Tag Archives: magic

Bleeding Snow by Caroline Peckham

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bleedingsnowcoverBleeding Snow (Rise of Isaac book 2) by Caroline Peckham, e-book, 212 pages, published in 2016.

In this sequel to Creeping Shadow, Oliver, May and their friends have burst through the gateway to Glacio, only to be immediately captured and imprisoned by the Queen’s men. The Queen’s son has been kidnapped by the horrible gem trolls of the mountains, known as Grolls. She forces the group to accompany a band of hunters led by Hector Rook on a perilous journey in an attempt to retrieve the young prince. They must travel through ice and snow, and face murderous beasts, huge Grolls and soldiers led by an insane commander. Even if they survive, gain their freedom and their Gateway keys, the delay might still cost May her life.

Another fast-paced installment in The Rise of Isaac series, Bleeding Snow had me intrigued right from the first chapter. I was excited to get into this book, and I wasn’t disappointed! There was a lot of action, some of it rather gruesome and violent, but exciting none the less, along with magic and a little romance. I really enjoyed the description of their mountain journey, and the fight scenes. The whole story is well written, and the characters are complex. And I just love the book’s cover!

I feel like I really know the main characters. I like most of them immensely. I am beginning to like Quinn a lot more now too, and even Larkin has shown some improvement through this story. I’m not saying I like him yet, but there is potential for him to become a better person. The addition of the hunters was interesting and welcome. Despite his gruffness and dislike for magic I became rather fond of Hector, and I’m hoping to learn more about him in the next book.

Commander Xen was pretty scary. Cruel and powerful, he was a formidable enemy, and not one I would like to meet in a lonely mountain pass. It seemed incongruous that he cared for and even showed tenderness towards the boy Nex, but perhaps evil villains do need a sidekick! I liked that he was hampered by his magical illness, otherwise he would have been far too powerful. The Queen was pretty evil too, but in a more hands-off kind of way. She was conniving and manipulative, and I didn’t care for her at all.

In this book we learn more about Isaac and William, and what happened to Alison when she disappeared. Isaac reminded me a bit of Voldemort in his pale and sickly appearance from his exile in Vale. I didn’t like or trust him, I feel that he is capable of doing anything to gain his objective, no matter what or who he destroys in the process. William is acting rather despicably too, but I didn’t get the same evil loony vibes from him that I got from Isaac. Both him and the Vark, Kogure, were able to send shivers down my spine.

Bleeding Snow is suitable for high school students, and is perfect for fantasy fans. It is the second book in The Rise of Isaac series, following on from Creeping Shadow. I can hardly wait for the next book in the series!

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

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The Land Without Color by Benjamin Ellefson

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landwithoutcolorcoverThe Land Without Color by Benjamin Ellefson and illustrated by Kevin Cannon, paperback, 168 pages, published by Beaver’s Pond Press in 2015.

For his birthday, Alvin is given a special pocketknife, which comes in very handy when he finds himself transported to another world. The Kingdom of Color does not live up to its name; when Alvin arrives, the colour has been leached from the land and its inhabitants. With his new friends, Permy the squirrel and Ronaldo the mouse, Alvin sets about discovering the cause of the colour loss and how to recover it.

A fantastical adventure with dragons, goblins, man-eating plants, talking animals and free ice-cream and candy for all! The Land Without Color is a wonderful lollop through a magical world that will appeal to a wide range of children. It is well written with good description and some black and white illustrations scattered through the book. Character development was really good, and I got to know Alvin as I followed on his adventure. Though only twelve, he is brave and compassionate with a well developed sense of right and wrong. I liked him a lot, however, Permy was definitely my favourite. The dragon with two heads was an interesting creature, long necks and a giant coiled body. I liked that one head was blue and the other red, and the blue one could breath ice cream instead of fire. That’s a pretty nifty trick!

Junk food is extremely bad for the residents of the Kingdom of Color, as it is the conduit for the colour loss. It also results in a loss of energy and drive, whereas eating vegetables and fruit gives the people back their colour and energy. The message was clear; “Eat Your Vegetables!” I liked this as a theme, and I thought it was well executed. At first the message was subtle, but it became quite strong by the end, and was reinforced through the story. I hope it works to help kids eat veges and fruit!

The Land Without Color is suitable for middle and upper primary school students. Adults will most likely enjoy sharing this book with their child too, I did! This book is the start of a series, with the next book, The Great Sugar War, expected out in late 2016.

 

*I received this book from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Delilah Dusticle’s Transylvanian Adventure by A. J. York

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DDtrans coverDelilah Dusticle’s Transylvanian Adventure by A. J. York and illustrated by Gavin Childs, e-book, 149 pages, published in 2014.

Delilah and Abi have formed a very successful cleaning company called “Dustbusters”. They have a whole team of cleaners working for them and they have endless work keeping them occupied. Delilah is wonderful at removing dust that others just can’t, she whips out her duster and simply eradicates the dust! Whilst cleaning for one of their clients, Delilah receives a letter from Count W. Dracula requesting her services in preparing his castle in Transylvania for a large function. Delilah and her workers, Dev, Billy and Doris travel to Transylvania, meeting the rather eccentric Count. Delilah gets much more than she expected on her first overseas gig!

This is the second book in the Delilah Dusticle series. The story picks up with Delilah and Abi in their successful business venture, but leads Delilah to discover so much more about herself. There were fairies and spies, and of course a very annoying villain ready to be overthrown in this delightful fantasy. It was a fun and engaging story, with plenty of magic and humour. The chapters are short and the plot easily followed, making it perfect for early independent readers. There are cute colour illustrations at the beginning of each chapter too.

I quite like Delilah. Her ability to eradicate dust is pretty amazing, but she is also clever, kind and generous. Abi is similarly endowed, except her special ability is to create incredible and beautiful dusters. Winnie, aka Count Dracula, was a complete card! His antics and his style made me laugh. I do wish I could have some fluffy duck slippers that quack when I walk! His assistant, Ulrik was also a funny character. All of the characters are interesting, and well developed.

I read Delilah Dusticle’s Transylvanian Adventure in a single sitting, and now I am ready for Delilah’s next adventure. It is most suitable for primary school students, but I really liked it! I think this book could be read independently of the first Delilah Dusticle story, though both are worth reading.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

 

Valentine’s Oops by Emily Martha Sorensen

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valentinesoopscoverValentine’s Oops by Emily Martha Sorensen, short story, 8 pages, published 2016.

When Donovan is told that his best friend’s sister is planning on making him her valentine, he panics.

This short story was a quick and fun read. It had a scattering of magic, and it was funny. It’s perfect for reading in the lead-up to Valentine’s Day.

Donovan and Junior are a bit naughty, and quite mean to their sisters! Just typical brothers. The story wasn’t really long enough to get to know the characters in depth, but I did like them. The Wilkinsons (Junior’s family) can make some unusual things happen. I would like to read more about this interesting family!

Valentine’s Oops is suitable for primary school students, but adults can also chuckle along as Donovan attempts to evade Elsie’s Valentine plans.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Delilah Dusticle by A. J. York

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DD coverDelilah Dusticle by A. J. York, e-book, 81 pages, published by Smashwords in 2013.

Delilah is a whizz at removing dust; she waves her special feather dusters and it simply disappears. She works in a grand house in London, and is in love with her employers’ son. When he announces his engagement to another, Delilah goes into a deep funk, creating dust everywhere she goes instead of removing it. Unemployed, and all alone, will Delilah ever recover herself?

Delilah Dusticle is quite an uplifting story, one which I enjoyed a lot. It is amazing what the power of friendship can do, and while Delilah waits for a long time to find that friendship, when it arrives, it is beautiful.

With short chapters and easy language, Delilah Dusticle is a sweet chapter book for young independent readers to try. It is also a charming story to read aloud, or for older children to lose themselves in. There are simple colour illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. These pictures represented the contents of the chapter quite well. My daughter was very taken with the little spider that appears in some of the illustrations.

Delilah is an intriguing character (she actually likes to clean!). I wish I could eradicate dust with a swish of my duster! Yet, when her heart is broken, she can’t help but leave a thick layer of dust all over. Picturing her room and belongings covered in dust, and the little mouse making tunnels in it was amusing, but the reason behind it is so sad. Poor Delilah. No one should have to be alone like that, and it is wonderful when she begins to become friends with Abi. I love their meetings at the park, feeding ducks and talking. I liked both Delilah and Abi.

This book is most suitable for lower and middle primary school children, but older children and adults can also appreciate this lovely tale. I’m excited to see what Delilah gets up to in her next book, Delilah Dusticle’s Transylvanian Adventure, which is also available now.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Eliza Bluebell by A. J. York

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elizabluebellEliza Bluebell by A. J. York and illustrated by Gavin Childs, e-book, 97 pages, published by Smashwords in 2015, first published in 2014.

Eliza Bluebell has a special talent; her shadow is a separate entity and is invisible to all bar Eliza. When Eliza and her shadow arrive in Blossom Brook they begin running a tearoom on the high street. On the side, Eliza and her shadow help members of the community with any problems they might be having.

This is a delightful chapter book! Some magic and humour, and a lesson that helping others can be very rewarding. The language is simple with short chapters, perfect for younger children. Each chapter began with a black and white silhouette illustration of the main theme of the chapter. The flow of the story was very smooth without the interruption of illustrations within the text. I love the cover of Eliza Bluebell too, it’s so simple, yet striking.

Eliza is a bit like Mary Poppins, arriving when needed, and leaving quietly when she is no longer required. She is kind and gentle, while her shadow is quite cheeky. I really liked grumpy old Mr Groop, with his sour expression and insistence on telling the bus driver how late the bus is running. I’m glad someone was able to cheer him up though!

Eliza Bluebell is suitable for lower and middle primary school students. It would make a great read for early independent and reluctant readers, as well as being a nice story to share. I liked this story very much, and I hope there will be more  Eliza Bluebell adventures in the future.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

The Hippity Dippity Witch by Lorraine O’Byrne

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hippitydippitycoverThe Hippity Dippity Witch: Trouble in Willow Grove by Lorraine O’Byrne, e-book, 138 pages, published by Updrift in 2015.

To avoid a spelling test Jenny ditches school and goes to visit Willow Grove, a wood where her animal friends live. Since her last visit to Willow Grove, a young witch called Marigold has been wreaking havoc with her poor spell work. Marigold is the niece of Willow Grove’s resident witch, Griselda, who will not be impressed by Marigold’s interactions in the wood.

This was a quick and entertaining read. It contained short chapters, which are great for younger kids, and some black and white illustrations scattered through the book. I enjoyed reading about Marigold’s mishaps, which often made me laugh. I think this would be an excellent book to share with my kindergartner.

I enjoyed reading The Hippity Dippity Witch; it was well written, and the plot flowed nicely. The story finished with hints towards a sequel, so hopefully there will be more books to come. I was surprised by the twist for Jenny towards the end of the story, but thought that it fit nicely.

The characters were interesting. Marigold was a bratty, dislikeable girl with a temper, though her mistakes were rather funny! I liked her rhyming spells, it’s just a shame that they never quite worked. Jenny on the other hand was a caring, polite and gentle child who talks to animals. I liked Griselda too, she was a talented witch, who was also strong and kind.The little woodland creatures were funny, especially after their encounters with Marigold!

The Hippity Dippity Witch is a wonderful story for lower to middle primary school students. I hope there will be more stories about Jenny, Griselda and Marigold soon!

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

The Dream Walker, Land of Mystica Series Volume 1 by Michelle Murray

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dreamwalkercoverThe Dream Walker Land of Mystica Series Volume 1 by Michelle Murray, paperback novel, 119 pages, published in 2014.

Miranda is a college student when she becomes plagued by vivid dreams of a different world. As they interrupt her sleep and put her studies at risk, she feels that she might be going crazy. A simple spell from a local bookstore, and Miranda is transported to Mystica, the land of her dreams, and a land which is in trouble. In Mystica there is an old legend of six wizards, three white and three black, who were imprisoned in stone. Since then the magic has been gone from the land. Now the black-hearted wizard, Midnight, is free and rampaging through Mystica with an army of dark creatures and Miranda must find and free the wizard, Lightning, the only person that can stop Midnight before all is lost.

This was a simply written adventure with magic. It lacked the depth that I would expect from a fantasy fiction for young adults, and was really much more suited to middle and upper primary school children. I flew through the book in one evening, as it was an easy and enjoyable read.

The premise of the story is basic; a land in trouble, one special saviour goes on a quest to save said land. It’s a popular theme in books I’ve read lately, but I tend to like these stories, and I did like The Dream Walker, but I thought that it had unfulfilled potential. There could have been a lot more depth, greater description of the surrounds, and the way the characters moved or spoke. The time Miranda spent in each part of Mystica seemed too short, and the action scenes were somewhat truncated. However, the story is still sound, and it would be great for younger or less mature readers.

There were Ice Men, wizards, magical forests, warriors, Kings and castles, all good elements for any fantasy adventure! My favourite part of the story was when Miranda and Walking Bear travelled through the Forest of Lost Souls. I liked the idea that the trees could change the paths and whisper to each other. The trees could protect the forest from malevolent forces, while assisting those with good intentions. Miranda definitely had good in mind. She accepted her task bravely despite the danger she faced, and despite the fact that she didn’t even know that Mystica existed before she was asked to save it. I liked her and I hope we get to know her better in the future volumes of this series.

A handful of spelling and grammatical errors happen in most published work, but there seemed to be more than average in The Dream Walker. It interrupted the flow of the story a couple of times, but should only bother you if you’re a bit pedantic (like me). The formatting also changed midway through the book, going from paragraphs separated by a line at the start, to no separation later on. And the lines were double-spaced, which left me turning pages often. However, these things can be easily overlooked once you really get into the story.

The Dream Walker was a fun and interesting read, and I will be recommending it to my third grader to read. The second book in the Land of Mystica Series, The Dream Walker Returns is now available too.

 

*I received this book from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Dragon’s Future by Kandi J Wyatt

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dragonsfuturecoverDragon’s Future by Kandi J Wyatt, young adult e-book, published by Booktrope Publishing, due for release 10th August 2015.

During their tenth winter, twins Ruskya and Duskya are chosen to become dragon riders. They leave their home to live in the dragon riders’ colony, learning to communicate, care for and ride their dragons. Fifteen years on, both twins have become talented riders under the guidance of their father-like mentor Glendyn. However, the dragon population is in danger. The younger dragons aren’t pairing up to mate, and the supply of eggs is dwindling. Without new hatchlings the future of the colony is uncertain. Suddenly a dragon rider from a different and hitherto unknown colony appears in the nearby village. Dragon attacks begin and innocent people are injured and killed. Ruskya must defend the colony and the village, with the help of his dragon, Wyeth, and his family and friends. The invaders are powerful and battle-ready, but what is it that they want?

The first in an exciting new series, Dragon’s Future is an enjoyable and intricate story full of magic and action. I love stories about dragons, I think they are fascinating creatures, especially the friendly ones! This book hit the spot, and I flew through it. It was engaging and entertaining, and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

The characters had their back stories told slowly, with the past nicely balanced with the present, creating rich character profiles. I felt like I came to know them, especially Ruskya, Carryl and Kyn. Loyalty, trust, friendship and courage are all evident amongst the riders and villagers. They worked as a community to face the adversity that had befallen them, it took strength and sacrifice, but they rose to the challenge. The dragons also had such individual and appealing personalities, beyond just being the dragon attached to a certain rider. I enjoyed the way they communicate and bond with their riders. Alternatively, the turquoise rider was arrogant and power hungry, delighting in the pain of others, an excellent nemesis for Ruskya. Kyle was also highly dislikable, partly for his cruelty, and partly because I found him incredibly annoying and rather stupid.

At first I had trouble connecting the dragon with the right dragon rider, as the dragons’ names are all very similar. I soon worked it out though, I mostly kept getting Wylen and Wyden confused. I liked the names given to the dragons and the people, but as I really like the letter ‘y’, perhaps I am a little biased. The names of most of the characters contain the letter ‘y’, but it didn’t make them difficult to pronounce. I thought it gave the story a sense of community and tradition.

The landscape in which the story is set is well constructed, with vivid descriptions of the village, dragon colony and their surrounds, making it easy to step into this new world. The vast canyons, and sandy desert seemed like it should be inhospitable, but the people made it homely and welcoming. It is reminiscent of a time gone by, before technology, when communities were small and tight-knit, when magic was still possible. It is a great place to escape to.

A wonderfully complex fantasy, Dragon’s Future is suitable for upper primary school through to high school students. Many adults will also enjoy this story. Dragon’s Future is available for pre-order on Amazon right now, and will be released on the 10th August 2015, with its sequel coming later in the year.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

 

 

The Candlestick Dragon by Melanie Ifield

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IMG_4407The Candlestick Dragon by Melanie Ifield, paperback novel, 194 pages, published by Melanie Ifield in 2013.

Daniel is short for his age, wears glasses, and is constantly bullied at school. He never expects to experience adventure outside of a book, he can’t even swim, and he’s not very fond of physical activity anyway. Yet a simple excursion to the recycling centre with his mother, Darling, changes Daniel’s whole world. He brings home a candlestick with a statue of a dragon clinging to it, but it is no ordinary candlestick! The dragon blinks his eyes, shakes off his stoney exterior and speaks to Daniel. He is Nilofar, a small dragon, roughly the size of a cat, and he is on a mission, sent from his homeland, Novarmere, through a gateway portal to Earth. Adventure is at hand, with magic, wizards, a young princess, brave warriors and terrifying creatures that Daniel could never have imagined.

I enjoyed this fantasy adventure story, which was exciting, well written, and contained interesting and well described characters and landscapes. I particularly liked Nilofar. As a child I would have loved to have discovered a friendly dragon that was small enough to sit on my shoulder, wrapping his tail around me and chuckling smokey bursts about my head! Really, I would still like a friend like this! Cute and brave, Nilofar was my favourite character, though all the characters were interesting, and I came to feel rather protective of Daniel. Rishana’s attitude felt very true to form for a young teenage princess with so much power at her fingertips, I liked her vacillation between pouty teenager and easygoing comrade. We were able to see her in her role as the confident Princess of Novarmere, as well as the young and inexperienced girl that she actually is. And their immediate enemy, the evil wizard Rullin, was suitably evil, cunning and boastful.

Most suitable for middle primary school through to lower high school students, The Candlestick Dragon is still a good read for adults too. Some younger readers may find some of the action and the mythical creatures a little frightening. There is some fighting and death, though I didn’t feel that it was overly graphic. I am happy for my third grader to read this book, and will be encouraging her to do so.

I received The Candlestick Dragon for free through Goodreads First Reads. It is the first book in the Chronicles of Novarmere: Dark Wizard Quartet. The second book hasn’t been released yet, but I am very keen to read it and follow Daniel’s next adventure.