Book Review: The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith

I found this book by happy accident. Namely, my book club thought it looked cool, and I love their discussions so much that I am compelled to read their picks. I won’t lie, most of the book reviews from the past year resulted from my book club. You guys rock.

The Story:

Claire is the librarian for The Library of the Unwritten, Hell’s own library for stories that were never completed by their authors. Most of these stories sleep quietly, but occasionally, their characters get anxious and try to escape. On one such escape, a Hero seeks out his author with the intent of inspiring her to finish writing his story, something that is totally against the rules. During his retrieval from the mortal world things go horribly wrong. The angels believe that Claire has the text of the Devil’s bible, a powerful weapon meant to upset the balance between Heaven and Hell. They will do anything to stop her from finding it’s pages.

My Review:

If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you’ll know that I have a weakness for excellent writing. The Library of the Unwritten is one of those books where the reader is continually delighted by a clever turn of phrase or an exceptional description. The most remarkable part of this book is the concepts engineered to make the worlds work together and the elaborate otherness of it all.

The Library itself is such a cool concept. Imagine, you think of a story and perhaps start to jot it down. As you work and think, the people and things in the story take on form and begin to live. What happens when the story is abandoned? Where do those characters go when the end of their tale isn’t written? In this essence, the library is a purgatory for books and everything they contain. They are stuck in limbo and hold all the potential their story has to offer, waiting for the author to pick up the pen once more. For those stories who’s authors have died, the characters who are restless and won’t stay in their books are allowed to live out the eternities in the Damsel suite, a protected place where they can learn and grow however they choose.

Claire is a compelling and complex character who is fairly snarky and has the wherewithal to dish it out. Her accompanying cast are a circus act blend of characters that include fallen angels, demons, a muse, and the people who spring from the unwritten stories.

As for the story itself, I was hooked right from the start. The idea that there was this librarian who curated unwritten books alone was so interesting that for the first third of the book I simply had to read more to see how all the different ideas were woven together. Don’t get me wrong, the story was interesting, but I think I read more because I was amazed at the creativity of it all – and the excellent writing. I did get a little tired near the two thirds mark, which might have been because I couldn’t relate to the stakes, or that my head cold muddled my brain, not sure which. However, the thrilling conclusion tied everything back together in a pyrotechnic fueled extravaganza that left this reader satisfied.

Recommendations:

This one is tough to place. It’s not a traditional fantasy and skirts into the realm of magical realism. The publisher categorizes it into humorous fantasy, and it was funny at times, but for me that doesn’t fit as well. Is there an existential fantasy category?

I’d recommend this for those who love excellent world and concept building that keeps the reader surprised, you’ll find plenty of it here. Also, for those creatives out there, this is a love letter to inspiration and where it lives when you are off doing other things. Authors especially will enjoy this book because of the many, many references to how we treat our characters, and how they might treat us in return.

However, for those who have issues with the ideology of Heaven and Hell, or of demons interacting with humans, this book will be a problem. There’s some straight up blasphemy in here, creatively used, of course.

I give The Library of the Unwritten a solid 4/5 stars.

Buy your copy here!


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New Book Release: Retaliation by Haley Cavanagh

The best part of having authors for friends is that you always are the first to know when the best books are coming out. Haley and I have enjoyed each other’s company as we attend local writing events and she was awesome in helping me with my cover reveal last week.

I’m excited to announce the release of Haley Cavanagh’s latest book, Retaliation, the second book in her Oceanstone Initiative series.


Retaliation 
The Oceanstone Initiative #2 
by Haley Cavanagh 
Genre: SciFi Romance 

Publisher: Covey Publishing, LLC 
Publication Date: December 27, 2019


One doctor, one alien lover, one botanist, and one engineer on a desperate mission to save earth from human destruction. 

Sakota saved Astraeus and her friends from certain death, but in doing so, she gained the attention of the Oreck, who will stop at nothing to destroy everything in their path. 

With their ship severely damaged, Sakota and her crew land on a nearby planet and seek sanctuary while they make repairs to return home. But nothing on this perfect planet is as it appears, and Sakota soon learns they’ve traded one danger for another. 

Hunted and targeted, will Sakota be able to carry out her mission, or will everyone she cares about be destroyed? 




Astraeus 
The Oceanstone Initiative #1 

Publisher: Covey Publishing, LLC 
Publication Date: October 12, 2018


One pre-apocalyptic Earth. One desperate space mission to find a solution. One unexpected alien. 

When Dr. Sakota Thorell signed onto the mission to scout out a new, habitable planet, she knew discovering extraterrestrial life was always a possibility. But she never expected to find an alien adrift in space, nor for that alien to be so intriguing. Sakota feels an instant and undeniable attraction to Astraeus, but he represents a million possibilities, and just as many threats. 

There are others hunting Astraeus, and his rescue may cost Earth its last hope. 





Book Trailer 


Haley Cavanagh is a military veteran, wife, and mother. She is an alumna of Columbia College, a musical theater nut, and she loves to dive into any book that crosses her path. Haley resides with her family in the United States and enjoys spending time with her husband and children when she’s not writing. She loves to hear from her readers, and encourages you to contact her via her website and social media. 






$25 Amazon and autographed paperback bundle of The Oceanstone Initiative series and swag 
Follow the tour HERE for exclusive content and a giveaway!




Reading Review for 2019

Over the last five years I’ve shared my reading lists with you, dear readers. Some years I’m really ambitious. Some years, like this year, I’m kinda burned out and creating a reading wish list is the furthest thing from my mind. I’m sure you can all relate.

Just for fun, here are the lists that I’ve ended up posting –

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I knew 2019 was going to be a busy year. On the Goodreads Reading Challenge I only committed to reading a paltry 12 books. I’m proud to report I managed it and even better, will probably finish three more by the end of the year. Many of these books were books selected by my book club. Should you ever want to be challenged to read things you wouldn’t normally pick, being part of a book club will definitely help with that.

This year’s fiction books include:

This year’s books by people I know:

This year’s non fiction books include:

Books I’m currently working to finish:

  • The Naked Ape: A Zoologist’s Study of the Human Animal, Desmond Morris
  • Radical Honesty: How to Transform your Life by Telling the Truth, Brad Blanton
  • Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders, Neil Gaiman

The number one book that influenced me this year was one suggested by Annie Oortman, Radical Honesty. What struck me as profound is how the author connects secrets and dishonesty to physical conditions, such as chronic pain and fatigue. Holding back from telling someone the truth, regardless of the reason, quite literally weighs you down. While I have always endeavored to be very honest, this book takes that to a new level. It encourages people to be brave enough to say how they really feel in the moment and not let things fester.

The book I disliked the most was Eudora Welty’s The Optimist’s Daughter. The story itself revolves around a daughter and her stepmother as they navigate the death of the father. My book club chose to read it because it held examples of good description. While it did have plenty of that, the story itself moved so slowly and had so many scenes that felt unnecessary, that I got super bored.

Let’s discuss!

What were the best and worst of the books you’ve read this year? I’m looking to create next years list – if you’ve got some great suggestions, send them my way.


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Book Review: Word Painting Revised Edition the Fine Art of Writing Descriptively, by Rebecca McClanahan

For November, and NaNoWriMo month for many of my fellow writers, I thought it would be appropriate to review a book that covers an important part of writing craft – description. There aren’t many books out there about this topic and indeed it would be a challenge to cover the subject in a way that didn’t sound just a little bit crazy. This book does an admirable job.

About the book:

In ten chapters McClanahan discusses different ways to approach the art of turning mundane descriptions into word paintings that grab the reader’s attention and helps feel part of the world they’re reading about. She explores using the different senses, how descrioption can help the reader understand character and setting, and using figurative language and metaphor. The book is thorough, insightful, and includes plenty of examples to help teach.

My review:

For me, the book was an excellent reminder of how much power lies in the perfect description. An evocative piece of description has the power to transport the reader to another place and time where they feel they are living within the pages and seeing and feeling the story through the eyes of the characters. A poor piece of description can do the opposite, pull the reader out of the story, confuse them, and make it hard to understand what is going on in the story.

Perhaps the most useful advice gleaned from the book is the importance of anchoring description deeply into the point of view of the person experiencing it. If the character is a baker, we want to feel the grit of the flour that has collected on the backs of his hands and reminisce of better times as we smell the comforting aroma of fresh bread.

Another thing that McClanahan does well is find hundreds of different examples to help solidify what she is trying to teach. Some of these are remarkable pieces of description that indeed transported me into the world of the scene. When I read them, it made me want to be able to do the same with my own writing.

Recommendations:

I recommend this to writers who feel they have the basics covered and are looking for a way to improve. This book is wonderful to help see different angles that can be taken in a passage of description and helps break writers out of old familiar patterns. It also shows how description doesn’t have to be long to be powerful.

I would not recommend this to brand new writers. While it’s full of important information, it’s also overwhelming with just how many possibilities there are in any given line of description. The best time to read this would be when a writer feels they have established their voice and are looking for ways to improve and deepen it.

I give this book 3 stars.


Psst! Jodi here. Did you enjoy today’s review? Did it help you decide if this book was for you? Cool, eh?

Guess what? You can do the same for me. If you’ve read Stonebearer’s Betrayal, head on over to AmazonGoodreads, or the book site of your choice and leave me a review.

It doesn’t have to be big and long like this one – a few sentences is perfect! Thanks in advance!

Book Review: Ella Minnow Pea, by Mark Dunn

Happy October everyone! It’s the first Wednesday of the month which means it’s book review day. Today’s pick: Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. This book came out in 2001 and I first read it back in college. It made a deep enough impression on me that I recently recommended it for a book group and reread it a few weeks ago.

About the story:

Ella Minnow Pea is an epistolary novel, meaning it’s composed of letters from one character to another. Ella lives on the fictional island of Nollop, located off the coastline of South Carolina and named after Nevin Nollop who has been immortalized by his creation of a phrase using all 26 letters of the alphabet, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

What’s unique about this island is that due to poor infrastructure, they are isolated from the modern world. There aren’t computers, internet, email, or even telephone service, although those on the island know all these things exist. To communicate long distance, they are limited to letters and the occasional telegraph. Because of this, they’ve developed a love and passion for the written word and a unusual eloquence.

When letters begin falling off the memorial statue to Nevin Nollop, the island Council deems that it is a divine mandate from Nollop himself and they must stop using those letters in everyday speech and the written word. This also means those letters drop out of use for the remainder of the book. With each loss, the island falls deeper and deeper into totalitarianism as the Council works to eliminate those who would use the illegal letters.

Ella finds herself fighting to save her friends and family from being banished off of the island, a task that grows more complicated with new letter’s loss.

My review:

As a lover of artful use of language, this book delights on so many levels. Ella tries so hard to maintain her eloquence and love of language, even as each letter is taken away. The resulting linguistic gymnastics are impressive to say the least. It made me wonder if I could do the same. I tried it with the letter “m” thinking it would be easy. In a 15 minute sample where I tried my best to be careful, three “m”s still managed to find their way in.

There is also the element of satire about an overreaching government seeking punitive punishments for violators of the new rules as well as what happens when a society must adapt to censorship. For me, this felt almost Orwellian and brought back of not-so-fond memories of the discomfort of being forced to read 1984 in school, mixed with a touch of Lord of the Flies. However, Dunn encapsulates this satire inside the story of those trying to live the new rules and because their story shines stronger than the satire, it makes it much more palatable.

By the end of the story when only handful of letters are left, the text becomes almost unintelligible. Letters are swapped out for phonetic matches and to understand what’s being said, the reader almost has to say the syllables out loud. For me, it brilliantly demonstrated the frustrations of the main characters as they struggle to communicate.

In all, I found the book delightful and both a fun and profound read.

Recommendations:

I recommend this book to those who love a good play on words and appreciate vocabulary and wordsmithing, as well as those who love seeing how a society can go wrong. Those who love word puzzles will also get a kick out of seeing how each character manages to avoid using banned letters. It’s also a charming story of making the best of a hard situation that doesn’t dwell on the ugliness that could be found there.

I would not recommend this book for those who want an easy read. It is not. From the deeply vocab-u-tastic wordiness at the beginning, to the almost alien constructed language nearing the end, this book is challenging. I also would recommend those who are sensitive to political misuse of power to steer clear as this book might be triggering.

I give Mark Dunn’s Ella Minnow Pea 4.5 stars.


Psst! Jodi here. Did you enjoy today’s review? Did it help you decide if this book was for you? Cool, eh?

Guess what? You can do the same for me. If you’ve read Stonebearer’s Betrayal, head on over to Amazon, Goodreads, or the book site of your choice and leave me a review.

It doesn’t have to be big and long like this one – a few sentences is perfect! Thanks in advance!

Book Review: Book Thief, by Marcus Zuzak

Asking an author which book is their favorite is a complicated question. There are books that keep us on the edge of our seats, or tease us with amazingly constructed story lines. There are those that fill us with a sense of wonder and those that light a creative spark. There are those which are tender and beautiful and make us cry.

Then, there are those books that have such a uniqueness to them they don’t quite fit anywhere else. That’s where the Book Thief falls for me. It balances tender with tension and beautiful prose with a touch of snark.

And it ranks in the top five books I’ve ever read.

About the story:

This is a holocaust book. But – don’t despair. The purpose of the book isn’t to showcase the horrors of that time period, but rather to give voice to a girl who lived it and how the books she stole made it possible to survive. What’s interesting and makes this book very different is that it’s told through the eyes of a rather unusual narrator – death.

Liesel Meminger steals her first book at the graveside service for her brother and carries it with her to her new home and foster parents, the Hubermann’s. Death has been watching her, as he does all people he finds interesting, and chooses to share the different scenes he’s witnessed of her life through the eternal lens of his own experience. The book is what seals her love for her foster father, Hans, as he uses it to help her cope with the nightmares that haunt her and teaches her from it.

It is this book and these late night teaching sessions that starts the embers glowing of what will turn into a fire within Liesel for the written word. All the while, World War II is tearing the country apart. The Hubermann’s must protect the son of a family friend by hiding him in their basement at great personal risk.

Liesel takes special interest in him and shares the one thing she has, her love of words. First, by sharing with him what the day is like outside, then by sneaking him newspapers, then by reading and writing their own books together.

I won’t ruin the ending for you by telling what happens, suffice it to say that it is a survival story, and Liesel survives.

Recommendations:

I recommend this book to anyone who loves expert level wordsmithing. The lyric nature of the prose is gorgeous and surprising in all the right ways. Also, it’s a strong historical fiction as well and portrays Nazi Germany in a very realistic and unsensational manner. Because of it’s unique narrator and style, it should also appeal to those who appreciate non conventional stories.

I would not recommend this for people who prefer clear and direct language in their stories. This book borders on poetry at times and often veils the truth with metaphor, or pulls back into the point of view of death and away from Liesel’s experience. It’s also a long book, so it might be harder work to get through because of how language is used.

I give Marcus Zuzak’s The Book Thief 5 stars.


Psst! Jodi here. Did you enjoy today’s review? Did it help you decide if this book was for you? Cool, eh?

Guess what? You can do the same for me. If you’ve read Stonebearer’s Betrayal, head on over to AmazonGoodreads, or the book site of your choice and leave me a review.

It doesn’t have to be big and long like this one – a few sentences is perfect! Thanks in advance!


Free? Did someone say free? For this week only (Sept 3-7, 2019) you can grab the ebook of Stonebearer’s Betrayal for FREE in preparation for the release of the second book in the series coming in the next 6 months. Squee!

Here’s a handy link!


Holy Smokes, FanX is this week! If you are coming to the the conference, come find me at the following panels on Thursday:

Book Review: When We Were Very Young, by A. A. Milne

In honor of the passing of Toni Morrison, I felt it appropriate to pay her tribute by reviewing a book of poetry that has been influential to many. I know it’s not one of hers, to lend my uneducated opinion on her poetry feels like a disservice. Her writing is evocative and deep and would require more time than I have to really dig deep and give it the attention it deserves. Instead, I chose something recently recommended to me.

I asked Candace, my fellow author buddy, what her favorite book was and she told me When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne, I had to pick it up and give it a go. It’s a little thing, easily enjoyed in an hour or two. I read poem at a time while waiting at orthodontic appointments and cowering in the shade while hanging out with my kids at parks.

It really is a lovely collection of ideas drawing the reader back to a simpler time when a kitchen chair was a cage for a lion and a tubby bellied bear felt bad about his roundness until he met a handsome and equally tubby prince.

I also loved the freedom of using words for their rhythm and repetition and not being tied down to grammatical standards. After writing prose for so long, it’s a nice change to see it done differently. A. A. Milne does a wonderful job using repetition to create a sing-song quality to his verses which would make it fun to read these aloud to children.

I’m told this is the first appearance of Winnie the Pooh’s character, although at this point he is only referred to as the tubby bear. Christopher Robin pokes his head in as well. The first Winnie the Pooh book wasn’t published until two years after this book had been out.

For me, I’ve been working on developing more lyricism in my prose. One of the things that can help is reading more poetry and piecing together the parts that draw my attention. I think I’ll be playing with a few new ideas this week. I’m looking forward to it.

Perhaps I should find another poetry book…

If you enjoy simple lovely poetry, you’ll enjoy When We Were Very Young. If you’ve been meaning to read more poetry and don’t know where to start, or don’t like complicated themes, this is a good pick for you as well.

However, if you were hoping for profound truths about life the world and everything and want the poem itself to do the heavy lifting, these won’t do that. That is, unless you choose to apply lots of your own logic and theories, then perhaps they will. I won’t judge.


Psst! Jodi here. Did you enjoy today’s review? Did it help you decide if this book was for you? Cool, eh?

Guess what? You can do the same for me. If you’ve read Stonebearer’s Betrayal, head on over to Amazon, Goodreads, or the book site of your choice and leave me a review.

It doesn’t have to be big and long like this one – a few sentences is perfect! Thanks in advance!

Book Review: The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss

There are those books that are just interesting and fun to read and there are those books where you feel something magical has happened. The Name of the Wind is the latter. I read this book a few years ago, but because it’s summer and I’m behind on my normal reading, this was the perfect time to finally review it. 

The story:

As the first book in the Kingkiller Chronicle, The Name of the Wind introduces us to the famous Kvothe, who is trying his best not to attract attention by taking a fake name and serving as a small town innkeeper. When Kvothe rescues a traveling scribe known as Chronicler and is recognized, the scribe asks to record his real story and his unfortunate rise to fame. As with many popular main characters, Kvothe’s life is full of hardship and misfortune. Lucky for him, these misfortunes tend to open doors, often in the most unexpected places. 

The story that’s recorded covers his childhood with a traveling performer troupe, his lost days as a beggar and pickpocket, his desperate attempt to get into the University where he can track down information, the many different ways he works to get enough money to attend the school, and all the many problems he encounters along the way. And trust me, there are plenty of those.

My Review:

I’m a sucker for any fantasy book. But, when I can find a book with an unusual magic system, a well-formed world, and beautiful language, it’s a rare treat. The Name of the Wind has all three. Perhaps Rothfuss’s greatest strength is his ability to transform his ideas into evocative fluid images. You can’t help but feel pulled into his world. 

Another strength is in the construction of the story itself. Instead of the standard narrative tale starting with a character discovering a great need, this book starts at the end and then carefully gives the readers the pieces of Kvothe’s story through a scribe. From the first page, the reader is presented with questions that need to be answered. Part of the joy in reading it is piecing together the clues to see how everything fits together.

The last point that I loved, but some readers might be squeamish about, is that Rothfuss does not shy away from including physical injuries and their care afterwards. Poor Kvothe has many enemies who really like to hurt him. With inexperienced writers this can often be a pitfall, but Rothfuss weaves it in as a natural result of danger and adventure and it really works. 

Recommendations:

This is a fantasy that is better suited for older readers, I’d recommend it for readers no younger than sixteen because of the beautiful language and puzzle-like nature of the story itself which might be too abstract for younger readers. For those who love a unique magic system, beautiful writing, and plenty of danger, this is a good pick.

For readers who prefer knowing clearly what is going on from the beginning, and not having to wait, often several books, for the answers, this book might prove frustrating. 

I give it a 5 out of 5


Psst! Jodi here. Did you enjoy today’s review? Did it help you decide if this book was for you? Cool, eh?

Guess what? You can do the same for me. If you’ve read Stonebearer’s Betrayal, head on over to Amazon, Goodreads, or the book site of your choice and leave me a review.

It doesn’t have to be big and long like this one – a few sentences is perfect! Thanks in advance!

Book Review: Elantris, by Brandon Sanderson

The beautiful Spanish Edition cover of Elantris

Growing up, I always had a book tucked away with me in my school bag, or violin case, or carry on, or simply stuck under an arm. The epic saga of the Wheel of Time filled in the gaps between classes at high school and during longer orchestra breaks when the second violins had to go fend for themselves.

While Robert Jordan’s vision of the Wheel of Time world and its characters is still a masterpiece in my mind – the tone of the story itself grew darker with each giant book to the point where it became harder to see if anyone would have a happy ending. Like the rest of the fans of the series, Jordan’s early death caused me a great deal of worry. Would whoever took the reins and finished the story be able to do it justice?

Knowing what I know now, I shouldn’t have worried. When Sanderson took up the story, he captured the story and its characters and breathed life and hope back into them. Readers could imagine the satisfying ending they’d been wishing for and then he delivered it.

But, this post isn’t about Wheel of Time. It’s about Brandon Sanderson’s first published book, Elantris.

The Story:

Elantris was once a city of magic and those with incredible power lived there. When the cataclysmic event of the Reod happened, the city and its inhabitants became cursed. The gates of Elantris were closed to the outside world. The inhabitants of the city couldn’t die or heal and were doomed to suffer continuous pain from any injury for the rest of their days.

When Prince Raoden shows signs of the curse, he’s thrown into the now closed city and is doomed to suffer with those living there. He’s not willing to accept that, however, and immediately goes about trying to make things better for those condemned in Elantris. While he does this he discovers vital clues that will help him solve the mystery of why the magic stopped working.

Against him are the gangs in Elantris who gang up on any new comer to steal what meager provisions they might carry and a high ranking priest mandated to convert the country to the Derethi religion. With him is the resourceful and determined Princess Sarene with whom which he was destined to wed if not for the curse.

My Review:

I love a strong fantasy with magic that feels real and makes sense, so this book already had a lot going in its favor before I even opened it. Prince Raoden is the kind of character that you want to root for. He genuinely wants to make things better despite his own problems and is willing to work. He knows how to organize people and inspire them to his cause. The situation he’s thrown into is a hard one. It would be way too easy to fall into despair, but he refuses. Of all that happens in the book, his character is what makes the story successful.

There is a fair amount of political maneuvering in the book and for the most part it serves its purpose, which is to raise the stakes for our heroes. But for me, it also ground the action to a halt.

That said, I loved how the big problem was solved (no spoilers!) and thought that the solution itself was nothing short of ingenious.

Recommendations:

This is a solid fantasy book that will clearly hold a lot of appeal with fantasy readers. I would recommend it for readers 12 and up for descriptions of injury and political intrigue. There is no offensive language or overly romantic situations. While this would be a good starter book for those who would like to familiarize themselves with the fantasy genre, I wouldn’t consider it a typical example of a fantasy novel.

I’d still give it five stars. 🙂


Psst! Jodi here. Did you enjoy today’s review? Did it help you decide if this book was for you? Cool, eh?

Guess what? You can do the same for me. If you’ve read Stonebearer’s Betrayal, head on over to AmazonGoodreads, or the book site of your choice and leave me a review.

It doesn’t have to be big and long like this one – a few sentences is perfect! Thanks in advance!


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links.

You can also find updates and post notifications on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram – chose the one you like the most!

Book Review: Crystal King

One of the unique perks of being an author is that you tend to have a lot of author friends. These talented men and women are wonderful resources and sources of support. As a way of supporting them back, I try to read as many books from local authors as I reasonably can.

This month’s book review pick is Crystal King by John M. Olsen. For those of you who have been with me here at the blog for a while, he shared an article with us about why adults should read fantasy back in October. When I spotted John’s book at the local library, I had to grab it.

Crystal King, by John M. Olsen

The Story:

Gavin Stoutheart, throw-away second son of Baron Gerald Stoutheart, grew up believing not much was expected of him. The Barony was secure with his older brother already being groomed to rule. He spends his days avoiding weapons practice and crystal training, much to his mentor’s frustration.

All this changes when an invading army destroys the Royal Council. Gavin’s father and brother are missing and assumed dead as well as much of the leadership of the Kingdom of Riland.

Gavin must step into his father’s role as Baron and lead his people to save them from the army sweeping across the land and destroying everything in its wake. His only hope resides in the use of forbidden animal magic and his knack for strategy.

But will it be enough?

My Review:

This story did something that few books have managed to do by giving me recurring dreams about the magic system for several nights in a row. I love a unique magic system and in Crystal King, we see a magic system that is both unique and extremely well constructed.

The essence of the magic system revolves around the use of crystals to control animals. While in theory anyone can use this magic, the crystals themselves are expensive and the privilege to use them has been reserved by the army and the ruling class. Much of the conflict in the book revolves around the proper vs improper use of these crystals.

All in all, it’s an interesting story and a good read. The characters are well built and interesting. My favorite character was the mentor, Draken, whose dry wit and unique skill set made him intriguing to read. Although, to be fair, I have a thing for noble caring mentor figures so liking Draken isn’t surprising.

Perhaps my only critical feedback, and it was hard to pin-point anything to be super critical about, comes from how Gavin, the main character, tends to be overly successful against all odds. Before his father’s presumed death, Gavin started out as a flawed character who had issues with motivation and struggled with taking control. As soon as he takes on the title of Baron, all that changes. We do see his struggle, which I really appreciate, but from that point on, all his decisions and the way he handles himself earns him nothing but praise and respect.

Recommendations:

This is a straight up coming-of-age fantasy. It’s reasonably fast-paced with enough action to be appealing to teens and up. For those who already love fantasy, the magic system is fascinating.

I recommend this book to fantasy lovers ages twelve and up who like to see the main character succeed despite all challenges and love a cool unique magic system.

I would not recommend this book for those who aren’t fond of the fantasy genre and/or who aren’t fond of books heavy with military strategy and tactics.

I rate this book 4/5 stars for being an excellent and well written novel where I would have liked to see the main character fail a little more.

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Shameless requesting for reviews? Yep, totally doing it.

Psst! Jodi here. Did you enjoy today’s review? Did it help you decide if this book was for you? Cool, eh?

Guess what? You can do the same for me. If you’ve read Stonebearer’s Betrayal, head on over to Amazon, Goodreads, or the book site of your choice and leave me a review.

It doesn’t have to be big and long like this one – a few sentences is perfect! Thanks in advance!