Two Spells by Mark Morrison

51fuRmKahML Twins Sarah and John are off to Wales for the summer to stay with the grandparents they’ve barely met. Almost immediately, even before the family has reached their destination, it’s clear that the area of their mother’s birth isn’t ordinary. A werewolf in the road, a fortress named Two Spells atop a mountain, and a mysteriously dysfunctional GPS that keeps returning them to Two Spells rather than guiding them to their grandparents are merely the beginning of their adventure.

Soon the twins are completely immersed in the world of the magical library—intrigued by the library and the magic within it. Soon enough it is clear that there are forces at work that would destroy the library, and they’re right in the middle of a battle for survival: the library’s and their own.

Mark Morrison’s first book shows that he has a great love of fantasy and magical worlds and a fantastic imagination.

Although I, too, am a fantasy lover, I often found myself disoriented in the complexities of the plot of Two Spells, although your mileage may vary. I also wished that Sarah had a little more agency and a little less help from adults and magical creatures in the resolution.

Though the author puts this book at a young adult level, I’d put it at a middle grade level, as Sarah and Jon seem young for a true young adult book.

The author sent me a copy of the book in hopes of receiving a review.


Starter Zone (The Revelation Chronicles book 1)

by Chris Pavesic, 2017.

When scientists found a way for people to live forever, it seemed like a good thing. Hydrologists found that consciousness could be imprinted on a droplet of water and kept in tanks. But when the tanks were breached, disaster ensued and civilization as we know it dissolved.

Cami and her little sister, Alby, are trying to make their way out of the post-apocalyptic city in hopes of finding safety in the country. However, rain is dangerous now because each drop could contain someone’s consciousness looking for a body to house it. Combating people and nature is only the beginning of Cami and Alby’s adventure.

Starter Zone is a cracking story and a great start to an exciting new series. Full of mystery, intrigue, and high stakes, the story will pull readers in and keep them reading. Pavesic’s gaming history is clear in the writing and I think lovers of role-playing games, both virtual and IRL will especially enjoy the story.

Thanks to the generosity of the author, I had the opportunity to both read and listen to Starter Zone through the Kindle and Audible versions. The audio book is well produced and performed with varied voices, making the story and characters easy to follow. The one exception to this is the computer voice that gives results and statistics. I found that difficult to follow. Fortunately, this didn’t make it hard for me to follow the story line. All-in-all I loved having the audio book to listen to as I finished knitting my Christmas gifts.

I recommend Starter Zone to pre-teen and teen readers and to adults who like a good game-based adventure. I was quickly drawn into the story and began rooting for Cami and Albi from the first chapter. I was a bit startled at the somewhat abrupt ending to this first book of the series, but it also left me eager to read the next installment.

Chris Pavesic knows how to tell an epic story with interesting personal and ethical problems for the main character to overcome. I’ll be watching for more books in the Revelation Chronicles series.


Wilder by Lena North


FAB Publishing, 2017.

When Wilder’s mother and her grandfather die at the very same time, her life changes, and it’s her grandfather that she misses most. Wilder’s mom was devoted only to her husband and Wilder always felt like she was in the way, but Willy, Wilder’s grandfather, loved her unconditionally and spent as much time with her as he possibly could.

Wilder’s not sure how to go on without Willy in her life. She’s always tried to please her father, but received nothing in return. Then, when Willy’s will is read, Wilder learns that her mother’s husband wasn’t her father at all and her father is a mysterious man who lives in the mountains where Willy and Wilder went every winter to ski.

Wilder and her best friend Mickey go to the mountains to explore this unknown part of her life and find far more than they bargained for. Soon they’ve met a whole community of strangers who know all about them, they’re embroiled in a two thousand year old mystery, and the secrets are popping up all over. And did I mention the romance? There’s also romance.

Wilder is smart as a whip and tough. The characters in the book are interesting and flawed and I not only rooted for them while I was reading but now that I’m finished I want to know more about them. Good thing this is the first book in a series!

The fantasy is rooted in a modern world that is familiar. The characters drive cars and motorcycles and have cell phones and technology, but the physical location doesn’t match with any place in the real world, and the history of the story in no way matches history as we know it. The world building is beautiful, however, and the technology we know from the world today blends seamlessly with the fantastical elements of the story.

I would have been happy with antagonists that were a little less gullible, slightly smarter, and harder to defeat. But on the whole, the conflict was a satisfying one, and the emotional pull I felt toward the sympathetic characters more than made up for any disappointments in the antagonists.

In Wilder, Lena North wrote a fantasy that kept me up reading past my bedtime two nights in a row and had me ignoring my to-do list the final morning just so I could finish reading. I’ll definitely keep my eyes out for book number two in the Books of a Feather series.

I received a review copy of Wilder courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

the-bone-witchSourcebooks Fire, 2017.

Do you know that crushing feeling when you read the first book in a new series and reach the end and you realize that the second book isn’t even published yet, and that you’re going to have to wait? Yeah, that. And let me tell you it’s multiplied when the book you just read is an advance reader copy and that book isn’t even available for three months! On the other hand, you’ve got at least one more book coming to look forward to. That’s what I’ve been telling myself since I finished reading The Bone Witch in December – each month brings me closer to another book about Tea and her life.

In her grief at his death, twelve-year-old Tea actually raises her brother from the grave, surprising and frightening her family. After the unintended feat comes grave illness for Tea until a bone witch, or necromancer, who will be Tea’s mentor, appears to heal her. Soon Tea, her brother, and Lady Mykaela set out from Tea’s village where bone witches are feared and persecuted and travel to the city of Ankyo, the capital of Kion where Asha, including the rare bone witches, are trained.

Told in chapters that alternate between a grown and outcast Tea and the story of her apprenticeship, The Bone Witch is a captivating tale. Though I first felt somewhat disoriented by the dual perspectives in the novel, once I had a handle on the complicated world, I just sunk into the story. I so look forward to reading the upcoming books in the series!

This would make a great classroom book to book talk or begin reading with the class and then allow the kids to read on their own. A great book for fans of Abhorsen by Garth Nix or the Earthsea books by Ursula K. LeGuin. Add this one to your To Read list!