Tag Archives: Fiction

Book Review: Witch Wraith by Terry Brooks

imageWitch Wraith by Terry Brooks is the latest in the Shannara series, started many years ago with the Sword of Shannara. This is the third and final book in the “Dark Legacy of Shannara” trilogy and continues the adventures of the Ohmsfords, Druids, residents of the Four Lands, and the Demons in their battles.

The story opens with Railing Ohmsford searching for his long lost relative Grianne Ohmsford, formerly head of the Druid order and prior to that the Ilse Witch. The problem now is that Railing has been warned not to search for Grianne as it will not end the way anyone expects.

The quest to heal the Ellcrys and drive back the demons continues with Arlingfant and Aphenglow Elessedil elves of the royal family. They fight against all sorts of enemies trying to stop them, demon and human. If the tree is not reborn, the demons will come out of the Forbidding and destroy everything.

Finally Railing’s brother Redden is trying to find his way home from inside the Forbidding and do whatever it takes to put a stop to the impending demon invasion. He has unlikely allies including some minor demons inside the forbidding.

As with many of Terry Brooks’ Shannara books, we are kept on edge throughout the trilogy wondering how, or even if, the heroes will come through to the end. We’re reasonably sure that the Ellcrys will be reborn, but never quite sure how. Who will survive until the end? How will the demons be defeated? All I can say is that the ending is not quite what you’d expect if you’ve ever read Terry’s Shannara books in the past.


My Take: I’m a big fan of Terry’s Shannara books. There’s something refreshing in knowing that good will win out in the end and joining in the journey as the heroes grow, realize their strengths, and triumph over evil. That being said, this trilogy is appropriately named the “Dark Legacy”. The stories have definitely taken a darker turn with more deaths of main characters, tragic turnings, and human failings. I’ll spoil this a little bit saying that good still wins in the end, but with an ending that is sad for long-time readers.

I liked the book, as I do all of this series, but I hope to see less darkness in future Shannara novels. I look forward to what happens next in the Four Lands, and really hope that some form of peace or growth could come in future stories. If you’ve read any of Terry’s books you don’t need my review to know that you want to read this one. If you’ve never read any of his books, this is not the one with which to start. Go back to The Sword of Shannara and read them in publication order until you get here. You’ll appreciate it all the more.


Disclaimer: I was provided with this book by the publisher with no expectations on their part. The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced by anyone else.

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Book Review: The Accidental Time Traveller by Janis Mackay

Accidental Time TravellerThe Accidental Time Traveller by Janis Mackay tells the story of a young man named Saul who has become frustrated with his life in Scotland. He is sent out to the store by his mom and you can hear his frustration as the story opens and his mom is preoccupied with the twins. We follow Saul’s train of thought as he avoids bullies, makes his way to the store, and helps a strangely dressed girl avoid an accident. At this point we’re introduced to our accidental time traveller, Agatha Black.

Saul decides he’ll try to hide Agatha because nobody will understand her and he’s also a little afraid to be seen helping a girl. Agatha asks to be shown around the town and reminisces about how much things have changed. Saul takes her to his gang’s hideout and asks her to stay there while he heads home. At this point we learn that Saul has the option to enter a “Young Historians” contest for Scottish history. (a little foreshadowing) Saul wants to win the competition to buy a brand new bike. Saul goes about his normal routine at home, taking some extra food along the way so he can bring it to Agatha.

Saul and Agatha grow to be friends and Saul learns more about Scotland in the past. He hatches a plan to pass Agatha off as a boy so “he” can join his gang and attend school. Saul also tries to learn more about Agatha’s trip through time to help her return to her own time. Along the way, we see how Agatha looks at the world from her 200 years in the past and how Saul sees his world through new eyes.

We watch Saul grow a little bit through his adventure with Agatha. He thinks of himself a little less, gains some confidence, and gains an unexpected friend in Agatha. Does he succeed in helping Agatha return to her own time? Does Saul win the History prize and get his new bike? Janis Mackay tells a great story to answer all of those questions.

My Take: This was a great read for young adults and adults as well. I would have no problem giving this to my 5th grader to read and I think it would be appreciated. I enjoyed Saul’s story, though was initially put off by his negative attitude. As I got to know Saul, I saw that change and appreciated the story more. I think this is a good read for its target audience and can recommend it.


Disclaimer: I was provided with this book by the publisher with no expectations on their part. The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced by anyone else.

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Book Review: Matt Monroe and the Secret Society by Edward Torba


Matt Monroe and the Secret Society by Edward Torba starts off with Matt in a field watching lights rise above the field. Turns out that’s a dream, though. Matt runs off to take care of mowing the lawn of a local dentist. We learn that Matt has an older brother, Josh, who is very popular. Matt’s best friend is Zach, an out of shape young man who is very loyal to his friends. Dr. Steel, the dentist asks if there’s still a secret society that meets in town. Matt is surprised, but we learn that the society has been going for some time. It’s time for Matt and Zach to be initiated into the society soon and they’re slightly nervous about it.

As the story unfolds, Matt finds some mysterious wooden tablets and a ring. The adults in town convene a meeting and we meet the rest of the friends of Matt and Josh. It turns out that there is a larger secret society – of Dentists. They have worked to protect the world for some time against an evil fairy who wants to eliminate all of mankind. It’s now fallen on Matt to stop the villain and save the world or die trying.

Matt sets off with his friends and Josh and his friends. Along the way, we learn that the Tooth Fairy is actually real and in charge of fighting for humanity. The secret society of dentists was formed to help humans partner with the fairy world and maintain the balance. Will Matt save the world? Will his friends survive the quest or fall along the way as Matt reads in a prophecy?

My Take: Overall, I enjoyed the book. While the idea of a Tooth Fairy and secret society of dentists does tend to stretch disbelief quite a bit, it works well for the story. There were a couple of minor twists in the story that work well for this YA novel. The dental references seemed silly at times, but the story underneath was enjoyable. The story flowed pretty well from the beginning through to the end and I think that it could be a decent read for its target age range.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a preview copy of this book with no explanations on the part of the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced by anyone else.

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Book Review: The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

The 13-Story Treehouse

The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths, illustrated by Terry Denton, is definitely a book aimed at the elementary aged child. The illustrations are amusing and seem to fit well with a lot of similar titles available today. The stories are just the right mix of silliness and story-telling that a younger kid will appreciate. Sometimes the illustrations tell most of the story and other times they just complement it.

Andy and Terry live in a 13-story treehouse that has just about anything you could possibly want – a lemonade fountain, a marshmallow shooter, and all sorts of other outrageous things. Andy and Terry are tasked to write a book, of which they only have 2 pages completed. The finished product is due at the end of the day and they keep getting distracted. Several of the stories involved growing sea monkeys and the exploits that came about as a result of their mishaps.

My Take: All of the stories fit well with a child’s sense of humor, though I’d advise parents to give the stories a once-over first. Andy and Terry aren’t the best role models, even if their antics are amusing. I’d give it a cautious recommendation with that in mind. If your kids like books along the lines of the Dork Diaries and other books that are partly illustrated and partly telling a story, they’ll probably enjoy this as well.


Disclaimer: I was provided with a preview copy of this book with no expectations on anyone’s part. The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced by anyone else.

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Book Review: The Spirit Well by Stephen Lawhead

The Spirit Well (Bright Empires, #3)

The Spirit Well by Stephen Lawhead is the 3rd book (out of 5 planned books) in Bright Empires series. Mr. Lawhead includes a short summary at the beginning of the book, but your understanding will be quite a bit better if you read the series in order, starting with The Skin Map and The Bone House. Once again, we enter the world where Ley Lines can take people from one time and place to another. We take up the adventures of Kit, Wilhelmina, Lord Burleigh, the Flinders-Petrie clan, and even meet some new ley-travelers as we go along the journey. Kit wanders out of his encounter with the Spirit Well into more modern times. Mina keeps searching for Kit and Cosimo only to meet Kit in very odd circumstances – before she (presumably a future version of herself) rescues Kit and Cosimo. We learn a little more of Lord Burleigh and how he started his ley-line travels. We also learn more about the descendants of Arthur Flinders-Petrie.

The most interesting people introduced in this book to me were Cassandra Clarke, an archaeologist who accidentally discovers ley travels, and the Zetetic Society. The Society is made up of other ley-line travelers who are dedicated to finding whatever Arthur Flinders-Petrie discovered in his adventures. They know that it’s something important and want to find it before Lord Burleigh. They know that Lord Burleigh would abuse the Spirit Well for his own purposes. The society recognizes a higher power and wants to serve the good purpose they detect in it. Stephen Lawhead isn’t always overt about the Christian themes he puts into his books and he doesn’t make a huge deal about it here, either, other than to note the “Habiru” in ancient Egypt and references to God when the Zetetic Society meets to induct Cassandra.

When I started reading this, I had assumed that this was the final book in the series so was a little surprised when I got to the end of the book. The ending was either a really ironic ending or it was a cliff-hanger. I was pleased to realize that there will be 5 books in this series and the 4th is scheduled to be published later in 2013.

My Take: I really enjoyed this book. While I felt that The Skin Map got off to a somewhat slow start, the series quickly picked up after that to make for an interesting read. We jump from character to character, time to time, and place to place, but the stories are all interconnected. The characters all have their own motivations for exploring the ley-lines and they all make sense in this context. I wouldn’t recommend this for most younger readers, but figure that late teenage years and up might do well with the series. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Mr. Lawhead’s writings or who enjoys time-travel fantasy.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book with no expectations on the part of the publisher. The opinions in this review are my own and were not influenced by anyone else.

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