Book Review: The Pirate’s Booty (Inventor-in-Training #1) by D.M. Darroch

The Pirate’s Booty (Inventor-in-Training #1) by D.M. Darroch

A Middle Grade Action-Adventure-Time Travel Novel published by Sleepy Cat Press (04/19/15)

Summary:

“Angus Clark was an inventor in training. He had a business card to prove it.”

Angus Clark thinks of himself as an inventor-in-training. His newest creation is the Insect Incinerator. His first tests have zapped some cones out of existence. Excited for the implications of his invention, Angus races back to the garage (his lab), but drops his invention and accidentally zaps himself out of his own dimension. Now Angus has to figure out a way to fix the Incinerator and get back to his own house, but he’s out on the water aboard the pirate vessel The Fearsome Flea and everyone seems to think his name is BP. What happened and how did he get there? Also, why is Ivy (a goody goody from school) in this dimension with him? Angus will have to use his inventiveness, along with the help of new friends to solve the multi-dimension problem.

Keywords:

Time Travel, Alternate Dimension, Science, Technology, Invention, Messy, Pirate, Parrot, Problem Solving, Teamwork, Humor, Misadventure, Building, Boat, Motor, Ship

My Review:

This was one of the most exciting middle grade novels I have read in a while. Angus has created quite a problem for himself and must figure out a way to fix it, but along the way meets some interesting characters with their own problems. I really enjoyed how all their problems tied together so that the solution will help to solve all the problems.

I admired Angus and his ability to solve problems. He wasn’t able to fix everything the first time and he wasn’t able to fix everything by himself. This book dealt with problem solving and coming up with creative solutions, sometimes together. I adored the way Angus and the Captain played with toys to figure out the mechanics of a motor. They went about it very logically, tallying the results across several dimensions and using that research to make something else that was the best it could be. Angus isn’t an inventor-in-training, he is without a doubt, a real inventor. The whole time he is positive despite the potential direness of the situation.

I very much enjoyed the parallel story of BP, who Angus bumped out of the pirate ship and transported into his place among the suburbs. BP, a pirate, has to learn a few lessons of his own before Angus has figured out how to put everyone back in their rightful places. Except, in the end, not everyone is in their rightful place and the story must go on! I look forward to reading more adventures with Angus and Ivy.

This novel was published by Sleepy Cat Press on 04/19/2015 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

D.M. Darroch’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: The Devil You Know by Starla Huchton and S.A. Huchton

The Devil You Know by Starla Huchton and S.A. Huchton

An Urban Fantasy Romance Novel published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. (01/29/17)

Summary:

Demons live among us. They shop at the grocery store and work at the local coffee shop. Kendra has been able to see them her whole life. And she’s never told anybody. What good could come of it? She’s used to horns, decaying flesh, and blue skin but when she first meets Nick, she’s caught off guard and she almost can’t keep her secret to herself. His appeal is more than just his good looks, his demon ability makes it hard for her to stay grounded and away from him. She knows she has to stay away from him. But he keeps showing up in her life and she is one debt short of keeping all her secrets safe.

Keywords:

Paranormal, Demons, Devils Romance, Romantic Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Demon World, Affect, Abilities, Jealousy, Business Deal, Partnership, Friendship, Emotion

My Review:

I’ve almost read everything Starla and S.A. Huchton have ever published. I will continue to read everything Huchton publishes. She is an amazing storyteller and has a gift with words, plot, characters, and style. She could fictionalize the dictionary and make it intriguing.

The Devil You Know has both paranormal and urban fantasy elements, two key book characteristics I typically don’t like, but I loved this book. The characters may have been demons (not all of them), but they were alive with approachable human characteristics. The world was set in a typical city, but in a world where there were different types of demons with different characteristics. Huchton gives us just a little bit of the fantasy world in which demons live, but firmly grounds it in a contemporary and familiar world.

The two main characters: Nick and Kendra are both complex and misunderstood. Both will come to new realizations after meeting the other. They both learn and grow throughout the novel. I loved how Kendra was able to change her opinion of Nick as he opened up to her the longer they were together. I guess growing up knowing you are the only one who can see 8-foot tall demons with horns and blue skin would make you more open-minded to other things, but I was pleased with how Kendra dealt with and stood her ground with Nick and the other demons.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. on 01/29/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Starla Huchton’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: Savage Beauty by Casey L. Bond

Savage Beauty by Casey L. Bond

A YA Fairy Tale Retelling Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (02/02/18)

Summary:

“Luna was unapologetically who she was; darkness illuminated in pale light, kindness cloaked in snark, cold at times, but with a warmth bubbling beneath the frosted surface.”

Aura and Luna are bound by dark magic. They are half fae twins. Luna is princess of the night, gaining power by the moon, and has power over air and fire. Aura is princess of the day, and has power over the elements of water and earth. It is a curse that comes with great power.

Luna doesn’t want to hurt others, but Aura seems to go out of her way to kill everyone that gets too close to Luna, including Prince William. Luna will have her revenge and is convinced that she must break their bond and kill her sister. Her plan is to wait until she is awake with power, create a spell to sever the bond, and rid the kingdom of the evil Aura. Luna will do anything for that spell, until William’s younger brother, the Prince Phillip wanders onto her land.

Keywords:

Witches, Fae, Sorcery, Fairy Tale Retelling, Destruction, Roses, Poison, Evil, Sisters, Moon, Guilt, Prince, Hunt, Spells, Broom, Familiar, Cat, Curse, Murder, Power, Love

My Review:

This book was slow to start but well worth reading to the end.

After reading both Savage Beauty and Riches to Rags, I know I will enjoy the other fairy tale retellings by Casey Bond.

Savage Beauty is a unique fairy tale which is very loosely based on Sleeping Beauty. This book was highly creative and imaginative, but also logical due to the background and world building. Unlike the overly imaginative Alice in Wonderland, Savage Beauty is highly creative within the set of rules that Bond has crafted in this world.

I loved having both Aura and Luna’s perspectives. After falling in love with Luna, much like William and Philip, I found it interesting to see Aura’s perspective. It was quite satisfying and confusing. How could a murderer downplay her acts? How could Aura excuse her behavior? And yet, she felt genuine when we were inside her head.

Even Philip felt like more than just the love interest. There was some depth to his character, though not as much as Luna. Luna is the fantasy character I’ve always wanted to read about. She is tormented and stubborn and hell bent on revenge. She is also sweet and caring and regretful of any actions she takes that cause hurt upon others.

Though I almost set this book down from the first chapter, I’m glad I kept reading and absolutely loved the ending.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on 02/02/2018 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Casey Bond’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Book Review: Riches to Rags by Casey L. Bond

Riches to Rags by Casey L. Bond

A YA Fairy Tale Retelling Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (10/31/17)

Summary:

“You are brave when you should be terrified, kind when you should be bitter, humble when you could be prideful, and your spirit, instead of being crushed beneath circumstance, somehow managed to rise above it all and remain joyful.”

Ella Carina’s favorite pastime is sitting in her window seat and gazing at the people outside as they go about their daily lives. She despairs that she’ll be stuck in the castle until her father forces her to marry an older man from Galder for political reasons. At 14, she expects to wait until after her older sister is married, but her father decides to marry both Carina and Ivy on the same day in a few weeks. With her future set, Carina is about to lose what little freedom she does have. The very next day the next kingdom over attacks the castle and she is swept away, her life as she knows it is over. But perhaps living in hiding as a farmer will give her the simpler life she has always dreamed about.

Keywords:

Fairy Tale, Retelling, Cinderella, Love, Innocent, Envy, Prince, King, Kingdom, Power, Escape, Hiding, Poor, Dreams, Castle, Tyrant, Family, Friendship, Fighting

My Review:

I love a good fairy tale retelling. Riches to Rags was an excellent fairy tale adaptation. I absolutely love Bond’s writing style and the flow of her stories.

I thought Carina grew so much from the beginning of the novel to the end. Bond does an amazing job of showing Carina’s growth and change as a character. Bond also creates so much conflict, terror, and circumstances outside of Carina’s control, that I wondered how she would survive. Carina’s true character, her grit, and her good nature shows true as she lives and works with the farmers. She is grateful to be alive to be placed with such a loving family. Carina is a much more active character than she has reason to be. Bond gives Carina the perseverance to create a good and happy life for herself, despite the circumstances that brutally took her away from her life in the castle as a princess.

As soon as you fall in love with Carina and her new romance with the blacksmith’s son and wonder how she will overcome the animosity from her new sister, a new conflict arises. This book had so much packed into it and I very much enjoyed reading it. I look forward to reading Casey Bond’s other fairy tale adaptations.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on 10/31/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Casey Bond’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Book Review: The Liberty Box by C.A. Gray

The Liberty Box by C.A. Gray

A Dystopian Novel published by Wanderlust Publishing (10/25/2015)

Summary:

In the Republic of Americas everyone is happy. Jackson has been excited to go back to his home in the Republic of Americas for years, but upon arrival, the land of plenty is a depressing landscape of malnourished citizens who appear happier than they should be. Just hours after his ship arrives, Jackson is singled out and taken to a Liberty Box. Only his mental training will keep him from being bewitched like all the other citizens in the Americas.

Keywords:

Dystopian, Mind Control, Medication, Drugs, Economical Collapse, Power, Technological advances, Escape, Fight, Politics, Government, Investigation, Reporter

My Review:

The Liberty Box is a mind control center, the place where the government and those who work for the government capture the brain waves of all newcomers. Once they have the brain waves, they can then send messages and lies to every person in the Republic of the Americas to control how they perceive their world. All citizens can be happy all the time doing anything the political leaders need or want them to do. Does this mind control work all the time? As long as the machines are up and running, they seem to work continuously. I liked that there has only been a short history of the Republic of the Americas since it was simply North America. Not enough time for history to dissolve in everyone’s mind but enough time to indoctrinate *most* of the youth. That is where Kate comes in. As a child she was sent to a camp for those who saw through the brain wave mind control. She was successfully rehabilitated, or so everyone thought.

I thought the author did a great job presenting the dystopian future and filling out the world building from the different perspectives in different chapters of the novel. I would have liked to know more about all the facets of the mind control. What difficulties did they face in the beginning of the Republic of the Americas when they had to create the infrastructure to support the mind control? How far does the manipulation reach? Perhaps these questions will be answered further in the series.

This Dystopian novel was published by Wanderlust Publishing 10/25/2015 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 4.25

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

C.A. Gray’s Website

Book Review: Behind the Mask by Brandon Kennedy

Behind the Mask by Brandon Kennedy

A Superhero Novel published by Amazon Digital Services Inc. (07/13/2018)

Summary:

Heroes exist. Kelly has a power, but she doesn’t want to use it. She doesn’t want to get caught with her power. Expectations are too high and she just wants to be left alone. Not everyone feels this way. Kelly’s best friend wants to be a hero and will jump at the chance when she gains her own powers, pulling Kelly along with her. Kelly will be left with no choice but to use her power. The question is, who will she use it for?

 

Join a heroine hiding from her past, a villain stuck between loyalty and passion, a vigilante masquerading as a hero, and a detective searching for the strings that tie them all together. This dark tale explores the idea that the person behind the mask isn’t always who we expect them to be.

Keywords:

Flying, Superhero, Hero, Villain, Society, Past, Mask, Hidden, Romance, Friends, Secrets

My Review:

I really liked Kelly. She’s the reluctant hero of the story. She has a chip on her shoulder and a bitter attitude about heroes, but is loyal to a fault. When her friends pull her into the world of heroes, she will have to respond. At least to save their butts.

I didn’t buy the romance that was introduced in the second half of this story. It was too sudden – for the characters and in the plot of the story – as if it was thrown in there for variety and to create extra problems for the characters.

The story was excellent and really fun to read. The grammar could use some work. There were quite a number of typos as well and there was an issue with the formatting, especially in the second half. This book, if polished, would be a five-star read. As it is, if you can look past the grammar, typos, and formatting you will enjoy this book immensely (especially if you like a good superhero action book).

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services Inc. 07/13/2018 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 4.25

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Book Review: Poison Passion (Gina Wetherby Mysteries) by Linda Jordan

Poison Passion (Gina Wetherby Mysteries) by Linda Jordan

A Mystery Novel published through Metamorphosis Press (11/09/18)

Summary:

Gina Wetherby has been given the task of hand delivering one of her own paintings to her client’s private island before their daughter’s wedding. Gina is thrilled to visit the estate, tour the carefully created garden, and find more flowers to paint for her client. Unfortunately, before the wedding, a murder throws everything into chaos and nobody is allowed to leave the island until the killer is caught.

Keywords:

Cozy Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Horticulture, Flowers, Seattle, Wedding, Murder, Gardener, Estate, Art, Artist, Painter, Food, Cats, Private Island

My Review:

I don’t have the pleasure of reading many cozy mysteries so I don’t have much experience with the genre. That being said, I did enjoy this book. I really liked the main character, Gina. She is not your average main character. She is middle aged, single, and smart. She doesn’t fall in love in this story. The mystery (murder rather) is the focal point, which I really liked. I also liked how savvy Gina was with technology and how useful she actually was during the investigation. She might not be an investigator, but she’s logical and can use her knowledge and skills to assist with the investigators.

Some of the writing was a little clunky in parts, but the story flowed well. The ending was a bit of a disappointment for me as I didn’t think it tied into the characters and story as well as it could have.

This novel was published through Metamorphosis Press on 11/09/2018 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.50

Links for more information:

Linda Jordan’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: Playing Doctor: A Geek Girl Rom Com (Fandom Hearts Book 5) by Cathy Yardley

Playing Doctor: A Geek Girl Rom Com (Fandom Hearts Book 5) by Cathy Yardley

A Romantic Comedy published by RYW Publishing (01/27/19)

Summary:

Cressida has been agoraphobic for years, but she has her safe place in her house and she’s been taking baby steps venturing outside the house in a friend’s RV. The only problem is that the landlord wants to sell the house and unless Cressida and her sisters can come up with the money fast, they will have to move. Cressida will have to brave leaving the house in order to save it. She thinks she knows where she can find a hidden treasure that one of  her favorite authors left as a treat to his fans. Now all Cressida needs is someone to drive her and the RV across several states to find this treasure.

Noah has been a fan of Cressida and the treasure hunt for years. He spends his free time looking for the treasure. All that money could fund schooling for him to be a doctor and take some of the pressure off his hard-working immigrant mother. Nobody has gotten closer to finding the treasure than Cressida. Noah has always wanted to meet her but never took action until the son of the famous author threatens to report Noah’s mother to ICE. Noah will put everything aside to save his mother and will say anything and do anything to get Cressida to help him find the treasure. They plan to split it 50/50, but with both keeping secrets from the other, their tenuous trust might not last long enough to see the payout.

Keywords:

Treasure Hunt, Journey, Agoraphobia, Friendship, Romance, Sisters, Family, Trust, Road Trip, RV, Books, Clues, Book Shop, Risk, Fear

My Review:

Every time I read a book by Yardley, I seem to finish the book in one sitting and wish that I had more of her books to read. The Fandom Hearts series is especially a series I love to read because it’s set locally, the characters are full of personality, and the stories are larger than life.

I loved Cressida’s story in this book, as well as Noah’s story. They are both diverse characters. Cressida is agoraphobic and Noah is the son of an immigrant. I loved that I got to see the difficulties that mental illness and immigration play in this story. I think Yardley did justice to her characters and their backgrounds.

The treasure hunt aspect gave me Déjà vu. Was I reading about Ready, Player, One’s author Ernest Cline and his treasure hunt for the DeLorean? I laughed when Yardley mentioned this specific treasure hunt in the book.

The story was captivating, the characters were delightfully diverse and developed, and the writing style was flawless. I can’t wait for the next Fandom Hearts book if there is one!

This novel was published by RYW Publishing on 01/27/2019 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.00

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Cathy Yardley’s Website

Book Review: Rhapsody (The Nightmusic Trilogy, #3) by Heather McKenzie

Rhapsody (The Nightmusic Trilogy, #3) by Heather McKenzie

A YA Novel published by Clean Teen Publishing (01/07/19)

Summary:

With Luke captured, Kaya has no choice but to save him. Kaya’s father, the evil Henry, has given her an ultimatum: her life for his. The clock is ticking and Kaya is all for rushing down to her former home, saving her beloved and sacrificing herself. Thomas, Lisa, and Seth are not as keen on Kaya’s plan. Nothing will stand in Kaya’s way. Not Thomas, who loves her as more than just a friend. Not Seth, who is more interested in keeping Kaya alive than in respecting her decision. But there’s more at stake than just her life and the best laid plans don’t always work.

Keywords:

Suspense, Romance, Love Triangle, Hate, Secrets, Mystery, Loyalty, Family, Hiding, Running, Escape, Heiress, Protection, Discovery, Past, Power, Corruption, Fight, Motivation, Money, Safe, Bargaining, Resources, Friendship, Destruction

My Review:

Rhapsody starts off right where Nocturne left off. Luke and Stephan are in custody (Henry’s custody). Kaya, with her group of friends is setting out to save Luke. Thomas and Seth won’t let her passion, anger, and emotion get the better of her. There is more at stake than Kaya’s life. I like how this book really drives home the bigger picture in the world McKenzie builds in this trilogy. Henry is up to no good and if Kaya goes back to him, it will be nothing but trouble for more than just her friends. He is evil on a much larger scale than Kaya ever thought. He is a real and true bad guy. I appreciated the fact that he is still Kaya’s father. Like in a real abusive relationship, especially one among family members, Kaya longs for the attention and love of her father. All she ever wanted was his love. If he had given her that when she was younger, would she consider him as evil as she does? Kaya has flashbacks to times when Henry could have shown his love and this illustrates all the more what a terrible person he is. It also breaks down any sort of connection Kaya might have had with her father.

I didn’t like this third and final book in the trilogy as much as the first and second books. Even though I read this book in a very short period of time and had a hard time putting it down, it felt like the entire book was a climax. There was so much tension and action that I was continually anxious for Kaya and an eventual happy ending.

Like with the first book and the second book, everyone falls in love with Kaya and her do-what-she-believes-in attitude. She wears her heart on her sleeve, will dig in her heels when she needs to, and will do anything to protect those she loves. Kaya is the heroine everyone wants to be and the woman all the men fall in love with. Even the women fall in love with her. I have to wonder how she manages to make enemies, but she does!

McKenzie is a phenomenal storyteller and has a seamless writing style. The story had a flow, as did the structure of the words on the pages. I would read books from a different genre from this author, if she were to leave young adult and write something completely different. I look forwarding to reading McKenzie’s next novel.

This novel will be published by Clean Teen Publishing on 01/07/2019 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

Links for more information:

Heather McKenzie’s Website

Twitter

Goodreads

Book Review: Ms. Behave (Fandom Hearts #4.5) by Cathy Yardley

Ms. Behave (Fandom Hearts #4.5) by Cathy Yardley

A Romantic Comedy published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (09/30/18)

Summary:

After years of being away, Simon is back in his hometown of Snoqualmie while working on the hit TV show Mystics. 12 years is a long time, but some things don’t change. Simon’s best friend, Mallory, never left Snoqualmie. They were friends in school and are friends still, but is there something more growing between them?

Keywords:

Actor, Snoqualmie, Issaquah, Bookstore, Fans, Romance, Family, Loyalty, Sex, TV Actor

My Review:

This was a fun quick read. As always, Yardley’s writing style and story pull you in and you can easily finish this short book in a day.

I loved both Simon and Mallory. Simon is quiet and keeps to himself, even though he is an actor on television. Mallory was never understood growing up and even now is sometimes thought of as an outsider. She is accepted for who she is among her small group of geeky bookstore friends, but not everyone can accept that she’s bisexual. Simon always thought she didn’t like him growing up because she was only into women, but after finding out the truth, he won’t know what to do. I wanted to sock him over the head for being so dense when he found out Mallory was bisexual, since he can only think of himself in the moment, but eventually his winning nature shines through.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on 09/30/18 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Cathy Yardley’s Website