The Ghost Prison by Joseph Delaney
Genre: MG Horror
Publisher: Scourcebook Fire
Published: October, 1st, 2013
‘This is the entrance to the Witch Well and behind that door you’d face your worst nightmare. Don’t ever go through there.’
Night falls, the portcullis rises in the moonlight, and young Billy starts his first night as a prison guard. But this is no ordinary prison. There are haunted cells that can’t be used, whispers and cries in the night… and the dreaded Witch Well. Billy is warned to stay away from the prisoner down in the Witch Well. But who could it be? What prisoner could be so frightening? Billy is about to find out…
An unforgettable ghost story from the creator of the Wardstone Chronicles (Spook’s Apprentice) series.
Illustrated throughout by the incredible Scott M Fischer, this beautifully produced book will make the perfect Halloween gift.
Parent, beware: THE GHOST PRISON will horrify MG readers this Halloween. From the first page and illustration, the reader is introduced to a gritty world where a young boy begins work as a prison guard.
The archaic terms may baffle some readers, but most of them are easy enough to figure out from context. The cast of characters is small, but each character holds a vital role in the ending. The transitions between scenes are quite easy to follow and the suspense builds gradually until there seems to be no-way out for our poor narrator.
And that ending! Wow! It was creepy enough to spook me for a moment. I can’t believe that’s how it ending! Wow. Fantastic.
The illustrations of the book remind me of those in SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK, which were a collection of gritty horror stories released in the 90s. Together, this is the perfect story to read/gift to kids ready for the Halloween spirit.
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher/Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.)Read More
Love, Tink by Elle Strauss
Genre: Fantasy, Fairytale retelling
Publisher: Self Published
Published: July 10th, 2013
Tink is hopelessly smitten with Peter, the leader of the lost boys who’d mysteriously arrived at Neverland two years ago. Unfortunately, Peter is tired of the adventure and especially tired of dodging Captain Hook who is after his head. He just wants to go back to New York City and live his life as a normal fifteen-year-old.
Tink is the only one who can help Peter return, but it breaks her heart to do it. She just wants to make him happy, so she does the unthinkable and betrays the fairy king. Now her heart is filled with remorse. Should she go after Peter? Should she follow him to his New York?
Originally published as six separate novella episodes, Love, Tink the complete series is all six stories together in one volume.
LOVE, TINK goes against everything I normally want in a book, yet I adored it. I’ve read a couple other Peter Pan retellings and LOVE, TINK offers a modern version of the tale. MG or YA readers can appreciate this clean fantasy. I read this book almost straight through, and now I’m itching to read other books by Elle Strauss.
In this version of Peter Pan, Peter is homesick and wants to leave Neverland. Tink is so love-smitten that she goes against the laws of the fairy people and helps him leave her. The romance between Tink and Peter is the primary plot. There are other subplots, particularly later in the story, but none of them distract from the romance. It is told from the POV of both Tink and Peter, although we don’t get to pop into Peter’s head until 40% through the book.
I liked the complexity of Tink and how her heart brought her mishap after mishap. She experiences a vast array of emotions throughout the book, yet never slips out of character from what you’d expect. Jangles is a fun, spunky character. She actually has some plot of her own and her entire life doesn’t revolve around Tink, however the ending with her I wasn’t pleased about. It made her seem shallow, even though her intentions may have been noble.
I’m not as fond of how Wendy is portrayed, since she shows zero depth. Her only apparent trait is that she is super obsessed with Peter, then again with the unreliable narrations of Peter and Tink, this lack of complexity might be because neither of them think that highly of her. Peter is a little underdeveloped. I liked him from Tink’s perspective, but not when we’re in his head. He’s whiny and weak and totally not what turns me on in a guy.
Considering that this is a fantasy, I don’t expect a completely realistic atmosphere, however the scenes in New York conflict with what I know about the city. Most importantly is that there are a whole lot of schools. The chances of Dylan and Peter attending the same school are slim. The chances of a taxi cab driver knowing which school to take you to when you can’t even tell the cab driver the name or address is infinitely improbably.
I wish that the locations used in New York City were more specific and localized. It’s such a unique city that generalizations really don’t match. Baltimore, for example, would have been a much better choice for a city without personality.
(I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.)Read More
This post was originally suppose to be published on 5/22/13. My apologies to H.B. Bolton and CBB for the delay. Please check out my review of the first book in the series, THE SERPENT’S RING, which I reviewed last year. Thanks for the amazing guest post from one of my favorite characters from the series, Dunkle the Imp.
Meeting Evan for the first time—from the POV of Dunkle the imp
by H.B. Bolton
Why did Evan return to this place? He should have known better than to visit a closed exhibit, but there he is, sneaking around the professor’s home and peeking under the back porch. The nerve of that impetuous boy; he acts as if he owns the place.
Is the door locked? I am certain it is locked. Better still if I check.
“Oh, my, my, my …” I whisper to myself, scurrying along the roof’s eaves. I climb down a column and rush through a secret door known only to me. Carefully, I inch my way toward the porch door. Until suddenly, I freeze. Evan is peeking through the window! What am I to do?
I race to the professor’s secret lab, entering through the backside of a mahogany cabinet. I wait and wait, but there is no sign of Evan Jones. Thank goodness he did not discover the hidden whereabouts of the Serpent’s Ring. I have kept it well hidden for almost 100 years, and the last thing I need now is for him to find it and cause me trouble.
Dust clouds swirl around the room, and I am trying not to cough. That could mean only one thing. But wait! No, it cannot be. Evan has managed to locate the secret entrance. I knew this day would eventually come. I have prepared for his arrival since before he was born, but this is not a good day for it. Not in the least.
He is studying the drawings on the chalkboard. Surely, that will keep him busy enough. At least until I can figure out a way to remove the Serpent’s Ring and find a new location to hide it. Oh, no, no, no! He has noticed the illustration of the Midgard Serpent. Why is that boy climbing on that desk and messing around with things that do not belong to him? This is outrageous!
Oh my goodness — the table is about to break. What will the professor say? Just then, Evan and many of the professor’s illustrious possessions tumble to the floor. And worse yet, Evan has found the Serpent’s Ring. The Relic has already begun to glow, and soon … well, Evan will never be the same.
“What are you doing in here?” shrills a female voice from the doorway, and I nearly jump out of my skin. “You are going to be in sooo much trouble when Mom and Dad find out. You aren’t supposed to be in here. Didn’t you read the sign that said ‘Restricted Area’?”
Claire? What is she doing here? Lovely — now I have to deal with both of them.
“Claire, the jewels on this ring are starting to glow. Way cool!” Evan places the Serpent’s Ring around his forearm.
“Come on, let’s get out of here,” Claire says, rushing to Evan, but as soon as she reaches him, the entire room fills with blinding light. Claire is cast against a bookshelf, and she is bombarded by tumbling objects. Thank goodness Evan has enough sense to help her.
There is nothing more I can do here. I suppose it is time for me to inform the other protectors. The first sign of the prophecy has come to light, and now the Relics are in terrible danger.
The Trickster’s Totem (Book #2 The Relics of Mysticus)
Released April 15th, 2013.
Life has returned to normal for fourteen-year-old Evan and his older sister, Claire. That is until Dunkle, a clever but stinky little imp, pays an unexpected visit to their school. He has come to take the siblings back to Sagaas, the mythical realm of the gods. Once again, a Relic from the ancient Mysticus Orb has fallen into the wrong hands. Only Evan and Claire, with their unique mystical abilities, can help find it.
Through the power of the Trickster’s Totem, a coyote trickster has escaped. His laughter echoes throughout the realm, as he spreads mischief and mayhem. He burns an entire crop of popcorn, carves his grinning image into sacred artifacts, and things really get interesting when he shape-shifts into Evan’s friends.
Claire and Evan must capture the Trickster, retrieve the Totem, and be careful not to become sidetracked by robotic Steampunk animals, “sweet” pixie-like Pains, and a problematic mermaid … all while dodging Mothman-like aces. Most surprising, Evan discovers the true reason dragons exist in the Native American Spirit World.
The Serpent’s Ring (Book #1 The Relics of Mysticus series)
Released July 29th, 2012.
Evan and Claire Jones are typical teenagers, forced to go with their parents to yet another boring museum … that is, until something extraordinary happens to make their day a little more than interesting. After following a strange little creature into a closed exhibit, Evan and his older sister, Claire, discover the Serpent’s Ring, one of the magical relics formed from the shattered Mysticus Orb. Purely by accident, they have awakened its powers and opened a portal to Sagaas, land of ancient gods.
Before the siblings can comprehend what has happened, the Serpent’s Ring is wrenched from Evan’s hand by an enormous fish and flown back to Aegir, the Norse god of the sea. Evan and Claire, accompanied by a band of unlikely heroes, must retrieve the Serpent’s Ring before Aegir uses its immense powers to flood all the lands on Earth.
H.B. Bolton scores full marks for her sequel, THE TRICKSTER’S TOTEM, in the Relics of Mysticus series. Claire and Evan are adjusting to life in the normal world (although they still have their powers acquired from their first adventure) when Dunkle the Imp interrupts their school day with grave news: another relic has been stolen. Unlike many MG fantasies, this is not about good verses evil. This concept of gray characters and cause and consequence doesn’t typically exist in books written for this age level, but the underlying morals are cleverly hidden beneath a fast-pace and entertaining quest. It’s refreshing that adults/elders are respected and good role models. Claire and Evan come from a good family and have no problem with authority – unlike Harry Potter or Percy Jackson. It’s a clean read that is appropriate for all age levels.
The interactions between Claire and Evan make them come to life. Evan has self-centered tendencies, where he focuses only on what he wants to achieve and not how his actions will influence the lives of others. Claire is quick to point out her brother’s mistakes and make him seem more of a jerk than he actually is. She wins brownie points from their comrades for being the more mature and better behaved of the two, although she isn’t perfect herself.
I felt that THE TRICKSTER’S TOTEM was far more polished than its predecessor, although I think that THE SERPENT’S RING is a must read for you to understand how the siblings are tied to the magical world. I read the book in full the moment I received it. The book ends with just enough closure to tie up the reason for their return trip and then a teaser for the next adventure for the siblings. If you enjoy MG fantasy or prefer “clean fantasy”, then I recommend that you check out book one and two in the Relics of Mysticus series by H.B. Bolton.
(I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review.)
A magical part of H.B. Bolton’s childhood was being swept into worlds of enchanting characters, fantastical creatures and extraordinary powers—simply by picking up a book. As a mother and a teacher, she was compelled to create imaginary worlds of her own in order to share them, not just with her children, but with all children. H.B. Bolton lives in Florida with her supportive husband and two highly spirited children. Shh, can you keep a secret? Not only does she write books for the young-at-heart, adventurous sort who yearn to dive into a good young-adult fantasy story, she also writes spellbinding, heart pounding women’s fiction. These particular books are written under the name Barbara Brooke, but that’s another story, altogether.
Books by H.B. Bolton:
The Serpent’s Ring (Relics of Mysticus, Book One)
Breaking Down (a short story)
Hungry (a short story)
Coming May 1, 2013
The Trickster’s Totem (Relics of Mysticus, Book Two)
You can check out the full tour schedule from CBB book promotions
Fairy Tale Giveaway Hop
You may have a copy of any book on my fantasy review list. This is an ebook giveaway for INT, but if you live in the US you may choose a paperback instead. Urban fantasy and paranormal romance books from my review list can be chosen too. You can find the full list HERE. Any book that I review that’s fantasy related between now and the end of the contest can also be selected. And you may pick any book in the series as long as I’ve reviewed as least one of the series books.
US residents win a print copy!
Here’s a sample of what you can pick!
You may follow me any way you choose. Twitter, Facebook, Network Blogs, Linky, or email/RSS. All I care is that you come back. :)
Fog (Fog, Snow, & Fire) by Caroline B. Cooney
Genre: MG/YA Horror
Publisher: Open Roads Young Readers
Re-released Augusts 7th, 2012
Will Maine’s historic Schooner Inne Bed and Breakfast be a safe haven for the island kids boarding during the school year—or the end of them all?
Christina Romney is thirteen, with a personality that matches her unruly but charming tri-colored hair. She is about to start seventh grade, and for kids from Maine’s Burning Fog Island, that means leaving their little white schoolhouse for regular classrooms and life on the mainland. Everyone assures Christina it will be a fantastic year. Mainland school offers great advantages, after all: extracurricular activities other than boating and fishing, a gym, a cafeteria, and more kids her age. Best of all, this year the boarding students will live at the historic Schooner Inne, a former sea captain’s house (and now a bed and breakfast) recently bought by the school’s charismatic new principal and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Shevvington.
But Christina is apprehensive. She adores the wildness and excitement of her island life. Boarding with her island friends will surely help: Anya, a beautiful senior, fifteen-year-old Benji, the aspiring lobsterman, and his crush-worthy younger brother Michael. But Christina’s apprehension sharpens when Benji and Michael aren’t as friendly as they used to be on the island, and Anya starts acting so strangely it seems she is slowly losing her mind. Christina is increasingly certain the Shevvingtons are behind all of these changes. But no one else can see the Shevvingtons’ eerie behavior—not other teachers, not her parents, not even her fellow island kids. Is Anya the one going crazy in the Schooner Inne—or is it Christina?
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Caroline B. Cooney including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the author’s personal collection.
This book I picked up from Netgalley because I remembered reading it when I was in high school. I was curious if it underwent any major changes to modernize it or if this beginning book of the trilogy was identical to the one I enjoyed so many years ago. I’d like to say that yes, this is the same exact book. And it brought me the same amount of thrills reading it now as it did in high school. I’m happy to say that the characters are as relevant and believable now as they were when the book was first released.
This is a horror book perfect for MG readers and the lower end of YA, as it has a 14 year old protagonist. The main character, Christina, is also bullied throughout most of the novel, and because she never gives up, even when everyone is against her, I think she is a good role model and someone that kids can look up to. Now, I did get annoyed by Christina because of how self-centered she was, particularly in the beginning of the novel, and she treats Jonah like crap.
I think that MG readers would be able to better believe the position of absolute power that Mr. and Mrs. Shevvington hold over the students. As an adult, it’s hard to suspend belief of the situation and believe that the entire town is bewitched by this couple. And, the dreaded instant love does pop up late in the novel. But besides that, this was a very enjoyable read. Even as a re-read for me (10 years later), I never grew tired of the story and I still was surprised by the many twists of the book.
From what I remember, Fog was my least favorite book out of the trilogy. I can’t wait until they re-release Snow and Fire, so I can have this trilogy again in my collection.
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher/Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.)
Caroline Cooney knew in sixth grade that she wanted to be a writer when “the best teacher I ever had in my life” made writing her main focus. “He used to rip off covers from The New Yorker and pass them around and make us write a short story on whichever cover we got. I started writing then and never stopped!”
When her children were young, Caroline started writing books for young people — with remarkable results. She began to sell stories to Seventeen magazine and soon after began writing books. Suspense novels are her favorites to read and write. “In a suspense novel, you can count on action.”
To keep her stories realistic, Caroline visits many schools outside of her area, learning more about teenagers all the time. She often organizes what she calls a “plotting game,” in which students work together to create plots for stories. Caroline lives in Westbrook, Connecticut and when she’s not writing she volunteers at a hospital, plays piano for the school musicals and daydreams!
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