Tag Archives: young adult

One Realm Beyond by Donita K. Paul, a Review

OneRealmBeyondOne Realm Beyond, Book 1 of the Realm Walkers series
Published 2014 by Zondervan, 414 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy, suitable for ages 12 and up

Cantor D’Ahma has grown into a young man. He leaves his elderly mentors and sets off to learn how to become a Realm Walker, using the gifts he was born with. His mentors don’t tell him much about what to expect, though. Just that the first thing he needs to do is find his dragon companion, and then he needs to locate the Realm Walkers Guild for training.

Cantor stumbles immediately across a dragon, but this dragon is clumsy. Surely there’s another dragon out there better suited for realm walking, and he keeps looking. But trouble arrives fast, and it becomes apparent that he needs the help of this dragon, Bridger, as well as some other new friends to even get to the place where he’s able to learn realm walking.

But the Realm Walkers Guild, he learns, is nearly all corrupted. They give him a teacher whom he trusts, but will his training mean anything? And will he and his friends be able to confront and change the guild?

I really enjoyed reading this book, which is rich in unusual characters. They have unusual names, too, such as the female dragon Totobee-Rodolow. The book is delightful in many ways, letting us enjoy the quirks of its characters–Totobee-Rodolow’s love for shopping, and a princess who wears her whole wardrobe at the same time, re-arranging which dress is on top to suit the occasion.  The story line is not high-action and occasionally lacks tension, but the richness of the characters more than make up for these.

 

 

 

Heir of Hope by Morgan L. Busse, a review

heirofhope1Heir of Hope by Morgan L. Busse, third and final book of the Follower of the Word series
Published 2015 by Enclave Publishing, 427 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy with adult characters, suitable for young adult and up

Third and final books in a trilogy often end the story line with a bang. This one is no exception. The four main characters come into greater focus and into their own, moving against the Shadonae who plan to end the human race and seem to hold all the cards.

Rowen Mar, the first character we met in the longer story, has stepped into her new identity as an Eldaran, a protector of humans with strange strong powers. Loren, captain of the guard , realizes he loves her and vows to follow her to the ends of the earth, handing his responsibilities off to another.  Problem is, she’s headed to confront the Shadonae, and she’s been kidnapped. How can he find her? And if he finds her, how can he help?

Meanwhile, Caleb Tala also has accepted his new identity as an Eldaran, leaving behind his old life as a cold-blooded assassin. Will others accept the new Caleb? Or thwart him as he also focuses on defeating the Shadonae?

And who are the Shadonae, anyway?

I have been looking forward to reading this book for the two years since the last book in the series was published, with this unforgettable set of characters.  It was quite an emotional ride: I was surprised, dismayed, and overjoyed on the way, and encouraged in my faith.  You’ll love this series. Give it a try.

My review of Book 1, Daughter of Light

My review of Book 2, Son of Truth

My review of Book 3, Heir of Hope

 

Storm Siren by Mary Weber, another review

StormSirenStorm Siren by Mary Weber
Published 2014 by Thomas Nelson, 337 pages
Genre: Fantasy with a Christian worldview, suitable for YA and up, with steampunk elements

After I first read this book last fall, I put it on a shelf with very very few others, my keeper shelf. Few end up on the keeper shelf because most of the books I like I want to share with others, so I put those in my church library. It’s like an extension of my own personal library. But a few I just can’t part with. This was one.

Now my blog tour, Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy (CSFF), is taking a look at the book, so I was happy to re-read it.

(Read my original review. )

So, what do I like about it? In some ways it’s a familiar plot: a feisty, underdog heroine with super powers battles doubt and self-loathing and all kinds of awful villains, until in the end … no, I can’t tell you. The ending is quite surprising!

This heroine, Nym, takes us on an unforgettable emotional ride. She has great power over the elements, but she hasn’t learned to control it. So people around her die whenever her emotions get out of control and lightning bolts fall from the skies. She keeps a tally of more than a dozen unintended victims, starting with her parents when she was five years old.

The weight of guilt is too much, and her grief comes out in surprising ways. What she wants most of all, at the beginning, is relief from this pain.

She’s a slave, bound for a life of sorrow, but recklessly feisty nonetheless. Then a new mistress recognizes her powers and decides to train her as a weapon to help her nation win a war. The trainer the mistress hires is a mysterious man who seems emotionless. But Nym begins to have feelings for him. And how will she feel when she is asked to kill again?

And … how does it unfold? I really hope you read the book to find out. I’m sure you’ll find this book is a keeper too, not only with the emotionally rich plot but with the woven tapestry of words. This author is a master. And like me you’ll be waiting for the second book to come out, scheduled for this summer.

Disclaimer: the publisher gave me a book in exchange for my honest review. So now I have two copies, one for the keeper shelf, and one for the church library. I’m happy to be able to share it!

Be sure to take a look at what others on the CSFF Blog Tour are saying about this book:

Julie Bihn
Lauren Bombardier
Beckie Burnham
Vicky DealSharingAunt
George Duncan
April Erwin
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Janeen Ippolito
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Simone Lilly-Egerter
Jennette Mbewe
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Jalynn Patterson
Audrey Sauble
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Michelle R. Wood

Author Websitehttp://www.maryweber.com/
Author Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/marychristineweber

 

Storm Siren by Mary Weber, a review

StormSirenStorm Siren by Mary Weber
Published 2014 by Thomas Nelson, 333 pages
Genre: Young adult medieval/steampunk fantasy with Christian worldview

I think I’ve never done this before. I bought this book solely because I loved the cover.

Well, it is in the genre I love, after all, Christian fantasy. So I did get around to opening the book. When I did, I just fell in, really.

Nym is a slave girl with power over the elements that she cannot control. As a result, her owners or their loved ones keep ending up dead. Her parents are dead too. She carries the guilt around, unable to rid herself of it. She has no hope for the future, knowing that her elemental kind live under a death sentence in her kingdom.

A rich woman buys her and puts her to work training under a mysterious man, Eogan, who teaches her gradually to control her powers and tells her she can save her kingdom from the aggressor nation that’s just about to conquer it. But does she want to? And what of her developing feelings for Eogan, who seems cold and aloof?

It’s a wonderful book, so well written. It’s hard to believe it’s a debut novel. I can see Mary Weber has many wonderful books ahead of her. I hope they all have the same cover artist, who is by the way Wes Youssi of M80 Design.

 

Unbound by J.B. Simmons, a review

unbound
Unbound by J.B. Simmons (The Omega Trilogy Book 1)
Published by the author on Kindle
Genre: Young adult end times Christian fantasy

The year is 2066, and we are in Washington, DC.  An unbelieving American Jewish teenager, Elijah Goldsmith, just wants to be a spy and wants to pursue the beautiful woman Naomi beside him in spy school. He also wants to ditch the strange dreams he keeps having, about a dragon that only he can see.

Naomi and her Christian friends think his dreams are prophetic. But Elijah thinks they are all weird.

I really enjoyed this book. The characters are well drawn and memorable. The book is well edited (often a problem with indie authors, but not this one). There’s plenty of action, and the theology underneath seems reasonably sound to me.

But I did feel disappointed that the book ended when it did. Apparently the author is producing the book in installments, rather than telling a complete story with a character arc (where the main character goes through some kind of inner journey and comes out different).  Unbound is like the first third of a well constructed novel, in my opinion.

So, I guess I’ll just have to wait to read the rest! Hope I don’t have to wait too long!

The Warden and the Wolf King by Andrew Peterson, a review

wardenandwolfkingThe Warden and the Wolf King by Andrew Peterson, Book 4 of the 4-book Wingfeather Saga
Published 2014 by Rabbit Room Press, 520 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy, age 10 and up

Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather series that started out as an amusing tale full of rollicking names moved to epic scope along the way and, in this book, builds to a mighty conclusion full of heroic deeds.

Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga is the story of the widow and three children of the King of Anniera, which was once a blessed island kingdom, now a ruin. Read my review of the first book in the series. And the second book. And the third.

I’m not the only person who was waiting for this book to come out. Peterson was able to raise $100,000 in donations with a Kickstarter campaign to do the job right.

At the opening of this book, the Wingfeather family lives in the Green Hollows, a land not their own, and try to make themselves useful to the war effort. Gnag the Nameless and his Fangs of Dang attack this peaceful country on Gnag’s borders in overwhelming numbers. Above all he seeks the three children, who are the fabled Jewels of Anniera.

Leeli Wingfeather uses her whistleharp to demoralize the fangs but gets very, very tired. Janner gets lost in the hills. And Kalmar, the eleven-year-old king of Anniera who nearly became a fang, fights the demon within. Meanwhile, across the ocean, their uncle Artham fights his madness with the help of faithful friends and seeks to destroy the fangs there.

The odds are overwhelming. Will they give up?

This is just a terrific book. If you are looking for something for your kids to read, pick it up. And don’t forget to read it yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

Note: Peterson is a musician, first and foremost, and you can tell in his amazing prose. The names in this tale sing: “Bonifer Squoon,” “bomnubble,” “Glipwood,” “Flambode’s Seedery.” Sometimes there’s an amusing contrast between name and meaning. “Toothy cow,” for example, refers to a very dangerous monster that is actually a cow with a lot of teeth.

I have a request to make of Peterson. I would love to hear a recording of him reading troll poetry, full of wild and crazy consonants. I bet it’s very cool.

Oskar Reteep, the bookseller, has a warning for us about Ouster Will, the original sinner.

This is part of the Christian Science-Fiction/Fantasy (CSFF) Blog Tour. I received a copy of the book from the publisher free of charge. For more opinions on the book, check out the blogs linked below.

Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Rachel Starr Thomson
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler

Author Website – http://wingfeathersaga.com

Failstate: Legends by John Otte, a review

FailstateLFailstate: Legends by John Otte, Book 2 of Failstate series
Published 2013 by Marcher Lord Press, 455 pages
Genre: Young adult superhero tale, suitable for middle grade and up

Failstate: Legends is the middle book of a three-book series, but it stands alone very well I think. No one who picks it up cold like I did will think this is an unfinished story, and unexplained details from the past just make it seem more realistic.

I found a teenage superhero who’s disarmingly bad at everything. Failstate, also known as Robin Laughlin, finds his super powers don’t obey him always, and almost no one takes him seriously. It might have to do with the fact that he has to cover his face when costumed, making him look more like a thief in a ragged hoodie than anything else. Or it might have to do with the fact that he got his superhero license through a reality TV show.

Zombies are coming out of nowhere. And Failstate is the only superhero on duty, so he has to stop them. Yes, real zombies. But they aren’t possible. So where are they coming from? Will other superheroes from other towns lend their help? Through this struggle, will he win respect, or continue to fail?

The book has a cartoonish cover, but it’s not a graphic novel. It has short, action-packed chapters and great story elements, including strong characters who learn and change over time and a plot that’s full of surprises. It has a strong faith element too. I recommend this book!

Note: I received a free copy for review.

 

 

Numb by John Otte, a review

Numb

Numb by John Otte
Published 2013 by Marcher Lord Press, 395 pages
Genre: Christian science fiction, suitable for teen and up

Crusader, an assassin, feels neither emotions nor pain. His memory reaches back only a few years. He k nows this numbness is a gift from God, the vengeful god whose deacons use Crusader to kill heretics and heathens. Because of it, he’s a better killer.

His bosses send him after a young blonde woman, Isolda. It’s her turn to die. Or is it? For reasons he doesn’t understand, he can’t do it. His long-dead emotions boil up.

He’s made his choice. In refusing to kill her, he’s become a target himself. Crusader and Isolda flee together. Can this unlikely team find safety? Can they find answers? Or will the bounty hunters turn them in?

And what about the winsome faith that Isolda displays? Isn’t it heresy?

I found this book riveting, full of action and insight. The main character starts out a psychopath, but it’s not long before he starts on the path to change in a way that’s believable and speaks to the heart.

His bosses at the Ministrix spread twisted jihad Christianity, providing me great food for thought. In what ways do we try to make our faith a set of achievable objectives and bury our sins? How do I personally distort Jesus’ words?

This review is in conjunction with a number of bloggers at the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour. Check out what others are saying:

Julie Bihn
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Nikole Hahn
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Rebekah Loper
Jennette Mbewe
Amber McCallister
Shannon McDermott
Shannon McNear
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Faye Oygard
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Jojo Sutis
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White

Author Website – http://johnwotte.com/

Outcasts by Jill Williamson, a review

outcastsOutcasts by Jill Williamson, Book Two in The Safe Lands series
Published 2014 by Blink (HarperCollins), 304 pages
Genre: Dystopian suspense, young adult and up

I reviewed the first book in this series, Captives, and reflected on it some more for a blog tour. It tells the story of some rustic future Colorado mountain dwellers who are kidnapped by a nearby group of people who live in what is very erroneously called the Safe Lands.

All the three brothers want to do is round up the people of their former village, Glenrock, and escape. While the previous book focused on Mason, this one centers around his brother Omar, the one who betrayed them to the Safe Landers. Now that Omar is repentant, his brothers have decided to trust him and let him join their rebel forces. Omar does his best, unless he’s distracted by the diseased pleasures offered by the Safe Lands.

In the first book, the medic Mason was able to free the Glenrock women who were being held in a prison-like harem. In this book, Mason and Levi desperately want to free the Glenrock children, held in a prison-like boarding school, so they can all go home. While he’s at it, Mason also desperately wants to find a cure for the thin plague, a sickness that dooms all the Safe Landers, including the woman Mason loves–and his brother Omar.

What I like most about Jill Williamson’s writing is her ability to write what a character is thinking and feeling. Her ability to do this is amazing. Of course, it’s got great characters and a twisty plot, so … read it!

Take a look at the nifty book trailer for Book 1:

This is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy (CSFF) Blog Tour. Please check out what others are saying about the book!

Red Bissell
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Beckie Burnham
Pauline Creeden
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Jason Joyner
Julie Bihn
Carol Keen
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Melanie @ Christian Bookshelf Reviews
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Jalynn Patterson
Writer Rani
Chawna Schroeder
Jacque Stengl
Jojo Sutis
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Deborah Wilson

Author Website – http://www.jillwilliamson.com/ 

Martyr’s Fire by Sigmund Brouwer, a review

martyrsfireMartyr’s Fire by Sigmund Brouwer, Book Three of Merlin’s Immortals
Published 2013 by Waterbrook Press, 216 pages
Genre: Young adult medieval saga with Arthurian and steampunk overtones

The year is AD 1313. In the previous books, Thomas managed to single-handedly conquer the English city of Magnus using his wits and some knowledge gleaned from the special secret technology library left him by his mother. Now he’s been lord of Magnus for several seasons, but he only has two friends—an old gardener and a pickpocket boy. He can trust no one else. Is he being paranoid? Who are his friends? Who are his enemies? He doesn’t know. And he wonders what happened to the mysterious individuals who helped him in an earlier pickle and then vanished.

Soon some strange monks enter the city. Using a weeping statue, they gain the trust and hearts of the people of Magnus, and soon they turn on Thomas and try to kill him. Thomas has waited too late to escape the walled city, surrounded by a lake. Or has he?  Can a pickpocket and a gardener give him the information he needs? And can he dare to take the leap of faith to get away?

I’m enjoying this tale, with its marvelous twisty plot and strong characters stuck in delightfully tight situations. There’s a steampunk flavor, with techno explanations for apparent miracles that fool the gullible populace, alongside herbal potions and poisons that give the enemy druids their power. There’s a faith element and a touch of romance.  In short, it’s a wonderful book for teens and adults too. And it’s not the final book in the series, so there’s more to anticipate!

This post is part of the Christian Science-Fiction/Fantasy (CSFF) Blog Tour. Please take a moment to check out what others are saying about this book:

Red Bissell
Beckie Burnham
Theresa Dunlap
Emma or Audrey Engel
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Nikole Hahn
Becky Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Rebekah Loper
Jennette Mbewe
Amber McCallister
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Jojo Sutis
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Deborah Wilson
Rachel Wyant

Author Websitehttp://www.coolreading.com/