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review 2018-03-18 01:33
Quest to the Uncharted Lands
The Quest to the Uncharted Lands - Jaleigh Johnson

When the Iron Glory's engines rumbled to life for its journey to the uncharted lands, it marked a new future for the world of Solace.

- First Sentence


This book is a fantastic companion to The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson. It isn't a sequel, it takes place in the same world with different characters. 


Stella Glass is the daughter of two scientists who are traveling on the Iron Glory to explore the uncharted lands of Solace. No one has ever explored this far west beyond the mountains. The Dragonfly Territories and Merrow Kingdom have finally reached an uneasy peace. They worked together on this ship and representatives from both countries are onboard. 


Stella is not permitted to go, but she has planned for months to stow away because she is terrified her parents won't come back. On the first night, Stella finds out she isn't the only stowaway. No children are allowed on the ship, but she sees a boy outside the engine room with his hands on the wall. His hands begin to glow, and then his eyes. Stella isn't sure who he is or what he is up to, but when he passes out, she drags him to her hiding place in the cargo hold. Someone doesn't want this voyage to succeed, but who and how can they be stopped?


So, in The Mark of the Dragonfly, we met Piper (a girl who connects to machines in an almost magical way), and Gee (a boy who can transform into a dragon). This book continues in the same fantasy steampunk world and the story is in the same heroic adventure vein. Again, I highly recommend it to students in grades 4 -8. It is just as good as the first.

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review 2018-03-04 02:43
Audio Book Review: Steamforged
Steamforged - Eric R. Asher Steamforged - Eric R. Asher

*I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

I do enjoy listening to Saskia voice this story. She was the narrator from the first book as well. She does a great job at differentiating the characters by voice. But, again, I felt I had to speed up the audio. At a faster pace, I moved through the book catching all that was happening.

We learn more of the land and see outlying areas. In the first book we primarily were in Ancora and started to hear names of other places, ending at a new place. Now we start to see different lands and learn more. There is a great deal more outside of Ancora than the kids had ever expected. They had read of the places in the book they found, but to see and experience the places is all new. However, with these new places come great dangers.

This feels a story that is catching for it's atmosphere. The world that the characters live in is different and interesting with the bugs and land and mechanics. We see many of what is described in the book Jacob and Alice have read. We do get to see the Mechs. The people with mechanical body parts that are feared. Though I do think the story is slower paced with all we see in the world.

For me, the beginning of the story is rather slow with all the world details we are given. I wanted to get to the important stuff. It felt that all we lived through was secondary items that are in life.

Every world has some sort of prejudice, whether it's poverty level or skin tone or even body parts of metal. This world has it too. We small glimpses of it as the story goes. That helps build the world but seeing some of this highlighted in the beginning and what is pointed out in the world, I expected it to surface again more importantly later in the book. Some of it does pop up, but not as heavy yet. Though, it does show where the fears and thoughts in the system at Ancora had come from. I'm wondering if it's a huge build up to the end.

Most of the story is from Jacob's POV, but we do get views from Alice, Charles, and Samuel. Even Drakkar. Jacob has an obstacle he must overcome. With the way the book began (actually the first book touched on), I expected it to happen. And it did. Alice is not a dainty little girl as some would thing. She hardens here, and comes to a new view on things. I like the person Alice is. She's got a flare to her.

If it wasn't for the danger that the characters are coming into, I'd say this book would be for the younger group of young adults. The story is simple and things are repeated to clarify what is happening and the plans they are making. Well written for a younger reader.

This book feels like a transition book. It's setting up for a great battle and war to come in the next book. It's putting into place all the pieces and people so we understand why things are going to get ugly in the future. It also brings the characters across events and actions they must take to be to a place to go into war.

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review 2018-03-04 01:50
Audio Book Review: Curiouser and Curiouser
Curiouser and Curiouser - Melanie Karsak Curiouser and Curiouser - Melanie Karsak

*I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

Alice follows the boy who stole her employers pocket watch, Rabbit, back into the life she left behind. Into the rough part of town she returns, summoned. The love she once felt for William surfaces as the man he is now needs her help. Blackmailed into helping to save her sisters love, The Hatter, from his debt, Alice agrees to help Caterpillar.

Lesley's tone when speaking as Alice feels to fit her curiosity, which is the feel we get from Alice in many stories of her adventure. She has an opinion that she voices, not mean or rude, just a thought to add to the discussion.

Melanie writes Alice with the feel we would expect. A curious young lady with thoughts of her own to share. The story isn't as much falling down a literal hole like in the original story. But Alice living in a world full of wonder, and following a boy nicknamed Rabbit. The world created is full of steamwork and clockwork items. This blended with the steam and smoke draws a world of danger and mystery in which Alice is pulled back into. This is a talent as Melanie very craftily wrote the story in the actual living of the characters.

We see the world full of clockwork and steampunk from the beginning. There is a darkness to the story as well, particularly with one of the characters. Creepy, dark. But fits in the harsh life of the characters here. There is even a touch of magic present. Just a touch. Mostly the world is steam and clockwork.

There is a feel of double meaning to words, it's not confusing but tricky. Listen closely to catch it. I love how people have two names; real name and a nickname. Like William who's known as Caterpillar in town. Each name goes with a different part of his life. Which person is he when talking to Alice? William or Caterpillar? Both are of a different nature and are known for different things to Alice. This gives the twisty feel that we get from Wonderland.

Melanie touches on all the main characters from Alice in Wonderland in her remake. It was a nice game for me to see about spotting them all, though their names do give them away.

I was pleasantly surprised with Melanie's creation here. She captured so many important elements from Alice in Wonderland yet wrote a different story that feels true to the world. So well done!

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review 2018-01-21 14:11
Audio Book Review: Steamborn
Steamborn - Eric R. Asher

*I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

This is my first listen to Saskia. She has a lovely voice that's easy to listen to. I didn't found there was some difference in tone or sound to help differentiate the characters, but nothing major. However, the book was still rather easy to follow who was talking. Saskia does sound older for Charles and a scratchy sound for men. She did well with slight differences. I did find the story felt to be moving slow, so I did speed up to 1.25x the speed as opposed to my normal 1.00x speed. I wanted to move along with all that's to happen, I was a little anxious to get going. I was back and forth on the speed.

This is very much a young reader style story. Not just because our main character is 15 going on 16 but in the reading of the story. It's easy to follow as Jacob grows from a teen into a young man, as the city sees kids this age but also in his own thinking and doing.

The world is different. It's a feel of post apocalyptic with steam and clockworks powering things. We also see large insects. Some are friendly and like pets or horses to ride. Other bugs are strong and attack the city, where the walls have grown weak. This shows the division in people in the village/city areas. There are lowborn and highborn sections of the city, a very fantasy feel to the city.

The people in this book are kind to each other, with a few slurs or feelings for the lowborn shown. But all are suffering when the village is attacked by the huge insects and they have to work together. This is something our world needs to see more of. The kind hearts of adults and children willing to eagerly help each other, not expecting payment in return. This warmed my heart to hear! That's not to say there aren't people that look down on others, but there is a focus on kindness.

The story is told from Jacob's POV. We see the city and people as he sees them. There is some bad out there, but the author has chosen to focus on the good. Thank you. There is to much bad out there that many see, so to have a story highlighting the good in people is a pleasure to read. And, even though the world is rough with the giant bugs attacking, it seems like a world I'd like to visit.

The only downfall in the story for me was I didn't feel Jacob, our main character, had a drive or want for something. Not even a major conflict in his character and world. He's a boy living to get by. Sure, he's poor and life is hard, but it doesn't feel as he has a real want, something to drive to get or fight against. He does come across events that give him points to work toward - his father being sick which is a desire for his father to get well, the bugs attacking his part of town and wanting his family and friends safe, then what he learns in the catacombs. But nothing overall for him other than curiosity of a brilliant kid getting him into trouble.

The world is attention attracting. And at the end of this book, I'm curious to where the story goes with what we are learning. I'll be carrying on with the books to see where our characters end up.

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review 2018-01-14 22:50
Angel 1089 (Heaven Corp. #1) by C.C. Bridges
Angel 1089 - C.C. Bridges

For the life of me I could not connect with any of the characters. Some of them, I don't even know why they are there. Actually, I don't know why half the book is there.

I don't understand the world, there are bits of this and that and a glimpse of something else.

But why is the sun not shining outside the city? Why do soldiers (that's what angels are) live at the very top guarding warehouses, why not the richest and most privileged strolling through their high rise palaces?

Where is Rocco? I hoped Gabriel would recognize him in one of the other angels, or other modded. If Rocco loved Gabriel, he would have followed him and met the same (or almost) fate.

Jeff... nothing solid on him either.

I mean, you take every single character and they are just floundering around, barely afloat, flicking in and out of their cartoon-ish existence.

Someone told me not to bother with this book. It was on "my friends said no" shelf for a long time. But then I needed it for a challenge *ugh* I will NOT be buying book 2. 

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