Trevor is not known for being serious. In fact, he is best known for the tall tales he spins. He is new in Wales, living with his grandparents, and making friends has been easy. His personality is one that lends itself to laughter, jokes, and many a light-hearted moment between friends. When Trevor and his pals are exploring the beach one day, something happens that changes all of their lives, and Trevor’s love of a good joke is getting in the way of his ability to communicate with the adults around him. When no one believes what you say, how do you tell them your friends disappeared before your very eyes?
Magic Islands, by Irene Edwards, is a fantasy adventure centered around magic, wizardry, and adventure. The imagery painted by Edwards is absolutely stunning and contributes to the beauty of a well-crafted fantasy. Edwards’s young characters are relatable and full of life. The humor woven throughout this novel makes it not only more appealing but serves to create a fun read aloud for classrooms, as well.
As a fan of fantasy adventures and a teacher, I thoroughly enjoyed Edwards’s work. It is a light-hearted adventure based on the wonder of magic. There aren’t many young readers out there who don’t become enthralled in stories of the impossible, and Edwards has more than successfully tapped into that demographic. Her young characters are bold and just the right mix of the real world and fantasy.
The wizards and witches in Edwards’s work transport readers to a fabulously designed land of spells, castles, and absurdly fantastic beings. Page after page, the dragons and monsters continue to keep the story new and refreshing. Combined with the witty exchanges between characters, the wide array of character types makes this an all-around fantastic read for young readers.
From cover to cover, Edwards enchants young readers, pulls them into a fantasy like no other. In addition to the wonderfully engaging storyline and humor peppered throughout, Edwards includes famous names and well-known pop culture references that further serve to hook readers. I would be remiss if I did not mention the marvelous sketches by the team of illustrators, Robert Brown, Tony Paultyn, and Gareth Edwards. I highly recommend Magic Islands to anyone looking for an engaging story for young fans of fantasy and wizardry. Teachers in grades 3-6, this one’s definitely for you!
Pages: 211 | ASIN: B07ZRYY8LX
Foreboding follows a witch and her lover who are hired to eliminate creatures preying on the kingdoms citizens. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
The idea was partly from the manga/anime Claymore. Which was about silver-eyed witches who are feared by humans as they are part monster, yet are the only ones who can hunt and eliminate creatures who devour humans. I liked this perspective as they are not the typical kind of witches, and made my own version of it. In the manga, the witches are created, in my book they are from birth on witches.
Lithia and Ronan’s relationship is intriguing and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind their connection?
Both dared be in a relationship which was seen by many as wrong. Especially since witches can live so long and look young. However, Ronan and Lithia found a way to make it work, and to generally indicate that regardless the differences, that there is a way make a relationship work.
What were some themes that were important for you to focus on in this book?
That the typical magic tropes such as fire and lightning are not being used. Also to add some scientific aspects into it that can be as scary as magic if used wrongly. What was also important for me is that the world can be dark, but bright too. That there are humans who respect the witches for what they are doing. And I thought it would be good to see that witches can have issues as well such as in relationships.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Currently I’m writing about a twenty year old witch, Ellemar Vancel, who was assigned by the council of witches, to hunt down a rogue witch and former member of the council, Celeana Maar, who killed everyone at a academy. Ellemar was the only survivor and held a grudge against Celeana since then. However, Ellemar discovers a conspiracy against the council.
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Before The Origin follows Amy who is hurled into a world of mystery and magic that is deeply rooted in ancient African folklore. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting story?
I have always wanted to write science fiction that is set in dystopian Africa. My tribe (the Hausa’s of Sub-Saharan Africa) is the biggest inspiration for the set up. Hundreds of years ago, before religion and colonization, they believed in spirits, they were partly nomadic in nature and had a whole lifestyle around that, unfortunately, it has been gradually erased and forgotten. My book just explores what could have been if a part of that was still alive.
Amy is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
Due to her role in the story, Amy’s character development was a well thought out process. I feel like there is always a part of the author in the main character, and that is where her imposter syndrome comes in, but it was very important to have the reader experience the events of her first day at work through her eyes, which is why she is such a blank slate at the beginning of the story. Her relationship with other characters in the story is also a backdrop for the events in the next book.
I enjoyed the African folklore embedded in the story. What kind of research did you do on the topic to ensure it was accurate?
Thank you! I am always happy to hear that a reader particularly enjoyed the folklore aspect of Before the Origin because I completely made that up. Being African, I grew up listening to stories passed down from generations to generations very much like Xari in the story, but I never heard anything that explained different races or how the continents came to be. African folklore is always rich in the battle of good against evil, so I guess that is something I held on to.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently working on the sequel to Before the Origin which is grander in scale and characterization, book one was just a set up to our main characters’ journey as they find themselves in a battle against time and it will be available next year.
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The Word of the Rock God follows a rock star he struggles with the physical and spiritual aspects of his life. What was the inspiration behind the idea for this novel?
I was driving home from a concert and a scene just popped into my head. I saw very clearly a man sitting a table in a café, and I watched a woman sit down across from him. He seemed shocked by her appearance, but she looked at him as if she’d known him forever, as if she had plans for him. The next day, I sat down with this scene and these characters and tried to imagine who they might be. Max became clear to me first– this meek, artistic man who was more threatened by the idea of an obsessed fan than thrilled by it– but when that image became clear, the fact that Malum was no ordinary fan followed immediately.
Max is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
Thank you for saying so. Max’s standout qualities to me were meekness and creativity. I knew he was a rocker right away, but I knew he didn’t fit the stereotypical mold of a rocker either. I wanted to test his morals, of course, but I also needed a better understanding of those morals and where they came from, especially considering how atypical his level of inexperience was. With Malum in mind, knowing what she was and what she represented, it became clear to me that Max’s inexperience and strong moral compass came from his personal approach to and understanding of his faith.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
I know it seems as if my greatest commentary centers around religion, but genuinely that was never my intention. My initial exploration was one of art and the artist; of successful artist vs up=and-coming artist. Did Max’s morals reflecting in his messages and songs matter to the crowds? Did they only matter because they were introduced to him as he stood on a stage? Was it his attractive features that made his music popular amongst those who listen to it? Would these same people be as receptive if he were not on stage, if he were, instead, on Twitter promoting it? What if he weren’t as traditionally attractive? Are people drawn to the art or to the artist who creates it?
I wanted to explore Catholicism and what it might be like to live life according to Christian morals. I consider myself agnostic– I’m sure something greater than we are is out there, but I’m not willing to believe we’d even be able to understand it, much less understand what it expects from us– so it was exploration of morals according to a specific deity and faith.
I also wanted to challenge it with Philip, a character who goes against what is traditionally accepted by this faith, but is not only detested by the evil entity, but also very important to the good one and to the protection of Max.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have three other novels available– Fiberglass Galaxy, Amethyst, and 2288– but I’m currently working on a project with the tentative title “Deification”. It’s in its infancy, so I don’t have an expected release date just yet, but I’ll share updates on Twitter and Facebook as we near its publication.
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Jessica Northwood is an ex convict looking for a job. With a rough past and in a rough financial state at the moment, she just wants to forget her tainted past, find a legal job and get paid at the end of the day. With little known to her, she takes a job as an apprentice to Tabitha, the owner of Winthrop & Dirledge Security Banking. Although her employer seems crazy at first, Jessica remains open minded and stays focused on keeping her job and getting paid. When tragedy strikes a twist of fate leaves Jessica as the new owner of the bank. This is not your usual bank, and it doesn’t serve the usual customers. Jessica is tasked with the responsibility of protecting this magical facility which has a mind of its own. Jessica has no idea where to begin, but as an apprentice and the new owner she must step up and run this place.
The Witching Vault by Kathrin Hutson is a thrilling fantasy adventure novel set in the dark world of magic and witches. Every chapter is short engaging and deftly crafts a unique and magical world that rises above the chaos that Jessica finds herself in. Each chapter takes you deeper into a magical world that is well thought out and detailed.
Contrary to the belief that magic and witches come with dark undertones, this book has a sharp wit and comic sense to it. Kathrin Hutson colors each chapter with a bit of charm, some effortless humor, and imbues each character with a unique air of coolness. While the characters are many and varied I appreciated how the story stayed linear, never losing focus on the main story arc, making this story much more accessible and easy to consume.
The Witching Vault has created an intricate fantasy world that has set the stage for readers to uncover a much wider world throughout this series. Kathrin Hutson thrusts readers into a magical world filled with dark secrets that Jessica Northwood tackles in entertaining fashion.
Pages: 260 | ASIN: B08HVT4CNR
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Patricia Bossano’s Love and Homegrown Magic is a coming of age novel that encompasses the life of Maggie, a woman caught between the folk magic she was raised with and the Catholic teachings instilled in her during her formative teenage years. The story is told in chronological order, beginning with Maggie’s rustic youth years in Ecuador, continuing with her journey into marriage and motherhood, and culminating with her golden years as a matriarch.
The character development is strong from the onset. Maggie is depicted as a determined and ambitious woman driven by her values. These characteristics make her a natural matriarch once she enters marriage and motherhood. Even when confronted with life-altering changes, she has a knack for making the best out of any circumstance. Her three daughters, Kelly, Lizzy, and Marie, have distinct personalities that are apparent from the time they are young girls. Their individuality is best reflected in the unique floral symbols that both define and connect all three women with their mother – and with the magic that serves as a fixture in the lives.
Bossano does an incredible job at using these floral symbols to depict the strong bond between Maggie and her daughters. This connection is both ethereal and dynamic, changing as each of the four women age and enter different stages in their lives. The floral symbols continue to remind them of not only their love for each other, but their ties to Mother Superior.
Alonzo’s role in the story – and Maggie’s reaction to the idea of him – is particularly interesting. He ultimately serves as a litmus test for her readiness to reconcile with the past. Her persistent decision to lock his letters away and ignore the thought of him is driven by her Catholicism-fueled devotion to her husband, Angelo. Only with Angelo’s passing and her daughters’ persistence that she let happiness in is Maggie able to come face-to-face with the man she left behind for so many years. It is at this crucial point that the story also comes full circle.
Overall, I enjoyed this read. A text does not need to be long to be impactful, magical or give readers a sense of completion. Love & Homegrown Magic is a page-turning tale that blends love, magic, family, womanhood, and purpose.
Pages: 322 | ASIN: B08HYDMDXV
In Demon Heart 3: Year of the Witch by David Crane we continue to follow Naoko Kitamura who is a demon hybrid and a government secret agent. After saving Japan from a mad genius who tried to destroy her country, Naoko’s enemies continue to grow. As the world approaches a supernatural singularity in the New Year, known as the year of the witch, she encounters dangerous supernatural entities and human wizards practicing dark magic. The order comes to retrieve a powerful supernatural weapon that is capable of dramatically changing western society. Once again Naoko must make a sacrifice for her country and her family.
David Crane’s characters are, as usual, both emotive and exceptionally developed to create uniquely extraordinary people that enthrall you from their introduction. I continue to enjoy reading about Naoko’s character because even though she is a complicated person she still remains selfless and relatable, if only in her grounded desires to protect her family. Crane has done a fantastic job of showing Naoko’s superhuman side while balancing it wither her sensitive human side. An almost yin and yang balance to her actions and abilities. I loved reading about Naomi’s relationships, especially about her relationship with her mother. I could tell that she appreciated her mother’s sacrifices and meant to honor her well. David Crane takes the reader on a wild journey that involves a exotic country rife with strange characters. The unfolding of events will put you on edge as the author ensures that every page continues to build upon the tension. This series is like a combination of Marvel’s The Iron Fist combined with Jim Butchers The Dresden Files book series. If you’re a fan of either then you’ll enjoy this book, if you’re a fan of both, then this book was written for you.
The plot of the Demon Heart 3 brings a thrilling conclusion to a spellbinding series with both antagonists and protagonists trying to outdo each other. From the start of the book I was consumed by the story. I enjoyed reading about each character and seeing how they evolved and what they became in the end. The chaos, intense action, suspense, and adventure in Demon Heart 3 will leave fans of the series satisfied.
Pages: 340 | ASIN: B088N6L1TW
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Rick Stepp-Bolling’s Patch Man II (The Battle for Summia) is quite a read. It mainly follows the journey of Meesha and Ten as they look for Kerash, the Lore princess. It also sees Meesha’s guardians, Var and Zefa discover a life-altering truth from an unexpected friend and start on a journey to find warriors to aid in the Summia fight.
But by far one of the most interesting storylines is the one of Ulan, an assassin commissioned to find an elusive Shola and make things right. This mission takes her on an interesting journey throughout which she encounters unexpected allies and foes. Ultimately, everyone in this book finds what they seek in some shape or form. More interestingly, unexpected love blooms, ending this story on quite a high.
At the heart of it, Patch Man II is a book about patriotism and the constant fight for freedom. As such, like many books of this nature, it is packed with betrayal, tracheary, and a ton of action. Other running themes include family and love, making it relatable for many readers.
While its dialogue is concise and riveting, its scene descriptions are very detailed, its prose has the perfect balance of information and entertainment. Since the story hinges on a lot of science fiction, the details employed are quite helpful. However, it still can be tough to follow for those who haven’t read the prequel. Moreover, if you are not a huge science fiction fan, the plot can be confusing. The greatest issue that I have with this book though, is its several simultaneously occurring storylines. All the back and forth between the action-packed storylines can be disrupting.
But it must be said that the author has gone to great lengths when it comes to character development, especially with regards to the main character, Meesha. Not only do we get detailed descriptions of her physical appearance, but we also understand her giftings and interesting personality. The same is true for the other characters, giving you a holistic view of the narrative. I also appreciate that the story is far from predictable.
Patch Man II is another phenomenal example of Rick Stepp-Bolling’s ability as a writer to entertain readers with an epic story that is spellbinding and stirring.
Pages: 281 | ASIN: B07YS729SV
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