Far Turn (North Oak: Book 5) by Ann Hunter


Far Turn (North Oak Book 5)

Title: Far Turn

Author: Ann Hunter

Publisher: Rebel House Ink

Date of publication: May 4th, 2017

Genre: Young Adult

Number of pages: 184

POV: 3rd person

Series: North Oak

Born to Run – Book 1 (review here)

Yearling – Book 2 (review here)

Morning Glory – Book 3 (review here)

To Bottle Lightning – Book 4 (review here)

Far Turn – Book 5

Where you can find Far Turn: Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

A silent killer has come to North Oak.

EHV is taking the lives of the farm’s best and brightest. Alex, Brooke, and Dejado must team together to save Promenade and Morning Glory, or be devastated by the virus.
Already rocked by Carol’s absence over the summer, Alex’s time with Dejado kindles first romance. But when Carol returns at summer’s end, she’s grown up and Alex is forced to question her own feelings for her.
Furthermore, Brad Hopkins is still up to no good, and after a close friend of the girls’ commits suicide from his bullying, it’s up to Alex to bring him down once and for all.
Or will Brad uncover her own secret and send Alex into a dark, downward spiral where Carol and Dejado cannot follow?

Find out in Far Turn

My review:

Far Turn is one of those books that left me going “Wow” at the end of it. I was warned, by Ann, that this book was a bit darker than her other ones but I wasn’t expecting what I read. When I finished the book, last night, I turned to BK and went “This book just blew my mind“. I actually couldn’t get this book out of my head for the rest of the night, it affected me that much.

Alex had kind of a rough start to the book. Promenade was brought home from his last race and almost immediately fell ill with a deadly virus called EHV (click for definition). EHV spreads through North Oak like wildfire, taking horses out left and right. Alex lived at the stables, leaning on Hilary and Dejado for support when he was struck with a different strain of the virus that was brought back by Morning Glory (aka Mags). Horses are dying from this virus and both Alex and Brooke are willing to do anything to help their horses survive. I was so upset when Chauncey was put down and when  Venus Galaxies foal died.

Alex’s friendships with Katie, Carol, Brooke, Laura, and Dejado were put to the test also. Her friendship with Katie because of Katie’s confession that she liked Alex in a romantic way and there was another confession that honestly made me very mad…considering the events later in the book. Alex’s friendship with Carol because of Carol visiting her grandmother over the summer and again, another confession that actually took me by surprise because I didn’t see it coming. Her friendship with Brooke because of Prom getting better and Mags was doing bad but that righted itself. Her friendship with Laura because well, Laura was being emotional and there was other stuff going on that I can’t get into without revealing stuff (read the book). And lastly, her relationship with Dejado because of his feelings for her.

The whole bullying situation with Brad, which goes back to book 2, gets worse in Far Turn. I do admire that Alex was secure enough with herself to not let Brad’s bullying affect her. I also thought that school’s handling of Brad was very realistic. I have 2 kids, one which was relentlessly bullied from 1st grade to 3rd grade and I can tell you, the school did jack and actually made excuses for my daughter’s bullies (it was a group thing)….like the principal did for Brad. Her bullying ended when we moved but in Alex’s (and Carol and Katie’s) case, moving wasn’t an option. And unfortunately, his bullying and harassment of Katie took a very tragic turn. I will include a link to an antibullying site at the end of the blog (if you are reading this on Amazon….sorry it won’t show and just google).

I also liked how Alex’s sexuality was handled. For the last couple of books, I did have questions if she was a lesbian or if she liked guys. Her summertime romance with Dejado and her feelings for Carol now point at maybe her being bisexual. And like I said with the other books, her sexuality is not the focus of the book. The focus is on the horses, Alex, and her friendships. That she has strong feelings for Carol and Dejado is just another aspect of the story that actually flushes Alex out as a character.

Alex’s jockeying journey was never its end. I can’t wait to see if/when she’ll get her license and I can’t wait to read about her riding. The training sounded very painful (this is coming from an overweight, middle-aged woman….lol) but it was worth it for her. She lived and breathed horses and jockeying was a natural next step.

The ending of the book was very unexpected and to be honest, I cried. Now, I was warned by the author that something was going to happen but I wasn’t expecting that. While it was very dark, it actually fit with this book and I can’t wait to see where the books go from then on. The only small complaint that I had was that the book ended on a cliffhanger. Like I said above, I closed my Kindle and said “Wow” because the ending just blew me away.

I never do this but the author’s note at the end of the book took my breath away. Again, to reiterate what she said, no one deserves to be bullied. Please, if you are being bullied, tell someone. A friend, a parent, a teacher or a trusted adult. You are not alone and you do not deserve to be treated that way. No one does. If you witness bullying, do not stay silent. Tell a trusted adult what is going on or report it. You can make a difference!!

StopBullying.gov

How many stars will I give Far Turn: 4

Why: Relatable characters and great plotlines.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Older Teen

Why: Violence. This is a dark book that has some triggers in it: Bullying and suicide are the two main ones.

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

Tales from Ara: Into The Unknown by Irena de Wardin and Isabella de Wardin


Tales From Ara: Into the Unknown

Title: Tales from Ara: Into The Unknown

Author: Isabella and Irena De Wardin

Publisher: AFNIL- ISBN (International Standard Book Number)

Date of publication: March 9th, 2017

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Number of pages: 451

Where you can find Tales from Ara: Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

Single and hopelessly romantic, Harlette is your everyday girl who dreams only of two things: falling in love and finding her place in the world.
Her relatively uneventful life takes an unexpected turn when she is transported into another world, Ara, without so much as an explanation or even a decent pair of trousers.
Wearing nothing but underwear and stilettos, she finds herself in Nimrod’s forest, just to be captured by the elven king Karayan and his guard. Nimrod is Ara’s strongest kingdom, and Karayan is the most powerful of elves.
Despite developing a keen interest in her, humans are a rare sighting in Ara and usually a bad omen; this makes Karayan suspicious of Harlette and even, disagreeable…
Thrown into the middle of a rising interdimensional war, marked as a trespasser and with no way of returning home, Harlette is dragged into a series of adventures and soon finds out that this fairy tale – no matter how cruel or beautiful – is no longer the fruit of her imagination. Love is not as easy as it is in romance novels and she will need to harden her heart and mind if she wishes to survive the upcoming whirlwind of events that will befall her.
Will Harlette discover the purpose behind her sudden arrival in Ara, and will she be strong enough to face the challenges thrown at her?

My Review

I enjoyed reading Tales from Ara. The overall plot, which reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, was great at first. Young, innocent girl falls through a mirror into a strange land and ends up having the adventure of a lifetime while trying to figure out why she ended up in Ara. I loved it and couldn’t read those chapters fast enough. Then Karayan found her and the plot started to get a little less great. By the end of the book, I was a confused mess because the plotline did so many switches that my head was spinning.

While Harlette was one of my favorite characters in the book, she also kind of annoyed me. She came across, in some scenes, as amazingly immature and she kept getting herself into situations that made me go “Seriously why didn’t you listen!!”. She was also very naïve and didn’t heed the advice of Karayan or Bernard, her cat. But, like I said, I did enjoy her character. She was kind and she believed the best in people. She also brought out the best in her companions….mainly Karayan.

Oh, let’s talk about Karayan. Honestly, I thought he was a controlling jerk who kept jerking Harlette around by her emotions. But there were some glimmers of a decent elf underneath all of that. He cared about his people/kingdom and would do anything to keep them safe and I also think that he did care for Harlette, even though she was a human. Again, glimmers and if the author could extract those out, I think the next book would be 100% better.

The whole storyline with Christine was well weird and I couldn’t get into it. I wish that more was given into Christine’s background, other than being Harlette’s foster-sister. I mean, it is revealed that she is a witch, that has almost no powers, and she is the one who sent Harlette into Ara. When I say that the storyline is weird, it is almost like it was put in there to fill in space because, to be very blunt, other than revealing the identity or Harlette’s mother and father, it added nothing to the storyline. Also, she and Harlette’s parents kept referring to Harlette as “The Daughter” but no explanation was given, which drove me absolutely nuts.

The main storyline with Harlette and Karayan really threw me for a loop. I loved it up until they stumbled upon the beanstalk. Harlette and Karayan were actually getting along until she decided to take the giant queens challenge to defeat the spirit and had to get Karayan out of the chains. Which they did by sharing an amazing kiss. It was after that when Karayan decided to teach Harlette what she was missing, that the book kind of went sideways and backward. Not going to get into it but I didn’t like the total idiot Karayan became to Harlette. It bothered me on so many levels.

The ending of the book was a cliffhanger and you all know how I feel about that.

I do have some questions and a repeat of one already asked above that I hope will be answered in book 2:

*Why are the mantises so bad? I know that it was touched upon in the book but I am beginning to think that there is a more personal reason that Karayan doesn’t like them

*Why did Harlette’s parents leave her on Earth? Just saying, because now, my opinion of them isn’t that great.

*Who is Christine, really?

and the burning question that I really wanted to be answered:

*Why is Harlette called The Daughter!!

How many stars will I give Tales from Ara: 3

Why: While I did say that I liked the story (I did), what brought my rating down from the 4 that would have given it to a 3 is this: I couldn’t relate to Harlette or Karayan. Also, I was left very confused by the end of the book. Not because of the cliffhanger but because of the 180 Karayan did with Harlette. It confused the heck out of me.

Will I reread: Maybe

Will I recommend to family and friends: Maybe

Age range: Adult

Why: Violence and one very explicit sexual scene

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

To Bottle Lightening (North Oak: Book 4) by Ann Hunter


To Bottle Lightning (North Oak #4)

Title: To Bottle Lightning

Author: Ann Hunter

Publisher: Rebel House Ink

Date of publication: September 30th, 2016

Genre: Young Adult

Number of pages: 156

POV: 3rd person

Series: North Oak

Born to Run – Book 1 (review here)

Yearling – Book 2 (review here)

Morning Glory – Book 3 (review here)

To Bottle Lightning – Book 4

Where you can find To Bottle Lightning: Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

Alex is almost fifteen and convinced she’s ready to train for jockeyhood. Only one man stands in her way: North Oak’s gruff old trainer, Joe Hendricks.
Joe doesn’t think Alex can handle the demands of being a real rider– she’s reckless, doesn’t follow instructions, and not exactly humble.
Dejado Augustun, on the other hand, is already licensed to ride, does as he’s asked, and does it well.
He drives Alex nuts.
No way can this Dejado guy be a match for Promenade in the upcoming Breeders Cup Juvenile. It would be easier to hate him if he weren’t so darn nice. Worst of all for Alex, he likes her, and Promenade likes him.

Can Alex overcome her pride and realize she may not be the rider Promenade needs?

My review:

To Bottle Lightning answered a lot of questions that I had leading up to it. Questions that I posted at the end of my review for Morning Glory. Questions that I was happy to find out, were answered in To Bottle Lightning.

I was really happy to see that Alex had come a long was as a person in this series. She is still battling her demons, though, and I was waiting for someone to tell her to get help. Well, color me surprised when not only did Cade and Hilary bring it up but Carol did too. I wanted to cheer when I read that scene. For Hilary to bring it up to her actually meant something to me. It meant that Hilary cared.

What I also liked was that Alex was finally getting answers to her questions. She wanted to know why Cade and Hilary weren’t adopting her and they kept telling her to ask North. Well, North wasn’t answering that question and Hilary finally had enough. She brought Alex to North and told him to answer her questions and left. Which he did and surprised Alex. If you had read Born to Run, then you already knew the secret. But I’m not going to ruin the surprise. Read the books to find out. Oh and I thought his answer why things were left the way they were was bullsh*t. Pardon my French but it was.

I also liked that the author made Alex’s friendships realistic. Her friendship with Carol, which was wonderful, hit a bumpy patch when they started high school. Alex met another girl and Carol started spending time with Dejado…..the jockey that came in between Brooke and Alex’s friendship in Morning Glory. But what I liked, even more, was that Alex was questioning her sexuality and it was done in a way that didn’t take away from the book. She was attracted to her new friend and she also had feelings for Dejado. Even her new friend asked her if she liked girls and Alex couldn’t really answer that question. I loved it!!

Speaking of Dejado, I really liked him but felt he was put in an unfair position with Brooke. Brooke had a huge crush on him and he knew it but he liked Alex. He was very honest about it with Brooke but it did end up hurting her and damaging her relationship with Alex and Dejado. Meanwhile, Alex could care less about Dejado and let him know it. Why he kept on chasing after he is beyond me but I figured because he’s a teenage boy and that’s what they do. But with Alex’s new feelings towards him, I smell romance in the air. Or could the romance be with Carol, who is getting driving lessons from him?

As with Morning Glory, part of this book focuses on a different character. This time, it is Joe. His chapters went back from the time he met Dot, his wife, to when he was offered a job at North Oaks to when Dot was diagnosed and eventually passed away from cancer to when Rowan, Brooke’s mother, showed up pregnant, at his doorstep shortly after Dot’s funeral. What got me was how deeply he cared about everyone, including Alex. That was not something I was expecting when I read his chapters. It made me feel bad for him and I kind of wished that he would open up to Brooke about how he cared about her.

I did think that Alex training to be a jockey was a great move on North’s end. She was a natural rider and she had talent. Her only issue was that she was 15 and she wasn’t trained. So having Brooke, Alex’s frenemy, was a good choice. The two girls actually bonded, which I liked. They had so much going on in their friendship that it was tough to read their scenes. Then Joe took over and Alex started bonding with him too. It was weird to read that because Joe was so against Alex in the first few books.

The end of the book was a nail biter, for sure but I loved it. I am so ready to read book 5, it isn’t even funny. I do have a couple of questions that I hope are answered in book 5:

Will Alex ever race? (the most important one)

Will she have to choose between Katie or Dejado?

Will Brooke ever get over Dejado?

How many stars will I give To Bottle Lightning: 4

Why: Another great installment in the North Oaks series. Great plot lines, great characters

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Young Adult

Why: Mild language.

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

Morning Glory (North Oak: Book 3) by Ann Hunter


Morning Glory (North Oak, #3)

Title: Morning Glory

Author: Ann Hunter

Publisher: Rebel House Ink

Date of publication: February 5th, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Middle Grade

Number of pages: 184

POV: 3rd person

Series: North Oak

Born to Run – Book 1 (review here)

Yearling – Book 2 (review here)

Morning Glory – Book 3

To Bottle Lightning – Book 4

Where you can find Morning Glory: Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

Sequel to Born to Run and Yearling

Can Alex & Brooke help Morning Glory overcome her racing slump?

When a terrible accident shakes the Showmans, Alex finds herself questioning her place in the family. Feeling like a second class citizen, she turns once again to find her solace in horse racing.
With a new filly to manage with Brooke, and Venus Galaxies’s first foal on the way, the girls must rely on each other to make things work out.
But will a handsome, foreign newcomer split them apart once again?

Find out in MORNING GLORY

To learn more about Morning Glory, check out this cool video by former jockey, Frankie Lavato:

My review:

Morning Glory picks up shortly after the events of Yearling. What I liked is that instead of focusing solely on Alex, the book shifts focus to Brooke and examines her relationship with Alex (which had been touched upon in the first two books), Laura and her grandfather, Joe….who is the head trainer at North Oaks. I thought that it was great that Brooke’s story got to be told in tandem with Alex’s because they shared so many similarities. The only thing is that Brooke was raised with love and Alex, well, if you read Born to Run, you know what happened to her.

Alex was still the wise guy as in the first 3 books but she was settling in with Cade, Hilary, and Laura. She was part of a family, something that she never had before and she was coming out of her shell. She even had a best friend (and I will get into more of her relationship with Carol a little later). Then there was a horrible accident involving Laura, and Alex was there (she didn’t cause it). Even though she saved Laura’s life, she was still shunted off to the side while Cade and Hilary dealt with every parent’s worse nightmare. I felt awful for her during those scenes because she went from being included and loved to being ignored by the person she needed the most.

Speaking of that, I really wanted to smack Hilary upside the head. What the heck was she thinking and it was almost like she blamed Alex for the accident. No words of thank for Alex, who dragged Laura out of a burning car. Just a cold shoulder and she freaked out on Alex two separate times, almost injuring Alex once when she pulled Alex from Prom. I seriously got mad and Cade explanation didn’t cut it. It took Alex taking a personal item and giving it back to Hilary while freaking out on her to wake Hilary up.

Alex’s friendship with Carol was a beautiful thing to read. Carol loved her unconditionally and wasn’t afraid to tell Alex that she needed to face her demons before they got worse and consumed her. I just couldn’t get a grip on how Alex felt about Carol. I didn’t know if it was romantic love or friendship love. There were a few scenes where it seemed like romantic love (because of the way they were written) but then it would morph into a more friendship like love. Not that it had any bearing on the story but it was definitely something that I was wondering about as I read it. And for the record, even if Alex turned out to like girls, I would let my 11-year-old read the book. As I tell her, “Who a person loves doesn’t define them. Their actions do, so never a judge a person by who they love

Alex’s PTSD and her survivor’s guilt came across very strong in this book also. My heart bled for her when Carol found her in her room on the 4th of July, hiding from the fireworks. I could not understand why she wasn’t put into therapy after the first book. She was dealing with everything by herself, well with Carol’s help, and I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. But again, it goes back to the theme I talked about it Yearling, about her issues not magically going away and to be honest, it was refreshing to read a book where everything was out in the open and the character was struggling to come to terms with her traumatic events (and yes, I phrased something very similar in Yearling‘s review).

I like I said above, I liked that Brooke got some love in this book and I liked how similar she was to Alex, in ways. She was independent and was able to make adult decisions at the age of 16. She also took care of her grandfather, Joe and made sure that his drinking didn’t get out of control. She was also a great trainer in training (mouthful much). But she was a teenager and made decisions that are well, teenager like. Like taking her earnings and buying a racehorse who was a dud. While I thought Joe was a jerk, because of how he treated Alex but there is a back story there, I thought he was right in telling Brooke that she needed to find another place to board Morning Glory. I also thought that North was right to do what he did towards the end of the book.

The end of the book was pretty standard and like Yearling, it did leave the book open for book 4. There are a few questions that I want to be answered that will, hopefully, be answered in book 4. Like, will Alex ever find out who North is to her? Will Joe ever accept Alex? Will Dejado make an appearance in book 4 and will he ever be more to Brooke? So many questions!!!

How many stars will I give Morning Glory: 4

Why: Complex characters and an engaging storyline kept me reading until late into the night.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Early teen

Why: Mild language

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

Yearling (North Oak: Book 2) by Ann Hunter


Yearling (North Oak #2)

Title: Yearling

Author: Ann Hunter

Publisher: Rebel House Ink

Date of publication: October 1st, 2015

Genre: Young Adult, Middle Grade

POV: 3rd person

Series: North Oak

Born to Run – Book 1 (review here)

Yearling – Book 2

Morning Glory – Book 3

To Bottle Lightning – Book 4

Where you can find Yearling: Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

A new year has come to North Oak and with it a new life for Alexandra Anderson. Will she be able to open her heart to others when it’s still battling demons from her past? Or will she go so deep into herself where no one can touch her, and risk losing Promenade in the Keeneland Yearling Sale?

Don’t miss this sequel to North Oak #1: Born to Run!

On the heels of Joanna Campbell’s beloved Thoroughbred Series, and Walter Farley’s Black Stallion comes a brand new young adult horse racing series that will sweep you away like a runaway Thoroughbred.

EXCERPT:
“I should be happy,” Alex sighed. “These folks, they’re real nice. For the first time in my life, I’m wanted. Well, they say that they want me. I almost feel needed sometimes. I don’t have to steal food anymore, or run away from what I’ve done, I’ve even got a warm bed. But the fact is… when I think of Ashley, I just want her back and nothing else. I want a life she exists in. And wanting that… it spoils what I have. I feel so ungrateful when I think of the life we could have made if we ran away from Haven together like we planned. I feel ungrateful because I would rather have a life on the streets with Ashley than a warm bed and you. I mean who in their right mind wants something like that? There’s something wrong with me.”

My review:

I am always on the hunt for a good middle-grade book for my 9 and 11-year-olds. Mainly my 11-year-old, who is an insatiable reader. So when Ann approached me to review Yearling, I gladly accepted. I am glad I did because this book was fantastic. There was no sophomore slump and honestly, that along with the vivid characters and background is what sold me on the book. Also, what sold me, was that it is a great book for anyone 11 and older (and the main reason I read it).

Alex, I wanted to reach through the book and give her a hug and tell her “It will be alright”. I am glad that the author made her as flawed as she did because it made her more relatable. I also liked that the author showed that traumatic events and losses (if you want to know what…read Born to Run) aren’t magically healed in between books. But, the author also showed how animals, in this case, a yearling named Promenade, can help a person with their healing….along with a support system and people who love unconditionally.

Now, saying what I said above, Alex was a very funny, sarcastic tween. Looking at my tween, I can say that the author is dead on with the mannerisms and attitude that Alex had. Gave me some really good laughs when I was reading. The biggest laugh was when Alex started her monthly and thought she was dying. I was outside and started laughing my butt off. Then when Hilary finds out and finds out that Alex doesn’t know anything about puberty or even had “The Talk“, she goes into Mom mode big time. Which included having Alex watch “A League of Their Own“(which personally is one of my favorite movies) and that becomes a running joke through the rest of the series. Also, Alex’s sex ed lesson was very interesting as was her reaction….lol.

The friendship storyline was fantastic and I like how the author took the time for Alex and Carol to build up their friendship. It went from Alex keeping her at arm’s length to embracing her as a friend and she was willing to do anything to protect her. Which meant standing up to Carol’s bully.

Now, I will be the first one to admit, I know nothing about Thoroughbred racing, racing farms or horses so I loved that the author explained everything in the book in ways that were understandable and interesting. From the stud services (see, I know that much…haha) to foaling to training the yearlings to training the racehorses, everything was explained in a way that never made you go “Eh”. Instead, it makes you go “Oh, well that makes sense”.

The end of the book really didn’t feel like an ending. While certain storylines were wrapped up, new ones were revealed and there are old ones that weren’t wrapped up. There was definitely an opening for book 3 (Morning Glory) and I will be posting my review of that soon!!

How many stars will I give Yearling: 4

Why: A wonderfully written middle grade book that actually brings to mind The Black Stallion series. I loved the plotlines, the characters…everything about the book.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Young Teen

Why: Mild cursing, no sex or violence

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light by Jaimie Engel


Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light

Title: Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light

Author: Jaimie M. Engle

Publisher: JME Books

Date of publication, September 24th, 2013

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy

POV: 3rd person

Where you can find Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light: Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

Clifton Chase is the latest target for bully Ryan Rivales. But after he finds a mysterious arrow in his closet, he takes Ryan’s bet to see who can hit the target. Ryan nails the bull’s-eye, but Clifton’s piece of junk arrow sails out of sight and when he finally finds it, something isn’t right. Somehow, Clifton has been magically transported back to 1485 England, where he meets two princes bullied by their tyrant uncle who locked them in prison to steal their throne. Only after Clifton learns the true meaning of friendship, bravery, and sacrifice can he help the princes escape and find the courage to face his own bully. Befriended by a dwarf, a mythical bird called Simurgh, and a cast of comical characters, Clifton’s fantasy adventure through medieval times is perfect for boys and girls of all ages, and the young at heart. For those who like fantasy kids books like Percy Jackson and Harry Potter.

My review:

I was setting up to review Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light and my 11-year-old happened to wander over and was looking over my shoulder. She was very excited after reading the blurb and begged me to buy the book for her once I was done reading it. I asked her what made her want to read it and she said “Mom, just read the blurb. A bullied boy gets transported back in time and help other bullied boys. Sounds like something I would love to read.

I would have to agree with her about that. Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light was a book that I loved reading. Wonderfully written, I was taken on a journey of self-discovery and courage and Clifton realizes his worth and gets the courage to do what is right.

I will admit that Clifton was a little bratty in the beginning of the book. To be honest, I thought his first interactions with Ryan were more about jealousy than being bullied and he started to annoy me….big time. But the more I read, the more I started to understand that Ryan was being a bully and my annoyance with Clifton started to fade. By the time I got to the part of the book where Clifton’s parents were making him write an apology letter to the coach and Ryan, my annoyance faded and I felt bad for him.

I thought that the historical fantasy part of the book was fantastic. From the minute Clifton landed in 1485 England and met Dane, I was entranced. There were dwarves, dragons, sea monsters, mermaids, a magical arrow and a magical bird who has a human face. Add in that it takes place in 1485 England with real historical people, places, and events and I couldn’t get enough of it.

I did have a small complaint about the modern language that Clifton used with talking to Prince Edward, Prince Richard, and Lady Elizabeth. But, then I thought about it a bit and how was he supposed to talk. He was a visitor sent back in time….how was he supposed to talk? So my little complaint ended shortly after I had that thought.

The growth of Clifton in the book was great. He went from being an insecure little boy who didn’t know how to deal with a bully to a confident young man who had the wisdom to know when to walk away from his bully. While the transformation was gradual, it really showed at the end of the book with the choices that Clifton made both in his life in Melbourne, Florida and in 1485 England.

Speaking of the end of the book, I really liked it and I also liked that the author chose to leave it with the possibility that there could be a book 2. Which I hope there is because I can’t wait to see what adventures Clifton will go on next.

How many stars will I give Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light: 4

Why: This is a book that I would feel very comfortable letting both my 9-year-old and 11-year-old read. It has a great plot line with relatable characters.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Tween

Why: mild violence but otherwise a very clean book.  I will add a trigger warning because of the bullying scenes.

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

The Archbishop’s Amulet (The Windhaven Chronicles)by Watson Davis


The Archbishop's Amulet: The Windhaven Chronicles by [Davis, Watson]

Title: The Archbishop’s Amulet

Author: Watson Davis

Publisher: Unknown

Date of publication: April 17th, 2016

Genre: Dark Fantasy

Number of pages: 334

POV: Alternating 1st person and 3rd person

Series: The Windhaven Chronicles

The Devil’s Library – review here

Not Dead Enough – review here

The Archbishop’s Amulet

Where you can find The Archbishop’s Amulet: Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

On the frontier of the Nayen empire, the last few human kingdoms cling to independence, and the Onei hide in their wastelands. The Nayen armies, a military force supplemented with creatures summoned from a list of hells, batter the human defenders while the newly built Nayen monasteries sacrifice conquered souls to the infernal realms to pacify their subjects.

Caldane, a young Onei shaman enslaved when his clan was destroyed, a survivor of several sacrifices, yearns to return to his homeland to find a new clan, until he learns his mother’s fate. Aissal, an idealistic blue-skinned coulven lass who chose to come to this world to fight the evil spreading through the realms, finds herself captured and alone in a world she does not understand. Rucker, a young southlander boy from Timyiskil, wants to go back to his family at the brewery and have things go back to the way they used to be.

Overseer Fi Cheen, a Nayen monk with his career path on his mind, tracks the escaped slaves across the southlander kingdoms to Windhaven. General Esmela Silverhewer, a Giantess from the realm of Stone, revels in her charge of conquering the human kingdoms and killing every last Onei on the planet, a commission straight from the Empress herself.

But when Caldane escapes, he takes more than a few useless slaves with him; he takes the Archbishop’s Amulet, a powerful magical item central to the Nayen spells used to remove the hopes and dreams of the subjugated populace.

My Review:

Dark Fantasy has been a long time favorite genre of mine to read. I actually started reading this genre around 2000. I had picked up Daughter of The Blood by Anne Bishop at Barnes and Nobles, thinking it was regular fantasy and ended up getting hooked. While I have expanded my view, greatly, on reading different genres, dark fantasy is and always will be one of my favorites to read.

The Archbishop’s Amulet is another great book written by Watson Davis. Told several generations after The Devil’s Library but before Not Dead Enough, it brings you full force into the Nayen Empire and their desire to wipe out all who oppose the Empress. It also tells a tale of a people who will fight the Empress and the Empire to their last breath. I really enjoyed, as I did in the last couple of books, how the author intermingled Asian and Norse mythology. Like in The Devil’s Library, it made for a very interesting book to read. Just the differences in the religions alone were fascinating to read.

Caldane was such a strong young man. To survive what he survived, no wonder he didn’t want to make friends or feel anything for anyone. He was just trying to survive in a world where he could die any minute and if he didn’t, any friends would die. So, I was a little surprised when he decided to take Rucker along with him and when he went back to get him after almost being free. Which resulted in him getting caught again and resulted in another sacrifice.

I didn’t understand the purpose of the sacrifices until that scene and I was sickened by it. But when it went horribly wrong and Caldane, Aissal, Rucker and Cole were freed, I cheered. I cheered, even more, when Caldane took the amulet off of the Archbishop. The only reason I cheered was because I knew that amulet would play a huge role in the book. And I was right but you need to read the book to find out.

I did get annoyed by Aissal, Rucker, and Cole. Cole was beyond aggressive, Rucker was just annoying and Aissal was too optimistic. Even after everything that happened, two of them still got into shenanigans and wouldn’t listen to Caldane. Which made me want to rip my hair out of my head and smack a couple of kids upside the head. But then I got to thinking about it and they were acting like typical tween/teenagers…even though they were on the run and their behavior made since.

The other storyline with Fi Cheen and General Silverhewer was very interesting. Very interesting because General Silverhewer was bribing Fi Cheen to get more money and Fi Cheen was going along with it because he wanted the slaves and the amulet back. Also added into the mix was that General Silverhewer had an ace up her sleeve when it came to the kids and she wasn’t afraid to use it.

The storylines were wrapped up perfectly at the end of the book, leaving Caldane’s open. I really hope that the author is planning on writing another book in this world because I loved it. He did such great world building and adding that the worlds are multidimensional, yeah, I need to read another one. I am actually hoping that Aissal’s people get a book because I would love to know more about them. Blue skinned, white-haired witches from another dimension….sigh me up!!

How many stars will I give The Archbishop’s Amulet: 4

Why: Again, another great book by Watson Davis. It has a great plot, characters that grow on you and enough action that I will be satisfied for a few weeks. Plus, don’t forget that it’s a fantasy, so there is magic all around!!

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Adult

Why: Violence.

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**