Charmed

Charmed by Jen Calonita, Narrated by Kristin Condon

Rating: 5 stars

I finally found the second audiobook for Fairy Tale Reform School. It has been a while since I listened to the first book….for a refresh check out the review here. The second installment follows the aftermath of Gilly’s new found fame. After having stopped evil in the first installment, her father is getting more orders for shoes, the scrolls discuss how she is a hero, and many of her classmates feel it is going to her head…which it kind of is.

Gilly is still hell bent that Jocelyn is trying to help her sister Harlowe to help Alva. Gilly discovers a mole in the school is providing information to Alva to help Alva in her grand scheme. Gilly decides, alone, to go undercover with the club Royal Ladies in Waiting to see if she can find the mole. After joining RLW, Gilly turned into a sort of monster and alienated her group of friends. After a long chat with her father during family visitation day, she realized she cant do things on her own, and that it is dangerous to think she can. If Gilly feels she has to stop Alva, she needs her friends. So everyone makes up and proceed forward together.

There are a lot of unexpected twists and turns in the book that keeps the listener on their toes. I really enjoyed it. It is a quick listen/read. I am very happy that I found the sequel. I had looked for it at the library several times with no luck. I am looking forward to the next installment and catching up in time for book 5 to come out. I was also happy to learn that there is a spin off series for the Royal Academy Rebels.

The age group the book is geared towards would enjoy the story. I think adults could also enjoy listening if they give it a go. I really like it. The narrator is really good and I enjoy listening to her. I firmly believe Narrators make or break a story, and Condon really elevates the delivery of the story. I do not know if I would enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoy listening, that is how good she is.

Aleks Mickelsen and the Call of the White Raven

Aleks Mickelsen and the Call of the White Raven by Keira Gillett, Narrated by Michele Carpenter

Rating: 5 stars

 

I was given a copy of this audiobook in exchange for my honest review.

First, let me apologize for how long it has taken me to write this review. I recently gave birth in an emergency Csection after having a really horrible pregnancy, which resulted in a few hospitalizations. But! I am giving it now, and hopefully will continue on with my book reviews now that things are somewhat normal, for me anyways.

This is book 5 in the Zaria Fierce series, though it follows my favorite, Aleks Mickelsen. It is a continuation of book 4, in which Aleks and friends join Nori to stop Fritjof from escaping the Under World and reaching land to wreak havoc on both the Fae and humans.

In this story, Aleks obtains a white raven, which are rare, who takes a shine to Aleks. It is not always a fun relationship, though it is entertaining for readers and listeners. Aleks learns how to work with the Raven throughout the story and eventually starts liking the Raven. Ultimately, Aleks ends up in the Fae Realm where he is sent on multiple tests where he has to save his friends in various trials. These trials are set up for Aleks to fail, but does he? Not to spoil anything, but the ending of this story is by far my favorite ending. I still get goosebumps just thinking about it.

I really enjoyed this story. I loved the Zaria Fierce aspect of the series, but I love Aleks so much. He is my favorite character and I love that his life is being explored more. I cannot wait until the next book. Again, Carpenter brings this story to life in her wonderfully brilliant narration. I really strongly encourage anyone and everyone to read these books. I can’t wait to obtain the paperback versions so I can read them to my son when he is a little older and marvel at the illustrations with him. That is the only downside to the audiobooks, I miss out on all the beautiful artwork!

This series is definitely worth it, whether you read or listen. The narrator brings the story to life in a vibrant way. I love the Norwegian fairy-tale aspect of the series. It is full of adventure and action packed. I feel sorry for this group of friends because they can’t seem to ever catch a break. I also love all the other smaller story lines that are happening between the characters, especially since they are all getting older since their first adventure. You will not be disappointed for investing time into this series, I can promise you that!

 

Beyond the Gloaming

Beyond the Gloaming by Brendan Murphy

Rating: 4 stars

 

I have received this book by the author in exchange for my honest review.

 

I first want to start off saying, I deeply apologize for it taking so long to get this review. Between traveling for Christmas, my internship, homework, work, and the flu, I have lacked any reviews. But! I am done with my internship and now have some free time to do those things I enjoy!

Beyond the Gloaming is about a boy named Sebastian who is a very lucid dreamer, only his dreams are real and he doesn’t often remember them or are able to interact with them, until the day two school bullies nearly kill him. His body puts him into a comatose state in order to protect him, that state is where the story takes place.

Sebastian is Irish currently living in England. Sometimes the words are hard to understand because the author is writing with a strong Irish dialect, which comes across the way it supposed to, but hard to understand (for me anyways). Sebastian’s older brother died, and his mom appears to be bipolar and goes from ignoring him, to beating him. When his mother is in one of her moods, dad usually punishes Sebastian as they blame him for the swings.

During his comatose state, Sebastian is transported to the Gloaming, a shadow world, an in-between, a dreamworld. Here he meets Porrig, a creepy little creature that Sebastian is forced into trusting blindly. Sebastian is special, and he is to be delivered to the King of Hibercadia in hopes to save Hibercadia from Phobitor, one of the gods from another dreamworld. Phobitor sends many to try and destroy young Sebastian before he can reach the item he is searching for.

This is a coming of age tale, in a way. Sebastian, who is weak, and feeble, who has no self confidence, and written to save an entire world he didn’t even know existed. Sebastian learns much about himself throughout his journey, finding smarts he didn’t know he had. This story is filled with excitement, adventure, and betrayal. Murphy is a great world builder, but sometimes I would get lost and have to reread.

One of my issues I had with this book is the terminology. It has a lot of Gaelic, which I am unfamiliar with. I have had to google words such as,  sgian dubhs, which I had no clue what they were. I did discover there is a glossary in the back, however, I found out at the end of the book, and I had a PDF copy, so it would not have helped me. For me, if I do not always understand what is being said, and have to reread portions, I get really lost and start to lose interest. I do recommend this book, however, I would read a physical copy so you can access the glossary in the back. For other words not included, I would have your phone at the ready to google, which is what I had to do often.

Overall, I did enjoy the book and would read more of Murphy’s work. I am however, not certain I will continue with this specific series because of my difficulty with the language used. I still gave the book 4 stars however for it’s originality, and because I still did like the book.

 

Aleks Mickelsen and the Twice Lost Fairy Well

35615118

Aleks Mickelsen and the Twice Lost Fairy Well by Keira Gillett, narrated by Michele Carpenter 

Rating: 5 Stars

Narrator Rating: 5 Stars

I was given a copy of this audiobook from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I was super happy when book 4 in the Zaria Fierce series was released. This book follows Aleks and his journey towards either becoming totally human, or remaining changeling. It threw me off at first, but this book occurs 3 years after book 3 ends.

The day started out odd compared to every other day. First his mom lost her fridge, and then there was a fire in the chem lab at school. After school, on a plane ride with a few of the guys, the plane suddenly crashed. After the police brought the boys home, and Aleks to his house, Aleks went to his room, where Nori began knocking on his window. Nori convinced Aleks to get Zaria and come help find Fritjof, the last dragon, that is trying to escape.

Aleks, Geirr, Filip, Zaria, Christoffer, and Henrick all agree to follow Nori on the adventure to prevent Fritjof from escaping the Under Realm and end the pending throne war in Niffleheim. Aleks is worried as his age of maturity as a changeling is fast approaching. If he is still away from his human home at this time, he will stay that way forever. The group go on a wild adventure together, getting captured by the Wild Hunt all over again, to see that the king had been overthrown, and the first borns had been captured.

This story was just as amazing as the first 3 stories in the series. My biggest, and only, issue I had with the story was that the narrator changed the voice of Henrick in the story. It started out with one specific voice, however, as the story continued he began to sound EXACTLY like Hector, his father. That is really the only issue I had. Like the three before it, this story went fast and now I am saddened I have to wait for book 5 :(. There is so much that I loved about this story. Aleks is one of my favorite characters and I am so excited that he is getting his own stories so that readers can learn more about him and go on this journey of self discovery along with him and his friends.

Strange Lands

Strange Lands by Anderson Atlas 

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars

Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

 

I received a copy of Strange Lands in exchange for an honest review.

Allan is in the 8th grade when he is in a terrible car accident that killed both of his parents and left him wheel chair bound. His uncle, Rubic, comes to take care of him, but Allan struggles to get through the loss of not only his parents, but his ability to move. As such, he feels extremely helpless and useless.

One day, Rubic decides to take them camping because he believes fresh air and wilderness will do Allan some good, though Allan is not a fan of the camping idea. They were getting ready to go fishing, and a storm was coming and they were told to clear out by a Ranger. They didn’t, and went fishing anyway when boulders and large amounts of water come crashing through the lake. The water barrels over Rubic, who was trying to carry Allan to safety. Allan builds a small dam around Rubic to keep him safe and begins crawling to search for help, only he sees he is not in what looks like Earth anymore. From there he goes on an adventure through a land called Lan Darr.

It took me a while to finish this book. I won’t say it is slow, but it took a while to really capture my attention, so I would stop for a while and then go back to it. Once my attention was grabbed, though, I finished it rather quickly. The issue was primarily that, while I have an active imagination, I had a hard time visualizing what I was reading.

There are some pictures in the book, however, I find that they didn’t line up in sync with the story. Pictures were occurring prior to the part in the book that explains what is going on in that picture.

In regards to Allan’s disability, I liked that it shows how he starts out depressed and struggling to cope, but by the end, and every trial he faced, he found his worth.

I also liked how, at the end, even as the reader, I questioned if it actually happened or not. I think that is a good way to entice the reader to pick up the next book.

The picture below shows how the book was messed up and the about the author was put into the pages left of the story.

 

Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes

29983980

Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes by Keira Gillett, narrated by Michele Carpenter.

Rating: 5 stars

Narrator Rating: 5 stars

 

I was given a copy of this audiobook in exchange for my honest review. These thoughts are my own.

I have given a synopsis in both of the previous books in this series, therefore, I will skip out on a synopsis here and go in to talking about what I enjoyed about the book and finishing up any lasting thoughts I have of the series.

Out of the three books, Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes is my favorite. This story was action packed, enlightening, heart breaking, and heartwarming all rolled up into 300 pages of warm, fuzzy, goodness.

The Zaria Fierce trilogy is a great show of a team comprised of unique, different, individuals that come together to work towards a common goal. All of the characters had significant growth, and frankly Hart becomes one of my favorite characters, right next to Aleks (the pretty awesome Changeling) and Hector (Stag Lord). I am looking forward to Aleks’ follow up trilogy. I can’t wait to dive back into this world and will be sad if it finishes.

The whole story set leaves you wanting more. Each character is brought to life by Michele Carpenter, which makes listening that much more enjoyable. This series is a great fantasy read geared towards middle ages but is so good parents and older readers will enjoy it as well. There is so much constantly going on in this book that it is massive stimulation constantly. I like books that really hit the ground running and I finished this story pretty quickly. By the end, I was left breathless, heartbroken, yet satisfied, and happy. This book was truly enchanting.

If you haven’t read it yet, please do so. You will not be disappointed.

Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword

27423136

Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword by Keira Gillett, narrated by Michele Carpenter.

 

Goodreads Rating: 5 stars

Actual Rating: 4.5 stars

Narrator Rating: 5 stars

 

I was given a copy of this audiobook from the author in exchange for my honest review. These thoughts are my own. I have not been paid for this review. 

 

Zaria Fierce and Enchanted Drakeland Sword is the second book in the Zaria Fierce trilogy. This story follows the aftermath of Hart being stolen by Olaf. Hector comes for Zaria and her friends for another adventure into the heart of many lands in Norse mythology.

Zaria continues to be haunted by nightmares and self blame regarding the loss of Heart, the Staglord of the Elkenfolken’s son, Hart. All of the children set off in hopes to find the Enchanted Drakeland Sword and find where Hart is being kept by Olaf. Along the way, they meet many Giants, some who are helpful and others who are not. Eventually they make their way into the land of dwarves.

Zaria keeps having these visions where she sees a spector of sorts who looks like her. She is sleeping in her bed when it wakes her up. It tells her it is slowly turning into her and will eventually make his way up to surface with people of Earth and will fool them all into thinking he is her. He then flees, which causes Zaria to follow after him down the dwarvan tunnels through a hidden magical door. Once through, she finds Hart, and frees him with her newly acquired Drakeland Sword. Only, it wasn’t Hart, it was Koll, the deadly dragon Olaf is desperate to free from the Under Realm where he has been trapped for thousands of years.

To save from any spoilers, I will end the synopsis here because the adventure is worth the read, or listen. The narrator is fantastic, bringing each of the characters alive. Each character is well written and has continual growth. The reason I gave this 4.5 stars, instead of 5, was simply because Zaria was almost whiney, and it got annoying after a while. Also, out of all 3 books, this one was my least favorite. I felt that it did not accomplish as much as book 1, and book 3 (review to come soon). I felt it took me longer to get through and I needed frequent breaks. It is worth reading, and getting through, because book 3 was spectacular and a fantastic way to end the trilogy.

Final thought: This is a great series filled with Norse folklore adventures for young readers, but can be enjoyed by all

Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest

25091986

Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest by Keira Gillett, narrated by Michelle Carpenter.

Goodreads rating: 5 stars

Narrator Rating: 5 stars

 

I was provided a free copy of this book in audio format by the author in exchange for an honest review. I have not been paid for this review.

Zaria Fierce is a story enriched with Norse folklore. It is full of trolls, elves, giants, and the like can all be found in this story. This story was a very short listen, and the narrator was amazing. Carpenter’s voices were spot on, helping bring every character to life, my favorite being Christoffer.

One of the biggest indicators for a potential 5-star rating for me is when a story is captivating from the very beginning. The only downfall to listening to this story being narrated, is that there are illustrations in the book. BUT! No fear, Gillett provided the book trailer links, and there you can see the lovely illustrations!!

Every character in this book has something particularly charming about them, including some pretty interesting secrets, which become helpful throughout the story. This ragtag team find themselves in some pretty hot water in every world they enter into, but yet they are resourceful enough to get themselves out of these situations. For a bunch of 13 year olds, that is not bad. I did peg who Zaria was from the beginning, but it was fun to watch it all unfold.

This story is great for children, or adults! As an audiobook, I can hear it filling up the time spent together in a long car ride. In book form, I can envision parents reading chapters to their kids before bed at night. I am looking forward to enjoying more adventures of these friends in future books!

I know this is a short and sweet review, but it was a heartwarming story, with a great narrator. It is fun for all ages, and mixes Norse folklore into the story in such a fun way. The narrator is fantastic and helps aide in bringing the story to life for the listener. It is worth the time to read or listen to. I also LOVE strong, heroic, female lead characters, and Zaria is a great leading lady!

 

Flunked

21996359

Flunked by Jen Calonita, Narrated by Kristin Condon

Goodreads Rating: 5 stars

Narrator Rating: 5 stars

 

I picked up the audiobook for Flunked at the library. At first I wasn’t sure about it, but as time went on it became a great listen and I finished it pretty quickly.

I like the idea of a fairy tale reform school for the bad guys or villains of fairy tales. I liked how the teachers were all reformed villains from various story platforms. I like that Gilly was smart, inquisitive, and caring. I think for the age range of this book, having a strong female lead is super important. I also liked that the story taught Gilly that though it is okay to be independent, sometimes having a group of friends you can trust is just as okay.

The premise around this book follows Gilly, the Cobbler and Old Woman Who Lives in a Show daughter. Gilly often steals in order to support and feed her family, who often goes without food. Eventually, after getting caught several times by the Dwarf Police Squad, Gilly is ordered to go to FTS to change her villainous ways. While Gilly is at the school, she discovers something evil is afoot and begins to secretly investigate.

Overall, the story was unique and original. It was well executed and the narration helped bring this story to life. In the time of Gilly’s stay you meet various fairy tale characters such as Snow White, Rapunzel, and Cinderella, as well as their villains. Characters also include the Big Bad Wolf, fairies, trolls, and mermaids. I definitely recommend this story!

The Mystery of Hollow Inn

mystery of hollow inn

The Mystery of Hollow Inn, written and narrated by Tara Ellis

Rating: 3.5 stars

Narrator: 3 stars

 

The Mystery of Hollow Inn is one of the many books on my 2016 Books to read list.  This book also satisfies one of my challenge books for the Mount TBR challenge. I am trying to “clean up” my TBR pile, though it seems to be ever growing.

This book was cute, and I feel for the age it is targeted towards, it will be enjoyed by its readers. At a certain point in this book, I was thinking to myself, this sounds awfully familiar….and then I kept laughing to myself thinking “those meddling kids…” Know where I am going with this? Yes…all they needed was this beloved childhood dog:

clip-art-scooby-doo-959006

By the end, I was literally waiting for the villain to say this. I was a bit sad he didn’t, but I am sure that is copyrighted. The story line is appropriate, it is a quick read/listen. Sam was a smart cookie, and it sounded like she will have great stories to tell her friends after her little vacation.

I want to point out…who in the world would send 2 12 year olds out on their own on a 10 hour bus ride?! Seriously! That is my big qualm with this book. This book felt a bit Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew to me, but I feel like it is supposed to be a more modern take on Nancy Drew. I think it is appropriate with the current times. I also like that both kids talked about the pressure they felt with technology, social media, and texting. Twelve year olds do not really need to be doing all that anyways 😉