, book 4, FOUND, releases July 7th, 2020. More info to come soon about the HoN TV series!

https://www.pccastauthor.com/

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/p-c-cast

KRISTIN CAST

Kristin is a #1 New York Times and #1 USA Today bestselling author who was born on an Air Force base in Japan and grew up in Oklahoma where she explored everything from tattoo modeling to broadcast journalism. After battling addiction, Kristin made her way to the Pacific Northwest and landed in Portland. She rediscovered her passion for storytelling in the stacks at dusty bookstores and in rickety chairs in old coffeehouses. For as long as she can remember, Kristin’s been telling stories. Thankfully, she’s been writing them down since 2005.

https://kcastauthor.com/

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kristin-cast

Posted in reviews

Curse of the Specter Queen by Jenny Elder Moke Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman living a quiet life in a bookshop after the loss of her father finds her world turned upside down after receiving a mysterious diary that leads her in a race to stop an ancient order hellbent on bringing a war unlike anyone has ever seen in author Jenny Elder Moke’s “Curse of the Specter Queen”. 

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The Synopsis

MAY THE HAZEL BRING YOU WISDOM AND THE ASPEN GUIDE AND PROTECT YOU…

Samantha Knox put away her childish fantasies of archaeological adventure the day her father didn’t return home from the Great War, retreating to the safety of the antique bookshop where she works. But when a mysterious package arrives with a damaged diary inside, Sam’s peaceful life is obliterated. Ruthless men intent on reclaiming the diary are after Sam, setting her and her best friend, along with her childhood crush, on a high-stakes adventure that lands them in the green hills outside Dublin, Ireland. Here they discover an ancient order with a dark purpose – to perform an occult ritual that will raise the Specter Queen, the Celtic goddess of vengeance and death, to bring about a war unlike any the world has ever seen. To stop them, Sam must solve a deviously complex cipher – one that will lead her on a treasure hunt to discover the ancient relic at the heart of the ritual: a bowl carved from the tree of life. Will she find the bowl and stop the curse of the Specter Queen, or will the ancient order bring about the end of the world?

Indiana Jones gets a refresh with this female-driven mystery adventure, set in the 1920s, full of ciphers, ancient relics, and heart-stopping action – the first in a brand-new series!

The Review

A thrilling adventure that blends the action and historical aspects of Indiana Jones with the emotional storytelling of the YA genre, this book excels at highlighting the historical fiction aspect that has made archeology the perfect pairing with action and adventure. As a longtime fan of history and culture, I loved the exploration of Ireland, namely things like the Druids and Morrigan. The blend of history with fantasy and sci-fi elements made this story feel both classic and fresh all at once.

The character development in this book is the heart of this story. From protagonist, Sam and her evolution from an emotionally scarred bookkeeper into a strong and resilient hero was fantastic to see unfold. While her relationships with her allies and against her enemies were powerful in so many ways, it was her friendship with Joana that really stood out to me. The contrast in these characters and their personalities and the evolution they undergo both emotionally and physically solidified the stakes of the novel and the hope their friendship brought Sam in order to face these threats head-on.

The Verdict

An adventurous, entertaining, and hauntingly-good action and historical fiction YA read, author Jenny Elder Moke’s “Curse of the Specter Queen” is a must-read book of 2021. The perfect blend of action, history, and fantasy, the story itself instantly draws readers in, and the characters are both relatable and inspiring to see tackle this narrative, making this the perfect summer YA read. Be sure to pick up your own copies today!

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About the Author

Jenny Elder Moke writes young adult fiction in an attempt to recapture the shining infinity of youth. When she is not writing, she’s gathering story ideas from her daily adventures with her two irredeemable rapscallions and honing her ninja skills as a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Her debut novel, HOOD, about the daughter of Robin Hood and Maid Marien, will release from Disney/Hyperion in Spring 2020.

https://jennyeldermoke.com/

https://www.bookbub.com/books/curse-of-the-specter-queen-volume-1-novel-by-jenny-elder-moke

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Misfit by Jo Zaida Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Two teens find themselves caught in a war between two orders for control of not only their world, but the world of the dead as well in author Jo Zaida’s “Misfit”, the first book in THE ASURA CHRONICLES series.

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The Synopsis

Two clashing orders battle for power over their world and the realm of the dead, using teenagers as their pawns. The teenagers, however, have other ideas.

In the New World, Elle is visited by a ghost from the Asura, a realm existing between the mortals and the Gods. The Asura challenges everything she thought she knew about herself, her family and the Ministry that controls them, and throws her into an adventure of chaos and discovery.

River, meanwhile, has been welcomed into a secret organization with tantalizing promises of a better future. But not everything is as it seems. His loyalty to his father is challenged as he gets pushed into a strategic engagement with a girl he does not like, and starts to discover more about the Alliance’s darker schemes.

Worlds collide for young adult readers who will love the fast-paced thrills, the chemistry between characters, and the interplay of dystopian fantasy and science fiction, self-discovery and friendship in Misfit, book one of The Asura Chronicles trilogy.

It is a perfect cross-market read for fans of Hunger Games and Harry Potter, both young adult and adult readers who are searching for the next enduring sci-fi/fantasy classic. 

The Review

A fantastic exploration of a futuristic society that has blended technology with the spiritual realm, the author has expertly layered this YA narrative with elements of politics, themes of morality, and the complex relationships we form with our families. The author does a wonderful job of exploring each faction introduced in the world of this novel, both the good and the bad, and highlights how no one side is ever truly “right” and the other “wrong”. Instead those in power, no matter what side they choose, deserve to be challenged and held accountable when situations arise.

The world-building in this novel was incredible. Richly layered throughout the novel, the author crafts an impressive story of those who pass on from the world and the few who manage to ascend, in essence, into a state of higher spiritual existence. On top of the secret societies and shady government operations hoping to take control of these beings, the author also creates complex and interesting characters that are multi-dimensional. The hardships and struggles these teens have not only with these factions fighting for control but with their own family lives make this story shine brightly, and also showcases that both politics and family are rife with secrets and lies that have the power to change things forever.

The Verdict

An engaging, entertaining, and beautifully written narrative, author Jo Zaida’s “Misfit” is a fantastic YA sci-fi and dystopian fantasy read. The first in what proves to be an exciting and much-needed new YA series, the book expertly wades into some complex themes that deserve to challenge YA readers everywhere and highlights how young people are just as powerful and needed in the evolution of a nation or faction as anyone else. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab this amazing read for yourselves today!

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About the Author

People say that authors write themselves into their characters. But I am not Elle. 

Does the way the world works frustrate me? It does. Am I stubborn and rebellious? Sometimes. I hope I’m a little less moody…

Like Elle, I love traveling and adventure. 

I also love books, cats, music and RuPaul’s Drag Race.

https://www.theasurachronicles.com/

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jo-zaida?list=author_books

Posted in reviews

A Woman’s World by Lynne Hill-Clark Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman destined to become the next leader of her people finds herself fighting to become her own person and facing a dangerous new world in author Lynne Hill-Clark’s YA Fantasy novel, “A Woman’s World”.

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The Synopsis

Baya is not sure she wants the life her mother has planned for her.

She has been prepared her entire life for three trials.

That’s all … only three ancient tests in three days.

A lifetime worth of work over in a matter of days. Easy right?

Then she will officially be a woman and in line to become the ruler of the world … or she’ll be dead.

But what if she doesn’t want either of those options?

If she can survive the trials, that’s when the real challenges will begin.

This is a story of survival, love and loss.

The Review

A truly marvelous and engaging YA Fantasy novel that perfectly introduces readers to a brand new series, this story does an excellent job of crafting both a narrative and cast of characters that complement one another. The incredible new mythos that this author has brought to life will feel both familiar and original all at once. So many elements of this story feel like a tribute to the tales of the Ancient Amazons in Greek mythology, both the original and the DC Comics version. Yet the author elevates those elements to new heights, creating a world in which men serve the women of the island, and women born to become leaders are gifted with powerful abilities that few could ever imagine. 

Yet it is Baya and her journey that truly make this story engaging. Her impact on allies and enemies alike and how it influences their own stories to her shocking decision and the ramifications it has on her as she faces a dangerous new world make her character arc full and richly developed. Readers will instantly connect with the protagonist while at other times shaking their heads at things we all wish Baya would realize herself, making her such a well-rounded heroine for this new YA adventure.

The Verdict

A mesmerizing, addictive, and long yet engaging read, author Lynne Hill-Clark’s “A Woman’s World” is the perfect first entry into a whirlwind YA Fantasy series. The novel holds a steady yet entertaining pace as the author introduces more and more elements to the world’s mythology, and the shocking cliffhanger final chapter will leave readers breathless for the next entry in the series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab or preorder your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

I hate books, especially fantasy books, and I hate writing.

Just checking to see if you’re paying attention. 🙂

All I want to do is write and read. Actually, I listen to audiobooks. I listen to at least one a month and review it. Mostly fantasy books. I listen while I exercise. This has two benefits. 1) I don’t feel guilty for taking time to sit down and read a book but I still get to hear a great story. It is the most time saving way to keep up with the latest books in my genre. 2) It makes my workout go by quicker. Win – win!

My best days are the ones I get to spend writing. Then the best of the best days are when a creative twist for my stories hits me, sometimes it feels like an actual slap to the face. My heart races and I know at once that it is the perfect fit for my story. Super fun and what makes writing worthwhile.

Much to my surprise, learning about marketing has been fun, challenging, yet fun. I am so glad to be self-published as this gives me many more options for reaching my readers.

I was born in Colorado and raised in a small town of eight hundred people. I received a masters of science from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Living in the southeast was an eye-opening experience.

I graduated with my Doctorate of Psychology from the University of the Rockies. I specialized in criminology and justice studies. Never a dull moment and VERY interesting to learn about the criminal psyche.

I’m often asked if my degrees influenced my writing and they certainly did. In my masters program I studied under Dr. Hood. He was a leader in the psychology of religion. Studying early Christian history greatly influenced my 3rd novel, Of Gods and Goddess.

Restorative Justice (RJ) influenced my writing as well. For example, it is how Vallachia chooses to lead her people and deal with her “enemies”. Some might say that there is no such thing as an enemy, they only exist in fiction stories or in our own minds. I hope to incorporate even more RJ into future books.

My extensive travels and at times living overseas has greatly added to my writing material. Being an American Peace Corps Volunteer in Jordan helped me to create the world that I’m currently writing about, A Woman’s World. My time studying in China and visiting family in Norway (just to name a few of my travels) have all helped expand my world view, which of course helps my creativity. I am very blessed, my life experiences have given me rich material to write about.

Something else that you may find interesting is that I’m dyslexic. I was diagnosed in 2nd grade, as I could not read. My parents were told that I was “slow” and “not intelligent”. They said that I would not be able to graduate from high school. Sometimes it pays NOT to listen to the “experts”. My education also helped give me the confidence and practice that I needed to be able to write for a living.

Don’t believe limits that others set for you (or ones you set for yourself)!

The sky is the not even a limit anymore!!

Author site: http://lynnehillclark.com 

 Interview with Lynne Hill-Clark: Publishing, Literary Themes & Her Newest Works – YouTube

https://www.facebook.com/writerlynnehillclark/

https://www.facebook.com/futureclassicspublishing/

https://www.instagram.com/lynnehillclark/?hl=en

https://www.futureclassicspublishing.com/

https://www.lynnehillclark.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15396705.Lynne_Hill_Clark

Posted in reviews

Go the Distance (A Twisted Tale: Hercules) by Jen Calonita Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

After Hercules defeated Hades and saved Mt. Olympus, he was welcomed back as a god. Yet when his immortality threatens to keep him away from his true love, Meg must navigate a treacherous road of untold dangers in a quest to gain immortality herself in author Jen Calonita’s “Go the Distance”, the next entry in the “A Twisted Tale” series.

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The Synopsis

What if Meg had to become a god?

After Hercules proves he’s a true hero and regains his godship, all seems right in the world. That is, until Zeus tells Meg that she can’t be with Hercules because she’s, well, mortal. Luckily, Hera has a solution, offering Meg a chance to prove herself worthy of a spot on Mt. Olympus–as a god. All Meg has to do is complete a mysterious quest.

The mission? Oh, just to rescue her ex’s current wife from the Underworld. The ex-boyfriend she saved by selling her soul to Hades. The ex-boyfriend who immediately moved on to someone else while she was stuck in the Underworld. Can Meg put her past behind her and use her quick-wit to defeat monsters and gods alike, including the nefarious Hades? Will she finally figure out her place and contribution to the world? Or will her fear of commitment have her running away from an eternity of godhood with Herc?

Written by the author of Mirror, Mirror and Conceal, Don’t Feel, Jen Calonita’s latest twist is sure to delight and surprise.

The Review

Thank you to Disney-Hyperion for this arc, because wow this was an incredible journey. As both a major Disney fan and fan of Greek Mythology, this book was the perfect blend of them both. Getting to explore a scenario where Meg and Herc had to fight for their happy ending together was great to see unfold.

Immediately the author delves even deeper into Greek Mythology than the Disney film had done originally, exploring a variety of new monsters and even various new locations that longtime enthusiasts of the mythology will be well aware of. Readers even get a chance to better explore the realm of the gods, as the narrative introduces the gods to Meg along her journey.

However, it is Meg who takes center stage and makes this story shine. The author brilliantly explores Meg as a character and explores why Meg became involved with Hades in the first place. From the tragic past with her mother to the shocking untold truths behind the boyfriend who betrayed her and the near-impossible journey to open up her heart to Hercules and those around her, Meg’s character evolution is the most gripping and engaging aspect of this novel, and expertly adds a new and much-needed chapter to the story began in the film.

The Verdict

A masterful, entertaining, and epic story, author Jen Calonita’s “Go the Distance” is a must-read YA Fantasy and Romance tale. The book is evenly-paced and perfectly captures the magic of the Disney film with the darker side of Greek Mythology and all of the amazing levels to that complex part of history. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

I’m Jen Calonita, a MG and YA author who loves what I do because it lets me connect with all of you (and no, I wasn’t intending for that to rhyme!).

I’ve been writing ever since I can remember, but it was fourth grade when I put my “three wishes” for a genie down on paper. They were:

#1. Buy all the Cabbage Patch Kids in the world and give them away for free (because apparently that was how I rolled).

#2. I wanted a mansion, limo, lake house, pool and speed boat (still sounds quite nice).

#3. I wanted to be an author for young readers, which I am!

I love writing novels for teens (and for savvy grown ups who know that YA rocks at any age). My first series was “Secrets of My Hollywood Life” and it followed a teen star named Kaitlin Burke who struggled with the fame game. I have also written the stand-alone novels Sleepaway Girls, it’s companion book, Summer State of Mind and the Belles series.

I’ve been writing middle grade too and am having so much fun with my series Fairy Tale Reform School! The fourth book in this series about a school run by former villains is called Tricked and will be out March 2018. Ever wonder what it would be like if your parents got a job with someone like Taylor Swift? My other middle grade series, VIP, follows super fan Mackenzie Lowell as she tours with her favorite band, Perfect Storm.

I promise to give book updates here, and on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or my website. I hope I hear from you!

xo

Jen

http://www.jencalonitaonline.com/

Posted in reviews

This Golden Flame by Emily Victoria Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman desperate to find her lost brother awakens a long thought lost automaton, and with him the secrets of a powerful country in author Emily Victoria’s YA Fantasy, “This Golden Flame”. 

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The Synopsis

An Ember in the Ashes meets Mask of Shadows in Emily Victoria’s #ownvoices debut YA fantasy, This Golden Flame, in which asexual Karis, a servant to the mysterious Scriptorium, accidentally awakens long-dormant automaton Alix, initiating an epic adventure full of magic, rebellion, and finding where you truly belong.

Orphaned and forced to serve her country’s ruling group of scribes, Karis wants nothing more than to find her brother, long ago shipped away. But family bonds don’t matter to the Scriptorium, whose sole focus is unlocking the magic of an ancient automaton army.

In her search for her brother, Karis does the seemingly impossible?she awakens a hidden automaton. Intelligent, with a conscience of his own, Alix has no idea why he was made. Or why his father?their nation’s greatest traitor?once tried to destroy the automatons.

Suddenly, the Scriptorium isn’t just trying to control Karis; it’s hunting her. Together with Alix, Karis must find her brother…and the secret that’s held her country in its power for centuries.

The Review

What a brilliant fusion of sci-fi and fantasy within the YA genre. The world-building that the author has done here allows readers to witness a world where they can seamlessly see where magical runes and magic itself end and technology and advanced science begin. The fictional setting that the characters find themselves in harkens back to a similar time as Ancient Greece, adapting many of that era’s way of life and the pursuit of knowledge while at the same time observing ancient customs and beliefs. 

The thing that stood out the most for me as a reader was the amazing character development the author brought forth to this read. The protagonists in this story, Alix and Karis, are both fantastic as readers get to see from both perspectives. However, Karis was an especially inspired choice for the protagonist, as her status as one of the heroes of this tale not only gives representation to the asexual community within the larger LGBTQ+ community but inspires young asexual people to embrace their identity no matter what. This is an extremely important territory the author has entered, and it adds to more representation within the YA genre. 

The Verdict

A stunning, engaging, and breathtaking world of magic and wonder, author Emily Victoria’s “This Golden Flame” is a must-read YA sci-fi and fantasy read. The author brilliantly brings an important LGBTQ+ character to the narrative and creates a fascinating world of science and magic that astounds the reader and creates a world that is brimming with possibilities but haunted by corruption. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Portraits

Emily Victoria lives on the Canadian prairies with her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, works at her public library, and has just finished her Masters of Library and Information Studies.

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Posted in reviews

James Clyde and the Tomb of Salvation (James Clyde, #2) by Colm McElwain Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Three young children must continue a journey of ancient prophecies, faraway lands and dangerous enemies in author Colm McElwain’s “James Clyde and the Tomb of Salvation”, the second in the James Clyde series. 

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The Synopsis

Picking up shortly after the events of the first adventure, James Clyde returns with his best friends Ben and Mary Forester to his grandfather’s house in search of a map that will lead them to the Tomb of Salvation – an ancient shrine, where the three diamonds of Orchestra must be returned with the promise of immortality.

James and his company of adventurers journey through treacherous lands fraught with danger and meet many obstacles along the way – dangerous assassins on board a train, the dastardly Gilbert, also known as the ‘man in black’, and even an unlikely encounter with a fabled lake monster.

If they reach the Tomb of Salvation, James knows they will then face their greatest threat, for the tomb is said to be home to a terrifying demon – an entity that has shown no mercy to anyone who has ever entered its lair.

The second novel in the James Clyde series will lead you on an action-packed adventure full of mystery, suspense, danger, hope – and, yes, salvation.

The Review

While notably a newcomer to this series, I found myself thoroughly entertained and invested in this story from the first page. In a complex fantasy world, the author does a fantastic job of crafting layered and addicting mythology for fans of the genre to gravitate towards.

The author has an excellent balance hereof world-building and character growth, each one complimenting the other to create an engaging story. The friendship between James, Ben, and Mary is a heartwarming one, and the overall message of the novel of love winning out over fear and hatred was inspiring to see incorporated into such a rich mythos. I even had moments of connection with some of the newer character’s backgrounds, such as Professor Shaw and his paranormal researcher status, something I myself have become invested in. 

The Verdict

Overall, this was a powerful story. Engaging, entertaining, and magical in its approach, author Colm McElwain’s “James Clyde and the Tomb of Salvation” is a powerful modern YA-level fantasy novel. Action-packed, full of mystery, and an overall whirlwind tale, this is one book you won’t want to miss, so be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Colm was raised and educated in Monaghan, Ireland. He is a Physical Education and Business teacher and likes reading books, watching films and playing sport. He has always loved storytelling, whether through literature or film. James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is his first novel and brings a very fulfilling creative experience spanning a number of years to an end.