Suitcase Of Stars

Author: P. D. Baccalario
Book Length: 240 Pages
Published Date: March 1st, 2014
How I Got My Copy: Purchased
Available From:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

 

The first few chapters tell how the main character, Finley hates school and reading. He manages to fail and be told he has to repeat his grade because he’s had so many absences due to skipping school to go fishing. Finley’s father asks the Reverend of the local church to find Finley a job for the summer that he will hate, in the hopes of bringing the lesson home that going to school was far better than not going.

While delivering mail for the post office, he meets a strange girl called Aiby Lily. She and her father are full of mysteries, and driven by curiosity he soon becomes friends with her. Each time he talks to her, he learns about a different magical item or more about her family and the Enchanted Emporium. Can he help to keep Aiby and the Emporium safe?

 

 

 

There are lots of neat black and white illustrations in this book. I’m not sure if the eBook version has them or not, as my copy is a hardback. It kept my attention throughout the book, and Finley seemed to be in character for a 13 year old boy. More interested in fishing and mysteries than in school. Most of the book is getting to know the characters and figuring out mysteries. It sounds like a slow or boring read, but the way everything came together actually made the book go fast.

It’s also told from Finley’s point of view, so if that bothers you you may want to skip this book. I was a bit disappointed because reading the official summary on the back, I was expecting more. It makes it seem as though a big part of the book is going to be magical adventure and getting one over on the bad guys. This happened, but was only a fairly minor part of the book. At least to me, it seemed more like an introduction to the series, and I hope the other books are more fleshed-out. I will most likely be picking up the 2nd book in the series. This is listed as a children’s book, and for the few faults I mentioned, I still liked it.

 

3.5 Stars.

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Influential Magic

 

Author: Deanna Chase
Book Length: 320 Pages
Published Date: March 3rd, 2013
How I Got My Copy: Purchased
Available From:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

 

 

Willow lives in New Orleans and is the owner of a store called The Fated Cupcake. She’s also a part-time vampire hunter, and chronically unable to remember to keep her cell phone charged. A recently turned vampire becomes a double-agent and turns over information to Willow’s vampire hunter boss. It seems there is someone interested in kidnapping Willow, who and why is unknown. What’s worse, Willow now has to partner with the double-agent, who just happens to be an ex-lover who dumped her just before he turned.

 

 

 

I love how the Fae are portrayed in the book. The author fleshed them out wonderfully well, all the little quirks and explanations about what will sap their powers, as well as what will boost them. So many authors make the mistake of making their main character all-powerful or perfect. Willow is shown to have both strengths and weaknesses, and it makes for a more realistic read. (And yes, I did just say ‘realistic’ about a fantasy novel!)

I also got easily and quickly attached to the characters. Willow’s best female friend and usual partner Phoebe quickly became a favorite. As did her childhood friend Talisen. There is a romance element all through out the book. Both Talisen and David, Willow’s ex-boyfriend vie for Willow. But there is also a huge amount of mystery and adventure. Some of the twists I expected, but quite a number of them were a complete surprise. I’ll be picking up the 2nd book in the series to find out if the rest is as interesting as this first book was. I would definitely recommend this book.

 

4 Stars.

Dead Until Dark

 

 

Author: Charlaine Harris
Book Length: 332 Pages
Published Date: May 1st, 2001
How I Got My Copy: Purchased
Available From:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

 

 

 

Sookie is a waitress, and has been hoping and dreaming for a vampire to come in. When one finally does, she is so happy she does a little dance beside the bar. She manages to save the vampire’s life, getting in the first fight she’d ever been in and winning against the 2 people attacking him. The next time she met Bill the vampire, it’s he who saves her life.

 

 

Sookie & Bill are described as perfect in appearance, neither of the two main characters seem to have any flaws. They’re both equally gorgeous and stereotypically so. Sookie also keeps mentioning to you the reader, that she is disabled. Apparently she means the fact that she can read minds is a ‘disability’. She is also incredibly shallow, if people aren’t beautiful or have wonderful personalities she looks down on them. She also uses her telepathy on nearly everyone, while telling herself that it isn’t her fault, it was an accident. Or that they deserved it because they’re bad people. She was a complete twit and Bill wasn’t much better.

I confess I couldn’t get past page 70, I was forcing myself to read after about page 6-7. Thinking that it was just a slow start, and with all the people who seem to love the book and TV series, that it had to get better. It just got worse instead. So much of what happens is stuff you have to slog through to get to the next bit, and then when something slightly interesting starts it breezes by with such swiftness that it’s incredible, and just as swiftly forgotten. I wouldn’t recommend this book, unless you can pick it up for free just to see if it interests you, it isn’t worth spending any money on. And even then, I’m not sure it’s worth your time to read it when there are so many other better series out there.

 

1 Stars.

Nocturnal Academy

 

 

Author: Ethan Somerville
Book Length: 189 pages
Published Date: January 4th, 2014
How I Got My Copy: Purchased
Available From:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble

 

 

The book opens with Alice being bullied in the school yard at lunch. The group of boys call her names, and then steal part of her food, all without the teacher who is supervising the area noticing a thing. She is 12 years old, and likes nighttime and black clothing. Her current wish is that she will be accepted into a different high school than the bullies, and that she was a vampire with all the powers ever attributed to them so her life would be easier.

When she gets an interview for the exclusive Nocturna Academy, Alice is thrilled. Until 2 of the school bullies appear at the gates for an interview as well. The questions the school Principal asked were strange. Things like how she liked her steak cooked, what time she got up in the mornings, and if she was more aware at night than in the daytime.

Soon she is right in the thick of the fight between Good and Evil.

 

 

I really enjoyed this book. Bits of it reminded me of “Harry Potter”, but for the most part it has a charm all it’s own. It was weird reading that high school started at age 13, and I’m not sure where in the world it takes place. I’m guessing the UK somewhere as mothers are referred to as “mum”. It is the first in a series, and was good enough I will be picking up more of them. If you like fantasy books that contain werewolves, vampires, nature spirits, demons and other creatures of that ilk, and enjoy reading about magical schools and adventures, this is the series for you.

 

5 Stars.

Surviving The Fog Kathy's Recollection

Author: Stan Morris
Book Length: 553 pages
Published Date: January 7th, 2014
How I Got My Copy: Author
Available From:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

The book opens with Kathy reminiscing about how she got to this point. Kathy is an 8th grade girl from Morgan Hill California, who was shipped off to an abstinence camp because her parents thought it would be a good experience for her. Even though as she says, she was a ‘good girl’ and didn’t even sneak makeup on at school like the other girls.

The day she was dropped off at camp was the last time she ever saw her parents or her sister and brother. A week after starting camp, the cell phones stopped getting signals and the mail truck didn’t arrive. The camp admin, and all but one of the counselors left to go to the post office and pick up the mail. They never returned. The lone counselor was only 20 years old, and taking care of 48 kids all by herself quickly got to her. She took to her bed and refused to leave her cabin except to use the bathroom.

One of the older boys left the camp to see what had happened to the other adults. It took him 3 days to get almost to the nearest convenience store, when he saw a weird fog across his path. It was thick and low to the ground. A doe was nearby and he stopped to watch it. The doe walked into the fog and soon was freaking out and trying to escape, but fell over. He thought she was dead, and then something unseen seemed to drag the body deeper into the fog. He returned to the camp then and told the other kids.

One boy, Mike, soon became the unofficial leader. He said they should put a guard on the food, start rationing as they didn’t know how long they would be alone and how long the food would last. The camp started to split, the boys having nightly meetings and the girls holing up in their cabins.

They had to figure out how to get through the winter on their own. After a year of living in the mountains alone, they discover that not only is the fog slowly receding, but that there are other groups living on the mountain. Including a camp the of U.S. Army.

 

 

The story is told from the point of view of a 14 year old girl. But I would not recommend it for younger readers as the story has dark themes, including murder and a hanging early on. At one point, Kathy likens what is happening to “The Lord of the Flies“, and that is a fairly apt comparison for this book. It is a very interesting read, kept my attention and made me want to know how it ended.

A lot goes on during this book, lots of people to keep track of and twists and turns. At 553 pages, it will take a few days to finish reading and you may wish to take a number of breaks to process all that has happened. The time span is a little over four years, from age 14 to somewhere past age 18 for Kathy. The characters stick with you however, and their personalities aren’t generic or flat. You get to see Kathy grow up during the book, how she changes from a scared child into a woman and a leader. There are funny moments, and sad moments, and through it all you can really see this happening. The decisions made make sense, not just for moving plot along, but really make sense for what is happening in the book at the time. Over all, I would recommend this book.

 

4 Stars.

Hell Hounds Are For Suckers

Author: Jessica McBrayer
Book Length: 57 pages
Published Date: December 15th, 2013
How I Got My Copy: Purchased
Available From:

Amazon

It opens with Hannah walking in a graveyard on a cloudy night. She’s dwelling on how her love life sucks, and then thinks about how she was turned into a vampire and met her friends. She comes across a puppy that insists on following her home. Soon the puppy starts belching fire and she runs to her friends to find out what’s wrong with it. Apparently, she had been adopted by a hell hound.

When the hell hound’s demon master appears at her door and demands him back, she refuses and so does the puppy. At least at first.

 

 

Hannah talks and acts like a teenager even though she’s close to 200 years old. There are many mentions of marijuana throughout the book. It’s the 2nd in a series, and only 57 pages long. So it’s a quick read, and has some funny parts to it. Over-all it was cute, and made me curious about the other books in the series. If you’re looking for a fluffy and quick read, and enjoy vampires, djinn, and other fantasy creatures, this would be a good choice.

 

3 Stars.

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