Author Archives: hooviesmom

Book Review: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

books_reviews2

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes is a fast-paced, engaging tale of four young people who find their fates intertwined.

falling kingdomsCleo is a princess raised in luxury who must embark on a dangerous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic that is thought to be extinct in order to save her dying sister whom she desperately loves.

Jonas is angry at the injustice served upon his neighbors and family when he suddenly finds himself the leader of a rebellion against these oppressions.

Lucia was adopted at birth into a royal family and discovers that she has a magical powers from a past that she will learn to use. A magical past that her father and his mistress have been waiting to be revealed.

And then there is Magnus, with an unnatural love for his sister that will bring out the aggressiveness and cruelty in him.

Four separate people from four separate lands whose stories overlay each other to create a tale that will leave you eagerly awaiting the next installment. This is one story that you’ll stay up all night reading.

Falling Kingdoms is in stores today.

Book Review: The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima

An action-packed conclusion to a winning fantasy series: readers, prepare yourselves for The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima.

Book 4 in the Seven Realms, The Crimson Crown offers a stunning finale to Chima’s best-selling fantasy series. Queen Raisa ana’Marianna has ascended to the throne of the Fells. She is fiercely loyal to her people and wants to see an end to the turmoil between the surrounding kingdoms. The other kingdoms see Raisa only as a young girl suitable for marriage. But she is a smart, strong, exceedingly capable woman who wants to unite her people. Torn between her duties as queen, and her love of a man, can she decide which is best for her people while not losing sight of her desires? Can both be fulfilled?

Plunging into the action from the very first words, you’ll be swept along in this final installment that is exhilarating to read — but will leave you sad to come to the story’s end.

Rich and satisfying, The Crimson Crown blends a fantasy of wizardry and foreign lands and peoples that the reader can relate to in our own world. The struggles of regions to get along and not war against one another. The acceptance of race and ethnicity.

It is also a story about what our faith is based upon and what we accept as truths. Readers can relate our world and our history to the peoples and lands of the Seven Realms and their struggles to accept one another and live in harmony, all while trying to find love and happiness just as we do in our daily loves. What else can I say … I loved it.

The Crimson Crown is in stores October 23rd. Here is the official synopsis:

A thousand years ago, two young lovers were betrayed — Alger Waterlow to his death, and Hanalea, Queen of the Fells, to a life without love.

Now, once again, the queendom of the Fells seems likely to shatter apart. For young queen Raisa ana’Marianna, maintaining peace even within her own castle walls is nearly impossible. Tension between wizards and Clan has reached a fevered pitch. With surrounding kingdoms seeking to prey on the Fells’ inner turmoil, Raisa’s best hope is to unite her people against a common enemy. But that enemy might be the person with whom she’s falling in love.

Navigating the cutthroat world of blueblood politics has never been more dangerous, and former streetlord Han Alister seems to inspire hostility among Clan and wizards alike. His only ally is the queen, and despite the perils involved, Han finds it impossible to ignore his feelings for Raisa. Before long, Han finds himself in possession of a secret believed to be lost to history, a discovery powerful enough to unite the people of the Fells. But will the secret die with him before he can use it?

A simple, devastating truth concealed by a thousand-year-old lie at last comes to light in this stunning conclusion to the Seven Realms series.

Book Review: Changeling by Philippa Gregory

From the author of The Other Boleyn Girl, comes the first young adult novel in a new series: Changeling by Philippa Gregory.

Accused of heresy and expelled from his monastery, handsome seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is recruited by a mysterious stranger to record the end of times across Europe. Commanded by sealed orders, Luca is sent to map the fears of Christendom and travel to the very frontier of good and evil.

Seventeen-year-old Isolde, a Lady Abbess, is trapped in a nunnery to prevent her from claiming her rich inheritance. As the nuns in her care are driven mad by having strange visions , walking in their sleep, and showing bleeding wounds, Luca is sent to investigate, and all the evidence points to Isolde’s criminal guilt.

Forced to face the greatest fears of the medieval world–dark magic, werewolves, madness–Luca and Isolde embark on a search for truth, their own destinies, and even love as they take the unknown ways to the real historical figure who defends the boundaries of Christendom and holds the secrets of the Order of Darkness.

Changelingis a good tale that takes the reader through medieval Europe with it’s superstitions and mysticism.The book shows how people’s beliefs were often based more in myth than reality, finding magical explanations for science they didn’t understand.

All the while, Gregory tells an engaging story that will leave the reader looking forward to the next installment in this first book of a new series.

Gregory’s mastery of historical fiction shines throughout Changeling. Readers familiar with this period in history will find a story that’s fun to travel through — while those just learning about medieval Europe, the book is an engaging tale to pique interest in this time period. Gregory also includes annotations at the end of the book about the real-life history behind her story, that is also an interesting read.

Changeling is in stores now.

Book Review: Advent by James Treadwell

Advent by James Treadwell is a stunning new adult series that will appear to mature readers of Young Adult lit:

1537. A man hurries through city streets in a gathering snowstorm, clutching a box in one hand. He is Johann Faust, the greatest magician of his age. The box he carries contains a mirror safeguarding a portion of his soul and a small ring containing all the magic in the world. Together, they comprise something unimaginably terrible.

London, the present day. Fifteen-year-old Gavin Stokes is boarding a train to the countryside to live with his aunt. His school and his parents can’t cope with him and the things he sees, things they tell him don’t really exist. At Pendurra, Gavin finds people who are like him, who see things too. They all make the same strange claim: magic exists, it’s leaking back into our world, and it’s bringing something terrible with it.

Advent is the first installment in a fantasy trilogy. And this is no Harry Potter story. This is old, dark magic. The kind we learned about before Harry and have read for centuries. But this story is told in a new, inventive way that takes you along for a fast-pace thrill that will keep you reading late into the night.

Advent is the stuff of old legends brought to life again and readers will find it leaving them with a longing for the next installment. A must read for anyone who loves fantasy, old legends, and magic!

Advent is in stores July 3rd.

Book Review: Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore

Christopher Moore’s latest book, Sacre Bleu, opens with the prologue telling us that this book is about the color blue.  How can you write a book about the color blue?  This is how. Christopher Moore pulls it off with his great gift of story and humor.

Sacre Bleu begins with the death of Vincent Van Gogh, the artist shooting himself in a corn field and then walking a mile to his doctor for help.  But was that all there was to it?  What was influencing Vincent Van Gogh to act so strangely?  What influences and inspires all of the famous artists through history?  What is the secret of the Sacre Blue?  And what is so special about this ultramarine blue, this Sacre Bleu?

Christopher Moore answers these questions with his usual hilarity.  And like his other books, Sacre Bleu does not disappoint.  It is a fun romp through art history, and while the details may not always be exactly accurate (remember Lamb?) it is still a great introduction to some famous paintings. Beautiful color prints throughout the book twill have the average person (meaning me) going, “Oh yeah, I know that painting!”

Now add Moore’s twist to the creation of the artwork, and the painting just got better.  Like an image that emerges slowly as the paint is layered onto the canvas, Christopher Moore layers his story. The plot weaves through the Impressionist period with the baker-turned-artist Lucien Lessard and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec trying to figure out what is happening to themselves and their friends.  Why do they seem to have lost whole chunks of time with no recollection of where they were and what they were doing?  And why are they afraid of the “colorman”? If only the book were true, it would be even better.  Or is it true?

And oh yeah, notice, that the book is printed in “sacre bleu” ink, not black, for those of you who are speed reading or using a black and white e-reader.  That’ll teach you not to buy the hard copy! And with a book as pretty (and hilarious) as Sacre Bleu, you definitely want a hard copy.

Sacre Bleu is in stores now. (And a note for readers, it is an adult book, so language & content is intended for older readers.)

Review: The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima

Cinda Williams Chima’s Seven Realms series continues in the third book, with the newly released The Gray Wolf Throne, in stores this week.

Hans Alister has lost everyone he ever loved when he finds Rebecca Morley, the beautiful, mysterious girl that he knew from school, dying in the Spirit Mountains where the clan leaders have committed him to becoming a wizard.  He saves her at a great cost to himself only to find that she is Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the queendom of the Fells.  But there are many who would see Raisa dead to further their own cause.  Hans feels betrayed but he must fulfill his end of a bargain that he has made with the Demonai clan and see Raisa ascend to the throne.

This reader stayed up late to get to the end of the story with hopes of seeing the various conflicts resolved and I found myself disappointed.  Hopefully this will happen in the fourth book, as I found myself frustrated by the fact that the story still seemed unfinished and I was looking forward to the end. (Originally, the series was publicized as being a trilogy. No longer so — a fourth book is now in the works.)  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it ends the way I want it to.  But I will read the last one to find out!  This seems to be the new way of writing, turn the story into a series.  Why I am sure it is popular for some readers, it can be frustrating for others.

That said, this story will take you through a fast-paced race to the throne that will keep you up all night to find out if Raisa wins.  The characters are tough and smart and have to live by their wits to stay alive in this rich and colorful tale of coming of age and fantasy.  The Gray Wolf Throne is an engrossing tale of learning what it is to be loyal, making sacrifices for the greater good and that fate is not always kind.

Here is the official synopsis:

Han Alister thought he had already lost everyone he loved. But when he finds his friend Rebecca Morley near death in the Spirit Mountains, Han knows that nothing matters more than saving her. The costs of his efforts are steep, but nothing can prepare him for what he soon discovers: the beautiful, mysterious girl he knew as Rebecca is none other than Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells. Han is hurt and betrayed. He knows he has no future with a blueblood. And, as far as he’s concerned, the princess’s family killed his own mother and sister. But if Han is to fulfill his end of an old bargain, he must do everything in his power to see Raisa crowned queen.

Meanwhile, some people will stop at nothing to prevent Raisa from ascending. With each attempt on her life, she wonders how long it will be before her enemies succeed. Her heart tells her that the thief-turned-wizard Han Alister can be trusted. She wants to believe it—he’s saved her life more than once. But with danger coming at her from every direction, Raisa can only rely on her wits and her iron-hard will to survive—and even that might not be enough.

The Gray Wolf Throne is an epic tale of fierce loyalty, unbearable sacrifice, and the heartless hand of fate.

Book Review: The House of Six Doors by Patricia Selbert


Official Summary:

Thirteen-year-old Serena is torn from everything that’s familiar on her island home. She leaves her beloved grandmother, her father, and two of her siblings to move with her mother and older sister to Florida and then to California.

“Everything will be better in America,” her mother tells her. They arrive in the US to find nothing as they expected. Speaking fluent Dutch, Spanish, and Papiamentu (the language of her home Caribean island of Curacao), but limited English, Serena learns to pretend that everything’s fine while struggling to live up to her mother’s impossibly high expectations; always afraid to send her mother into another downward spiral of depression. She juggles responsibility for her mother’s well-being with school, a secret boyfriend, and a growing desire for independence, in a foreign land: Hollywood.

The wisdom of her grandmother, a mixed-race mystic, gives her solace, which she clings to tenaciously despite the thousands of miles between them. Coming of age in a foreign land, faced with enormous obstacles, Serena finds her own feet and the acceptance that sets her free.

Review:

The House of Six Doors by Patricia Selbert is a coming of age story about a thirteen-year old’s journey from the island of Curacao to Hollywood, California.  Serena and her sister are brought along by their mother who has spent her life in search of riches and status as a way of being loved and accepted by people.  She is sure that the next great scheme will get them the status and attention that she feels she and her children deserve.  But mama is an immigrant  who does not understand the ways of America, and fails to learn and teach them to her children.  Serena and her sister spend their childhoods trying to please mama and keep her affection.  Meanwhile, when mama does not achieve what she is after, she spins into one of her many depressive moods, leaving Serena and her sister to cope with managing the household.  Without the help of their “oma,” whom they relied so heavily on in Curacao, it is up to them to try and sort things out and keep things going for their family.  And ultimately, Serena and her sister’s lives go in vastly different directions.  Through many trials, heartache, and hard work, Serena learns to become a strong independent woman that any mama would be proud of.

Selbert develops a strong cast of characters, and her story is well-written, but for some this may be a tough read.  Traveling along through Serena’s life is nearly as tough on the reader as it is for the character in the book.  One wonders if Serena will ever have a positive outcome.  But it is this sad tale that keeps the reader going, hoping that things will turn out alright.  And they ultimately do, but not until the very end.

Every reader will find some element that they can relate to and will wish that they could have given her a hand somewhere along her road to adulthood.  This story is not for the faint of heart looking for something light to read.  But it will definitely give the reader pause to reflect on what is important in life, namely love and respect.  And isn’t that what all of us want out of life?

The House of Six Doors is in stores now. We recommend it for older teen readers and adults, not younger readers.

Book Review: The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima


Official Summary:

You can’t always run from danger…

Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han Alister journeys south to begin his schooling at Mystwerk House in Oden’s Ford. But leaving the Fells doesn’t mean danger isn’t far behind. Han is hunted every step of the way by the Bayars, a powerful wizarding family set on reclaiming the amulet Han stole from them. And Mystwerk House has dangers of its own. There, Han meets Crow, a mysterious wizard who agrees to tutor Han in the darker parts of sorcery—but the bargain they make is one Han may regret.

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her friend Amon and his triple of cadets. Now, the safest place for Raisa is Wein House, the military academy at Oden’s Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wein House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.

The Exiled Queen is an epic tale of uncertain friendships, cut-throat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction.

Review:

The Exiled Queen is the second installment in Cinda Williams Chima’s Seven Realms series of novels and it doesn’t disappoint readers who had been anticipating it ever since finishing book one, The Demon King.

Picking up where the first novel left off, we find the characters entering the next part of their life.  Having learned that he is in fact a wizard by birth, Hans Alister has been enrolled in the wizarding school where he is to quickly make up for all the wizarding lessons he didn’t get when he was still “Cuffs” Alister in the first novel. Here he’s been appointed the task of setting things right by living up to his birthright and acquiring all the necessary skills to put things in order with the other tribes of the realms.

At the same time Princess Raisa ana’Marianna has chosen to enroll in the same school to learn to become a warrior while escaping a forced marriage to a wizard so that she can return to her rightful place as the next in line to the throne. She hopes this lessons will help her be a better leader to her people, a task which the current queen, her mother, is not handling well. It doesn’t help that the queen is being coerced into making decisions that promote the wizards, who have been forbidden to rule.)

As each character learns their wizarding and fighting skills, they must also learn to navigate in a world of deception, greed and corruption as the world that they have known is unraveling around them.  This second story does not disappoint and will leave the reader eager to read the next installment and to learn what fate will befall the characters of this fantasy world that tickles the edges of the mind of our real world.

Book Review: The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima


Official Summary:

Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for himself, his mother, and his sister Mari. Ironically, the only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell. For as long as Han can remember, he’s worn thick silver cuffs engraved with runes. They’re clearly magicked — as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off. While out hunting one day, Han and his Clan friend, Dancer catch three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. After a confrontation, Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to ensure the boy won’t use it against them. Han soon learns that the amulet has an evil history — it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Raisa ana’Marianna, Princess Heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She’s just returned to court after three years of relative freedom with her father’s family at Demonai camp — riding, hunting, and working the famous Clan markets. Although Raisa will become eligible for marriage after her sixteenth name-day, she isn’t looking forward to trading in her common sense and new skills for etiquette tutors and stuffy parties. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea — the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But it seems like her mother has other plans for her — plans that include a suitor who goes against everything the Queendom stands for. The Seven Realms will tremble when the lives of Han and Raisa collide in this stunning new page-turner from bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima.

Review:

Cinda Williams Chima’s novel, The Demon King is a fast-paced read that can be enjoyed by all ages.  Young adult readers can relate to the two main characters, Hans “Cuffs” Alister growing up in the rough part of town, and Princess Raisa anna’Marianna, heir to the throne, growing up in royalty — as they each try to come to terms with the idea that their parents have not given them a clue about “the why of things” while learning to navigate the social settings of their worlds.

Likewise, adult readers will appreciate the experience of the book’s two main characters,  Hans , and Raisa, and their struggles to become adults.

The story is a rich tapestry of cultures, history and geography with some magic and wizardry that mingles all that we know in the real world to create the fantasy world of The Seven Realms. It will get you started on a fun ride into fantasy and leave you eager to read the next installment in the series.