What is your reading goal this year?

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Far World: Air Keep (Book #3)

FarWorld: Air Keep (Book #3) by J. Scott Savage

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) "It's been six months since Marcus and Kyja obtained the help of the land and water elementals, but before they can secure the help from the mysterious air elementals, the two friends must first be reunited. A task easier said than done. Master Therapass is worried that trying to pull Marcus to FarWorld would put him in danger of the shadow realm, but if Marcus stays on Earth, he'll be sent back to the Philo T. Justice School for Boys instead of being able to stay on the protected grounds of the monastery. While attempting to return to FarWorld, Marcus finds himself in the Abyss of Time, facing four doors: the Is, the Was, the Will Be, and the Never Was. What he learns in that dangerous place has the potential to change his life--and Kyja's. But does he have the courage to tell her what he learned? And in FarWorld, a drought, floods, and blizzards have seized the land, hinting that perhaps there is a traitor in the elementals' midst. The Dark Circle is growing in power, and as Marcus and Kyja desperately search for the air elementals, they must first answer the question 'Is there anyone we can trust?'"

Wow. I think this third book does live up to the first two. It's full of action, adventure, deception, lies, wars, weather, a hint of love, and so much more. There are some mysteries, some new friends and old, and the ending. Had everyone else in my house not been sleeping when I finished, I think I would have screamed. Talk about a cliff-hanger, and when does book #4 come out? Hopefully soon because I'm dying over here. The characters, once again, make the book. The sacrifices Marcus and Kyja make for each other are very telling. Poor Marcus has this info. he has to live with throughout the whole book, and doesn't think he can tell Kyja. But telling her is what makes the difference in the end. Those two are so cute. They each have their limitations, but they learn to work together. You see a little of a different side of Kyja in this book. She has a temper, did you know? You also see a little more of who the enemy really is in this book. A few new allies come forward as well. Even though Tankhum is a statue, I like him a lot. I like his personality. The air elementals are very interesting and creative. They are somewhat annoying at times, but they also have a funny side to them. I liked this book, and if you enjoyed the first two in the series, you will enjoy this one.

Rating: PG+ (Fighting, wars, death (of a main character), some evil creatures)

Recommendation: 4th or 5th grade and up.

To purchase this book, click here:
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

FarWorld: Land Keep (Book #2)

FarWorld: Land Keep (Book #2) by J. Scott Savage

(Summary taken from the back of the book) "Four mythical elementals-Water, Land, Air, and Fire-have the power to save two worlds, Earth and Farworld, from a common enemy: the Dark Circle. In book two, Land Keep, Marcus and Kyja travel with Cascade, a Water Elemental, toward Land Keep, the home of the powerful and wise Land Elementals. However, their journey may end before it even begins. Land Keep is empty, deserted for at least a thousand years, and the rumor is that the creatures who once controlled all land magic are extinct. Marcus ad Kyja's only hope seems to lie in finding the Augur Well, a legendary Oracle protected by subtle traps and mind-bending trials. To succeed in their quest, Marcus and Kyja must also avoid the Keepers of the Balance, an order dedicated to redistributing magic to the rich and powerful. And they must travel far underground, where Cascade is unable to follow and where they will be unable to leap to the safety of Earth. As the Dark Circle closes around them, Marcus and Kyja are faced with the temptation of what they desire most. Sacrifices must be made, and not everyone will survive unscathed."

I think I liked this book more than the first one. I liked the tests and trials of Land Keep. I liked that Marcus and Kyja had to use their bodies and brains for each of the tests. I think the writing is a little better in this book as well. Marcus and Kyja are still what makes the book. Their characters and their relationship drive this book and series. I love that it shows how they overcome challenges and adversity even though they may have some disabilities. I love that it shows how they work together to accomplish goals. In real life we all need a support group to help us through. I'm always trying to teach my kids that by working together they can accomplish more, quicker, and this book is a great example of that. The evil guys get a little more evil and a little scarier, but I still think the 4th-5th graders will do fine with it. The war at the end is quite intense, and I loved a lot of the twists. There were a few I wasn't too happy with....think betrayal.....but overall, I thought it fit well and brought in some foreshadowing from the first book. I was wondering what Mr. Savage would do for evil guys in the next book because....well, I won't tell you what happens, but....just you wait. The ending, oh the ending. I read it and said, "What??? No....." Then I re-read it just to make sure that is what it really said, and I read it again just in case it had changed. Unfortunately, it's a cliff-hanger surprise that took me off guard and made me very mad. Suffice it to say, I MUST READ the NEXT BOOK. Luckily for me, it's under my bed. If you liked the first book, you will definitely want to read this one!

Rating: PG+ (Sword and magic fighting, war, evilness, death, death of some known characters, betrayal. No language or "physical intimacy"--except maybe a small kiss.)

Recommendation: 4th to 5th grade and up. As always, I recommend a parent reads it first because each child has different sensitivities and levels of maturity.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, April 15, 2013


Oblivion by Joseph Brown

(Summary taken from an info. sheet sent from the publisher) "A lone renegade prowling the streets, Dark Elf rogue Lazareth is arrested and thrown into the Imperial City prisons. With the empire ready to crumble, the gates of Oblivion open and demons march upon the land. Emperor Uriel Septim and his guardians, the Blades, venture into Lazareth's prison cell, to make use of a secret escape tunnel. But dark on the Emperor's trail lurks the Mythic Dawn, a cult of assassins who have already murdered the Emperor's heirs. Only the Dragonborn, in whose veins flow the Septim blood, can
relight the Dragonfires in the Temple of the One and reinforce the barriers that protect the Land of Cyrodiil. With his dying breath, the Emperor entreats Lazareth, the only one who mysteriously can walk into the demonic world of Oblivion, to destroy the Oblivion portals, find the lost heir to the Septim throne and unravel the sinister plot that threatens to destroy all of Tamriel."
I didn't know what to expect from this book, and so I was a little surprised that I liked it. It did take me a good 80 pages to get into this book because I just couldn't relate to Lazareth at all. I honestly did not like him at the beginning. After about page 80 I started to warm up to him (a little) and the storyline started to take on a different feel. In the end,  I thought the storyline was creative and the characters fairly well developed. I liked Lazareth most of the time, but there were still moments that I didn't trust him. I had mixed emotions: he had spent his entire life as a thief and worse, yet in this instance he tried to do the right thing and bring himself out of those negative habits. Had he not received the training he had from the Black Rose, he would not have had the necessary skills to even start on his journey. I hoped he would do the right thing and follow through with what the Emperor asked him to do, but I still didn't trust that he would. I thought the creatures Laz met on his journey were interesting. I thought Laz's new found powers were intriguing and scary at the same time. The Mythic Dawn characters were pure evil, along with the demons they released. Oh, I did not like them at all.
Mr. Brown's writing style uses a lot of descriptions, similes, metaphors, and descriptive words. Normally I really like descriptive writing, but there were times in this book that it was just too much and I thought it distracted from the story. I'd think, "Just get to the point!" I don't think I've ever read a book with that many similes. Some of them fit well and added to the feel of the book, but others were a stretch and were overkill.  There is some language in this book. There is also quite a bit of violence. A lot of the time Laz is fighting monsters or demons, but it is quite grahic and gory. There were some scenes that disgusted me and made me feel yucky because of the evil the characters portrayed. Although I did end up liking the book, it was not my favorite. I would recommend it with the previous warnings.
Rating: PG-13+ (Language, gory and graphic violence, death)
Recommendation: 16 and up. Maybe a little older, depending on the sensitivity of the person.
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, April 8, 2013

FarWorld: Water Keep (Book #1)

FarWorld: Water Keep (Book #1)

(Summary taken from the back book cover) "Even though thirteen-year-old Marcus Kanenas is confined to a wheelchair, he sees himself as a survivor and a dreamer. In fact, his favorite dream is of a world far away, a world where magic is as common as air, where animals tell jokes, and where trees beg people to pick their fruit. He even has a name for this place--Farworld. When Marcus magically travels to Farworld, he meets Kyja, a girl without magic in a world where spells, charms, and potions are everywhere, and Master Therapass, a master wizard who has kept a secret hidden for thirteen years, a secret that could change the fate of the two worlds. But the Dark Circle has learned of Master Therapass's secret and their evil influence and power are growing. Farworld's only hope is for Marcus and Kyja to find the mythical Elementals--water, land, air, and fire--and convince them to open a drift between the two worlds. As Kyja and Marcus travel to Water Keep, they must face the worst the evil Dark Circle can throw at them--Summoners, who can command the living and the dead; Unmakers, invisible creatures that can destroy both body and soul; and dark mages known as Thrathkin S'Bae. Along the way, Marcus and Kyja will discover the truth about their own heritage, the strength of their friendship, and the depths of their unique powers."

What a fun surprise! I hadn't heard anything about this book or series when I was asked to review them, and I'm glad I did! I really enjoyed this book, and I know my 4th and 5th graders will also enjoy it. They're already begging me to read it. Don't worry, I'll hand it over as soon as I finish my review. The book is written well. There are some fun and some scary surprises, and some interesting twists and turns. I think it flows well and is easy to read and understand. Some of the names are difficult to pronounce (Thrathkin S'Bae......take your guess at that one......), but it adds to the mystery and tension in the book. I liked the characters and thought Mr. Savage did a good job developing them, especially Marcus and Kyja. Master Therapass reminded me a lot of Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. He can be quirky and fun and magicky (yes, I just made up that word.....), yet he can also be serious and get down to business. He is very protective of his two young friends. I liked how Mr. Savage tied in each of the character's pasts, and how they fit together. Marcus and Kyja are so young, but they work together and accomplish some great things. I like that although each of them has a "disability," they work hard to overcome their shortcomings and use ingenuity to discover new ways of doing things. I like that they are both strong characters. The villans in this book are scary, to say the least. Huge snakes are not my idea of fun, and I hope I never meet anyone named Bonesplitter.

Although scary and somewhat violent in parts, this book is clean. There is no language and no intimacy. There is violenc (bullying and fighting against some evil characters). It's not too gory or disgusting. It's about the level of the Percy Jackson books. I really enjoyed this book and do recommend it with the above warnings.

Rating: PG+ (Some violence: bullying and fighting and some evil characters)

Recommendation: 4th grade and up. I am a lot older than 4th grade and I enjoyed it, so I think it has elements that older age groups will enjoy as well.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.