Sixteen-year-old Eva is a witch who lived in Spain, in the year 1230. She met a boy named Jonathan who would become her whole world. Everything was normal until she was faced with challenges that will change her life forever.
As a healer, her job is to help people, but there are forces that will try to prevent that. There is a war coming and Eva and her friends must do everything they can to survive.
Can they fight their way against the dark forces that are surrounding them? Her wits and inner strength helped everyone who encircled her to survive but will she be able to survive herself?
Supernatural creatures, royal backstabbing and many more await you in this thrilling novel that will take your breath away.
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Don’t Call Me Chip, by Neil O’Donnell, is the story of one determined chipmunk and the battle he undertakes to save his human and the creatures who share his yard from an ill-intentioned family. Mikey, an eccentric old man and former Marine names the adventurous chipmunk Timothy, provides him with a small store of seeds, and thus steals his heart. Timothy, having lost his home, takes up residence in Mikey’s yard and makes it his job to protect and serve as a way of showing his gratitude and love for the old man–his new friend.
I have to say, I did not expect to fall in love with Don’t Call Me Chip–but that is exactly what happened. O’Donnell has masterfully captured the thoughts and feelings of the wild animals in his work and presents them in a way not seen in any other book or short story. Timothy, telling his own story for the majority of the book, is boisterous, cantankerous, and contemplative. The reader is privy to all of Timothy’s thoughts as he evolves from a suspicious chipmunk to a loving and protective pet.
All really great books have those little moments that take your breath–moments that seal the deal for the reader. For me, that moment arrived when TImothy refers to Mikey as his new friend. It seems a small and otherwise benign line out of the many more humorous and action-packed passages, but it carries a hefty weight for me. Timothy, a loner like Mikey, misunderstood and underappreciated, makes a lasting connection in that moment.
The shift from first person to third person at the end of the book threw me for moment, but I enjoyed the change in point of view. O’Donnell gives readers the feeling of an age-old story by backing up and giving a broader picture of Timothy’s final ordeal.
I am giving Don’t Call Me Chip a solid 5 out of 5 stars. I truly loved the characters–big and small. Mikey, who could be anyone’s elderly neighbor, is lovable and the obvious underdog. Resilient and focused, Timothy makes for the perfect main character and, in his own right, tiny hero.
Pages: 85 | ASIN: B079GTSKZR
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After a serious car crash, Stefan comes round from a coma with a case of amnesia. Eva, his younger sister, is the only one who can see that Stefan is not really Stefan at all…When a strange letter arrives, written in gothic handwriting and addressed to Stefan, saying there has been a terrible mistake and signed by a mysterious ‘Hyacinthe’, the puzzle starts to unravel. Along with Eva, Stefan’s friends, Kim, Thomas, Harry, and Andrew must try to solve the mystery but to do that they will have to take part in a dangerous race, called The Game of Life.
Anna Musewald’s A Game of Life is a YA fantasy and mystery novel which draws you in from the first page. The prose is so easy to read; it is witty and enchanting and feels perfect for a YA audience. In spite of the simplicity of the language, it doesn’t feel at all patronising or one-dimensional. The ‘game’ from the title is quite complex, with lots of imaginative systems and challenging tasks set for the players which really immerses the reader in the experience. I loved the inclusion of Greek myth, such as Apollo and the Sirens, woven through the narrative. The plot is in the vein of The Hunger Games and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire which could make it seem derivative, but with an original and inventive spin, it manages to feel fresh and exciting. Meaningful themes of friendship, loyalty and bravery flesh out the fun storyline.
The pacing is excellent; I was instantly engrossed by the opening chapter and the book never let me go! We are drawn in by the question of what has happened to Stefan and led through a number of rabbit holes and strange happenings. The revelation isn’t made until the end which kept me greedily turning the pages, and there are also plenty of action scenes to keep the reader hooked until the final page.
I had total belief in the characters, who all have distinctive personalities, and I loved the way that the friendships and rivalries are portrayed, showing the tangled and complex nature of relationships. The relationship between Stefan and Eva is particularly poignant and depicts the protective and intuitive nature of sibling relationships. The dialogue is funny and clever, and the conversation seems very authentic for a group of young people.
One of the aspects that I enjoyed the most was the setting of Parsi and the fully formed ‘underground’ city created by the author which is full of fantastical and magical detail. Musewald excels at writing surroundings and conjures up place in a beguiling and descriptive way so that the reader feels as though they are on the journey with the characters.
This is a great addition to the young fiction genre, full of twists and turns, mystery and suspense; I enjoyed the journey immensely. I gobbled it up in one go, and I can’t wait for another riveting story from Anna Musewald.
Pages: 202 | ASIN: B01M0ZBKXP
Tags: a game of life, action, action adventure, adventure, alibris, anna musewald, apollo, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, bravery, brother, ebook, fantasy, fiction, friends, friendship, goodreads, greek, harry potter, hunger games, ilovebooks, indiebooks, journey, kindle, kobo, literature, love, loyalty, mystery, myth, mythology, nook, novel, publishing, puzzle, read, reader, reading, shelfari, sibling, siren, sister, smashwords, story, suspense, sword and sorcery, teen, teen fantasy, teen fiction, writer, writer community, writing, YA, young adult
Sam’s Theory follows a young teen named Sam as she escapes from an abusive home and finds a caring old lady in the woods. What was the initial inspiration behind this story and how did that develop as you were writing?
Sam’s Theory came from a blend of my own experiences and the experiences of the children I have worked with in a mental health setting. Children are, hands down, the most resilient creatures in existence. They are starving for knowledge, attention, and coping tools. Unfortunately, for various reasons, many of them are lacking the healthy adults to provide them with such. Children want to heal after they are hurt, but it is rare they are met with the care and competency to do so. I worked with too many foster youth, children in Protective Services, and runaways that didn’t have access to substantial, supportive advice. They ended up hurting themselves to be heard, and that is inexcusable to me. My mission became clear in that I needed to create a resource that was safe, immediate, magical, easy to access, and compassionate for these kiddos and young people to grow through. This is also why I have evolved into offering free “book clubs”/”empowerment groups” for at-risk youth near me. This book assures that kids and adults know that they are cared for, if even by only these characters or the author that created them.
Sam has a tragic story and the book does a great job of conveying her emotions. What were some obstacles you felt were important in defining her character?
It was important to me that Sam be relatable and experience the emotions that I believe we all, as humans, feel, but rarely discuss out loud with one another. There is something about the desperation and gravity of loneliness, sadness, and shame that can make us isolate from one other. I needed Sam to be all of these things, but without being a victim. Victims struggle to genuinely recover, while survivors summon the grit to find a way out of themselves. It’s difficult to do that on your own, so Theory offers an opportunity to do so. Recovery from scary experiences isn’t the survivor’s fault, but it does become their responsibility (as annoying as that might be). Sam needed to have just enough perspective, self-awareness, and hope in her environment to rise to the call of change when it finally beckoned. The reader hurts with Sam, risks with Sam, and eventually heals with Sam. It is a realistic portrait of what it is to grow as a human through adversity.
The relationship that develops between Sam and Theory is something I admired. What was your inspiration for their relationship?
Thank for the kind words and recognition of how special their relationship is. Sam and Theory’s relationship was loosely based on both my relationship with my own therapist, and the relationship I developed with the kiddos on the inpatient psychiatric unit I used to work on. What astounded me when I first met my therapist is how firm and intentional her boundaries were. She took her time in allowing me to emerge from my shell, then nurtured each step without judgement. I then modeled the same compassion and safety for the kiddos I worked with and watched them blossom because of the same type of competent care. I think the therapeutic relationship is so deeply vital to our journeys towards authenticity and potential. Mental health still has, unfortunately, a stigma against it that needs to be eradicated in order for people, generations, and the world to become a healthier whole. Now more than ever,mental health is critical. Finding the right therapist takes time and sometimes several tries. Once that connection happens though, it can be so magical it becomes worthy of a novel. I hope more people can find sanctuary in Theory’s character, and then have the courage to find her in their own lives.
What do you hope readers take away from your story?
It is my deepest wish for readers that they close this book and feel as if they have a connection to something more meaningful than what they’ve been experiencing in their normal everyday. One of the most common responses I’ve received to this book is that it’s made someone cry. Every account of that type of movement is a gift to me, because it means this book is achieving exactly what I set out to do- to create a safe space where people could be vulnerable just long enough to consider an empowered “what if.” I wanted readers to have a sense of family in these characters and have their deepest, darkest emotions normalized. This story is meant to be a visceral experience, and I hope that people walk away from it with just enough hope in their heart to consider what a healthier, happier existence could look like. Everything can be okay, they just need to stay forward-facing and a little bit brave.
After a final act of horrendous abuse threatens her life, fifteen-year-old Sam runs away from home and into the Olympic Mountains of Washington State. Physically and emotionally exhausted, she happens upon a mysterious tree house in the woods which shelters an old woman named Theory. Through elements of magic and sage advice, Theory takes Sam on an unforgettable healing journey. Sam begins to discover that she, too, has powers. But her process is interrupted by the nervous reality that her abusers will soon go after her younger sister, Nova, unless she can get to her first.
With the help of Sam’s friend, Dodger, and two other spirited kids from foster care, the group sets up a hidden camp in the wilderness and forms “The Orphan’s Collective.” While struggling to create their own concept of “family,” Dodger and Sam also work to navigate their budding feelings for one another. As the group formulates a plan to reach the masses of kids left behind by adults who never wanted them, they naturally begin to rewrite the fate that has seemingly already been decided for them.
Sam’s Theory is a story of immeasurable grit and re-empowerment after trauma. With embedded real-world advice, it is the recognition of our tremendous capacity as human beings to withstand darkness and summon resiliency, simply by learning how to use our voices and reconnect with those around us.
Posted in Interviews
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Nahia follows the turbulent efforts of a faery princess as she tries to lure her human obsession into the faery realm to maintain her relationship with him. What was your inspiration for this book’s direction and plot?
When I finished writing Cradle Gift (book 2) I knew I’d have to tell Nahia’s story to explain in detail Maité’s discovery at the end of Cradle Gift—that the woman Anahí in her family tree was actually Nahia.
When we met her in Faery Sight, we learned she was a willful creature whose heart, thankfully, was in the right place. It seems that throughout her youth, the motto ‘better to ask for forgiveness than permission’ was the driving force behind her actions.
Nahia is my full-fledged faery and as such she embodies the whole gamut of faery traits; she’s selfish, she holds grudges, she steals human babies, she arranges things in her mind whichever way suits her best. But she is also passionate, determined, courageous and has a great capacity to learn and to love.
The books in this series span several generations and move through time very quickly. Was this a reflection of the faery’s life or was it necessary to tell the story you wanted?
I think Nahia fits in a philosophical fiction genre (is there such a thing?) and because of that it is geared toward a more mature audience (the other 2 books in the series are YA). I wanted to describe the evolution of Nahia’s heart and mind in detail, it was important to me to put her through the motions of going after her own desires, disregarding those around her, then realize that that kind of behavior only begets heartache or a passing satisfaction at best, so that in the end she considers and actually chooses to expand her heart and embrace a greater purpose, even if it involves sacrifice.
Your books are always highly imaginative and wonderfully descriptive. What is your writing process like?
From a procedural standpoint, here’s what I do:
Chapter Outline/Synopsis; this is where ideas fly through my brain—imagination is in high gear.
First Draft and First Round of Editing done by me; this is stage where characters usually crop up in my dreams to make suggestions and poke me with reminders or corrections. I make all kinds of sleepy notes that I have to decipher the next day.
Second Draft and 1-2 Rounds with Critique Group; this is where I bite my nails waiting to hear back from a handful of friends/family who’ve kindly offered to read my work.
Produce and send out Advance Review Copies;
Third Draft, Second Round of Editing done by me, Fourth Draft to Pro Editor; this is the most feverish portion of the process. I can feel the end is near so I apply flattening-strength pressure on myself.
Then comes the sigh of relief when the Final MSS finally leaves my hands.
Nahia is book three in the Faerie Legacy series. Do you plan to continue the series with book four or will you be writing a new book?
Nahia ends with a Summer Solstice Celebration during which the hybrid faery-human family is reunited. In that reunion, Maité’s daughter is not yet 2 years old, so I’m considering a book about the baby Aintza; she could only see her mother in dreams and in person once per year. This went on during the first 7 years of her life.
I’m also considering a series of picture books featuring the adventures of my hybrid faery-human family in the Faerie Realm.
As far as unrelated projects go, I have the 7 Ghostly Spins, a collection of seven paranormal tales based on true ghost legends and nightmares come true. Coming on All Souls Day, 2018.
Daughters of the Bride; is another philosophical fiction project I’m working on. After the death of their father, three women embark on a distressing journey of reflection; to know themselves and the mother they thought they knew. No publication date yet.
A rebellious faery princess struggles with satisfying her own desires over what’s best for her loved ones. Following her heart in pursuit of the human she loves, Nahia hides her faery identity in order to enter the human dimension.
After giving birth to a daughter, Nahia’s secret is revealed, as is the realization that she has forever altered the genetic human footprint. Faced with death, Nahia returns to the faerie realm only to have its dormant weight thrust upon her after the demise of its magical keeper.
To save her home and renew ties with both her human and faerie family, Nahia must find a way to reawaken the realm, become the new Faery Queen, and provide a royal descendant for the new Keeper of the Forest.
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How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure, written by Kaye Newton, will help you teach your children to find the joy in reading. We live in a digital age, and the art of reading is slowly fading away. Netflix, social media and the internet have taken over the entertainment sector, leaving teenagers and children disinterested with the magic of reading. Armed with exciting and informative facts, Kaye Newton will help all parents and caregivers find practical and engaging ways to help encourage your adolescents to read.
How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure is a valuable tool and learning resource for all parents who are trying to get their teens to read. With online distractions and the quick fix that screen time provides, this generation of children is sadly missing out on the benefits which reading a book provides.
The benefits of reading are far and wide and include how reading improves our concentration, memory, analytical skills and even help teens prepare for the workforce. And if you believe your child is just simply not a “born reader”, Newton also takes a look at how we all have the potential to read, and humans are innately drawn to storytelling and adventure. Sometimes it comes down to simply finding the right book for the right child.
How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure will also push you to question your own beliefs and interests in reading. One line that resonated with me was “I liked reading until I was forced to overthink every sentence”. As a child, we often read books to discover new worlds, uncover magical creatures and learn different cultures, but this changes when we become adolescents. At school we are often expected to look at the grammar and the concept of the story and then write hundreds and sometimes thousands of words about a plot line we may have not even enjoyed. Kaye Newton addresses this issue with some alarming statistics about how little we now read and the detrimental effects it can have when we take reading out of our lives.
Not only will How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure give you extensive and useful tools to help with supporting your teen to read, but the novel also provides lists of books that will suit your child and match their interests. For example, many parents often use the excuse that their child does not read due to being obsessed with video games. But there are books for even the most avid of gamers, and Newton will provide you with several examples to get you started. There is also a fantastic list of books ready for you to try that are sorted by ages and genres.
One segment of How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure also answers questions that parents may have, such as do graphic novels count as reading or what is considered “real reading”? These questions will help parents find out what type of reading will suit their teen and how reading can be found in places we least expect.
I would recommend this to anyone who is looking to encourage the children in their lives to discover the magic of reading!
Pages: 171 | ASIN: B0793MKDNP
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Life is filled with challenges and for people with crippling anxiety it is worse. That anxiety feeds depression, and the two together can define and break a person down, or they can adapt, find ways to manage it and thrive in life. The BreakAway: Girl Secrets of a Tantric Yogi by Paulette Bodeman is Paulette’s memoir’s. Her story ranges from early in life to after her child is grown and an adult himself. This collection of her memories works like the human brain, it isn’t linier, rather the memories flow back and forth leaving imprints on the reader. Throughout the book Paulette slowly discovers yoga in a variety of forms before finding her place, at the end of this book she shares her knowledge with information on how to mediate, yoga poses, and how to embrace your own BreakAway moments in life, be them big or small.
Paulette Bodeman decided when she started writing this book that she was not going to just include all the good points or put a happy twist on her life moments. She promised herself to include all the ugly moments, all the hard memories, from addiction, divorce, depression and loss. They were not written with caveats that ‘oh this made me a better person for living through it’. Instead it is just raw emotions. It is real life and despite the jumping from one memory to another often not in chronological order, it is captivating to the reader. Some people will be frustrated by the lack of cohesion from one memory to the next; but I found it relatable and it gave me a better understanding of her. When I think back in time to my own memories it is a jumbled road, and those pieces all fit together in my own broken puzzle, that is what this book reminds me of. You don’t put a puzzle together left to right, you fit them together as you find them and once done you have a complete picture.
Much of the book focuses on her finding herself though her experiences and how they all led her to where she is now. But written in her style that path isn’t clear. In the last part of the book she explains her views on BreakAway moments, big and small. She talks about how they are the defining moments in your life that you may or may not even reorganize as being a defining moment. This last part pulls together everything she wrote. The inclusion of mediation suggestions, yoga poses, and spiritual healing ideas just completes the book. You start reading about her chaotic and disjointed life and end with a guide on how to find your own path through your own chaos.
This is not your traditional yoga book, it is not your traditional book on finding inspiration in life or how to better yourself. It is not a self-help book you pick up and read step by step to find your perfect balance. It is a book that will inspire you, give you bits and pieces you can relate to and give you suggestions on finding your own inner peace at your own pace and discovering your own BreakAway moments and how they have defined you.
Pages: 226 | ASIN: B079NCH83G
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Dare to Be the Change, written by Annella Metoyer, tells the story of Annella’s life and how she overcame adversities to be the change she wished to see in the world. Annella faces a world of segregation and judgement based on the color of her skin, but is determined to push through the racism and have people see her for who she truly is. This begins a world of firsts for Annella, from being the first colored cheerleader to the first woman of color to work in her local bank. Her life journey will inspire, and enlighten you as you learn what it takes to make a difference in the world.
Growing up in a small town of Louisiana, Annella lives in a time where racism was prevalent in the community. With society segregating everyone into two groups of “colored” and “white”, Annella struggles with her identity. This segregation continues throughout all of her schooling years; however, it was several teachers and adults in her life that showed her that she didn’t need to accept the injustice and inequality that society expected her to endure.
I admired the relationship Annella had with her parents and in particular the strength and support her father showed her throughout her life. Rather than allowing racism to control their lives, he would take a stance and voice his concerns about the unfairness of how children were treated due to the colour of their skin. He was also the instigator of her career as the first woman of color at a bank, forming the pathways of her strength and persistence for change.
Dare to Be the Change enlightens the reader with racial situations or expectations that show an unfair and unjust part of our history. Conditions such as separate school buses or being unable to enter a cafe through the front door if you were colored seem like a preposterous idea, but sadly they were the real-life situations that people had to endure every day.
Throughout the story, you can tell the author Annella Metoyer radiates a certain positivity and gratitude that I believe led her to achieve so many significant changes. There are times where she could have relished in the negativity, but instead, she talks about the positive people in her life that helped her grow and become more confident as a woman. Annella’s endurance and strength to stand up for what is right is a trait to be admired and one that we don’t often see in the world. Annella’s hard work ethic and ability to prove herself in her career is just one way she initiates change as she begins to show others that there is more to a person than the color of their skin.
I would recommend this to anyone looking for an inspirational story that will motivate you to be the change you wish to see in the world.
Pages: 91 | ASIN: B079QM5MNC
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Life Sliding follows Gavin, the popular kid in school, as he is sent to camp Lift Me Up to help special needs children. What served as your inspiration while you were writing this book?
Like myself, lots of teenagers experience alienation in their high school life, which is a challenging time of self discovery while navigating one’s way to adulthood. My inspiration is those in the trenches now and those who survived those years. Within the walls of education, there is so much more learning going on than just algebra. At times, high school life is a tornado. I believe most adults have forgotten what was at times, a nightmare. Trying to understand my experience as an outsider, I explored the story from the popular kid’s prospective, peeling back the layers to discover who he is underneath his vamped up exterior. Much later after my school years, I became friends with someone who was in the “in crowd” at my school. I discovered this person was not who I had imagined they were. As we find with Gavin, one never really knows what’s going on inside someone, the real person. How do people end up where they are positioned on the social ladder? Jacob expresses his thoughts on the matter to Gavin in a deep conversation at camp; Jacob understands.
What I found most interesting about Gavin was the slow emotional change he undergoes throughout the novel. What were some morals you wanted to capture while writing his character?
We live in a society that is highly judgmental and most are quick to come to a conclusion about someone without ever getting to know them. You can’t judge a book by its cover and you will certainly fall short trying to make a summation of someone by their looks, they way they dress or zip code they come from. If anything, we need more understanding.
Was there anything from your own life, in high school, that you put into this novel?
I was an outsider who experienced some of the issues mentioned in the story and simply observed others going through their own trials. Between algebra and biology, it’s all there – self-harm, bullying, relationships, sexuality, eating disorders, angst and so on, but mostly life happening.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My ya novel Always Here was just released in September 2017. I have an adult fiction novel tentatively titled Kudzu, which is in editing with no set release date and I am writing a New Adult novel titled Somebody Else.
As Gavin’s junior year comes to a close, he faces an inner conflict with his status as the most popular kid in high school. It’s not lost on his father, who sensed for some time that his overly indulged son needs redirection. Making matters worse for Gavin, his dad sends him away for the summer to assist at a camp for children with special needs.
Arriving at camp Life Me Up, Gavin is suddenly forced to dabble in a world less familiar. After his first uncomfortable encounter with a strange girl with multi-colored fingernails, who refuses to waiver his arrogant behavior, Gavin comes face to face with a person from the past, which leaves him uneasy.
Inevitably, three people clash and collide, but when tragedy strikes, they come to an understanding regarding their differences. Becoming a young adult, Gavin faces a summer of harsh lessons in reality. Once he crosses the bridge from a self-inflicted prison to the road to freedom, Gavin and his new friends implement a strategy to stir up the social order when they return to school in the fall.
Because of one jaded person jumping to conclusions, the plan backfires. Will they be able to survive the fallout of what they’ve put into motion?
Posted in Interviews
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What begins as a typical young adult novel evolves into a fantastical adventure. Seeker of Time by J.M. Buckler presents us with a protagonist most young people can relate to: Elara feels isolated, like she doesn’t fit in. Not only with her high school classmates but also with her family. Never feeling like she truly fit in, she comes across another student, Cyrus, who has been nothing but kind to her. But there is more to their relationship than Elara and Cyrus are prepared to understand. They aren’t just classmates; they aren’t just your typical high school students. No, these two have an even greater destiny waiting for them than what an average person will experience.
Buckler does very well with her world building. At first, the book feels like a coming-of-age story where Elara will find a way to fit in with those around her. The prologue should have been a dead giveaway for this, but the chapters that follow don’t dive into the fantasy aspects of the tale until much farther into the book. Buckler takes her time developing her characters and building the world that the readers are going to get drawn deeper and deeper into.
The dynamic and difference between the two protagonists Elara and Cyrus is necessary not only for the current story line, but for any potential future books. They are similar and yet opposite enough that when Buckler goes on to explain the extraordinary circumstances to their existence, it makes sense. If they were too similar or too opposite it would have ruined the balance that is necessary for these characters further on in this world. This is not easy to do, and it is laudable that Buckler is able to accomplish this.
There are some formatting, spelling and punctuation issues that detract from the story at times. These can be solved by a good editor or by spending more time on the editing process. By no means do these errors detract from the story itself, but they are disruptive when they occur. Another downfall to this book is the pacing. If readers are looking for a strong fantasy element, you will not find it right away in this book. But if you have the patience to wait it out, you will be rewarded.
Seeker of Time by J.M. Buckler is a fantastic entry into a well-developed fantasy world. While the pacing can be a bit slow at times, the payoff is a well-constructed world with a rich history. Descriptions and characters make sense: the way protagonists Elara and Cyrus react to the truth about their lives is refreshing. The reality of the experience is sure to help readers identify with the characters on a personal and emotional level. Buckler sticks to parameters she has outlined for herself in how this book and this world is going to develop. The ending leaves just enough intrigue that a second installment, or more, in this series would be welcomed.
Pages: 330 | ASIN: B075MNZ7TB
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