Lady of Justice by Cyana Scriptora

Summary

Anna can’t stop thinking about Prince Audax. She feels like she knows him in a way that no one else does. She spends way too much time staring at his portrait and she’s even read his most intimate thoughts.
No, Anna isn’t a creepy stalker.
She’s a historian and her future career depends on discovering the truth. Her best friend Liz is convinced that Anna has brought her obsession to an unhealthy level, but she refuses to give up. She is convinced that the answers to the mystery of Audax’s death are still out there, and the clues lie somewhere in that dusty room.
Anna is willing to do just about anything to understand what happened, but to solve this enigma she will have to travel a lot further than just her university library.
As she delves deeper into the past, the twisted plot is unraveled and it’s worse than anyone ever thought.

Characters

Anna is a wide-eyed, hopeful. She feels more comfortable with a picture of a long dead prince, Audax, and stacks of old books than with people. Liz is trying to push her friend ahead, to finish her dissertation, and join their (her and Alex’s) teaching ranks. I feel like Liz did some growing in this book but she needed more. I was starting to get impatient with her and Alex’s relationship. While Anna grew in confidence. Audex on the other hand finally was drug out of his shell. Anna and Audex were a good match actually, and that helped. The supporting characters were all great and the ‘darker’ entities were portrayed in a gripping manner. Very little head hopping but there were at least two chapters where I had to go back because halfway through the POV shifted. There was also a ‘love triangle’ but it was very one sided and, therefore, palatable.

Plot

This story followed two main veins: Anna being sucked back into time to try and stop the death of Prince Audax and Liz working to find out what happened to Anna with Alex in the ‘present time.’ Liz and Alex searching for Anna took its own twists, but I felt that the characters in both timelines came to conclusions that were accurate too easily. Their leaps into the unknown were just too convenient.

I didn’t like the fact that the author had created this whole big world, but didn’t take the time to make the modern ‘Terra‘ any different than Earth. I assume this was because the author wanted to potentially drawn a parallel between the pieces of Terra being another dimension of Earth. It wasn’t clear if this was the intent and so the present time period world was disappointing. However, the world building in the past Terra was expertly done.

Overall

Despite Anna being in her 20s, this felt like a YA novel. Not all of the scenes and themes were but overall that was the feel. The flow of this book was consistent. It was easy to get wrapped up in and turn chapter after chapter. This was the author’s greatest strength. The book never really lulled, even with the occasional info dumping. The writing was straight forward and easy to read. The story engaging. The one thing this book sorely needed was transitions—between chapters when they jumped between time and breaks when there were changes within a chapter. It was the only hiccup in the writing. The flow was easy and the climax was created to no doubt flow right into the second book.

There are multiple pieces moving. It took me until about halfway through before I put it all together. Usually I figure it out faster, so this was excellently done. Putting the pieces, and there were many, together into a big woven web. I don’t want to say much more for fear to giving anything away.

Rating

4.5 stars (rounded down)

What an enjoyable fantasy read. If you like YA fantasy reads with time travel, romance,  and interesting twists and turns, this is a must read.

Where did I get it?

I received a copy from the author for a review. This is a voluntary review.

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Logres (The Future King #1) by M.L. Mackworth-Praed

Summary

Britain, 2052. In a world of war, disease and hunger the UK stands alone as a beacon of prosperity under an all-powerful ruling party. Life at new school Logres seems promising for fifteen-year-old Gwenhwyfar, and quickly she falls for the school’s handsome catch, Arthur. When Arthur’s rival, Lancelot, returns after a suspension, her heart is soon divided. Realising that behind the UK’s prosperity lies unspeakable cruelty, Gwenhwyfar sets off on a path to dismantle everything the government stands for. Suspenseful, raw and awash in a dystopian setting, The Future King: Logres is a story of identity and discovery against this backdrop, the second coming of the Arthurian legends.

Characters

I had a really hard time connecting with Gwen. I think if I was a teenager this might have been easier but I am not. There is a lot of teenage angst in this book. Trouble and high emotions. The two love interests of Gwen aren’t that much better—Arthur is self-righteous and Lancelot overly jerkish. However, they both have redeeming qualities, just like Gwen. There are a lot of supporting characters but the author does an excellent job not overburdening the reader right at the beginning and doesn’t make every character super cookie cutter. There was some head hoping throughout the book – so be warned.

Plot

This is where a lot of my dislike but also like, comes in. I disliked all of the high school nonsense. Some was good, like a spoonful of sugar, but this was chock full of it. I believe it was more to develop the characters than the plot which caused drag in more than a few areas. Not to mention the sheer length of the book. However, that was broken up by the dystopian aspect of the novel which was the real winner. Especially how the author pulled in aspects that are truly happening today and warping them into the darker side of what our nations can become. Thought provoking for sure! Then of course there was the overshadowing of the Arthur/Gwen/Lancelot story. I’m going to be honest that I actually really dislike the original King Arthur stories and there are very few remakes that are good. This one was a little more on the nose than was necessary. I would have enjoyed it more if it had been more subtle.

Overall

This book was longer than it needed to be. There were some interesting conflicts and points of excitement but there was a lot of hum-drum high school days that left this adult wanting. Just when those began to drone on too far, there was a moment of action or some more world building on the dystopian side that sucked me back in. It was even worse because there is a huge cliffhanger ending.

This is for sure a YA novel. There is way too much teenage angst for it to be anything else. However, I do see high schoolers who enjoy King Arthur stories and dystopian novels, gobbling this up. This is for a specific target audience, but those that love teenage dystopian’s should still give this a shot. One big win in my book for Gwen was that even though there was the predictable love triangle, she so far hasn’t given in…but this is only book 1…

Rating

3 Stars

This is a dark read that reveals a future that could be – drawing from what is currently happening. I appreciated that message. If you love all the drama of high school, plus the overshadowing of a dystopian setting, this novel is a must read. It just wasn’t for me.

Where did I get it?

I received a copy from the author. This is a voluntary review.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Summary

In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

Characters

I really liked Wade. Even when he goes all goo-goo over Artie, I still liked him. There was a fair amount of teenage angst. Just the right amount that if they had pushed it any more, I would have quietly backed out of the room. This is for sure a YA novel (although I would say older YA or even NA).

Plot

James Halliday was a very clever nerd (that’s a compliment, I consider myself a nerd). He sets up puzzles that only those like him could ever accomplish. I liked that idea the most and the overall theme. This felt like a fluff book – very cotton candy like. This doesn’t move mountains but is pure entertainment from the get go. Strap in you are in for a nerdy ride!

Overall

This is a YA novel with some adult themes. The writing was easy to read and I laughed out loud at least twice. This novel’s biggest drawback was the OVER reliance on the 1980s references in a YA novel. Overall this book had me turning pages to find out what happened next, that was its overall draw. Far warning it did drag in two parts – first the beginning was quite slow and second when the references were coming like fastballs and I could only catch half of them easily. Besides that I really enjoyed this book!

The hunt is what kept this together and seeing Wade figure them out. I think it was also because of the ‘villain’ and that Wade seemed too lucky (too many coincidences that just lined up too perfectly). It also didn’t help that Wade’s focus goes off the rails and it stops being about the hunt. A set up for the overall theme of the book (people matter because they are real). That screen time isn’t as fulfilling at face to face time.

Rating

4 stars

Overall an enjoyable YA novel with lots of 1980s references that are just too fun! I wouldn’t put too much stock in a deep plot or characters, just like a rollercoaster, read this one for the fun ride!

Where did I get it?

Bought a paperback on Amazon.

Unfathomable Chance – Audiobook

That’s right! After months of work and lots of patience, Unfathomable Chance is finally out on Audible, iTunes, and Amazon. It just released yesterday and now you can get your copy!

Make sure you go to Amazon (click here) and check out the sample!

Are you excited? I know I am!

Audiobook.JPG

 

Echoes in Time by Cherie Mitchell

Summary

When Zoe and her best friend Jamie find themselves hurtling through time on an adventure she could never have dreamed possible, Zoe quickly learns that perhaps modern-day teenagers don’t have it so bad after all.

From Ancient Greece to the last voyage of the Hindenburg, from Victorian England to the Wild West, from Viking-era Scandinavia to convict-era Botany Bay and old Egypt, and many, many more recognizable periods in history, Zoe discovers that in times gone by teenagers lived a very different life to the one which she and Jamie enjoy in 2017.

But how can the girls find their way back home to their own place in time? The aperture appears to instantly open and move them on whenever the girls are in any kind of danger, but they don’t seem to have a choice as to which part of history they will end up in next. Or do they?

Can Zoe discover the answer to the riddle given to her by their new friend Baozhai’s Chinese grandmother – and will the answer help them find their way home? And will Jamie’s attitude help or hinder the girls’ chances of safely returning to where they belong?

Characters

I just couldn’t connect with either Zoe or Jamie. Jamie was over the top may times and very one dimensional. When I actually saw hope that she might change about halfway through, I was sorely disappointed it did not take. Zoe was equally as disappointing but she at least grew some with the novel and developed into more of a two dimensional character. Recognizing her adventure for what it was. Unfortunately most of the characters were very flat. Baozhai presented as an interesting character but is gone before I could even connect with her.

Plot

I couldn’t discern any logic in their zigzag through time but it was very interesting. A lesson and reminder that we are fortunate to live in our present time. A lesson that we as a species have grown but only by looking back can we move forward and grow. I can tell the author went to great lengths to stay historically accurate and I was very impressed by the span of history. However, I did not see the point of moving into the future…that was very random!

Overall

If you like history this is an interesting and quick read. This is not a character driven novel, really more about the bouncing from one historical event to another, all highlighting the life of teenagers throughout the world during different iconic times. It also touches on important aspects of being a woman in all of those times as well. It was very informative and it was nice to see that the characters didn’t just visit fun places. The holocaust being among the locations in addition to Pompeii. You are in for one wild ride!

Rating

3 stars

If you like history and would like to learn about different times this is a fun read, just don’t pay too close attention to the characters.

This is a voluntary review.

Mosaic by Chris Keaton and Rick Taubold

Summary

Twin girls discover a mystical world contained within a crumbling mosaic, and they must restore it before an evil witch seizes its power, even if doing so could tear their family apart.

Secrets. It all started while looking for secret passages. Chloe Tozier’s impulsive twin, Zoe, insisted that all old mansions had them. Grandma denied the existence of any here. Except for the boarded-up service elevator that she conveniently forgot to mention before the girls discovered it, the elevator that didn’t seem to go anywhere. They had been living in this private museum with their grandparents since the death of their parents during an archaeology trip to Egypt.

Mysteries. Why have a museum in a tiny town in the middle of Kansas when what’s on display is nothing unusual? Sometimes packages arrived wrapped in plain brown paper that the girls never saw again. Grandpa disappeared overnight and they haven’t heard from him since. And before going to Egypt their parents had mentioned something about a mysterious mosaic. Maybe Zoe was right about family secrets. Maybe it was time to dig further.

Characters

Chloe and Zoe are super cute but very much cookie cutter characters. I never felt like they really broke out of their shell and were very two dimensional characters for most of the book. I also struggled with the story being primarily from Chloe’s perspective and almost not at all from her sister’s. That being said as the book progressed they grew on me. There are a plethora of supporting characters but most of them are amazing! Favorite character by far was Severin. He saved this book in the character department for me! I would read an entire book with just his story! The villain was a little flat, but decently evil.

Plot

This is for sure a YA plot. I loved the back story and was totally engaged in those chapters. Totally swept up in them and transported to a land before magic was taken. The plot was wrapped around a big baddie escaping and two twin teens being the only ones who can set everything right. After a wonderful opening chapter the rest started off a little slow but that was because it felt like the origin story to a series. Once you get past that introductory piece the plot focuses on the Mosaic and that is when the real fun begins. I consumed the last 40% of this book in one sitting because I JUST HAD TO KNOW!

Overall

The world building and originality of the plot behind the mosaic was this book’s strength. It is a whirl wind adventure for the second half of the book and you won’t want to put this book down once you reach that part. The writing was easy to follow and written for a YA crowd but adults who enjoy YA would enjoy as well. Vivid fantasy characters/creatures were woven throughout the book that were awesome! There were scenes that I could see playing as a movie in my head.

I was totally sucked in for the second half of the book! I’d get excited every flash back or Severin chapter showed up. They were by far the highlights of the book. The history of the Mosaic and their guardians is well with the rest of the book. If you’d like a fun adventure with a YA feel, but sure to pick this up!

My personal opinion was this would have made for an epic adult book and was actually limited by its YA characters. Although cute and fun it could have easily competed with other wonderful books had it shed its YA skin. Its YA main characters and YA friendly villain drained some of the excitement and originality of the story.

Rating

4.5 Stars

This is a solid 4 star book and well worth the time, particularly if you love YA books and characters that are tried and true. Overall a fantastically original plot/idea, but not very original heroines so I just couldn’t give it 5 stars.

This is a voluntary review.

The Shadow Girl by Misty Mount

Summary

It’s more than just her imagination—she’s fading away…

Painfully shy, thirteen-year-old Zylia Moss is no stranger to living life in the shadows, pushed aside and unnoticed by both her large family of nine and her fellow classmates. As her “symptoms” of invisibility increase, she uncovers an old family mystery leading to her Great-Aunt Angelica, who vanished curiously at Zylia’s age. If she’s going to save herself from being erased from the canvas of this world, she’ll have to travel far outside her comfort zone—maybe even to another dimension.

Characters

Zylia Moss is so vividly painted, it is as though the author conjured her from a real person and not imagination. Very rarely do I read first person and think ‘this was done right!’ This painfully shy girl is in many ways a reluctant heroine but for sure the heroine of her own story. The subtle interactions and internal thoughts built Zylia into a very real character. Supporting characters like her family and Terra. Everything was painted from Zylia’s point of view and it was expertly done, bringing alive a world not so different from other disjointed but loving families.

Plot

This book makes you question what is real and what is not. Is Zylia really fading or is there something else happening? I won’t ruin it for you, but I absolutely loved the way the author went with the story. Between the mystery and the coming of age aspects, I really enjoyed the development of this story. The plot was enjoyable but the real powerhouse of this story was the characters.

Overall

Fantastic writing, interesting plot, and stellar character that practically leaps out of the page! The way Zylia slowly blossomed and came into her own was amazing to see. I loved her friendship with Terra, it was perfect in every way and felt so real! I have very few negatives at all about this book, it was wonderfully executed. Biggest issue was how slow it was. Although I can’t pinpoint anything that could be left out, this is not action packed, it was a biopic approach to story telling.

The second really isn’t a negative but I felt like this wasn’t for my age group. I’m in my late twenties and at times I had a really hard time remembering how awkward it was in middle/high school. This is 100% perfect for young teens and high schoolers and I highly recommend it to those age groups. I think even those in college who are socially awkward will just love this, but as an extrovert who doesn’t mind being the center of attention, some of the nuances of the story that would normally have struck a cord…simply struck out.

Rating

5 stars

If you are between 10-25 and like coming of age stories with a nice twist this is a MUST READ! Zylia will feel like a real person by the end of the book, that is how well she is written.

This is a voluntary review of an advanced readers copy.