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review 2017-07-20 22:44
Book Review of The Jewel Tree: A Young Adult Fantasy Novella by Lee Summers
The Jewel Tree: A Novel in Miniature - David Lee Summers

At the heart of THE JEWEL TREE is an heirloom so precious that the last remaining members of the Ryder family will do almost anything to keep it in their possession.

But how long should a young girl work to earn back the emblem of her mother's soul? And is any task to menial?

 

When Leda sees the hummingbird charm dangling from wealthy Lord Caitiff's shriveled earlobe, she swears she will labor a year and a day to reclaim it. She is prepared to do whatever the old man asks--until the day he asks too much.

 

In a world of dark curses and ancient grudges, Leda and her handsome young uncle are sometimes hard pressed to distinguish between appearance and reality. Not all that glitters is gold--and gold is never worth more than flesh and blood. This mini-novel about the redemptive power of love will delight readers who appreciate a little magic in their lives.

 

Review 3*

 

This is a wonderful young adult fantasy novella. I really enjoyed it.

 

Leda Ryder is a young girl of fifteen when the story starts, but the tale covers a few years. She is a wonderful character and I really liked her. She was orphaned at a young age and has been raised by her uncle, Alexander. Unfortunately, he has a gambling addiction and has squandered the family money until there is nothing of value except an heirloom called the Jewel Tree (fashioned from gold), which holds little charms set with precious and semi-precious stones. He sells these charms to Lord Caitiff to pay for his debts. When she finds out what her uncle has done, she finds herself working for Lord Caitiff in an attempt to earn the charms back.

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author, with no expectation of a positive review.

 

This is an intriguing and charming novella. I must admit that I was not sure what time period this book was set in at first, then I realised that it must be in Victorian or early Edwardian times as there is mention of horses and carriages but no cars.

 

The story is mostly told through the eyes of Leda, though Alexander and Lord Caitiff also have scenes seen through their points of view. I found myself hooked from the first page. However, I also found myself confused at the relationship between Leda and Alexander. The author introduces Alexander as Leda's uncle, but a couple of times they are referred to as siblings. It's as if the author couldn't decide what their relationship should be and kept changing it and never corrected it or missed it during editing. Nevertheless, they come across as a loving and close family even though it's just the two of them. Lord Caitiff is a mysterious benefactor and the reader never really gets to know him until close to the end of the tale. There is a good reason for this and the author uses this mystery to good effect as there is a slight twist that surprised me. There are also other characters that intrigued me, like Felicity, Lord Caitiff's daughter who is unspeakably ugly. This story has a "Beauty and the Beast" feel to it, and was further enhanced by the inclusion of a curse and a sorceress called Iona Grimm. What her relationship to Lord Caitiff is, I'll leave you to find out for yourselves.

 

I reached the end of the book with mixed feelings; I would have liked for the story to be a little longer as felt it was rushed in places but happy at the way it concluded.

 

Lee Summers has written an intriguing debut YA fantasy novella. However, this author has written other works under the name of Elise Chidley, though I have never read them. I love her writing style, which is fast paced. However, as I mentioned above, I found some of the story a little rushed at times. Due to the confusion over the relationship between Leda and Alexander, I found myself stumbling and re-reading parts which disrupted the flow. I think that once this issue has been addressed, the story should flow more smoothly. Having said all that, I would definitely consider reading more of her books in the future.

 

There is no explicit or overt mention of sexual activity. However, there is one instance where Lord Caitiff propositions Leda. Nevertheless, this book is aimed at young adult readers and as such, I recommend this book to readers aged 12 upwards. Readers younger than this may struggle with certain words they may not be familiar with, but then again, it depends on their reading level, so parental advice is advised. I also recommend this book to adults who love to read young adult romance/fantasy or fairytale re-tellings. - Lynn Worton

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review 2017-07-20 01:04
I liked better than WoT
Wizard's First Rule - Terry Goodkind

This is the good stuff. Epic fantasy with about as much patience with the "wait for the answers while I hint you to death" bullshit as I have, an uninformed protagonist that refuses to carry the idiot ball nonetheless, funny and wise wizard, and heavy hitter female (though I got tired of her "let me die before I hurt you" thing waaay before the end). And of the main villain's three appearances (yeah, neat on the rule), the squicky ruthless first, and his eminently charismatic second were a wonder.

Even better: it is pretty much self contained. We are left a lot of issues to pursue in subsequent volumes, but the adventure we start on we finish (and thank god, given all those pages).

It wont be soon, but I'm likely to keep reading this saga.

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review 2017-07-18 19:59
Review: A Charming Magic (A Magical Cures Mystery #5) by Tonya Kappes
A Charming Magic - Tonya Kappes

Once again we find June Heal trying every potion/spell/whatever that can restore Oscar's memory and spiritualist powers. Again we find June not listening/heeding her instincts, even though her instincts are her powers. Again we find June breaking Village rules and causing mayhem and destruction, all the while being Village President. Petunia is even more absurd and annoying than the last book, a spiritualist version of Bridezilla. So the potion June makes without heeding her instincts or spiritualist laws is used on Petunia and I am not sorry for that at all. But since Petunia is a resident and major side character, she is only in a coma and not dead. And it is up to June to discover/end whatever it was that she started. At least no one is blaming the new store owner this time around.

 

This book was a little more fun and interesting to read, especially as June goes on a secret mission to another community and realizes there is an epic showdown between good and evil and guess what? - June is the good side's Chosen One. June is screwing up being VP of Whispering Falls, and bumbles her way into finding the killers in these mysteries, so naturally she is the Chosen One. Sure, totally. The showdown is less than epic, but a threat to do this all again at a later date is made.

 

During showdown, Oscar gets his memory and powers back, thank baby Thor - this was the most frustrating multi-book story arc and now June can stop being a rule breaker and attracting mayhem whenever she makes a new potion for Oscar. Petunia comes out of her coma, marries, and gets her wish as VP because June even as moments of self-awareness and knows she sucks as VP.

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review 2017-07-18 02:52
This Rough Magic
This Rough Magic - Mary Stewart

It took awhile, but I've come to a book that my mom and I don't necessarily agree on.  She remembers this book fondly, while I have more ambivalent feelings about it.  

 

I was less than 8 pages in before I was ready to chuck it all and go to Corfu; Stewart's creation of the setting was downright seductive.  I loved the scenes with the dolphin too - even the midnight scene, which ratcheted up the suspense and had me muttering threats at the author under my breath until the end.  The way the caves figured into the plot was fun and no way did I see how the book was going to end - where Stewart was taking her readers - although she does foreshadow the culprit early enough that the who was not a shock, even if the what certainly was.

 

The entire title-referencing-Shakespeare, went right over my head (I was expecting, you know actual magic), but Shakespeare's The Tempest plays a big part throughout the book.  I have no idea if her characters' theories hold any water, but the parallels they drew were fun to read about. 

 

What I didn't like was, unfortunately, the entire "Romantic" part of the romantic suspense.  "Didn't like" might be too strong; it just failed to move me in any way at all.  The scene on the beach (at midnight - the one with the dolphin) felt like a realistic evolution of the moment, but when the characters go straight from that one moment to this weird assumption that their relationship is a fait accompli, I felt like entire chapters of character development were missing.  As a result I never bought into the romance part of their relationship.

 

Not a bad read at all, but not as strong as Touch Not the Cat, for example; which started off slow, but had me riveted by the end.

 

 

 

 

 

Page count: 285

$$:  $6.00

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review 2017-07-18 00:12
Blood Gamble (Disrupted Magic #2) by Melissa F. Olson
Blood Gamble (Disrupted Magic) - Melissa F. Olson

Scarlett does not want to go to Las Vegas. No, not even if there are two vampires putting on a show that may reveal the old world. No not even if Dashiel is paying her a huge sum of money. She’s not going

 

But Vampires don’t take no for an answer and with Dashiel manipulating her sister-in-law into going she has to try and protect them. But there she encounters something far more deadly than Dashiel expected… she could come home, but who but Scarlett will stop the death toll rising?


I would describe the world building of this book as solid and balanced and… disciplined. That seems like an odd word - but so many books have an anything-goes-magical-world and then decide ALL THE THINGS must be included so you can’t even go to the local shops without tripping over 2 leprechauns, bumping into a kitsune and dodging a Wendigo.

 

This book is excellently focused on the three major supernaturals - vampires, werewolves and witches, while clearly having a world with more out there but not allowing those swamp the book - instead we have nice additions without losing the focus


And I like how he implications of Scarlett, a null, fits into that - from alleviating the werewolf curse which is such a relief at times, to vampires being disturbed by actually feeling cold/hunger etc. I like the nuance of it.

 

What did surprise me about this book is the ending. There are elements I didn’t like - but I will say the whole thing completely surprised me - the twists and turns are completely beyond what I expected. Honestly, the ending and what happened with the characters was definitely not anything I expected as I read along. Throughout the book the plot goes in ways I never expected - the culprits were completely not what I expected. The way Scarlett finds the answers, balancing her friends, the threats and getting to the bottom of things is also a really original unexpected direction.

 

The plot does have moments where I think Scarlett seems to make some pretty huge leaps at times - like the whole Skinners storyline seemed to come from nowhere. Like we went from not even knowing Skinners existed and then suddenly decided they were a major threat without any real indication that they were present.but suddenly everyone focused on them

 

That aside the twists really make this plot. There’s action which is really well done, but not a lot mainly focusing on the investigation since Scarlett has a very unique power which isn’t necessarily a combat monster but definitely dangerous, following leads and balancing just how much Scarlett actually wants to be involved in this dangerous investigation.

 

I like Scarlett’s own development - she has that nice balance between her being duly concerned with her safety and the people she cares for alongside her compassion. I actually kind of like how Dashiel pretty much twists her arm to make her go - yes it’s coercive but we’re not talking a love interest here and, let’s be clear, the Cardinal Vampire of Los Angeles is going to be a ruthless user of people because, hey, master vampires, I don’t expect fluffy fluffy niceness. And Scarlett pretty much recognises this and doesn’t expect more. But I do like that she isn’t going to put herself at risk just because Dashiel says so. I like a compassionate protagonist but being a complete martyr is an overdone trope; especially female protagonists who are often not allowed to seek their own advancement.. Compassion moves her, as does threat and money - and it’s ok for a protagonist to be somewhat self interested. Of course that then falls apart because she’s only gathering a huge amount of money to help pay off her brother’s son’s massive medical bills

 

 

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Source: www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/07/blood-gamble-disrupted-magic-2-by.html
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