Shades of Doon (Doon, 3) by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

23433222 Shades of Doon – this review is taken from a free Advanced Reader’s copy and may be different from the final version.

Since the last visit to the magical kingdom of Doon (see Doon and Destined for Doon), each of our heroines has been for the most part happy, but still dealing with a few hiccups. Mackenna is getting used to her life in the kingdom, but doesn’t quite know where she fits. Veronica has been having sudden bouts of illness, but no one can figure out why. Still, their lives are pretty perfect, until some strange magic forces them out of Doon and back into the real world. They’re only back in Alloway, Scotland, and luckily they brought their rings and are able to simply pop back over the Brig. After they tell their worried MacCrae Princes, Jamie and Duncan, and their friends, they’re under more scrutiny as they struggle to figure out the cause. When they hand over their magical rings for study, they are betrayed by a friend and this time booted out of Doon all the way back into their former lives. Kenna ends up in her apartment in Chicago, while Vee wakes up in her bed in Indiana, the home with her mother and that horrible Bob the Slob. Immediately, Kenna sets out for Veronica’s house, and the best friends are reunited, even if they’re thinking their lives in Doon were just fantasy. Not ones to simply sit around and wait to be rescued, they set out to get new clothes and maybe jobs. Just when their hopes are low, Jamie and Duncan arrive on their doorstep, true knights, albeit without shining armor and white horses but at least shining with love and a limo. After gallivanting around in the modern world and reconciling their former lives with their future ones, they travel back to Doon only to discover the worst has happened in their absence. The witch Addie has gotten back in, and she intends to control or destroy them all.

One of the things I enjoyed best about this novel was how Mackenna and Veronica finally got to really rely on each other for support and yet have fun. It was especially nice to have them flashback to their old lives, only now with their Princes, like something out of a Disney fairy tale. Can’t say enough how I just love this series! It’s such fun! Romance, swashbucking adventure, humor, and undeniably a clean, uplifting read. It simply makes me happy and is what I would have loved to read as a teen. This series is perfect for girls of all ages, especially parents concerned about teen content or who have religious rules about reading (such as only Christian authors). Fans of Disney or Shannon Hale need to give this series a try. Also, isn’t that cover art gorgeous?!

IMG_3735I was lucky enough to meet Carey and Lorie this summer at ALA, and they are delightful, much like their books. After meeting them, I can totally see their personalities shine through in Kenna and Vee. They are currently hard at work on book 4, the final in the series. I can’t wait to see where it goes as it ended on a cliffhanger! (Also, I’m totally hoping for some sort of double wedding!)

Lorie, Carey, if you read this: I finished this well over two months ago, but my new job prevented me from writing as quick as I would like. You might like to know it’s like reading a version of hot chocolate: fuzzy marshmallows melting in a pool of rich, warm chocolate. You sip and sip so happy, but then, alas. You’ve reached the bottom of the cup (or end) and must wait for the next, for it’s too rich to drink one after the other. *sad emoji* It reminds me a lot of Erynn Mangum’s novels, which hands down are my favorite little hidden gems of Christian chick lit humorous romance.

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Posted by on September 29, 2015 in Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult/Teen


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The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

 The Witch Hunter18190208

Set in a version of medieval England, a fierce war is going on between the witch hunters and the witches and wizards. In the kingdom of Anglia, all magic and magic users are forbidden. Elizabeth Grey is one of the best young witch hunters, save only for her best friend (and secret crush) Caleb. When Elizabeth’s secret, that she’s been taking witch’s herbs, is discovered and she is accused of being a witch, Elizabeth is sent to jail and awaits her burning at the stake. Though confident Caleb will save her, he doesn’t as weeks pass by, Instead, her rescuer is Nicholas Perevil, the most famous and notorious wizard in the kingdom. There’s only one catch as Nicholas is under a curse, quickly approaching his death, and needs her help. Coming into Nicholas’s home means re-examining all of her beliefs about wizards and witches, ghosts and other magical beings. Plus, her new friends don’t know her past, and it is bound to get ugly when they find out. Despite this, Elizabeth shows repentance and a desire to help. Through her, Nicholas and his allies discover their kingdom and people hang in the balance of a despot, one they can only defeat if both sides learn to work together.

Virginia Boecker writes a tribute to her historical heroines Lady Jane Grey and Queen Elizabeth I in this fantastical and exciting tale (she’s aptly named for loving the “Virgin Queen”!). A fun read and a good one for 2015! I love historical fiction, and especially historical fiction in the medieval era. Elizabeth is an intriguing heroine. We start off believing she is a witch hunter and doing what she should be, but in fact, she’s been put on this path, excelled, and come to find her whole life was manipulated. Let me point this out too–Elizabeth was taking the witch’s herbs because the king, whom she cannot refuse, takes her to bed, and Elizabeth doesn’t want to bear his children, which the witch’s herbs prevent. Amazingly, this detail is mostly brushed aside in the story arc, but the reader should not forget that Elizabeth is bearing the brunt of this shame and punishment for something she has no choice over. Finally out from under the strict society of the witch hunters, she’s finally getting to think for herself. It’s liberation in every sense of the word, and one that both surprises and endears a reader to her plight and future.

Did I mention my favorite era in history is the Wars of the Roses? No? Then you might know why I can’t wait for the second book–find out here!

Does this have Morris potential? My guess is that it probably won’t make the top 5 but I would love to see it there!

(Also, her website is lovely. You should check it out. And while I could have met her at a library conference this year, alas, I was  behind. Much like I am for the last two weeks blogging. Sometimes life gets you, and since I’ve been at a new job recently, I’m finding the adjustment a little disorienting.)

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Posted by on September 22, 2015 in Fantasy, Historical fiction, Young Adult/Teen


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The Rose Society (The Young Elites, 2) by Marie Lu

23429332Potential Spoilers Ahead! Read at your own risk!

Note: This review taken from an uncorrected proof, not a final copy, but pre-order yours today! Follow the link below!

 The Rose Society 

(The Young Elites)

After accidentally using her power and mistaking Prince Enzo for Teren, causing Teren to kill Enzo, Adelina and her sister are on the run from the Daggers and the Inquisition Axis. The Daggers have also escaped the shores of Kenettra, as even their supporters are targeted and suppressed by the Inquisition. Now in the northern kingdom of Beldain, Raffaele and his companions have gone to offer their services to the new young Queen, and she has plans to use her own Elite power. . . to raise Enzo from the dead and thereby win Kenettra to her crown.

Meanwhile, Adelina and Violetta have made their way across the sea in search of more Elites, intent upon gaining support to take the crown from Queen Giulietta and to stop the mistreatment of the malfettos. They’ve been scouting the island of Merroutas for Magiano, a boy who inspires so many rumors that they cannot be sure of his real gifts. His real draw is his influence and reputation. When they finally come across Magiano, he makes them a deal in exchange for his allegiance: to steal a priceless brooch from the Night King, the most feared man in Merroutas, before Magiano himself can. Using her ruthless cunning, Adelina and Violetta are able to outsmart Magiano and the Night King, but not without making a giant mess that leaves the Night King dead, Merroutas floundering for leadership, and Adelina hallucinating severely. Still, they succeed in winning Magiano to their cause, who brings his own ally:  Sergio, a mercenary captain and another Young Elite–the Boy Who Could Control the Rain. Together they form their own society, the Rose Society, and cement their allegiance. Discovering that the Daggers and Queen Maeve plan to raise Enzo and tether him to Raffaele, Adelina and the Roses have another danger other than the Inquisition.  It’s a fight on three sides as Queen Maeve, the Beldish army, and the Daggers draw against Queen Guiletta, Teren, and the Inquisition while also beset by Adelina, Violetta, Magiano, Sergio, and the mercenaries from Merroutas. Who will survive in this epic battle for destiny?

I couldn’t put this book down! Oh, how I want to read it again and again. This was not a typical middle novel in a trilogy. It magnifies the expectation for the final book (but did you expect any less from Marie Lu?), and is simply darker than ever, amazing, and addictive. I must confess. I love Magiano. He’s become my favorite in this novel, while the other characters have become more clear. He’s just so sweet, funny, and flirtatious! Still, so as not to give to much away, I’m only going to talk about Adelina.

While the first novel explored Adelina’s innocence and vulnerability, those ties have been mostly severed, and here we follow as she threatens to thoroughly embrace Machiavellian principles in her quest for vengeance and power. In using her illusion gifts more frequently, her inner turmoil grows which manifests outwardly, leaving her powers and her sanity unstable. Her one last hope is her love and loyalties, but those are uncertain with the addition of the raised and unpredictable Enzo. Adelina becomes more and more like the White Wolf for whom she is named, transforming from a dangerous puppy into a bloodthirsty wild animal that strikes all who may be potential threats. (I just can’t help but imagine how hard it must be for Marie Lu to write such a dark heroine; the real blood, sweat, and tears it must take to sit in Adelina’s head!) This may be the first time you are so seduced by a villain . . .

Teaser for the next novel: A final secret emerges that promises to destroy all Young Elites and the world they strive to build, heal, or conquer.

Read an excerpt found at JustJared!


Posted by on September 1, 2015 in Fantasy


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The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Book 3) by Michelle Hodkin 

15768409 The Retribution of Mara Dyer – A bonechilling, grisly, and satisfyingly engrossing read. 

After being set up by her ex-boyfriend Jude and Dr. Kells, Mara and her friends Jamie and Stella are official patients of Horizons inpatient treatment center and trapped in a secret underground bunker where they’re being held captive, drugged, and experimented on against their will. As for Noah, Mara doesn’t know what happened to him, but Dr. Kells says he’s died. Unable to believe this and practically catatonic without the grief, Mara is surprised when she wakes up from her drug-induced state to discover Jude has freed her and sent her on a mission to find Noah. After killing Dr. Kells in a battle for her life and her sanity, Mara, along with Jamie and Stella must escape the island, though she is still drugged, sick, and covered in blood. After making it back to Miami, they use Jamie’s power of influence to fool their families, only Mara’s brother Daniel isn’t there, and he has the genetics book, the one that explains what they are and perhaps might lead them to Noah. They follow Daniel to New York where he seems to be visiting colleges. As all secrets are revealed about Mara’s ancestry and the mysterious Lukumi, Mara comes to accept the truths of friendship, love, and sacrifice, especially when Noah is caught between life and death; however, she comes to realize the hardest part is accepting yourself and having the courage to make the toughest choice.

In this third and final volume of the Mara Dyer trilogy, Michelle Hodkin brings us full circle to discover the secret of the kids with powers, how Mara and Noah came to be, just why they’re drawn to each other, and how captivatingly she weaves the final threads of Mara’s story together. I am just amazed at her quality of language and imagery. The romance was delightful and fans won’t be disappointed with this resolution. Without Noah for much of the book though, Jamie steps in. He is hilarious, and brings us some relief from the intensity of the action. I loved this series. It’s dark but lovely. Like a blooming nightshade flower. May not want to read this at night, alone, and in a storm though.

Note: Violence, language, sexual situations.

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Posted by on August 25, 2015 in Horror, YA Mystery/Thriller


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The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons

15750874 The Glass Arrow

Fans of post-apocalyptic and dystopian YA will quickly be sucked into this stand-alone tale.

Once Aya was living in the Frontier with her unconventional family, including two young children she was charged with protecting, trying to make ends meet, but she has been captured and now lives in a slave pen, awaiting some man to make a purchase for her at market. In her society, a potential future of our own, all women are property: sold, abused, used for children, and killed or pushed aside when considered useless. Children are means to an end, and religion and prayer is banned. Also, any girl who is a virgin and gives up her virginity before being sold (even if the man buying her asks her to do it) is punished to live as a Virulent, the lowest caste of society that is visibly marked and usually ripe with disease. Aya tries to do anything to avoid being sold. She starts fights, gets sick, tries to escape, and usually she is punished by being unsuitable for market and sent to live in solitary confinement. In her brief exile, she makes a friend or two: Brax, a wolf puppy she saved, who keeps her warm at night, and a Driver boy, whom she calls Kiran, who is mute but eventually companionable. Then, she runs out of chances.  Finally up for sale, Aya (her slave name is Clover) tries to be as repulsive as possible, which backfires. The mayor of Glasscaster buys her for his son, and Aya is slave to a young boy. Thinking she has lost all chance of escape, she is unexpectedly saved when Kiran pretends to be the mayor’s brother and helps her back into the Frontier. Aya’s only thought is to find her family, but a series of surprises leave her questioning her familial ties, her beliefs, and her future.

The Glass Arrow has been called a modern YA retelling of The Handmaid’s Tale and Aya has been drawing parallels to Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. (Actually, I thought it was going to be more like THG and Katniss than it was, so I was very pleasantly surprised by this.) However, it is not for the sheltered reader. It is designed to open eyes. To make the reader think about women, their vulnerabilities, the patriarchal society and how it can degrade into this view, which is very similar to some countries in the world. It is an emotionally difficult read (not inappropriate by any means), but will make you uncomfortable and expose you, if you weren’t already aware, to ideas about sexism and potential abuse of females.

Now the good parts! Aya herself is a strong character, inviting the Katniss comparison, and does much to shelter those around her, like the children, from the brutality of their world. Kiran is the best possible sort of boy, and Aya comes to realize this, discovering that she demonized most men in retaliation to the stereotypical treatment of her (and females in general). Kiran changes her mind, and Aya learns that despite society’s view, she and he can love honestly, honorably, and truly appreciate each other. Brax is both comfort and comic relief from the horrible situation, and the ending is satisfying, though I won’t spoil it here. Take a chance to read something that isn’t just a happy story, for it’s in these that you learn the most about yourself, how you think, and how you might need to change…

*Note: Middle grade readers may not be emotionally ready to read/discuss amount of sexual connotation and possibility of sexual abuse in this book.

P.S. Found it noted on Kristen Simmon’s website that she is working on a book called Metaltown for 2016. Unknown whether this is a sequel (though doubtful) or unrelated. Go there for more articles and bonus stories from The Glass Arrow!


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