The Killing Fog – Will It Come For You?

The Killing Fog
The Grave Kingdom

By Jeff Wheeler

Spoiler Alert!

Summary

The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Kingfountain series conjures an epic, adventurous world of ancient myth and magic as a young woman’s battle with infinite evil begins.

Survivor of a combat school, the orphaned Bingmei belongs to a band of mercenaries employed by a local ruler. Now the nobleman, and collector of rare artifacts, has entrusted Bingmei and the skilled team with a treacherous assignment: brave the wilderness’s dangers to retrieve the treasures of a lost palace buried in a glacier valley. But upsetting its tombs has a price.

Echion, emperor of the Grave Kingdom, ruler of darkness, Dragon of Night, has long been entombed. Now Bingmei has unwittingly awakened him and is answerable to a legendary prophecy. Destroying the dark lord before he reclaims the kingdoms of the living is her inherited mission. Killing Bingmei before she fulfills it is Echion’s.

Thrust unprepared into the role of savior, urged on by a renegade prince, and possessing a magic that is her destiny, Bingmei knows what she must do. But what must she risk to honor her ancestors? Bingmei’s fateful choice is one that neither her friends nor her enemies can foretell, as Echion’s dark war for control unfolds. 
(Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

The Killing Fog has an exciting new world created by Jeff Wheeler. The world is rich and complex with characters facing moral dilemmas.

Not only are there factions fighting to exist in a harsh world, but there are unexplained powers within artifacts from a bygone era. When the fog rises it kills those it touches, but no one knows where it originates. The current people live within the cities of a people whose history is lost to time. Why did this former civilization disappear?

The main character, Bingmei, has her life course changed when mercenaries attack her home. As she grows, she comes to find that she values her own life more than revenge.

There haven’t been dragons for ages, and the lost city she is sent to find might not even exist. When she and her companions find a lost city, they are in awe. There is no way to know what awaits them in this mystic palace. Bingmei is guided on their travels. Even she doesn’t know that deception is at the heart of the sword binding to her. Bingmei sets the wheels of destruction in motion when she is tricked by the ancient forces.

When Bingmei is seen as a means for peace, she questions the fate planned for her. The rising evil is great, but is it greater than the forces already at work? When there is unspeakable evil in the hearts of mankind, why should she sacrifice herself?

I can hardly wait for the next in the series. If you enjoy fantasy novels with interesting worlds, you won’t want to miss The Killing Fog.

5 out of 5 stars

5 star
  • Michelle

If you loved The Killing Fog, try The Darkwater Sage by Patrick W. Carr and Incarceron by Catherine Fisher.

If you can’t find anything to read, send me a message, and I’ll help you find a book. The world is full of adventure, and we all deserve to live it.

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The Fifth Doll – What Are Your Secrets?

The Fifth Doll

By Charlie Holmberg

Spoiler Alert!

Summary

The bestselling author of The Paper Magician Series transports readers to a darkly whimsical world where strange magic threatens a quiet village that only a courageous woman can save.

Matrona lives in an isolated village, where her life is centered on pleasing her parents. She’s diligent in her chores and has agreed to marry a man of their choosing. But a visit to Slava, the local tradesman, threatens to upend her entire life.

Entering his empty house, Matrona discovers a strange collection of painted nesting dolls—one for every villager. Fascinated, she can’t resist the urge to open the doll with her father’s face. But when her father begins acting strangely, she realizes Slava’s dolls are much more than they seem.

When he learns what she’s done, Slava seizes the opportunity to give Matrona stewardship over the dolls—whether she wants it or not. Forced to open one of her own dolls every three days, she falls deeper into the grim power of Slava’s creations. But nothing can prepare her for the profound secret hiding inside the fifth doll. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

The Fifth Doll is one of my favorite stories by Holmberg. It contains a beautiful magic system and has unexpected layers. One of the reasons I love it is because I visited Russia many years ago and it reminds me of my time there. You won’t need to go to Russia to enjoy this story.

Matrona feels lost in her world. She wants to be loved but there is a barrier to her getting what she wants. Her sister disappeared, and she wonders if that is why her parents, and particularly her mother, are distant. Her fiancé has never kissed her. Why does he want to marry her? Then there is the young man who she can’t stop thinking about. At least her secret is safe. Or is it?

Jaska’s life has been filled with pain. The village has shunned his family, his mother is insane, and his father a drunkard. What would he be willing to sacrifice to understand the world around him? Would he give up his secrets?

I highly recommend this book.

5 out of 5 stars

5 star
  • Michelle

If you loved The Fifth Doll, try Enchantment by Orson Scott Card and Incarceron by Catherine Fisher.

If you can’t find anything to read, send me a message, and I’ll help you find a book. The world is full of adventure, and we all deserve to live it.

Posted in All Time Favorites, grown up books reviewed, young adult book reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Midsummer’s Mayhem – A Baking Delight With A Dash of Shakespeare

Midsummer’s Mayhem

By Rajani LaRocca

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Can Mimi undo the mayhem caused by her baking in this contemporary-fantasy retelling of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

Eleven-year-old Mimi Mackson comes from a big Indian American family: Dad’s a renowned food writer, Mom’s a successful businesswoman, and her three older siblings all have their own respective accomplishments. It’s easy to feel invisible in such an impressive family, but Mimi’s dream of proving she’s not the least-talented member of her family seems possible when she discovers a contest at the new bakery in town. Plus, it’ll start her on the path to becoming a celebrity chef like her culinary idol, Puffy Fay.

But when Mimi’s dad returns from a business trip, he’s mysteriously lost his highly honed sense of taste. Without his help, Mimi will never be able to bake something impressive enough to propel her to gastronomic fame.

Drawn into the woods behind her house by a strangely familiar song, Mimi meets Vik, a boy who brings her to parts of the forest she’s never seen. Who knew there were banyan trees and wild boars in Massachusetts? Together they discover exotic ingredients and bake them into delectable and enchanting treats.

But as her dad acts stranger every day, and her siblings’ romantic entanglements cause trouble in their town, Mimi begins to wonder whether the ingredients she and Vik found are somehow the cause of it all. She needs to use her skills, deductive and epicurean, to uncover what’s happened. In the process, she learns that in life, as in baking, not everything is sweet. . . . (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I loved Mimi! She has such a passion for baking but doubts herself. Even with her doubts, she presses forward and tries. She is also kind, energetic, and deeply wants a friend. There are clues and concerns. Her dad isn’t himself, her siblings are in love (one with himself), and the neighbor keeps stopping by. If it wasn’t for her new friend she’d be lost. I love how the book centers on family and friends. Her new friend Vik has some secrets of his own. I liked how he has a strong motivation for all of his actions. I think kids will question if he is good or bad but will be happy by the end.

This would be such a fun book for kids to read after seeing A Midsummer Night. They would love picking out the characters and events. LaRocca is masterful in her story, both incorporating Shakespeare’s tale and writing a new storyline centered around middle-graders fear and love.

I wish the book included some recipes. Everything Mimi made sounded so delicious, I want to try making them.

This is an excellent debut novel and I highly recommend it.

5 out of 5 stars

5 star

  • Michelle

If you loved Midsummer’s Mayhem, try The Dragon With a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis and The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol.

If you can’t find anything to read, send me a message, and I’ll help you find a book. The world is full of adventure, and we all deserve to live it.

Posted in middle-grade books, Newberry & Awarded Books | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Myths and Mortals – What Are the Beasts?

Myths and Mortal
Numina Series

By Charlie Holmberg

Spoiler Alert!

 

Summary

Wall Street Journal bestselling author Charlie N. Holmberg builds her bewitching world of beasts and betrayal as the Numina Series continues.

Sandis has escaped Kazen’s grasp, but she finds herself unmoored, reeling from her thief friend Rone’s betrayal.

Kazen has been hurt but not stopped, and he’ll do anything to summon the monster that could lay waste to the entire world. Sandis knows she must be the one to stop him, but with her own trusted numen now bound to another, and finding herself with no one she can trust, she is in desperate need of allies. Rone seems determined to help her, but Sandis has no intention of letting him get close to her again. What she doesn’t know is how much Rone gave up to protect her. Or how much more he is willing to give up to keep her safe.

As chaos mounts, Sandis must determine whom to trust. After all, the lines between enemy and ally have never been less clear…and corruption lurks in the most unlikely of places. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

One of the best things about this book is that Sandis is angry at Rone! It is too easy for an author to have the characters forgive each other too quickly. Sandis is justifiably angry and she sustains her feelings even as Rone is trying to heal the breach in their relationship. I love it when Sandis tells him if he’d asked her to go back to Kazen, she would have, but he didn’t ask. He, of course, feels like the dirt on the bottom of a slimy slug.

I also loved how Holmberg sustains the urgency, and even increases it. This isn’t a middle novel that drags. It is full of new problems, surprises, and definitely some big twists. By the end, I think I know where she’s going with it, but I have to admit, I’m probably wrong. I’m looking forward to the next release.

The big question for me at the beginning of the series was “What are the beasts possessing their bodies?” Each of the beasts has a different strength and lives in a different dimension. In this installment, a little bit more is revealed – but you’ll have to read the book to find that out. I’ll just say, it is a twist I didn’t see coming, but it fits perfectly in the world.

I recommend this book for young adults over sixteen. I think it’s a little complex for younger children. (There is cursing, violence, murder, and nudity – but no sex.)

5 out of 5 stars

5 star

  • Michelle

If you loved Myths and Mortals, try The Darkwater Sage by Patrick W. Carr and Incarceron by Catherine Fisher.

If you can’t find anything to read, send me a message, and I’ll help you find a book. The world is full of adventure, and we all deserve to live it.

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Halloween Treat

 

     I should NEVER have started the crossword puzzle.

     The game’s title: Solve the Trick For A Halloween Treat caught me.

     First clue. Witch’s brew. Six down. “Ohh.” 

P
O
T
I
O
N

     Five across. #13: Vampire’s refreshing drink.

P
BLOOD
T
I
O
N

     “Easy as bats fly.” I gripped my pencil.

     Clue #31: Spider’s snare for curious children. “How weird.” Six letters. Second

letter an O. “Spiders make…I got it!”

P
BLOOD
T
I
         COBWEB
N

     “Cobwebs don’t catch children. RATS!” I tried erasing it, but couldn’t.

     Jaws snapped. “Wrong answer. You needed COCOON.”

     The puzzle lines spun outward, ensnaring me.

     “Now you’re my treat.”

     I struggled. “NOOOOOO!”

 

Posted in Stories | 26 Comments

A Dash of Trouble: Love Sugar Magic – How To Bake Up Fun and Trouble

A Dash of Trouble
Love Sugar Magic #1

By Anna Meriano

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Leonora Logroño’s family owns the most beloved bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, spending their days conjuring delicious cookies and cakes for any occasion. And no occasion is more important than the annual Dia de los Muertos festival.

Leo hopes that this might be the year that she gets to help prepare for the big celebration—but, once again, she is told she’s too young. Sneaking out of school and down to the bakery, she discovers that her mother, aunt, and four older sisters have in fact been keeping a big secret: they’re brujas—witches of Mexican ancestry—who pour a little bit of sweet magic into everything that they bake.

Leo knows that she has magical ability as well and is more determined than ever to join the family business—even if she can’t let her mama and hermanas know about it yet.

And when her best friend, Caroline, has a problem that needs solving, Leo has the perfect opportunity to try out her craft. It’s just one little spell, after all…what could possibly go wrong? (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll notice that more recent reviews are all 4 and 5 stars. There’s a good reason for this. If a book isn’t in that star quality range, then I’m not going to finish reading it. Life is too short for mediocre books.

Leo’s character is the epitome of the youngest child. She doesn’t want to be left behind, she wants to prove how she’s big enough to do anything, and she is riddled with doubts in her abilities.

I had some favorite moments in the story. One is when Leo hides in a cupboard. This scene tickled me because she wants to prove that she’s old enough and big enough to be trusted, but she still fits inside the cupboard and is sneaking around instead of being responsible. I had kids who hid in kitchen cupboards, so I’m sure that’s one of the reasons I loved this scene.

Another favorite scene is when she’s making her first magic cookie in her play oven. I made cookies and cakes in the exact same type of oven as a child. Even my children had one. It’s an iconic toy and gave her the perfect means for her first experiment. It was a reminiscent moment that added to my love of the book.

I told my teenage sons about the scene where the twins are channeling the dead to communicate with their loved ones. They said, “That’s so cool.” I thought this scene had a great tie in with the annual Dia de los Muertos festival.

I also love how Leo keeps trying to solve her problem and everything keeps getting worse. When she finally seeks some help, her sisters aren’t able to do a thing. She has to solve her own problems. But when things have gone so terribly wrong, I didn’t know if she could and neither did she.

The book uses some Spanish without direct translations. I’ve been studying Spanish for about a year (I’m very slow to learn) and there were words I wasn’t familiar with, however, Leo also didn’t know all the words which was a great way to handle things. I was able to understand the majority through inference and Leo’s understanding of the things her family said. The recipes were the most challenging, but never fear, they’re written in the back in English.

This is an excellent debut novel and I highly recommend it.

5 out of 5 stars

5 star

  • Michelle

If you loved A Dash of Trouble: Love Sugar Magic, try The Dragon With a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis and The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol.

If you can’t find anything to read, send me a message, and I’ll help you find a book. The world is full of adventure, and we all deserve to live it.

Posted in All Time Favorites, middle-grade books, young adult book reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Mad Wolf’s Daughter – When A Lass Became a Legend

The Mad Wolf’s Daughter

By Diane Magras

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

A Scottish medieval adventure about the youngest in a war-band who must free her family from a castle prison after knights attack her home.

One dark night, Drest’s sheltered life on a remote Scottish headland is shattered when invading knights capture her family, but leave Drest behind. Her father, the Mad Wolf of the North, and her beloved brothers are a fearsome war-band, but now Drest is the only one who can save them. So she starts off on a wild rescue attempt, taking a wounded invader along as a hostage.

Hunted by a bandit with a dark link to her family’s past, aided by a witch whom she rescues from the stake, Drest travels through unwelcoming villages, desolate forests, and haunted towns. Every time she faces a challenge, her five brothers speak to her in her mind about courage and her role in the war-band. But on her journey, Drest learns that the war-band is legendary for terrorizing the land. If she frees them, they’ll not hesitate to hurt the gentle knight who’s become her friend.

Drest thought that all she wanted was her family back; now she has to wonder what their freedom would really mean. Is she her father’s daughter or is it time to become her own legend? (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I’ve included two covers for this one. Which one do you like better? Now, that I’ve read the story, I can pick out different characters in the first cover. The second features Drest front and center as the hero.

I wondered if I’d find this story believable or too far-fetched. Drest’s world sucked me with the details of her life sprinkled through the text, and the other places she traveled. The reason I believe The Mad Wolf’s Daughter is a success in maintaining believability is that Drest doubts herself, and the memories of her brothers talking to her bolster her courage.

I also loved how other characters came to believe in Drest. The boy she rescues is the first of many. Eventually, the boy she saved, escorted, or captured, depending on your point of view, comes to admire her and she changes the way he sees himself and the nation. Even her own father and brothers are surprised at what they see her do, and they don’t even know the half of it!

When Drest is traveling back from her journey to free her family, her legend has grown. She learns an important lesson that legends don’t always control the stories about them.

If I were to distill this book into one would it would be courage. Giving our children role models who face their fears, but persist with courage, is vital. I would certainly want my children to emulate Drest’s kindness, loyalty, protectiveness, and bravery. I can easily picture The Mad Wolf’s Daughter as a classic in children’s literature.

I loved reading Drest’s story and will look forward to more stories from this author, whether they are about this courageous lass or another person entirely.

5 out of 5 stars

5 star

  • Michelle

 

If you love The Mad Wolf’s Daughter, try The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly, a story revolving around a girl and her quest to find her place in Texas in the 1900s.

If you can’t find anything to read, send me a message, and I’ll help you find a book. The world is full of adventure, and we all deserve to live it.

Posted in All Time Favorites, children's books, middle-grade books, young adult book reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment