Review: The Portal Prophesies A Halloween Curse

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A Halloween Curse is the second book in the Portal Prophecy series by C.A. King. This is a fantasy series for YA/NA readers.

This is an action packed story with decent pacing and interesting characters. The story is quite twisty and the characters are complex, even the bad guys.

There is a large cast of characters of varying magical abilities from a variety of worlds or dimensions. Sometimes it is hard to keep track of who they are and what they can do because you often go several chapters without hearing from someone.

The descriptions are good, and the imagery and detail is fantastic. The author has put a lot of thought into the double meanings and vague possibilities of all her prophesies, curses, and warnings.

I worry that some of her characters are becoming over-powered and that it may cause plot-failings later in the series but for now the team continues to grow in strength and numbers while the problems facing them grow in complexity. Also, there is tension between the members of the group and quite often the girls are frustrated by people not taking them seriously.

Over all I’m impressed with the series and the scope of this fictional world.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Review: Wendigo Whispers

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Wendigo Whispers is Alex McGilvery’s first thriller and it is officially being released today. Set in a fictional small town in Northern Manitoba, the story follows Leigh and her husband, new-comers to town, as they unravel the mystery that is plaguing the failing town.

The town was once prosperous, until the ore in the mine ran out and the big money left town. Things have been sliding downhill ever since. You meet a lot of very interesting characters in this town, some quirky, some friendly, some dangerous, some just misguided.

The main character, Leigh, hears voices and is on some very potent medication. This makes her both a sympathetic and empathetic character. She’s passionate and dedicated to her class (she’s a teacher).

The story features a lot of Cree culture. Now, I’m not an expert in any form of Native American culture but I do have family and friends who are Native American and it seems that Alex has done some research and has certainly treated the Cree characters in his story with respect.

The story itself walks a fine line between traditional thriller and supernatural tale. There are little side stories woven into the novel making it a story about the town and its people, not just Leigh vs the bad guy.

I read this book in one sitting, I could not put it down. I stayed up way too late just to finish it, and I’m glad I did. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series, and to reading more of Alex’s works.

Wendigo Whispers is available TODAY so if it sounds interesting to you, you can be one of the first to read this gripping tale. I know I give it 5 stars.

Review: P.A.W.S. Argentum

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Argentum is the second book in the P.A.W.S. series by Debbie Manber Kupfer. P.A.W.S. is a contemporary paranormal series set mainly in St. Louis with parts of the book taking place in Europe and New York.

The cast of this book his huge but the main character is Miri Katz, a fifteen year old Jewish girl who can change into a cat with the help of an ancient amulet that has been in her family for generations. She is living at a secret facility that is part base part school part research facility in Forest Park with most of the cast.

There is the leader of their location, her son (who is also Miri’s romantic interest), a half dozen werewolves, a kangaroo exchange student, Miri’s roommate (another cat shifter), an ancient bird shifter (who may be friend or foe), and several side characters who are staff or students at the facility. As well there are three or four human characters and two or three “bad guys”. Plus about a dozen side characters in other locations.

The large cast wouldn’t be a problem but the story arc in this book branches and instead of closely following JUST Mirir’s journey you are now involved with a half dozen intersecting arcs, many of which are actually lengthy flashbacks. These chapters are interesting and full of their own tension and plot but there is no real clear distinction, no date at the beginning of a chapter, nothing to tell you if you’re in flashback or not. This wouldn’t be bad if they were short – a few paragraphs – and you were slipping in and out of memory with the characters, but some flashbacks are chapters long. And some of the flashbacks were very recent which made keeping the current timeline straight a little difficult.

The book felt long. There was a lot going on but I think the looking back nature of the book made it feel slower than book 1.

I will say that I liked the Canadian exchange student who was so un-Canadian it was refreshing. This author does not fall back on stereotypes.

I am curious to see where this series is going so the flashbacks haven’t turned me off the story. I think that they could have been shorter, hinted at, and that she might have taken those lengthy flashbacks, made them more showing and less tilling, and released a series of short stories instead. But they were interesting.

3.5 out of 5 stars from me.

Review: Portal Prophesies Book 1

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The Portal Prophesies Book 1 is called A Keeper’s Destiny and it is by C.A. King. This is a high fantasy epic novel.

The book starts with Willow, the orphaned teenage misfit who has a tattoo of two black cats that she doesn’t remember getting, it’s always been there. She also hears voices. Willow lives in a little village where she sells produce. The village is segregated by caste or class. The people of her village have hair that changes colour when they are young until it settles on a colour at sixteen cycles. Their hair reflects their mood until it stops changing, then it would announce the strength and type of her abilities. Which means this world also has in-born magics or abilities.

From here we move on to meet the people of her town and get a feel for the social structure. The history of the world, which involves Guardians and Keepers, who are bonded to each other, dividing up and protecting realms of fantastical races to keep them safe or keep them from causing harm, is gradually revealed, as is Willow’s role in all this.

The social turmoil within the village provides the opportunity for an attack that ends their peaceful existence and forces the survivors to use a Portal to one of these other realms. We get a few training sequences and some character growth, and then end with a major character in distress.

On the one hand this world is extremely unique with an interesting history and some potential for “that’s not what you told me” and a bad guy who believes he’s the good guy and the Guardians are evil tyrants. On the other hand, it’s prophesy based, and that runs the risk of being either cliched or forced or both. She can’t lose because she’s the chosen one, right? She’s just going to keep unlocking abilities until she’s big enough and strong enough to win no matter what. BUT I hold out hope for this series based on the wide cast of characters, the interesting set-up with potential for betrayals and side reversals, and the decent writing style.

This book is perfect for older middle years and high school students. It has that teen drama feel to it, with amazing powers and adventure and self-discovery.

Considering what this book is trying to be, and what it achieves, I give it a four out of five stars and I look forward to reviewing the second book later this summer.

Book Review – Dragonfly

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Dragonfly is a young adult paranormal romance by Alyssa Thiessen. You can find it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Dragonfly-Alyssa-Thiessen/dp/0994021003/ (Please note this is not an affiliate link).

Dragonfly is a quick, easy read, but perfect for grades 8 and up. It’s clean, so no sex, no graphic violence, no major swearing. What really sets this book apart are the wings. No dragon, bat, or angel wings here. Not even hawks like the Maximum Overdrive stories by Patterson. No, this time we have dragonfly wings.

I read this book with my book club so the first week we read chapters 1-9. In our first discussion we were listing all the possibilities for how the main character, 18 year old Joshua Miller, had ended up with dragonfly wings. Born that way? Mutant? Science experiment? Alien? What? Halfway through the book and you still have no idea.

The plot of the book is people centered. It’s about Joshua, a boy who has always hidden from the world for as long as he can remember, a boy with no family, no friends, no connections. Until he meets Lexi. His connection with Lexi triggers a whole series of mishaps that lead him to the only piece of his past he remembers. And from there we find out everything that Joshua doesn’t know about himself.

The book follows that winning YA romance structure: bored rich girl, roguish bad boy, becoming friends when they shouldn’t. Lots of him holding back because he’s no good for her and her stubbornly holding on because she’s never met anyone like him. But it was still a fun book to read. Really, Joshua and Eric and Nik aren’t so bad, Lexi was my only complaint with the book.

I gave this book 4 stars and would recommend it to young readers and anyone who likes YA fiction. I’m looking forward to her second book, which is not tied in to Dragonfly in any way, titled Infusion.

Book Review: If We Had No Winter

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I had the chance to read an ARC copy of this amazing book which is being officially released today by D.L. Pitchford. You can download your copy here: https://www.amazon.com/Had-Winter-Billie-Dixon-Book-ebook/dp/B06XR4PZ81/

If We Had No Winter is a contemporary drama set in a small college city in the US. The main character, Wilhelmina, is a freshman living in the dorms, just down the hall from her childhood friend and next door neighbour, Jimmy. In a refreshing twist there is no romantic connection between Jimmy and Wilhelmina (who is called Billie by her friends and Mina by her father).

Billie’s family includes her mother and sister (Imogene or Mo) back home and her father, Dr. Elijah Dixon, who is the head of the Mathematics department at the same college Billie is attending. Billie has not seen her father in the three years since he and her mother divorced.

Jimmy’s parents, Charlie and Thea (which is my grandmother’s name!) also feature strongly in the background. Other characters include various professors, Jimmy’s roommate, Xander, Billie’s roommate, Val, a half dozen other freshmen living in the same hallway, and Zane, a senior whom Billie is tutoring in Calculus.

 

I guess this book is best described as a coming of age novel. Billie has a lot of hang-ups because of the divorce. She was always closer to her father than her mother and he left. She has trouble with trust, with letting people in. Her pain and the way it manifests in her life is honest and feels very real. I never felt that she was whiny or annoying, except that I completely understood her friends’ frustrations with her. Xander was a complete ass but at least he was an honest ass and I found myself liking him even though Billie, the first person narrator, found him aggravating.

Billie was sympathetic without coming across as pathetic. She struggled without her issues feeling fake or repetitive. She gained ground and lost ground. She was stubborn and sometimes that resulted in some poor choices. She was hurt and that led to other poor choices. But she was always able to make her own choices and she had to face honest and realistic consequences for them.

Also – Zane was a detailed, subtly written character whose presence grew on you in a certain way. The reaction I had was exactly right for who he turned out to be. You could see the hints of it. It was masterfully portrayed.

I loved how each of the little steps Billie took towards growing up snowballed forcing her to take each of the next steps. But at the same time she still had every opportunity to make bad choices, and regularly did. She just felt so real. I could believe the choices she made and her motivation for making them.

 

I give this book a hearty 5 stars and I look forward to reading more by D.L. Pitchford, especially Billie Dixon Book 2.

Book Review: Casey’s Climax

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Casey’s Climax is an erotic short romance for mature readers. 18+ is advised. The story was written by Jax Lane and can be found on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Caseys-Climax-Jax-Lane-ebook/dp/B01DOW75Q2/ (NOTE I do not receive any royalties or kickback from the sales of this book)

This was an odd story for me to read because most people don’t call me Casia – they call me Casey. However, I am not the super curvy sexpot teenager that is depicted in this story. Not at all.

This is a fairly typical erotic short featuring a too good to be true gorgeous teen girl who is so sexy she’s intimidating and can’t get laid even though she wants it. Her best friend is pretty enough to get laid but not as sexy as her BFF.

The story relates their various plans to get Casey laid, including a taboo encounter with her BFF’s father. Yes, Casey is 18 in this story so no underage sex occurs.

The sex scenes are, well, sexy. They weren’t exactly realistic but then I don’t think people read these for the realism. The dialogue was a little stiff but the text was relatively error free.

It was short, 9 chapters over roughly 20 pages. I found it a little overpriced for the length compared to other fiction in this genre.

I gave it 3 stars.

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