I loved The Magic Warble by Victoria Simcox, so when Victoria contacted me a little over a month ago to let me know that The Black Shard was being rel...moreI loved The Magic Warble by Victoria Simcox, so when Victoria contacted me a little over a month ago to let me know that The Black Shard was being released and would I like to review it, I quickly agreed. First let me let you in on a secret, I don't keep many books, most of my review books I offer up as giveaways when I am done with them. When I read The Magic Warble, I kept it. The Black Shard will join it there as well. That should tell you something about the books right there. They are delightful and I can see myself picking them up again. I also want to share them with my sons as well.
So onto what I thought specifically of The Black Shard. The Black Shard picks up a little in the future after The Magic Warble ends, Kristina is back in her real world and wondering if the world of Bernovem ever existed. As the book starts it's summer and Kristina is headed off to horse-riding camp which she is excited about except for the fact that Davina and Hester will be there. Davina and Hester were in The Magic Warble and are mean to Kristina. You know the type, most books involving girls have them. I really feel sorry for Kristina, because she is sweet and just wants them to leave her alone. But soon enough the three of them are thrust back into the world of Bernovem and Kristina gets to see her wonderful friend Prince Werrien again.
Once they all return to Bernovem the excitement and adventure begin along with the confusion and misunderstood feelings between Kristina and Werrien (ah it seems that even in the fantasy world confusion abounds in the relationships between boys and girls). I loved seeing the two of them together in this book. But all is not perfect in the world of Bernovem and there is a lot going on. The King seems preoccupied, various gnomes seem up to no good, a plague breaks out and so much more. I was kept guessing through the book as I was introduced to new people and places and left wondering who could Kristina and Werrien trust and who could they not trust. It was a great book plot-wise, with surprises and great fantasy scenes (love the dolphin). Ms. Simcox has quite the imagination to further develop the world of Bernovem but does not make it too out there where it is too hard for middle graders to comprehend.
The book is an easy and quick read. The plot moves quickly, the characters are interesting and I loved seeing more of Bernovem. It was also great to see some more character growth. Both Kristina and Werrien are now older and they show it. They still act immature at times, but they are growing more mature and I liked that. There are also some very interesting revelations about characters in this one and some great back story as well that supports what is going on in The Black Shard and will take us into the next installment as well.
What more can I say, The Black Shard was another winner from Ms. Simcox for me and will go in a place of honor on my keeper bookshelf. These are wonderful fantasy books with good lessons for middle graders and young adults, but more than that, they are wonderful stories to be enjoyed. I do recommend that you read The Magic Warble first for the background on the world of Bernovem and also for Kristina and Werrien's story. It will help you to understand the characters and the story in The Black Shard better. Ms. Simcox does a good job summarizing things that took place before so I don't think anyone would be lost reading The Black Shard on it's own, but you would miss out on a wonderful book in The Magic Warble. So go get The Black Shard and dive into the world of Bernovem with Kristina and Werrien, fall in love with the place and the characters, you will definitely be in for a delightful afternoon of reading.
If you are looking for that perfect gift for a middle grader or young adult fantasy lover, give them the gift of this series. For a boy or girl, this series is a great escape for a tween or teen.
Parental guidance: Perfect for tweens, no cuss words, and the most that goes on is a kiss. There is some violence, but it is mild as well, nothing objectionable - it is fantasy so some violence is expected and it is not gratuitous in nature.(less)
You can't imagine my excitement when I received this book in the mail. I participated in the Touch of Frost tour for Teen Book Scene so it came as a s...moreYou can't imagine my excitement when I received this book in the mail. I participated in the Touch of Frost tour for Teen Book Scene so it came as a surprise to get the Kiss of Frost book from Kensington as well. A wonderful surprise - so thank you Kensington.
Kiss of Frost starts up just a few weeks I would say in future from where Touch of Frost ends. Gwen has settled into Mythos Academy a little more. Daphne is her best friend, Logan is her sparring partner and the boy she not-so-secretly lusts after. But as usual trouble seems to be finding Gwen again and this time during the Winter Carnival.
I found this installment to be a lot of fun. And while it was a lot of fun, it also furthered the development of the world of the Mythos Academy and the warriors there and ones we learn about at other academies around the world. I also learned more about the teachers and about Gwen's family. So in a nutshell, this is a great second installment for the world-building.
But Jennifer Estep doesn't stop there of course. Kiss of Frost also has a great story and great character building as well. Gwen really starts coming into her own in this book and I learned more about Logan as well. The story kept me turning pages wondering what would happen next and just when I thought the story was over, Ms. Estep took me for another thrill ride right until the end, and left me wanting and ready for the next installment in I believe June of 2012. Mercifully she does give us a teaser chapter at the end of Kiss of Frost for the next book, Dark Frost. Of course, the plot line for Kiss of Frost is mostly tied up at the end, but things are left open to continue the story. She doesn't leave you hanging in a bad way, just in a way that makes you want to read the next story.
I can't really say much more without giving anything away, but Kiss of Frost is a must-read. Reading Touch of Frost is not necessary to read Kiss of Frost because Ms. Estep does hit the main points of what happened in Touch of Frost. But I feel to get the full feel for Gwen and some of the other characters and the Mythos Academy the books should be read in order. Touch of Frost was an excellent book. And Kiss of Frost is an outstanding follow-up. Now if June will hurry up and get here so I can enjoy Dark Frost as well. I am enamored with the world of the Mythos Academy and how down-to-earth Gwen Frost really is. I think Ms. Estep has created a character that everyone can relate to in Gwen in a mythological world and that makes it fun and interesting and definitely keeps me reading.(less)
I liked this book. Chanti has quite a chip on her shoulder, but it's what I would expect. Her mom's a vice cop and she can't tell anyone. She lives on...moreI liked this book. Chanti has quite a chip on her shoulder, but it's what I would expect. Her mom's a vice cop and she can't tell anyone. She lives on a street that is almost the bad part of town but not quite. She seems to have lost her best friend and a new friend over the summer. Her mom watches her like a hawk because of her job and cares who Chanti hangs out with and that is the reason that Chanti has ended up at Langdon Prep. And at Langdon Prep it seems that the Headmistress has it out for her as well. The only good thing in Chanti's life is fellow scholarship student Marco.
Chanti was smart but still the typical teenager. She seems to have learned a lot from her mom. I like that her mom is involved in her life even if they have to keep what her mom does secret because of the nature of being a vice cop. I was intrigued by the mystery elements of the book and even though they really didn't pick up until half way through the book, the first half was still great with setting up the characters and learning the background. I never felt bogged down like you sometimes do in first books in a series. Ms. Reid was able to keep the book flowing from the information and getting-to-know the character stage to the trying to solve the mystery stage very well.
As I mentioned before Chanti still manages to be a typical teenager, she is caught up in liking Marco and it clouds her judgement. Also picking friends clouds her judgment. She doesn't always make the right decisions and sometimes there are consequences. I also like that the pieces didn't fall into perfect place for her. It did take some work and some effort and some help from others. She drew from what she learned from her mom and help from others. I'm not saying the mystery element was perfect, but it was a lot of fun for me. There aren't a lot of contemporary non-paranormal mystery young adult books out there so I think this definitely fills a niche. I look forward to future installments as well to get to know Chanti and the others from Langdon Prep more.
If you like character-driven mysteries then this is a great book for you. I'm a sucker for private school novels, especially where someone less fortunate (poor) gets to go there. I always pull for them. My first exposure to this was Kate Brian's Private series. While My Own Worst Frenemy is very different from that series, I see myself sticking with the Langdon Prep series as long as it goes on because it has a story I am interested in along with characters that intrigue me. I enjoyed Ms. Reid's writing and look forward to the second installment, Creeping With the Enemy in May of 2012.(less)
I was excited to read book #2 in the Rock Star Chronicles, my review of Book #1, Dark Star can be found here. Full Tilt did not disappoint.
Mr. Mapes u...moreI was excited to read book #2 in the Rock Star Chronicles, my review of Book #1, Dark Star can be found here. Full Tilt did not disappoint.
Mr. Mapes uses more of the back and forth writing to keep the story interesting, this time going back and forth between the characters instead of back and forth between times. And while the focus is still mainly on Everett, Full Tilt starts to include more of Everett's family as well.
It's definintely a wild ride and at times scarier than some of the horror books out there. As a mom, I find "meth" a terrifying drug. We actually had the first "meth" bust in our county just down the road from my house (we live in a rural area and thankfully drugs aren't a huge problem yet). But meth is just bad and Mr. Mapes emphasizes that in this book. Everett is back in this book trying to walk the Christian walk and do all he can to bring others to know Jesus including his brother, Eddie and his family who are still in shambles dealing with his son's death. It's heart-wrenching at times and at others you just really want to smack Eddie and Sheila (and that's the point).
Mr. Mapes has done another great job crafting interesting characters and making a captivating and believable plot that kept me turning the pages. The action was so great at times I had a very hard time putting the book down. I felt very invested in the characters and look forward to the next installment in the series. I think Mr. Mapes does a great job crafting the story around a Christian theme. The Christian element never seems forced. I enjoyed the book as a whole and cannot wait for my tour stop for book #3 next month.(less)