Saturday, August 31, 2019

Review: Poisoned Arrow

Poisoned Arrow is a fantasy novel from Iris van Ooyen. The author named the main character after herself, which was kind of fun. It always makes me wonder how much of the character's personality traits belong to the author.

The Iris in the book spends her childhood secluded because of her magic. We're in a mystical world, but there's a hint it might be a far future society where electricity has destroyed the world and been banned. A middle ages type of society, the land of this book is perilous. Magic has been purged from the countryside by an evil magician who controls the queen.

The future of the entire kingdom turns on Iris and how she learns to master her magic. She's tutored by a reformed magician and supported by childhood friends who have grown into warriors, one in particular who make her feel things she doesn't expect.

What I loved about this book:

  • Iris is a well developed character and you really feel her anguish as she works to learn to master her magic, loses loved ones and holds fast to her friendships.
  • Several of the secondary characters are also well developed and the author captures their conflicts in a way that connects you with them.
  • The world-building is strong and sprinkled through out in just the right ways. 

Poisoned Arrow starts in the middle of the action, which is usually good, but it took me a minute to realize I hadn't missed a sequel. You get a lot of the history in flashbacks through out the book.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and can recommend it to those who enjoy fantasy, complex character relationships and action. The book leaves you hanging on for the next one!

Note: I received a free copy of this book to review from the author through my awesome writing friend Eileen Curley Hammond. I don't review Cozy Mysteries on this site, but I am very much in love with Eileen's Merry March series. You can find it here.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Review: Mooncakes Graphic Novel Coming Oct. 2019

It's been a while since I've read a graphic novel and I wasn't sure what to expect. Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xi does not disappoint. It's a story of reunited friends battling supernatural forces, while balancing family drama, cultural expectations and falling in love.

Nova is a young witch who lives with her grandmothers and helps run the family bookstore. Tam comes back to town unexpectedly and a whole lot of trouble follows them. Only by teaming up together can Nova and Tam defeat dark forces, and find their own unique places in the world.

What I loved about this novel:

  • The characters are rich and diverse-- ethnically, in abilities, religiously, from a gender and sexual preference perspective and even in magical ways. For example, Tam is nonbinary, Nova has a hearing aid, both are Chinese Americans. But the story isn't about these aspects of who they are. The story is about their situation and how they tap into who they uniquely are to solve their problems and find love. 
  • The supernatural storyline was anything but predictable and it had a few very unexpected twists and turns I don't want to spoil. 
  • The art work engaged me in every scene. I loved the way the illustrations brought the story to life, especially during action scenes. 

Sometimes the action moved a little too fast and I had to back-up to reground myself in what was happening, but overall I really enjoyed this book. I read the entire thing in one sitting and could not put it down. I highly recommend reading this one when it's released!

Disclosure: I received this novel through Net Galley as a reviewer at no cost to me. My beliefs in this review were not influenced by how I received the novel.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Review: The Beginning of Everything

The Beginning of Everything is a story of loss, love, terrible coincidences and enduring friendship. Robyn Schneider's quiet and engaging book is about Ezra Faulkner, who once had it all and lost it, but now must face school and life again.

Ezra was a star tennis player. In this world, tennis players are even more popular than football players and Ezra was the top of the heap. He had the most popular girlfriend, went to all the right parties and was one of the guys all the way. One night before the book even begins he is injured in a traumatic accident in such a way that he loses all his friends and his ability to play tennis. 

We meet Ezra just as he's recovering and going back to school for his senior year. He's lucky enough that a former friend who he became too cool for in the past is willing to take him into his group. And, that group includes an exploration of the world of the debate team and a mysterious new girl who captures his imagination and his heart. 

What I loved about this book:
  • Ezra is smart and his internal dialogue is fun and engaging
  • His new friends are also intelligent and their banter brings you into their world
  • Ezra has a physical ability to manage and it's easy to connect with him as he deals with new limitations and frustrations as he adjusts to it
  • Cassidy, his love interest, is complicated and nothing is quite what it seems in her world, which keeps you guessing
The popular kids can feel a little stereotypical and the concept that the tennis team is more popular than the football team is different from most midwestern high schools I know about. But, overall, this story is one you don't want to miss. It will give you all the feels from beginning to end.