Monday, December 29, 2014

Book Review: The Place of Voices (Book 1 in the TimeDrifter Series)

I am a poet. I like poetic things. I love to find new ways to express old ideas. I love finding writers who have the ability to not only tell a story, but transport the readers to the place where the story dwells, to make the world a tangible place the reader can almost touch, feel and see for themselves. 
Lauren Lynch has a remarkable way of expressing ideas, and every movement, every thing sensed by her characters is also experienced by the reader, and it is something I have rarely seen so carefully done. 
The Place of Voices brings three children from very different worlds... and different times in history, together in a mysterious forest. They have each followed three animal 'guides'-- a koala, an elk, and a quetzal bird-- to this place. They are told by the elk their purpose is to 'rest and prepare' for adventures ahead. What follows is a wild journey of history, enlightenment, fear and good versus evil.
The many historical elements of this book are fascinating and meticulously woven in. I have rarely found a children's book with so much historical information to be gleaned from the story, especially one described as a fantasy. The book also has a clear Christ figure in the character of Ben, the Elk, as well as a being to symbolize Satan, or at least a demonic force. 

In areas, I did feel like the adventure was bogged down by a bit too much purple prose. There were times when I lost sight of the action because I was focusing on a lengthy description. Sometimes it was a little confusing as to who was talking or doing something. Sudden point of view shifts also occasionally made me have to 'step back' and get my bearings. I also felt like too much was crammed into the first story line, it might have been better to focus on one child's story at a time per book, I'm not sure. But despite these issues, I'm really glad to have read the book and I think anyone who enjoys allegorical and poetic fiction will be pleased to have this book in their library. You can purchase this book on Amazon here;

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Book Review: They're Rugby Boys, Don't You Know?

Sometimes God uses what seems like random circumstances to change our lives forever

Natalie Vallecott, a Christian Police Sergeant from England agreed to join a Logos Hope team on a ship to bring Christian literature to the world. What was intended to be a routine stop of three weeks at a port in the Philippines turned into a stop for repairs that lasted for months. During that time, Natalie's life was forever changed by a group of 'invisible' street children known as the Rugby boys.

Rugby was an addictive substance these boys would use to get high on during the day because it helped to stave off their constant hunger. Abusing this substance would lead to brain damage and eventually, death.
What amazed me about this book is the author's heart and determination.

It reminded me of the starfish story. A beach is full of thousands of starfishes. A man notices a little boy throwing as many as he can into the ocean. The man says, "I'm sorry, but you know you can't possibly save all of them." The boy picks up another small, orange shape and tosses it in the waves. He turns to the man. "But I saved that one." 

Natalie dealt with many frustrations as she tried to minister to the children. Language barriers, stubborn hearts, and a community who had given up trying to help. But she never gave up. No matter how many times 'her' boys turned on her and threw her kindness back in her face, she kept trying to help them and show God's love. 

It made me think about how many times in my life I have given up on someone who was less than pleasant to me? But God wants us to keep praying and showing love, even if we never see the results of our labor. 

They're Ruby Boys, Don't You Know? is well written and engaging. I found a few typos but just a few and they did not break my immersion in the story. I think any Christian would be inspired by this book of hope and determination.
The book is available at in Kindle and paperback.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Book Review: Kitty Castle Book 1, Nightcat

A kingdom overrun by cats turned to dragons, children left with an absent-minded tutor in a castle filled with magic and a quite extraordinary cat... there are much in these pages for 4-8 year olds to delight in. This is the first book in a series written by Celesta Thiessan and her daughter, Kezia. They started writing the series when Keziah was seven years old, and the reader will get an instant feeling of fresh ideas that come only from a child's imagination. A cat with wings who blows magic sparkles? Why, of course!
A few of the ideas in the book will leave adults scratching their heads. Such as, if the kingdom has been laid to waste by dragons, why do the children think the tutor doesn't realize it? What did the king and queen think they could find to stop the dragons? But these are questions adults will wonder, most children will simply be turning the pages to find out what happens next.
As the first book in the series, it's available for free on Amazon in Kindle format.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Book Review: Chase Bartholomew Hastings

It's nice (and extremely rare) to find a Middle-Grade dystopian novel that will actually make you feel better about the world after you have read it, and that's what Chase Bartholomew Hastings accomplishes. This is a world where the only electricity is generated by windmills on roofs, where people have to ration food and view all newcomers with suspicion. Chase spends most of his time with his friends, Henry and Aaliyah, and children will enjoy reading about the ways they have fun even in an altered world. 

A few areas in the book I felt could have been developed a little more. Packages from a mysterious benefactor keep appearing with almost impossible to the world gifts. Chase believes these come from "Niceness Ninjas" but the origins are never explained. I also felt some of the events where a bit rushed and could have been explored further, but it works for the targeted age group. All together, a fun little book you can hand to your child without a worry.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Proud to Present: Beggar Magic

Beggar Magic is available today on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.
I read a lot of books, and I truly enjoy most things Steampunk. Though Beggar Magic is what I consider 'lightly Steampunk' it brings forth a very unique idea... a town where mysterious music, called 'The Strains,' can be heard by almost everyone constantly. This music is perceived in different ways by different people, and can even be used to manipulate objects and help in every day tasks. 

Amazon description:

In Gelia City, magic is music: a constant ever-changing melody known as the Strains. Hereditary ability to use the Strains divides the city into two classes: the wealthy Highmost, who can access the full potential of the Strains, and the Common tradesmen, who are limited to mundane spells, known as beggar magic.

With the help of the Strains, Common teen Leilani rescues and befriends a gifted Highmost girl, Zebedy. The girls’ friendship opens Leilani’s eyes to the world of the Highmost. She’s intrigued by Zeb’s close relationship with the Strains, and longs to know them as she does. Zeb, in turn, comes to depend on Leilani’s strength and intelligence, making them an inseparable team, ready to take on anything with the Strains at their back.

As their unlikely friendship strengthens and endures, Zeb draws Leilani further into the Highmosts’ intrigues. Beneath the polished, academic facade of the Highmost manors lurks a threat to the Strains. An unknown force consumes their music, leaving only heart-rending silence behind.

Leilani and Zeb will do anything to save their beloved Strains, but as the silence grows, they face danger their previously sheltered lives could never prepare them for. Whoever is behind the death of the Strains is willing to kill to keep their secret safe. To preserve the Strains, the girls may have to sacrifice their friendship, or even their lives.

To me, 'Beggar Magic' is refreshing in idea and writing style, very well written and put together. There were parts of the story where I found myself frustrated with Leilani's friend, Zeb, because she can really be a brat, but everyone has that friend that drives them crazy but they love anyway, and she becomes rather endearing by the end of the story. Beggar Magic is a lovely blend of sci-fi, fantasy, friendship and romance that will appeal to a broad audience of readers.