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This blog is managed by us two sisters, known to some as Ants and Epic. We're a pair of up-and-coming authors and avid readers. This blog is mainly full of honest, Christian book-reviews and an occasional update about our writing. We love hearing from you all so feel free to drop a comment anywhere to just say hi!
Also, got any book suggestions? Something you'd like to see reviewed? Leave the title in the comments and we'll try to get to it!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Book Review: The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha


Summary: In the busy village square, Lukas is drawn to a magician called Battisto the Magnificent, who promiese adventure to anyone who will pay for it. Anxious for excitement, Lukas spends a silver coin and volunteers to take part in Battisto's magic. He is plunged into a tub of water and finds himself washed ashore in a new land of palaces and hidden treasure.
  To his astonishment, Lukas is hailed King of Abadan by those who find him. But his life in the palace is endangered by rivals who threaten to overthrow him. Running for his life, Lukas takes off with the court astrologer, a hot-tempered slave girl, and a poet. Not in his wildest dreams could Lukas have imagined this strange turn of events. And the adventure is just beginning...

Thoughts: I've always loved Alexander's tales. They carry a fairy-tale like charm but allow you to connect with and love the characters too. This book was no different. 
 The cast was wonderful. Full of character and growth they pulled you in and wouldn't let go till the end!
 The story itself was fun. It was rifled with politics, attempted assassinations, war and peace, always keeps you guessing what's at the bottom of it all.
  The writing was great, carrying that fable feeling throughout the story so you can almost believe you're lost in a dream until the final chapter.

 Content: A few instances of D***, some war violence and a brief mention of some slave girls being immodestly dressed. Really though, it's mostly clean and a fun read for almost any age.
 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Book Review: Carlota

 
Summary: Raised to take the place of her dead brother, Carlota de Zubaran can do anything that Carlos could have done. She races her stallion through the California lowlands, dives into shark-infested waters searching for gold, and fights in the battles that rage between the Mexicans and the Americans. At sixteen, she is fearless--and that pleases her father very much.Yet while Carlota throughly enjoys her freedom, she wants to be more than her father's "son." She wants to be herself, brave and courageous but free to show feelings of tenderness and compassion as well. Her father thinks such feelings are shameful, so Carlota must defy him. That will be the most difficult battle of all.

Thoughts: This was a good historical read. Sweet and simple it gave a short but detailed picture of life on a California ranch before American conquest.There wasn't much to the plot itself but it was an interesting peek into this time in history.
 The cast was interesting but under developed due to the short size of the book. 
 The writing was good and managed to convey the culture fairly well.

Content: A bit of mild war violence and some swearing in Spanish. Otherwise an overall clean book for just about any age.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Book Review: A Plague of Bogles


 Summary: Jem Barbary spent most of his early life picking pockets for a wily old crook named Sarah Pickles—until she betrayed him. Now Jem wants revenge, but first he needs a new job. Luckily Alfred the bogler, the man who kills the child-eating monsters that hide in the shadows of Victorian London, needs a new apprentice. As more and more orphans disappear under mysterious circumstances, Alfred, Jem, and Birdie find themselves waging an underground war in a city where science clashes with superstition and monsters lurk in every alley.

Thoughts: Sequel to How to Catch a Bogle, this was a really good continuation of the series!
 There are three children in this series, Birdie, Jem and Ned; the first book is told from Birdie's perspective. This book is told mostly from Jem's. This took a little adjusting from me going from a little girl's perspective to a young boys threw a different light on the events and shifted the perspective of the plot a bit, this story isn't just about hunting down bogles. Despite that, or maybe because of it, this was a book unique from the first, while a continuation it held it's own story and kept my interest just as much as the first!
 The cast was all fun and interesting and full of life. Even the characters you didn't like were life like enough to always keep you guessing. 
 The writing is really good, I'm still very impressed with the way accents are carried through the page. Catherine Jinks does a fantastic job of capturing a London from times past and filling it with dark and mysterious secrets.

Content: A D*** or two, mostly from adults. A few scary scenes with the bogles and a bit of violence. There's also the topic that bogles eat young children and this is a little disturbing but rarely is the point pushed. It's just an obvious fact. 
 All in all, a good read for most ages as long as they aren't too easily scared!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Book Review: The King's Fifth



Summary: In this deeply affecting novel Scott O’Dell envelops the reader in the heroic world of the conquistadors—a world that is at once somber and many-colored. Though they may have been ruthless, these steel-helmeted young men of Spain lived their lives on the very edge of eternity with style and uncommon courage.

Thoughts: Scott O'Dell is a good writer, he really works you into a historical time period with masterful ease. His writing is easy to follow and his books are usually short enough to be quick reads.
 Unfortunately, like with most of his books, it's usually difficult for me to connect in any way with his withdrawn characters. I actually enjoyed most of the cast in this book and, even though they didn't make a lasting impression, liked the story nonetheless.
 The plot was unique and gripping, all about the Spanish adventurers, gold, Indians, and danger. A really good read for the historical setting alone.

Content: Violence, the Spanish are depicted as treating the Indians brutally in this book there are many bloody fights though nothing is explained graphically. A few instances of D*** but most of the cursing is in Spanish. 
All in all a nice and quick historical read for most ages.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Book Review: How To Catch A Bogle



Summary: If ever a chill entered her soul, or the hope suddenly drained from her heart, she knew a bogle was to blame. Birdie McAdam, a ten-year-old orphan, is tougher than she looks. She's proud of her job as apprentice to Alfred the Bogler, a man who catches monsters for a living. Birdie lures the bogles out of their lairs with her sweet songs, and Alfred kills them before they kill her. On the mean streets of Victorian England, hunting bogles is actually less dangerous work than mudlarking for scraps along the vile river Thames. (See glossary!) Or so it seems—until the orphans of London start to disappear . . .

Thoughts: This was such a cute story! A little spooky sometimes but really adorable! 
 The cast was creative and fun and the setting was so real. A life-like London only infested with mysterious, dark creatures. 
 The plot was really good, it moves at a good paces, each chapter starting as it's own little story and full of excitement and development but as you reach the end things start to come together in a complex twist you probably weren't expecting!
 The writing is fun and Jinks does a fabulous job of conveying accents and noise. And even though things can get spooky they're never overwhelmingly scary. 
 There's also a really neat book trailer here if you're interested.

Content: Like I said, things can get a bit scary sometimes. There are monsters that eat children and while this is never actually shown it is made quite clear. A mention of D*** once or twice. Otherwise a fairly clean read for just about any age!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Book Review: The Road To Damietta


 Summary: A beautiful retelling of a high-spirited young man's transformation into Saint Francis of Assisi, told through the eyes of the girl who loved him with all her heart . . .

Thoughts: While not a big fan of Scott O'Dell I always seem to grab his books whenever I see them, I don't know why but he's one of the very few historical authors whose works I read consistently. while I enjoyed the historical setting and the interesting ways of life presented with the different cultures scattered through the book. 
 The cast was hard to relate to. The main character was especially difficult to understand, she was entirely caught up with herself and her own daydreams and was unable to look past these for anyone else's sake. 
 The writing voice is O'Dell greatest strength. He really manages to carry you through and keep you reading even when you don't connect at all with he story; it's a little mesmerizing. 

Content: There's violence from a war and, while not graphic, is given in enough detail to be seen as gruesome. The main leads both strip in public in one seen, they are not together but she follows his example which was meaningless because he was making a point alone. Same girl belly dances at another point. There's a short time when the main girl is on a ship full of harlots but she's in hiding most of the time and the talk she hears never describes anything. There's a story told of a naked woman waiting for a man in bed (he doesn't join her) and then same man stripping and laying on fire to make a point. 
 All in all this might be an interesting read if you're looking into the life of Saint Francis of Assisi or looking to expand your Scott O'Dell collection.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Booke Review: The Orphan Fleet


 Summary: "The Orphan Fleet" is terrific adventure fantasy -- a non-stop tale of action and strange magic on a wind-swept mountain top where abandoned children have forged a free community, servicing far-traveling airships on sturdy wooden platforms. Here masked heroes with names like Golden Sam and The Sparrow are the ultimate celebrities -- and the mysterious Count leaves shivers of terror wherever he treads. When that community is threatened by an admiral who demands the return of his prized daughter, it triggers a terrible war fought in the air, on the ground, and in the old abandoned scaffolding circling the mountain ... a war where Golden Sam may prove himself a true hero after all, and the Count has a terrible role to play." 

Thoughts: This was a really interesting little book. I really liked the characters and their relationships and the world had a neat setting to it. The plot held my attention and the writing style was engaging. 
 My only problem with it all was the way everything was written, each scene ran into the next and while things were described nothing was ever really explained. I had so many questions that weren't answered and there so many things that I didn't understand. Some of it was clear by the time I finished and I'm hoping more will be explained in the sequels. 

Content: C***, D***, and a few other words of this level are sprinkled throughout but sparingly. There's some bloody violence and a creepy monster. There is a girl who was married and she believes her husband is dead at one point and kisses someone else though it's later shown that the husband wasn't actually dead yet, due to the circumstances there are mixed views on this. 
 All in all probably not for young children though some middle-graders might enjoy it and older readers who enjoy adventure, airships, and mysterious cultures.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Book Review: The Boy Who Knew Everything


 Summary: There is a prophecy.
   It speaks of a girl who can fly and a boy who knows everything. The prophecy says that they have the power to bring about great change...
  The boy is Conrad Harrington III. The girl is Piper McCloud. They need their talents now, more than ever, if they are to save the world—and themselves.

Thoughts: This was the sequel to The Girl Who Could Fly and is rapidly becoming one of my most favorite series. The first book was great, the second was amazing. The first book moved me while the moment I finished the second I turned it over and started reading from the beginning again! 
 The story, the plot, it was so incredibly complex I had no idea what was going on right up until the end!  Every new twist, turn or detail threw me and I was riveted to this book for two whole days, unable to put it down!
 The writing is so good! It carries a classic feel that reminds me of Little House on the Prairie or even The Mysterious Benedict Society. It's cozy and comfy but positively chilling when things get dangerous. 
 The characters wrung my heart out like a rag and then gave it back. The relationships and developments in here are beyond believable. And yet, they are completely believable and that's what gets me the most, the very real emotions each person shares with another...needless to say I was moved deeply by the end.

Content: D*** was used max twice. Otherwise the biggest problem was violence. I thought the first book was bad but here we encounter lava, lightening storms and a torrent of other painful punishments all used on children. Two people are shot and there's a scene where an adult almost throws a non-flying child off a roof. None of the violence or wounds are ever graphic or described in much detail.
 This book could get a little tense but never scary and the smooth writing get the violence from getting horrific, mostly it just makes you cry. All in all a mostly clean read for any age and highly recommended in you like special children and really deep, moving, exciting stories!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Book Review: Superpowered


 Summary: 3 Unique Storylines. Over 50 Possible Endings. Just one question... Will YOU Be a Hero or a Villain? 
  You know the superhero fantasy. What would life be like if you had superhuman abilities? But really, given the choice, would you save the world or conquer it? In SUPERPOWERED, the choice is yours.
  After a bizarre experiment leaves you with one of three superpowers (play the book multiple times to explore all three!), you must ally with or confront the other two test subjects while the fate of Mercury City--nay, the world!--hangs in the balance.
  Live your own interactive comic book adventure and Get SUPERPOWERED!

Thoughts: I've had this book sitting on my Kindle Library for months, unable to bring myself to give it back, because it was just so much fun! 
 Now, a quick disclaimer, while I finished several different routes in this 'pick you own adventure' book I didn't read all the chapters or visit very route so their maybe content I am unaware of but I encountered enough to be able to give you at least an idea of what could possibly be there.
  The writing was fun and engaging but a little cheesy at times. It's easy to forgive though due to the difficult nature of the book itself. After all, it's not easy writing for a stranger's perspective. 
  The plot was so good. Become your own hero, team up with others (or don't) and save the world. It was so much fun and I played/read over and over to try and see the many variations and endings. 
 The side cast was really good. While this villains came off as typical and cheesy, the other two superpowered heroes are interesting and given a good helping of character and development. Especially (I personally think) in the scissors arc (you'll understand if you read it) which was my favorite.  

Content: Some cussing, usually H***, D***, and C*** but F*** is used once or twice depending on what chapters you come to. There's a mention of a pimp and whore but they're just arguing in the street. There are fights, murders, and brutal death but, while blood is mentioned, it usually didn't get too gory or graphic (though it could, I just never found anything to be). There's a scene at the bar where the MC is trying to impress a girl at one point but I don't think it ever lead to any content. I've only played through the hero routes, I never attempted one as a villain (not my thing) so I can't vouch for the content but there is always the possibility of large amounts of cussing, possible gore and/or mentions of sex. Some of the chapter titles had indicated that things could get bad though the stories I read never went overboard.
  All in all probably best for older teens and young adults but I really fun and entertaining read that's part book and part game and actually lets you make the decisions! Guaranteed to keep even non-superhero fans enthralled for hours!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Book Review: Christian Dating Simplified


 Summary: No, God won’t spell out the name of your future spouse in your Lucky Charms
   And just because the bible verse number this morning matches her birthday does not mean she’s the one.
   As ridiculous as those examples may be, the unfortunate reality is that too often our understanding of dating is shaped more by speculation, than by divine revelation. More by our thoughts, than by God’s Word.
   So, what does God’s Word say about “Christian dating”?
   Absolutely nothing.
  There is no passage in Scripture that addresses dating directly. And that’s because God is far concerned about who you are, than who you date.
   However, due to books, blogs, and podcasts that offer opinions drawn from opinion rather from the bible, the result is that we’ve overcomplicated Christian dating.
   This book is a must-read for anyone who is tired of Christian clichés. Dismantling the myths and moving past superficial 'rules' and 'guidelines' for dating, this book aims to capture the essence of the biblical message for dating.
   Starting from the big-picture of God’s redemptive vision for all of life, and ending with the only four practical questions that you need to ask when considering a relationship, this book is for you if you've ever asked....
                  What does the Bible have to say about soul mates?
                  Will God tell me which person to date and marry? And if so, how will I know?
                   Is looking for a Proverbs 31 woman or a Boaz good advice?
                  How does dating fit in with God’s redemptive plan from Genesis to Revelation?



Thoughts: This was a nice little book that made some good points and took me less than a full day to read. The writing was fun and engaging and the message, to always look to and trust in God for answers was a good one. I disagreed with some of the points made and others I had heard before since I was raised in a biblical-marriage mindset. 
 Making God first was always the golden rule in here and it was a good foot to get off on. After that everything is subject to the readers own perspective and what they would like to take away. 

Content: Literally none. A very clean read and a suggested one if you find yourself lacking material on a Sunday, just remember to take all advice with a grain of Holy Salt (compare teachings to those in the Bible)! ;-)


Friday, August 25, 2017

Book Review: The Silkworm


 Summary: When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days—as he has done before—and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.
   But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives—meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.
   When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before...

 Thoughts: I don't usually review books I haven't finished but you're all going to get two of those before the week is out.
 Despite not finishing it I got far enough to say that the characters were interesting and the plot had me intrigued. The slow build-up of the mystery was masterful and fascinating. The author, Robert Galbraith, is actually J. K. Rowling's pseudonym. So you know the writing was good. 
The problem was that it was also so dirty. It felt as though Rowling, in effort to ensure she was writing adult books, overcompensated and made then unfriendly to all ages. Rampant references to sex, every curse word out there, and plenty mentions or insertions of bathroom use that were, frankly, unnecessary. 
 Again, the leading cast and surrounding characters coupled with the mystery were great and I was sad to put this one down but I couldn't justify all the excess in problematic content.  

Content: Please realize that this content review is incomplete due to the fact that I didn't finish the book. Several mentions of considering sex or F***ing a woman. That word, F***, plus just about every other curse word in existence is used frequently but F was the favorite.  Mentions of violence and some dirty imagery. 
 All in all, though I was sorry to have to put it down, this is not a clean read and certainly not worth the trouble.  

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Book Review: How to Train Your Dragon Special Edition


 Summary: Don't miss this deluxe edition of How to Train Your Dragon, featuring two brand new stories plus a full color poster!
In Book One, travel back to the days when Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III was just a boy, the quiet and thoughtful son of the Chief of the Hairy Hooligans. Can Hiccup capture a dragon and train it without being torn limb from limb? Will he become a truly extraordinary hero?
The action continues in two brand new short stories! The Day of the Dreader is the tale of a truly dreadful Seadragon who challenges the Hairy Hooligans to a standoff! In How to Train Your Viking, we get a dragon's eye view when Toothless the Dragon narrates an epic tale!


Thoughts: I read this book aloud to one of my younger brothers and we both got a kick out of it! AS long time fans of the movie, my brother being a particularly large admirer, I couldn't resist this wonderful copy when I found it on clearance at our nearest bookstore. Since neither of us wanted to wait for the other to finish we decided I should read it to the both of us. 
 While vastly different from the movie we came to really love the cast in the book. Hiccup and Toothless's relationship was....a difficult one but by the end you couldn't help but adore them equally. Each and every character felt new and was therefore reopened for the possible chance of like and dislike (though most of them still fell into the same categories). But the development that happened by the end had me and my brother talking about it for a long time afterwards.
 The plot was great, complete with a humorously awful beginning and teary-eyed (from still laughing) ending. And the writing carried everything through very well, Cowell inserting some of her own common sense throughout the story. This was really hilariously wonderful during the last short story, Day of the Dreader.

Content: A few crude jokes, several mentions of poo. The dragon take (dragonese) is a garbled jumble of gibberish and some actual words smashed together and one of the words is 'C***' used when mentioning poo. I substituted this word when reading out-loud and it's hardly noticeable being buried in the rest of the jumble but it's still there. Otherwise there's giant dragons threatening death and a man who ends up wearing a dress after losing his clothes. 
 All in all, fairly clean. While I think my brother loved it more than I ever could (really appeals to boys) I enjoyed every bit of it and will be trying to get my hands on the sequels! A great read for just about any age, whether you're a fan of the movie or not!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Book Review: The Blackthorn Key


 Summary: “Tell no one what I’ve given you.”
   Until he got that cryptic warning, Christopher Rowe was happy, learning how to solve complex codes and puzzles and creating powerful medicines, potions, and weapons as an apprentice to Master Benedict Blackthorn—with maybe an explosion or two along the way.
    But when a mysterious cult begins to prey on London’s apothecaries, the trail of murders grows closer and closer to Blackthorn’s shop. With time running out, Christopher must use every skill he’s learned to discover the key to a terrible secret with the power to tear the world apart.

Thoughts: This was a really fun piece of historical fiction. While the historical part is mostly the setting and time period (not necessarily the events) it was a great look into old England and specifically at the work of the apothecary. The writing was really good; told from the view of a thirteen year old boy, Christopher, we quickly get swept up into his adventure of mystery and intrigue. 
 The plot was really good, a little slow paced in the beginning but kept interesting with some humorous mishaps, btw don't ever shoot a cannon inside. As the story moves on it takes a definitely darker turn. Murder, cults, and many chases and near death escapes keep us riveted until the very end!
 The characters all started out well and developed even better. I particularly loved the friendship between Christopher and his partner-in-crime Tom. Never a dull moment when those two were involved!

Content: Like I mentioned above, this book quickly turns dark with some really bloody and gory murders and deaths. Aside from this there's a lot of fighting and explosion and resulting wounds aren't pretty. The descriptions aren't overly graphic but they get the point across that the deaths were messy. There's at least one potion in here that is fictional and can be seen along the lines of magic. 
 Aside from violence this is a fairly clean book so if you're not too easily grossed out I would definitely recommend this book to middle graders and above looking for a really great adventure!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Graphic Novel Review: Wires and Nerve


 Summary: When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers' leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the series.

Thoughts: As a fan of the Lunar Chronicles and anything with pictures I was so excited the see this graphic novel's release! 
 First up the art is really nice, it's not fantastic but it endearing and seems to capture the feel of the characters rather than bothering with making them great.


Image result for wires and nerve
 The cast is mostly returning characters and it's neat to actually get to see them this time, complete with facial expression and cool moves. I have to say that the new villain is definitely doing his job, very villainy and kinda creepy. 
 The story is so cool! Finally some focus on Iko and a chance for the sweet little android to shine!
Image result for wires and nerve

And the writing does a great job of keeping the same feel as the book characters without sacrificing the fun of it all being a graphic novel. I mean, it's gotta be difficult to go from writing every movement and thought to simply writing the dialogue and using pictures to show the rest.


Content: A bit of violence, mentions of death, some blood. D*** and H*** may have been used a few times. There are a few panels showing kissing. 
 Really, it's a pretty clean graphic novel which was a super great bonus to the awesome story! highly suggested for all fans of the Lunar Chronicles!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Book Review: The Invisible Library



Summary: Irene must be at the top of her game or she'll be off the case - permanently... 
   Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she's posted to an alternative London. Their mission - to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it's already been stolen. London's underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.
  Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested - the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene's new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own.
  Soon, she's up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option - the nature of reality itself is at stake.

Thoughts: Spies, books, a library between worlds, steampunk, mystery, dragons, fey.... before I even picked it up I knew there was a lot to look forward to in this book and boy! It didn't let me down! I actually read the entire thing in two days. It has some of the best pacing I've ever seen. Down moments to regroup/heal/catch-your-breath quickly flow into chases through the street, brutal attacks, and magical battles without ever jumping, moving to fast, or throwing the reader into confusion. 
 The world here is built well with so many intricate details it pulses with a life of it's own that adds to plot that is thick with intrigue and hidden by the smogs of an alternate London. 
 The characters were interesting and quirky in their own ways. Irene was my favorite; outwardly cool, collected, and experienced, inwardly screaming and crying and wanting someone else to do something. She was a great mix of competent and floundering. Kai was a pretty different character too, keeping up a definite air of mystery even after many of his secrets are revealed. There are plenty of others, villains that are actually frightening, grand detectives and shifty coworkers; each one is a fantastic example of really great characterization!

Content: D*** and H*** were the worst the language ever got. There is magic and some fantasy violence. There's also some rather creepy deaths, nothing is shown per-say (pieces discovered after the fact) but they're still creepy. There were some mentions of gay or lesbian couples but in past tense. A man tries to coax a woman into 'sleeping' with him and they proceed to argue about who would be better in bed, the language for this scene was kept surprisingly clean for the topic and passed quickly but was still inappropriate (the woman declines and nothing happens). 
 All in all not clean enough to merit a young audience but a really good read for young adults and older readers looking for an out-of-this world adventure that is unique and exciting!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Book Review: The Portable Poe


 Summary: This text includes all of Poe's best-known tales and poems, with representative articles, criticism, letters and opinions.

Thoughts: To be fair, I didn't read the entire book. I was really only interested in the mysteries but I found this giant collection for under four dollars at a used bookstore and couldn't resist, I fully intend to finish it at some point but not right now so this review is strictly for the four mysteries found somewhere near the middle. I've been on a mystery, detective kick for awhile now which of course means I have to go back to the man they call the 'Father of Detective Fiction'. It's said that Poe was the first to write it so I'm finally making my way round to him.  
 Edgar Allen Poe is known for his dark poetry and letters mostly but also for the four short mysteries included in this story. They carried with them all the dark and eerie feel of the detective fiction we know today and had some really complex plots (which is necessary of course in a mystery). 
 His first three stories feature the detective C. Auguste Dupin solving three separate cases. Dupin is a great detective and his deduction and reasoning were dizzying but followed a logical pathway to a most interesting conclusion each time. 
 The final story was about a mysterious gold bug and a man seemingly driven mad and was actually my favorite of the four. It took me awhile to figure out what was going on and I was extremely impressed with how the creepy and almost supernatural story ended in a surprising way. But that's how a mystery is supposed to be right?

Content: The first two detective stories feature blood, brutal murders, and a possible rape (the second case is drawn from an actual murder and was a little unclear on that subject). Sometimes Poe gets a little too carried away and gives us more details about the bodies than we need. D*** is used once or twice and H*** about the same. The last story was pretty creepy starting off and featured some long dead bodies at one point. 
 So while a good read for a mature mystery fan, this would not be appropriate for children, not to mention that old writing style would make it hard for most people to keep up with the story (I got lost several times). Still, a great beginning to world of detective fiction and a must read for mystery fans.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Book Review: The Vengekeep Prophecies


Summary: “You can’t convict what you can’t confirm.” That’s the motto of 12-year-old Jaxter Grimjinx and his infamous family of thieves. And while Jaxter may not have his father’s burglary prowess, his mother’s forgery skills, or his little sister’s mastery of sleight-of-hand, his book-fed knowledge of non-magical solutions to magical problems makes him invaluable to the family’s heists.
  But the Grimjinxes may have pulled one con too many in their hometown, Vengekeep. After swapping the prophetic tapestry used to guide Vengekeep’s actions for a fake concocted by Jaxter’s mother, the Grimjinxes are stunned when the false prophecies begin coming true, bringing destruction in their wake.
  Suddenly, Vengekeep is besieged by “natural” disasters and rampaging monsters, courtesy of the secretly enchanted counterfeit tapestry. With his family forced to stay and combat the impending doom, Jaxter must leave his hometown in search of a way to keep the increasingly dangerous prophecies from wiping Vengekeep off the map.

Thoughts: This story made me so happy! I loved the way Farrey managed to incorporate an entire family into a fantasy adventure!  Normally parents ho show up in fantasy tend to be bad parents whether they're just painful oblivious to the antics of they're children or useless in times of trouble, they've become big disappointments with me. And if they're actually doing a good job at parenting it usually leaves the children feeling bland and useless as they aren't allowed to do much while under the protecting and watchful eye of the parents. 
 While the Grimjinx family may not be the best of people they are a fabulous family. The parents especially shone in light of being kind, caring, and protective but without smothering the character of Jaxter. They were all a fabulously enjoyable bunch! All of the cast was for that matter.
  The plot was interesting and kept me laughing or guessing the whole time. Never a dull moment.
 The writing was great.. Everything is told from Jaxter's point of view and he keeps us involved with an optimistic yet sarcastic way of explaining everything that comes they're way.

Content: Magic. Some fantasy violence and blood but no deaths.  A few mildly frightening scenes (Lava men rising from rifts in the street, skeleton-birds attacking the town, etc). 
 All in all a clean story and a load of fun for nearly any age!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Manga Review: Wadanohara and the Great Blue Sea


 Summary: The young witch Wadanohara has just returned from a journey across the oceans, searching for a clue to her lost memories. Now that she has come home, along with her familiars Memoca, Dolphi and Fukami, Wadanohara must continue her quest while ensuring the safety of the ocean kingdom she hails from. But a mysterious figure from her past has appeared and demands that she leave her ocean home forever. What dark event transpired in Wadanohara's past and what does it portend for her future?


Thoughts: This might be a manga series but the copy I have is all one book so I'm titling it as a single manga. 
  I am so excited to see this in book form! I found it at Barnes and Noble and was instantly sending pictures of it to almost everyone I know. I played the games years ago and loved it so much and seeing it in a big store made me ridiculously happy!

                                  Image result for wadanohara game

 For those of you unfamiliar with the title Wadanohara is a Japanese RPG indie game created by Deep-Sea Prisoner (extra info here). It has been translated into English and several other languages and has become so popular that it now has a manga. As one of those fans, this made my week! 
 The story follows the first part of the game  introducing a young witch and her familiars. It then proceeds with several varying plot lines, only a few of which get resolved (for the finished story you'll have to play the game). This isn't to say you're left hanging or with an unfinished end. The main points wrap up well, and only a few side points are left open.
  Needless to say I love all of these characters, they are all so interesting and each one has their own story to tell.
The art was cute and the writing was good, keeping to the game and carrying the story through.
Image result for wadanohara manga  


Content: Despite the cute art and setting there were some rather violent and bloody deaths. most of the cast are some kind of sea animal and a few of them (such as a killer whale) are seeing in the background as possibly eating other animals. Wadanohara is a witch and four of the other characters are her familiars. There are also a few other witches and familiars shown throughout the manga. There are a pair of girls who are shown kissing while drunk and they might be a couple. 
 Most of the content is not obviously there or in your face but readers should be cautious. There's a tiny bit of language such as H*** or D*** but these don't appear more than three times. 
 All in all it's a really cute manga and story and a good read for fans of the game or who want to know more about it (note, the content rating for the game is different from the manga). It would also be a good first manga for anyone looking to get into manga.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Book Review: Failstate



Summary: Why did Robin Laughlin (aka. Failstate) think being a superhero on a reality show would be a good idea again? Things seemed so simple: win the show, become an official, licensed hero. But with his brother, Ben (aka. Gauntlet) stealing America's heart and his own powers proving too unwieldy even for the monitored studio challenges, Robin begins to wonder if his calling isn't to save the world after all.
 Until one of his competitors is murdered.
 Vowing to find the killer, Robin sets out on a very real quest to unmask the hidden villain. Can Robin find justice? Or will his lunk of a big brother ruin everything?

Thoughts: While I'm not really into superheros as a norm I always loved the thought of a Christ-following, action-packed, super-something. John Otte gives us that and so much more!
 I really liked the characters in here. They were all really great but Robin and Veritas particularly had some really likable growth and character. 
 There were so many cool and awesome plot twists they kept me guessing and wondering what was going on and how on earth all these things were connected. And then Otte wrapped them up superbly! Everything fell into place and concluded with a bang! I always feel like I know how things are gong to end in a trope like superheroes but Failstate surprised me! 
 The writing was good and kept my attention while also keeping things easy and light. From descriptions of fights, to the breakdown of how the powers work, to the simple day-to-day life, everything flowed well.

Content: Violence, death, some blood; nothing graphic, basic superhero stuff. There's kissing and a girl playing around with two different guys SPOILER there's a reason for this but it's not apparent at first END SPOILER. There's a brief description of how on female superhero's costumes "clings to her every curve" and some similar descriptions but it wasn't used in an inappropriate or offensive context.
 All in all a fairly clean read for middlegraders or above and a great book for any superhero fan! 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Book Review: The Girl From The Train


Summary: Six-year-old Gretl Schmidt is on a train bound for Auschwitz. Jakób Kowalski is planting a bomb on the tracks.
  As World War II draws to a close, Jakób fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia. They mean to destroy a German troop transport, but Gretl’s unscheduled train reaches the bomb first.
   Gretl is the only survivor. Though spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people. When Jakób discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her home. For three years, the young man and little girl form a bond over the secrets they must hide from his Catholic family.
   But she can’t stay with him forever. Jakób sends Gretl to South Africa, where German war orphans are promised bright futures with adoptive Protestant families—so long as Gretl’s Jewish roots, Catholic education, and connections to communist Poland are never discovered.
   Separated by continents, politics, religion, language, and years, Jakób and Gretl will likely never see each other again. But the events they have both survived and their belief that the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war have formed a bond of love that no circumstances can overcome.

Thoughts: I don't normally like romances (too mushy), or World War 2 fiction (made-up tragedy for an already tragic time period = too much sadness), I made an accepting for this amazing story. I loved it so much!
 I was first interested in the book because of the premise,  small orphaned girl being taken care of by a big, tough army guy...my kind of story. And I wasn't disappointed, the two main characters were great but the supporting cast was amazing too. Even those few people that were only in for a few pages were so full of life and character!
  The plot was really good too, it's set in an area we don't hear a lot about during World War 2, Poland and then South Africa. And while the story was at the tail end of the actual war, the end results and consequences are still being dealt with at the end of the book. I was pleasantly surprised by how much Christianity featured in the story, I didn't even realized how prevalent faith and religion were to the plot until I started reading it. It was so great to see the historical background of the different views plus the contrast between Catholicism and Protestant beliefs. 
  The writing was key to everything, Joubert weaves seamlessly between the tragic horror of the war and the simple everyday life of a growing girl. She even had me really caring about the romance and I'm not ashamed to say I got teary eyed at the end of the book!

Content: War violence first off. Joubert never gets too graphic but people do die in here and there's mentions of the Auschwitz camp and ghettos that the Jews were kept in. There's some over-done descriptions on passionate kisses and SPOILER a couple with a thirteen year age difference END SPOILER. 
 Overall, while the war setting and mature way of writing might be a bit much for some younger readers, it's a clean book overall and I highly suggest it for anyone looking for a good historical read!
 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Book Review: The Fiend With Twenty Faces



Summary: When 1930s Tokyo is threatened by a master thief who can disguise himself to look like anyone, and laughs at the law, the people of the city have nowhere else to turn but Japan's greatest detective, Akechi Kogoro. Unfortunately for Tokyo, however, Akechi Kogoro is off on overseas business, so it becomes the job of his 12-year old assistant, Kobayashi Yoshio, to track down the thief and desperately keep him at bay until his mentor returns.

Thoughts: This is a first in a sequel series to The Early Cases of Akechi Kogoro, a series of adult mystery stories. The Fiend With Twenty Facees was written for a younger audience and therefore is much less frightening and disturbing than your average mystery. On the other hand it contains a really intriguing case and presents the Moriarty or Lupin of Japan, pitting him against the greatest detective in the East and his young assistant!
 I really loved this book, one of my favorites this year. It was a great mystery, almost completely clean, and a fun adventure! I loved seeing the great detective Akechi Kogoro working with a small boy and I really liked how the assistant, Kobayashi, while clever, was not one of those all-knowing child geniuses. I may like some kids with big brains (Artemis Fowl, H.I.V.E., The Mysterious Benedict Society) but I also really enjoy a kid who's not out of this world smart sometimes. 
 The entire cast was interesting and unique. They kept you on your toes always wondering who's who and what's real. 
 The plot was really well paced, well, handled and got me all excited for the end which was absolutely perfect in my opinion. 

Content: There were a few mild scares in here (scenes that might be frightening to sensitive/young children). A tiny bit of violence but no deaths. Two children are abducted but not harmed. 
Otherwise a clean and really all-age friendly story that I highly recommend for all mystery fans!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Sleeping Beauty Blog Tour Book Review + Giveaway: Twisted Dreams


   Hey everyone! We're back with another blog tour today! This one is part of a three-way author collaboration with three different sleeping beauty tales. And I'm here today to give you a review on the one I got to read, Twisted Dreams by Morgan Elizabeth Huneke!



Summary:

“I, Calandra, of the Wingans, do bestow upon you, the Princess of Hanover, a gift. You have been given long life. I cannot interfere with that, but when you are sixteen years of age, you will prick your finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into an everlasting sleep.” She stepped closer so that she could be heard only by Liesel and her parents. “Then you will at last see the truth. Be wary. Be wise. Your fate rests upon yourself.”
   On her sixteenth birthday, Princess Liesel Rosanna falls victim to a sleeping curse—but wakens in another world, a prisoner of war. As the bait in a trap for her fiancé, the crown prince of Hanover, Liesel longs to escape back to the fairy tale world. The world where she is only wanting a true love’s kiss to set everything to rights.
   As situations quickly grow dire, Liesel must choose which story to live, which life is real. The fate of her country rests on her decision.   



Thoughts: Twisted dreams surprised out of the blue with a fairly complex plot. It starts off your typical, everyday Sleeping Beauty but there's something that's just a little...off about everything.  Next thing I know, everything has been flipped up on it's head. Nothing is at it seems and everything is moving quickly. The pace was fast but not rushed and while it took me a bit to figure out what was going on it was a really good story. I'm reading several other books at the same time and having to pace myself in my reads to keep up with everything but I finished this story in just a few days. It was short, sweet, has a strong Christian message, and was very enjoyable!

Content: A little bit of violence a mention of blood. Otherwise a good and clean read for all ages!






About the Author:


Morgan Elizabeth Huneke is a homeschool graduate who lives in Georgia. She has enjoyed creating characters and writing stories since early childhood. Books have always been a big part of her life, never more so than when working at the local library. Her other interests include reading, playing and teaching piano and violin, and politics. She is the author of Across the Stars and The Experiment as well as the Time Captives fantasy trilogy.

You can connect with Morgan on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.





 And here is a wonderful little snippet!


A gentle applause began, but before it could grow to fullness, a hush fell over the room. A figure rose out of the crowd, her commanding figure and large wings causing Eva to shrink back against her husband in intimidation.
“How is there a Wingan here? This cannot be.”
Henry placed his arm around Eva’s shoulders.
The Wingan stepped in front of the group of Cantileens. “I, Calandra, of the Wingans, do bestow upon you, the Princess of Hanover, a gift. You have been given long life. I cannot interfere with that, but when you are sixteen years of age, you will prick your finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into an everlasting sleep.” She stepped closer so that she could be heard only by Liesel and her parents. “Then you will at last see the truth. Be wary. Be wise. Your fate rests upon yourself.”
Liesel looked up into the face of Calandra and was not afraid. The fairy-like quality of the Wingan’s appearance, though unusual to Liesel’s infant eyes, spoke to her only genuine concern. Yet her parents drew back.
“Be gone from here,” her father ordered.
Calandra stepped back, a hard resolve overtaking her features. “I will do as you ask,” she acquiesced. “But remember, Liesel. Always remember.” Calandra turned from them and strode through the center of the crowd. With a wave of her hand, she opened the doors and exited the room. The doormen hurriedly closed the doors behind her.




I always get so excited to share pieces of books I liked! I hope this gets you interested in the story!

Also, don't forget to check out the two other books. You can find more information and a list of the blogs posting reviews, interviews and other wonderful topics over here!

There are several different giveaways going on with this tor as well!

1. Rafflcopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2. The person who leaves the most comments on the blog posts in the tour will win an early reading of two fantasy stories (you can learn more here). 

3. Kendra E. Ardnek is offering several of her books free for a limited time so check them out!
   
Sew, It's a Quest (Permafree): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/731321