Category Archives: 1_Ratings

The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Written in 1970, Witches of Worm introduces us to a very different kind of middle-grade. In this short book, Jessica is a twelve-year-old girl who “rescues” a cat she names Worm, only to discover the decision may lead to her own demise.

Title: The Witches of Worm 
Author: Zilpha Keatley Snyder 
Series: Stand-alone.
Publish Date: February 1, 1973
Genre: Middle-grade fantasy
Source: Purchased by the reviewer.

Publisher’s Description:

Jessica has read enough books to know that her cat Worm must be a witch’s cat. He’s cast a spell on her, but to whom can she turn? After all, no one will believe that Worm has bewitched her . . . or worse…

 


Kat Mandu says…

Maybe people who read this in the seventies wouldn’t have realized that the lead character of Witches of Worm, Jessica, is actually well on her way to becoming a sociopath. Seriously, this girl has some issues. She can lie well and displace the blame just as easily. Not to mention she says some pretty creepy stuff to Worm – threatening to abuse him, to stop feeding him, pinning the blame on him for all her silly, childish pranks. There are several incidences where she’s physically cruel to Worm, and also a mention of how she beats a dog with a stick and her friend Brandon had to stop her. And overall, she’s angry and bitter. If it hadn’t been for her regret at the end, I’d say she was definitely going to lead a very dark life.

However, she’s also very young and doesn’t exactly have the best role model in her life, as her mother is never around and when she is, she tries to be manipulative and emotional.

This story isn’t really about witchcraft or magic, like I originally thought it might be given the title. But it does make you wonder about the different devils in everyone, and how many are able to shove aside the guilt for their mistakes onto someone else. Really, that’s what this book is about. In it, Jessica does a lot of bad things – pull pranks on her paranoid landlord’s wife, shrink her mother’s dress on purpose, shove Brandon’s trumpet out a high window and break it. She then convinces herself that her creepy-looking cat is the culprit behind her evil acts. But really, she’s just messed up. A messed up kid, but messed up nevertheless.

It’s also rather about forgiveness in a way.

I was intrigued by this story and all its weird interactions. I don’t really read stuff written this long ago unless it’s a “classic.” Or at least not kid’s books. So I give it a four because the plot really hooked me. 

 

Other recommendations…

…you might try  The Egypt Game, also by Zilpha Keadley Snyder, not to mention The Seance by Joan Lowery Nixon and A Gift of Magic by Lois Duncan.

The Fire Within by Chris D’Lacey

Squirrels and dragons mix in this delightful middle grade book. Catch up with us as we review our first read-along book, The Fire Within.

Title: The Fire Within 
Author: Chris D’Lacey
Series: The Last Dragon Chronicles 
Publish Date: March 2007
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Genre: Middle-grade fantasy
Source: Purchased by the reviewer

Publisher’s Description:

A magical adventure about the power of dragons…

When David moves in with Elizabeth Pennykettle and her eleven-year-old daughter, Lucy, he discovers a collection of clay dragons that come to life. David’s own special dragon inspires him to write a story, which reveals the secrets behind a mystery. In order to solve the mystery and save his dragon, David must master the magic of the fire within – not only with his hands but also with his heart.


Luna Lovebooks says…

Likes: First of all I may be a little biased because I have read this particular book a few times and it was one of my favorite when it first came out. Many other reviewers disliked this book because it is mainly about squirrels, but it is the first book in a series. I like that it teases and plays with the reader’s imagination as to whether dragons are real or if it is just a trick of the light. In reality it is a brilliant strategy. This story lays the foundation for the following six books. By focusing on the squirrel plot the author is able to forge the bond between Liz, Lucy, and David and allow the dragons to unfold. I like the message behind this story that nature is something that should be protected and cared for.

Dislikes: The word college is used too many times. Some of the sentences and dialogue is awkward (who asks if you’re late for college? – usually people ask if you are late for class when you are at that level).

I give this book 5 hrrrr’s. 

Our reviews in this series…

  • The Fire Within, Book 1
  • Icefire, Book 2 (Coming Soon…)
  • Fire Star, Book 3 (Coming Soon….)
  • The Fire Eternal, Book 4 (Coming Soon…)
  • Dark Fire, Book 5 (Coming Soon…)
  • Fire World, Book 6 (Coming Soon…)
  • The Fire Ascending, Book 7 (Coming Soon…)

Other recommendations…

I’d suggest other dragon reads – Eragon by Christopher Paolini, How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman.

 

Darklands: Requiem by Lyn I. Kelley

Good versus evil is just the beginning for this purgatory-like novel.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Title: Darklands: Requiem
Author: Lyn I. Kelley
Series: Darklands, Book 1 
Publish Date: August 26, 2015
Publisher: Lulu Publishing Services
Genre: YA Dark Fantasy
Source: Provided by the author & Wordslinger

Publisher’s Description:
Webb Thompson awakes, disoriented and fearful. He sees green grass and a black, boiling sky spread out before him. He finds his little sister nearby, unconscious. When he reaches her side, Sundown is alive. But now they have other problems: where are they, how did they get there, and what is that growling noise? Webb and Sundown have awakened in the Dark Lands-a world between life and death where sacred souls battle malevolent evil for control of the living realm, a battle of which mere mortals know nothing. How did Webb and Sundown come to this place? Are they living? Are they dead? Or are they something else? Webb and Sundown will soon discover mystical abilities within themselves, abilities they will need to practice and perfect because evil is growing. His name is the Dark Man, an ancient evil, but one new to the Dark Lands. His very presence threatens to destroy the fabric of the Dark Lands, the living world and of time itself. The battle lines have been drawn. The war is soon to begin. . .


Luna Lovebooks says…

Likes: There was something truly unique about this book but at the same time there was something familiar about it. I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but I truly enjoyed this book. The characters are diverse and believable. Sundown and Webb must deal with not only the fact they are now in a purgatory like world but also that they are part of some big good versus evil plot.  The world building is fantastic. Many interesting characters/creatures/and features that are unique to this story.

Dislikes: There is very little back story to the characters and it leaves some questions – like why does Webb have so much pent up anger? Granted he has just found out that he has died but the anger seems deeper than that. While the world building is amazing; there is a lot of information that make the majority of the book an information dump while the reader gets acquainted with the surroundings. Some of the elements were predictable and some of the names for the evil creatures comical.

Overall this a good start to a YA series and I give it 4 Maurdians. 

 

Other recommendations…

Recommendations: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, The Uncommitted by Margaret Goss, and Wizard Bound by Christian Boustead.

Cold Reign by Faith Hunter

Yellowrock Clan is back to battle revanants, European Vampires, traitors, spies and conspirators.  Another day in the life of Leo’s NoLA Enforcer and her people.

Title:  Cold Reign
Author: Faith Hunter
Series: Jane Yellowrock #11
Publish Date:  May 2, 2017
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Source:  Reviewer purchased book and audio

Publisher’s Description:

Jane Yellowrock is a shape-shifting skinwalker…and the woman rogue vampires fear most. Jane walks softly and carries a big stake to keep the peace in New Orleans, all part of her job as official enforcer to Leo Pellisier, Master of the City. But Leo’s reign is being threatened by a visit from a delegation of ancient European vampires seeking to expand their dominions.

But there’s another danger to the city. When she hears reports of revenant vampires, loose in NOLA and out for blood, Jane goes to put them down—and discovers there’s something unusual about these revenants. They never should have risen.

Jane must test her strength against a deadly, unnatural magic beyond human understanding, and a ruthless cadre of near-immortals whose thirst for power knows no bounds… 

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words…spoilers.  *BEWARE*


 

Nervous Nellie says…

Dang ninja vamp.

This is an urban fantasy with hints of sex – nothing descriptive, lots of blood and gore.  Plenty of scheming and manipulation – vamps are good at that and magic.  The ending isn’t a cliffhanger but the game has changed dramatically so it will be impossible to stay away from the next installment. There is only one word for this book and it has to be “EXCELLENT” or how about two words..”Solid Gold”.

I have loved this series since it began.  Jane Yellowrock has grown and grown into a force that no one can deny.  Even the fangheads have to respect her because she CAN and much to her independent nature WILL take them out.

This story threw me into the action right away with Jane and Eli fighting a revenant.  There are NCIS investigations into dead sailors and since the dead sailors were drunk dry, Yellowrock Securities or rather Leo Pellissier’s Enforcer were called.  That had me hooked from the get-go.  Seriously? NCIS and Jane Yellowrock in the same paragraph? I am SO in.

The action doesn’t stop there.  Nope.  Not even close.  The revenants are the main story line and why they are all of a sudden digging themselves out of their graves 200 years after they were put there is the million dollar question.  And then comes the riots.  And then the storms.  And then the attacks on Leo and his HQ.  The suspense and treachery reach a friendzied pitch and then back down just as I was on the edge of my seat.  When I finally relax a bit, here goes the action and mayhem all over again.  Jane and her team get thrown in head first time and time again while Leo sits back with his drink and his toys just waiting for Jane to fix things.  He’s such a jerk.

Leo doesn’t come out of this adventure unscathed, however.  He suffers some loss although the loss isn’t as great to a vamp as to normal people. They have games not relationships.  Now, I may be a bit biased because I don’t like Leo much.  I will concede that he does seem to treat his people well and he pays Jane well.  I hate the vamp politics and the long game they play to one up each other.  He’s just too devious for his own good.  And pretty.  And a schmoozer.  And a liar.  And just plain fangy.

Relationships expand in Jane’s household in this book.  She gets herself a Primo, a Secundo and to top it all off – an Enforcer.  Jane has worked dang hard for her place in vamp hierarchy and she deserves happiness.  Enter Bruiser.  *Swoon*  Yes, he is pretty and romantic as ever.  I think they make a super pair.  It makes me all warm and melty.  Of course I couldn’t get comfortable with that because THEN things so a bit sideways because Ricky Bo makes an appearance.  He makes it known that he wants Jane back and (this is the part that is cool) Jane is the one that tells him to…um…go jump in a lake.  Bruiser is not the one flexing muscles here and going all alpha protective over Jane because Jane can take care of herself.  Go Jane!

I cannot rate this any higher than 5 stars though I’d want to give it 20.  Faith Hunter’s writing is out of this world and her story line is one that is original and engaging.  Go Faith!

 

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

…you might try  Soulwood series by Faith Hunter

 

Save

Save

Save

A Dream of Ashes by Orlando A. Sanchez

Ava James has been framed for murder – and the real culprit behind the Mystic deaths is drawing closer to home with every kill.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

TitleA Dream of Ashes 
Author: Orlando A. Sanchez
Series: Chronicles of the Modern Mystics 
Publish Date: April 27, 2016
Publisher: OM Publishing
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Provided by the author & Wordslinger.

Publisher’s Description:

Mystics. Magic. Murder.

A Rogue Mystic. A Ruthless Killer. A Dark Secret.

Ava James is a fire mystic with the Mystic Investigative Division. As a branch of the Enclave, a worldwide mystic organization, the MID is feared, respected and reviled. When the half-charred body of a Mystic is found, the Enclave sends her to investigate the strange death. Ava finds that all the clues point to the killer being a fire mystic, one of her own. Accused by the Enclave of working with the killer she must solve the case before a secret buried in her past is revealed and destroys her world.

Can she save herself? Will she find the murderer?

If you like hardcore, fast-moving action, complex mystical powers and an unstoppable heroine, then you’ll love Orlando A. Sanchez’ thrilling new series: Chronicles of the Modern Mystics. Buy A Dream of Ashes and join Ava on her adventure today!


Kat Mandu says…

In A Dream of Ashes, readers are introduced to Ava, a mystic with the ability to create and manipulate fire. Right from the beginning of the book, she’s been framed for several vicious murders she didn’t commit, not to mention she’s being hunted by a group of obviously wicked mystics trying to kill her. As she tries to navigate her way through a unique New York City without getting caught or killed, she’s gotta figure out where her uncle is and just who he was taken by. But getting mixed up in the affairs of mystics much more powerful than her is not what she intended, so she’ll need every ally and skill she can get.

Likes: This really is full of action and cool visuals, so it reads like a fast-paced movie with lots of awesome graphics. Plus, you know, the majority of the characters are Japanese, so ninjas. Either way, I really loved the easy-to-read flow of the book and I was quite fond of the quirky one-liners Ava gets to dish out.

What didn’t grab me: Like my fellow reviewer, this book was lacking in that really strong world-building that really would have made this a five for me. I had the feeling that the more the author wrote, the more ideas he came up with, which is nice but makes the beginning lackluster compared to the final moments. I would get caught up in the action but was left wondering just what Enclaves were and what Enforcers did and how everything worked out. Even if the info isn’t dumped at the beginning and spread out in hints throughout the book, it would have improved that clear structure of Ava’s New York/Japan aka “Mystic world.” I just didn’t get much that would help me really understand how everything works.

The only other thing is that there is quite a few organizations that come into play, plus numerous allies. I wish I could have gotten some more details on them as well, so I didn’t have to go back and ask myself “Okay, what did these guys do again?”

I just think this needs a clearer focus, but overall, I was impressed and give this three stars.

Luna Lovebooks says… 

“Go lick your wounds. When I see you next I will erase your existence.’ He turned and walked away as the sphere turned opaque and shifted us away from Nezu. We are going to die.”

Likes: This book is fast paced and action packed! Much like poor Ava, the reader doesn’t get to stop and rest. The characters and world are interesting, if not fully developed. Ava was resilient, but still vulnerable and had moments of weakness.  I love the fact that she is strong but not super woman. The mysterious Ghost and his daughter are two characters I’d like to get to know better. I would also love to know more about warders and mystics in general. This may slow down the book a bit, but it would also back up the world building.

Dislikes: I feel there are too many unanswered questions, even if this is the first book in the series. The cover is part of what drew me to pick up this book. But when I received my copy the cover is very pixilated and loses some of its beauty. I’m am sure that as a writer Sanchez knows the world he is creating. It feels solid, but as a reader I was lost.  There isn’t much information given about enclaves, mystics, or those special sticks. I feel that the plot should have slowed down to give some more world building to the readers.

Over all I give this book 4 mystics. 

 

Other recommendations…

If you like magic with unique systems and spins, we’d recommend Brandon Sanderson, J. F. Lewis, and M.K. Hobson. 

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.