This charming YA fantasy is the story of Alora, a 15-year-old who lives in snowy Montana and has a mysterious jewel in her belly button. To make things even livelier, she starts having visions of a cute (of course!) guy while she’s in the shower. She soon discovers that she is a bearer from another realm and her evil father is searching for her.
The story sweeps from Montana to Laegenshire and back many times as Alora and her soulmate, Kaevin, attempt to save the lives of their family and friends and keep the evil Vindrake from destroying Stone Clan.
This story is well written and well edited and makes for a fun read. Dearen has created engaging, lovable characters that you can’t help rooting for. In a nice break from the traditional YA trope of no-parents allowed, both Alora and Kaevin have to deal with the various adults in their lives and their sometimes over-protective ways. I look forward to reading the rest of the series soon.
Overall recommendation: 5 stars. You can’t go wrong with this one!
In The Lost Heirs, A. Moran-Smoley has created a world of adventure and secrets, where things are not always what they seem. 14 year-old Eric is just trying to stay out of trouble at his boarding school when he finds himself sucked into a mysterious world called Eshla. Joel, the reluctant prince of this strange new land, needs Eric’s help to retrieve the missing stones that will free his brothers from their rock prisons; only an earthling can travel back and forth between the two worlds. Eric enlists the help of his three friends and travels back in time to 1927 to retrieve the first stone.
What I Like:
I’m a huge fan of British boarding school stories, so this one grabbed me from the get-go. I loved the four main characters and felt like I was there with them as they struggled to find the Bel-Arayba stone. I really enjoyed how British the whole story was—hey, I’m American and things like “jumpers” and “whilst” are exotic. I found the whole story very original and engaging. The author excels at description and setting without becoming too wordy and the story was well paced.
Not So Much:
There was nothing I didn’t like in this book. It could have been longer and I wouldn’t have minded a bit. I would love to see this book hit the mainstream with professional editing, covers, movie deal, etc. It’s definitely got the potential.
Highly recommended! A fun, fast read—would be a great read-aloud with the kids! I will be on the lookout for Book 2.
Hidden Monster is the story of Samantha, a 17-year-old girl who is kidnapped and held captive for several weeks. She is kept drugged and tied to a bed by her masked kidnapper. And that’s just the first chapter! The story really gets going when she escapes and tries to return to a normal life. Her new neighbor, Blake, is more than happy to try to help her, but he’s got secrets of his own. I can’t say too much more without some major spoilers, and one of the best things about this book is the “What the what?” moment when the real story comes out. It’s a lot of fun and keeps you turning pages.
This was such an enjoyable and surprising book! I did not know what to expect when I started it and it turned out to be so much fun. Strong’s forte is in creating complex, imaginative plot lines and Hidden Monster takes you on a roller coaster ride from the very first scene. Her characters are wonderful, as well. Samantha is a strong protagonist and I was rooting for her until the very end. Blake is a truly swoon-worthy book boyfriend and I look forward to seeing how life turns out for them in the rest of the series, which I hope Ms. Strong will hurry up and write. Hint. Hint.
If you enjoy YA fantasy with more than a touch of romance, this book is definitely for you.