Posted in Middle Grade

Aleks Mickelsen and the Twice Lost Fairy Well

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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.

Posted in Middle Grade

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.

 

Posted in Middle Grade

Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes

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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.

Posted in Middle Grade

Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword

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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

Posted in Middle Grade

The Mystery of Hollow Inn

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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:

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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 😉

Posted in Middle Grade, Uncategorized

The Hidden Oracle

The Hidden Oracle

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars

Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars

I am normally a HUGE supporter of anything Rick Riordan. This book rubbed me the wrong way on so many levels that I am having a hard time comprehending what I actually read.

I didn’t like how modernized the book was. Not that his other books weren’t modern, I just felt weird with multiple Social Media sites, bands, etc were constantly referenced. I understand that Apollo is a bit self centered (okay more than a bit). I just thought it was too much. To the point of annoying. Feeling this way makes me so sad. I can usually overlook such actions, because it is the character, and I try to have that mindset.

I will continue with the story, but for once, I am saddened that I just was not head over heals for this book 😦

I do think that the age range it is meant for will enjoy it. I believe it has a lot of promise, and by the end of the book, I noticed a change in Apollo’s behaviors and thought processes. My only hope is this continues and that self centered, crap, attitude he has falters and he becomes someone you want to be around. I won’t give away the ending, but I was VERY happy to see it. Much like the new Magnus Chase series, I was happy to see old favorites and meet new loves!

Posted in Middle Grade

Loki’s Wolves

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Goodreads Rating: 3 stars

Actual Rating: 2.8 stars

Rating Breakdown:

  • Originality: 2.5
  • Writing style: 2.5
  • Character Development: 3
  • Plot: 3

Genre based ratings:

  • Middle Grade: 3

 

I had some trouble with this book. As many may know, I am a HUGE fan of Rick Riordan. I have read the Percy Jackson Series (Greek), The Heroes of Olympus series (Greek/Roman), The Kane Chronicles (Egyptian), and have read the first book of Magnus Chase, Riordan’s new Norse Mythology series. I am anxiously waiting for book 2 and the start of his new series, Trials of Apollo. Having said that, lining up Loki’s Wolves with Magnus Chase, I have to admit, Riordan did it better. I think the concept of the Blackwell Pages series is a good one, however, the delivery is where it truly fell short for me. When reading, I could definitely tell it was a Melissa Marr book, and some of her works are hit and miss with me. She has a very distinct writing style that is different and like coffee, an acquired taste. I am hoping as the series continues, that it will pick up and will fall more into place. Also, the Blackwell Pages join the ranks of with killing of likeable characters (but let’s face it, we all saw that coming, it was Balder). I have been meaning to wipe this off of my TBR list for a while, and with the Mount TBR challenge, I finally dove in.

How does this book compare to likes of Riordan’s? It starts with 3 kids, going off to find other kids to join their little group, all champions of certain gods, in order to prevent Ragnarock from happening. By the end of the story, there are about 6 of them” Frey, Freya, Loki (2), Thor, and Balder (ish) and a witch sent by Odin. Cameo appearances from the Norns, Valkyries, and Odin. There are also trolls, wulfenkind, and maras (nightmares). The setting takes place in South Dakota. Throughout the story, I kept comparing it to Magnus Chase, which to be fair, I shouldn’t have. But I also compared it to Riordan in general and his master storytelling. There were some instances in the story that felt forced. A push to make the characters interact or respond a certain way that just did not make sense. Some instances in which it made the main character, Matt, Thor’s champion, seem too trusting and too innocent. Also, there were many instances in which the lack of confidence was TOO much. The inner dialogue lost it’s touch by the middle of the book. Desperate almost. Matt is supposed to beat the Serpent. As a 13 year old kid facing the challenge of saving the world, it is acceptable to feel overwhelmed and nervous. Totally acceptable. I am 30 and I do not think I could handle that kind of responsibility. At some point, you have to put your big kid pants on and get going, not going back and forth with yourself about if your lack of confidence is showing.

Of all the characters in the book, I believe Fen, Loki’s Champion, had the most character growth, even though he still struggles. Fen was on his own for so long, that he finally accepted his little rag tag group was his pack and he belonged. He was a member of the team. And no one judged him from his upbringing. Fen is wulfenkind. Laurie, also a descendant of Loki, is still learning her powers, but is a homing beacon of other descendants. Ray and Reyna (which I have a problem with Reyna being the name of descendant of Freya…seriously…Heroes of Olympus anyone?), Each character had some sort of growth, but Fen had the most. I am hoping desperately that Matt has some growth in later books. He needs it the most.

A major positive with Loki’s Wolves is that it hits the ground running. There was never really a lull in the story. It just started and kept going. I like that there was not a cliffhanger. This is a trilogy, of which all books have been completed. I like not having to wait for books. The overall premise is that this group of 13 years olds are tasked to save the world. Each one a champion of the god they are descendant from. Matt, Fen, and Laurie are tasked to go find the others in order to band together in order to save the world. There were attacks by trolls, attacks by Raiders (group of Viking like wulfenkind), and even maras causing confusion and fear. And of course, there was betrayal and death. Couldn’t have a Norse mythology book that did not involve betrayal and death. I have to admit, I enjoyed the book more towards the end, and my heart was broken for Baldwin (Balder) and Fen.