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Hannibal’s Elephant Girl

Hannibal's Elephant Girl: Tin Tin Ban Sunia by [Brindley, Charley]

Charley Brindley’s Hannibal’s Elephant Girl takes place in 229 BCE in North Africa. We’re treated to a thoughtful account of life in a river camp near Carthage. The delivery of the story is exceptional as the reader can effortlessly follow the various story lines in the book. There are more than one major character but the main focus is on a girl called Liada. We accompany this 12-year-old girl as she goes about her business and the adventures in the camp. The narration is simple but still managed to keep my attention. Different literary and stylistic devices are used to spice up the plot and every character is developed uniquely. The reader falls in love with some characters and loathes some due to how the author represents them. This connection brought me the most joy because the characters I was rooting for almost always won.

Liada gets rescued from a river by an elephant named Obolus. The savior elephant is among the many that are being trained for war at the camp. There is a war looming and every party needs to prepare for any situation. Despite getting rescued, Liada’s life is not all smooth as her memory seems to have faded. Liada is assigned some tasks, among them feeding soldiers in the camp. Yzebel, the woman who took Liada runs a cafeteria where soldiers go to eat.  Yzebel is patient and understanding. She is one of the characters the I greatly enjoyed from the beginning. Yzebel, however, has a disgraceful son, but despite this, Liada continues to be the hardworking girl who keeps it together.

I appreciated  Liada’s character as she is accountable for anything she does and treats everyone with courtesy. Liada’s daily tasks make her interact with different people in the camp. I appreciate how the author describes events in the book. Everything is detailed. The camp, soldiers, city of Carthage and the activities the characters engage in are well illustrated and one can easily visualize the happenings. Hannibal is one of the members Liada interacts with. Hannibal is in charge of the elephant army. Tin Tin Ban Sunia is another character that Liada befriended. Liada and Tin Tin Ban Sunia became friends despite the latter being mute.

The kind Liada and Yzebel, however, plan to save the poor girl from slavery. This was a bold but risky move as the two put themselves in danger. Their arrangement also revealed another side of the characters that I got to love. Charley Brindley makes a simple story more exciting with twists in the plot. The suspense and action the characters take make the reading thrilling. Hannibal’s Elephant Girl is engaging, with a balance of detail that allows your imagination to run. The characters are well developed and addictive to follow. This is a fantastic book with plenty of lessons for young readers.

Pages: 425 | ASIN: B07P9WJFWP

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THE ADVENTURES OF JULES KHAN – A TEENAGE MUSLIM SUPERHERO

The Adventures of Jules Khan: A Teenage Muslim Superhero by [Devji, Karim Kassamali, Devji, Karim]

The Adventures of Jules Khan – A Teenage Muslim Superhero, introduces the world to a fictional project that is shifting the narrative on how teenagers and adults consume faith, fiction and entertainment in mainstream media. This unique and creative story is a narrative on North America’s newest Superhero Jules Khan…

An enormous responsibility is bestowed upon Jules Khan. He is basically still a child and could not possibly fathom the true meaning of this responsibility. The whole of humanity is depending on him for survival. He must keep the book safe. Most importantly, he must keep the book away from the National Weapons Association. He will use his natural superpowers while relying on prayer and friends to remain grounded. He is about to uncover many secrets and find information that will rock him to the core. Will mankind be saved from the evil association?

Karim K Devji has crafted a thrilling and action filled tale of human triumph. He has masterfully woven a tale of a brave young man who is not expected to fulfill his role quite so efficiently but does so anyway with gusto and wisdom. He has told a story the only way it deserves to be told; with great energy. This story pulls in the reader right from the beginning. You get to meet fascinating characters and wander in the mind of Jules Khan freely. The author is a very vivid storyteller, using descriptions that are breathtaking.

As the story takes us through Jules’ journey of bravery, I was inspired by the lengths this young man goes to to bring peace to the world and his determination to instill the idea of respect for all regardless of their life choices or situations.

The book touches on numerous sensitive topics from religion to politics. In this era of over-sensitivity and overreactions, these are very difficult topics to converse about. However, the author navigates that particularly muddy puddle with expert ease. Everyone is represented in this book and does not focus on any one religion. The Adventures of Jules Khan – A Teenage Muslim Superhero is a wonderful adventure book that delivers a message of peace and respect to whoever reads it.

The story takes place in WWII era and captures the feel of the time and place well. The author’s commitment to the story and the intended message are announced in no uncertain terms by the simple brilliance with which the book is presented. It is rare to find a action packed book that would be suitable for both children and adults but The Adventures of Jules Khan- A Teenage Muslim Superhero is able to entertain and inspire.

Jules Khan should be a welcome addition to the MARVEL or DC Superhero Franchise as their newest Avenger or hero that uses his tremendous earth based superpowers and pluralism to easily handle the bad guys.

Pages: 169 | ASIN:  B07F1GYLN4

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Ullr’s Fangs

Ullr's Fangs (The Incarn Saga Book 2) by [Wibell, Katharine]

Lluava is fighter in more ways than one. She is highly trained, has seen her share of the devastation of war, and she is a Theriomorph. Varren is Lluava’s partner and anxious to again see his grandfather, the king. When Lluava is told she will be traveling with Varren to meet King Thor, she is not prepared for what she finds in Varren’s childhood home. While Lluava and Varren are a pair to be reckoned with in the field, they have a private relationship that defies definition. Lluava’s stay in the royal castle begins a string of events that will change the course of the lives of everyone around her.

Ullr’s Fangs: Book Two of The Incarn Saga, by Katharine Wibell, is a rather dark fantasy surrounding the experiences of young Lluava as she faces some massive responsibilities. Her own fascination with Varren and her determination to become an even more capable fighter dominates the story line of Wibell’s work.

As fantasies go, Ullr’s Fangs is a wonderful thrill ride. I am a reader who becomes much more involved in the characters’ backstories and the relationships they have with one another. Though this installment of Wibell’s series is chock full of action, there is a much bigger draw involving Lluava’s fascination with Varren. Watching their interactions evolve is enthralling.

I am impressed with the tactful way in which Wibell deals with the mental decline of King Thor. His loss of memory and his periodic references to his son give the reader pause. Dementia is a difficult but relatable topic for many readers, and Wibell reveals the king’s struggle slowly and tastefully in small conversations. I find the inclusion of this condition to be a nice way to help readers further relate to the characters.

As I read, I kept coming back to Lluava and her personality traits. She is as kind and loving as she is fierce. When faced with the challenge of training, she perseveres through immense trials and physical challenges. The gentle manner in which she relates to the young maiden assigned to her at the castle is touching.

The shape-shifting aspect of Wibell’s characters is another intriguing element of her writing. I am amazed at the details Wibell manages to include in her work. Lluava’s transformation are easily visualized and exceptionally penned. The Theriomorphs alone are reason enough to read Wibell’s series.

Readers who enjoy fantasies filled with action and well-developed characters will find themselves deeply involved in the plot of Ullr’s Fangs. From cover to cover, Wibell keeps readers on their toes. The fantastic details throughout Wibell’s book bring readers into the story and provide ample opportunity for them to lose themselves in the world she has created. I highly recommend Ullr’s Fangs to any reader looking for a new fantasy series with memorable characters and highly-involved action sequences.

Pages: 342 | ASIN: B07CRQ7S6R

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A Whole Lot Bitchier

Zachary Ryan Author Interview

Zachary Ryan Author Interview

I enjoyed the depth of character and unique arcs developed in this novel. What were some themes you wanted to capture in your characters?

I honestly think my major theme in all my novels is to be honest with yourself and with the world. People need to take off the mask and let people see the real you. I think that’s the hardest in high school, but you get older and realize that you’ll find a grand group of people to love you for who you are, and that’s the most beautiful thing in the world. It’s why I love Danielle and Calvins friendship. No matter what they do, they love each other.

High school is a highly stressful time and I think you capture that well. Did you bring any of your own experiences into this story?

Honestly, I had a great time in high school. People knew me, and I wasn’t really bullied. I think that I use more of my life now than back then. I used my past relationship with my ex for Aman and those conversations between Aman and Calvin were real.

This is book one in your High School Queens Trilogy. What can readers expect in book two, The Revenged Queen?

To be honest, Book one is my least favorite in the trilogy. I feel like the imaginary gloves come off in book two. It gets darker, sexier, and a whole lot bitchier. I dive more into everyone’s characters, and we get to see other people’s motives for some of the actions. Villains in the first novel soon become friends, I feel like. Book two is my favorite in the trilogy.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

High School Queens (The High School Queens Trilogy Book 1) by [Ryan, Zachary]

They all thought they did a masterful job of keeping their secrets close to their chest. These stupid fools thought they were the high court of this kingdom, but they had no clue who was really pulling the strings. You might wonder to yourself, who would be that heartless to make them backstab their friends, expose other’s secrets, and lose their morals? You don’t need to know who I am, but you better remember my name, The Marked Queen.

Danielle, Andrew, Delilah, Aman, and Jasmine all are now faced with a mysterious villain whose one goal is to ruin each of their lives. They must protect their secrets at all cost, or they’ll be the next victim on Marked Day. They know what’s at stake, and they’ll stop at nothing to continue being: the rich spoiled girl, the normal teenager, the girl who isn’t banging the principal, the straight vlogger, and the girl who isn’t her dad’s punching bag. What happens when The Marked Queen changes up the game just in time for prom? Will each of our favorite puppets survive? Or are they willing to backstab each other just to keep up their personas? The only thing lost at this prom wasn’t going to be their virginity.

Sex, Lies, and High School Queens explores the major theme of self-acceptance. Can they learn to accept all their flaws or pray victim to The Marked Queen? Each chapter continues to fill your sweet tooth until the climactic moment at the prom where you get to have that final bite of the bitch cake you’ve been dying to consume.

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Do I Have A Choice

Lynn McCain Author Interview

Lynn McCain Author Interview

Neither Light Nor Dark follows Lily who has to reunite the suffering lands of Arcadia and abolish the rule of Reficul. What was the inspiration for the setup to this riveting story?

I honestly had a dream that I could not escape from. I sat down one night and poured it out into my laptop. Over time I got inspiration from everywhere- other books, movies, music.

Lily is an interesting and well developed character. What were some obstacles in the story that you felt were important to her character development?

I think finding out all of the lies about her former life and learning how to deal with her new future definitely helped make her into the girl that she becomes. This is more obvious in book two, The Darker Light.

I loved the fairytale-esque lore embedded in this world. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating your world?

I love fairytales! C.S. Lewis’ The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe was the first book that I remember falling in love with. His world definitely inspired me to go in that direction. The whole idea of us having a predetermined destiny was a big part of the story. I wanted the reader to ponder, “Do I have a choice?”

This is book one in the Beyond the Gates series. What can readers expect in book two of the series, The Darker Light?

Book two is full of surprises. So many things about the characters are revealed that you will find yourself wondering who to trust. Lily is taken back into Arcadia where she is faced with a past that she never knew existed. The journey is harsh but new friends are made and old ones are reunited. Book two is my favorite. I feel like lily really grows up in this one.

Author Links: Website | GoodReads | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Neither Light Nor Dark: Destiny Awaits: Destiny Awaits (Beyond the Gates-Book #1) by [McCain, Lynn]YA Fantasy fiction full of surprises. This is a story about a girl, the man she loves, the boy who stole her heart, and Reficul, the evil ruler that stands to ruin it all. Lily Channon gets caught up in a war only she has the power to stop. The only problem is she doesn’t know why or even how. Her quest for answers leads her on a journey through love, crazy, hard to swallow, painful betrayal, and has deadly consequences. Will she find her place? Will she be willing to give what is required of her? Does love really exist, or is EVERYONE a liar? Find out what happens in this exciting book.

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High School Queens

High School Queens (The High School Queens Trilogy Book 1) by [Ryan, Zachary]

What is it about high school that brings out the worst in people? The hormones, the pressure to know your future, the mind games? Probably all of the above. Zachary Ryan pens his first book in a series, High School Queens set at Johnson Prep, and complete with all the rich, narcissistic, angst filled teens that any drama queen could ask for. This story delves into a darker, edgier version of high school antics, with exhortation, blackmail, physical and emotional abuse. A One Tree Hill meets Lord of the Flies vibe.

High School Queens packs a deep emotional punch and the depth of the character’s issues are interesting and intriguing. The book tackles a myriad of issues: Alcoholism, eating disorders, self harm, family loyalty, abuse and a whole gamut of complex issues that face youth today. Zachary Ryan attributes the necessary attention to these issues with detail and heart equally. However, I felt that there was detail lacking in certain places? What does Johnson Prep look like? The picture of the story feels incomplete for the lack of setting.

Johnson Prep has a lack of diversity, which is not surprising, but the one Spanish character is poor and the one Indian character is trapped in a ultra traditional family. The cliche here is painful because the author has a clear knack for creating intriguing and well defined characters otherwise. Readers can relate to Andrew, Danielle, Aman and Delilah, root for them and become invested in their characters. The endless cattiness and shallowness by the Marked Queen starts as fun and entertaining but gets repetitive where I would have liked to see creative twists.

The climax of High School Queens is set against the back drop of prom, but the character’s stories don’t all end on the same note and there were some surprises that were developed and unveiled superbly. There is a cliffhanger that sets up for the continuation of Johnson Prep’s students but for next installment of High School Queens to match the high bar set here I expect to see more flavor, humor and twists.

Pages: 311 | ASIN: B07PXFZVLF

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Neither Light Nor Dark

Neither Light Nor Dark is about the journey of a young girl, Lily, who unknowingly bears the weight of an immense prophecy. It is an immersive fantasy novel that takes us through the incredible lands of Arcadia. From her childhood, Lily’s own family has protected her from the secrets of a dark and tumultuous past. However, her destiny reveals itself soon enough. She has to reunite the suffering lands of Arcadia and abolish the rule of the loathsome Reficul. A ragtag group of friends follow her as they face troubles, misadventures, and battles.

This was an enjoyable and unique read because of the strange fairytale-like narration throughout. The descriptions of Arcadia and its elements were elaborate and fascinating. The characters and their dialogue appeared to be out of another era altogether. However, perhaps because of these anachronisms, the text was a bit dry in places. Nonetheless, the consistent tone and style were a refreshing break from contemporary reads.

The complex relationships between Henry, Calev, and Lily were also surprisingly well-navigated. I’m not the biggest fan of garish love triangles but I was able to perceive and accept the individual perspective of each character, which was refreshing. I was astonished at how quickly I was able to jump ship between characters without too many regrets. I was definitely rooting for some of the quirky personalities that were woven throughout the story.

From the beginning, the family dynamics in Lily’s world appear to play a big role in her life. The strained relationships between Lily and her grandmother was palpable from the beginning. It was clear that these dynamics and relationships were intricately crafted. However, at times, it was difficult to establish a connection with some of the characters. I think this was because the dialogue and style of the characters were a little less believable than I would prefer. This story does take place in an entirely different time and place, and it is not difficult to ascribe this issue to the nature of the story.

Neither Light Nor Dark is a fantastically enthralling read, and a perfect setup to a riveting fantasy series.

Pages: 234 | ASIN: B01LW35M4V

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The Hunt – Trailer

Having been homeschooled until now, Maeleigh is nervous about starting at her new high school. She knew things would be different, but there was no way to prepare her for Gearden. Nor was she prepared to hear his voice in her head. Born deaf, she hasn’t heard anyone’s voice clearly before so why now? And how?!

That’s not the only weird thing going on in town. There’s a whole other society living amongst the norm. And she’s not just thrust into it, he tells her she’s a part of it, too. If that wasn’t enough, she now has to deal with someone out to harm the people she’s come to call family. Only, there are still too many secrets for her to navigate all that’s happening and know who to trust.

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Phoebe Douse:S3A2

Phoebe Douse: Secret Society for Special Abilities and Artefacts  (The Phoebe Douse Trilogy, #1)

Pheobe Douse, Secret Society for Special Abilities and Artefacts allows a view into the life of young Pheobe, a high school student whose tendency to be unusually distinct has her feeling like an outcast. After her grandmother dies, it leaves her even more unsure about herself. Her grandmother would always tell stories that seemed fantastical about her life and travels. Phoebe took those moments for granted and when she can no longer have them, she is left feeling guilty. When she receives a strange invitation to attend school in Scotland she accepts the offer with the approval of her parents. She has no close ties outside of her family and she hopes for an adventure like the ones her grandmother had lived.

She soon realizes that while she fits in more readily than she ever has before, this sense of belonging actually makes the new school, her new classmates and her surroundings pretty extraordinary. When she finally begins to accept the possibilities that come with being extraordinary in an extraordinary place, she finds herself torn between her loyalty to her new friends and her grandmother’s legacy. Pheobe has to figure out who she is able to trust before secret forces lead her on a path of no return.

It would be unsurprising if L. Samuels’ debut novel lands on the bestseller list. Any of the millions of Harry Potter fans would be a fan of Pheobe Douse and the well crafted, gifted characters L. Samuels brings to life. The origin of the main character is seeped in a legacy that is undeniably powerful but shrouded in mystery.

Every event and continuation was strategically laid out in a way that caused constant anticipation. Even so, at each moment of conflict, climax and revelation, there were still surprises. There were no moments of overwhelming unpredictability but the pace of events varied and provided an emotionally dynamic experience.

The least agreeable aspect of the book is that the reader is left wanting to know what happens next and in the world of storytelling, this kind of itch usually happens after a satisfying read. The best part is that a second installment is expected so the anticipation continues!

Pages: 348 | ISBN: 978-1-7322846-7-8

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The Dream Defenders

The Dream Defenders: A YA Sci-Fi Adventure by [DenHartog, Neal]

The Dream Defenders by Neal Denhartog is a young adult science fiction adventure story following Nolan Erling, a fourteen year old boy who has felt forgotten by his parents ever since his baby brother, Max, joined their family. When Nolan keeps waking up with a headache in the morning, he doesn’t suspect that the cause of his problems is his dreams. But Aeryn Sandman knows. She is a junior agent at the DREAM institute, and Nolan is her first official assignment. Her job turns into more than just a simple recruitment mission, however, after Nolan’s unchecked powers release two nightmares into the dreamstream. Suddenly, things turn deadly–because dreams can kill. Will Nolan and Aeryn succeed in protecting millions of innocent dreamers while they sleep?

This book had a unique premise and the writing style was engaging and kept my interest. The author’s descriptions of the actions taking place pulled me into the story. I enjoyed reading about the weird details of Nolan’s dreams and how he could control them and make things happen. There were several humorous parts, as Aeryn fumbled her first official assignment and failed to keep Nolan under control. I liked the descriptions of the whimsical and frightening dreamscapes, which painted a vivid picture of the setting. I loved the Wispes, Stan and Scranton. They were one of my favorite parts of the story.

I felt that the initial ‘reveal’ of the villain happened too soon. Or maybe it could have just been handled differently. Since it seemed as though I’d already learned the villain’s identity at one third of the way through the book, I felt that the story lost some of its momentum after that. Although it took me a little while to get excited about the story again, it did happen well before I got to the crazy twist at the end.

Although the ending was entertaining and thrilling it left me with many questions. I assume that this story is intended to be the first book in the series, and if that’s the case, I would definitely want to read the next book to find out what happens and learn all the answers to my lingering questions. Overall, this is an exceptional book with a unique premise that is guaranteed to entertain.

Pages: 318 | ASIN: B07S475R84

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