Monday, April 3, 2017

Truth (Makilien Trilogy)

Title: Truth

Series: Makilien Trilogy (Book #1)

Year: 2011

Author: Molly Evangeline (also Jaye L. Knight)

Summary: Trapped in a village no one is allowed to leave, Makilien yearns for the answers to her questions about life and the world outside the village walls. Yet no one but her closest friend seems to understand or share her desire. Despite her family's fears and warnings of the consequences, she is determined to find answers.

The unexpected arrival of a stranger, and the knowledge he possesses, drives Makilien to drastic action. Confronted with a world she knows nothing about, she must choose carefully who to trust as both good and evil lurk in all places. As a battle looms, one in which will be determined the fate of all, she must decide whether to believe in the One who is truth or fall prey to the lies of the enemy. (from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
~ Makilien 

Review: I had considered writing up a review for the entire trilogy at one go, but I feel like these books each deserve their own review. So, let's just go for the first, and see how it goes.

After falling absolutely in love with Jaye/Molly's other series, The Ilyon Chronicles, I wanted to read more from her. I'm seriously going nuts waiting for book 4, Exiles. So, I needed a good Molly fix while I waited. She published this trilogy before the Ilyon Chronicles, and it was definitely a plus to have all three books out and available to read so I didn't have to wait at all between them. And for all fans of Molly's work, this trilogy does not disappoint. It is apparent in places that this was written early on in her writing career, but it's been so much fun watching her talent with words develop. I recommend this trilogy for anyone who enjoys Molly's writing, fans of fantasy, lovers of adventures, etc. 

Makilien is an enjoyable heroine. She's brave, loyal, kind, and just everything you'd want in an epic heroine. It was a lot of fun watching her develop, and I felt her pain as she struggled along, fighting to discover the truth. (Note aside: this book is very well named.) Some of the other characters I would almost label a little stereotypical, as she has the usual older mentors that come alongside of her, but they didn't taste horribly cliche. There was the twist of having more than one mentor, and each one had their backstory. 

I found it difficult to get into the story right at the beginning, just as some things were a little slow in my opinion. However, once I got into the book, I got swept away and read the entire trilogy before I knew what was happening. 

Truthfully, this book as far as the plot is concerned reminded me of The Two Towers. Makilien and her friends have a large battle that they fight in preparation for a larger battle promised to arise in book two. I thoroughly enjoyed the pacing of the fighting and the scenes. Many times I got pulled in so much I felt like I was actually there. Guaranteed, once you start reading, you won't be able to *not* finish this series. It just isn't possible.

This series has no magic and is highly Christian. A few times I was afraid that the narrative was getting too "preachy" but overall I think Molly handled it really well. The message of truth and redemption is clearly portrayed in these pages, and I can only marvel at how Molly did it. 

Advisory: Fantasy violence and battle scenes. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Monday, March 6, 2017

Mister Monday (The Keys to the Kingdom)

Title: Mister Monday

Series: The Keys to the Kingdom (Book #1)

Year: 2006 

Author: Garth Nix

Summary: Arthur Penhaligon's first days at his new school don't go too well, particularly when a fiendish Mister Monday appears, gives Arthur a magical clock hand, and then orders his gang of dog-faced goons to chase Arthur around and get it back. But when the confused and curious boy discovers that a mysterious virus is spreading through town, he decides to enter an otherworldly house to stop it. After meeting Suzy Blue and the first part of "the Will" (a frog-looking entity that knows everything about the House), Arthur learns that he's been selected as Rightful Heir to the House and must get the other part of the clock hand in order to defeat Monday. That means getting past Monday's henchmen and journeying to the Dayroom itself. Thankfully, Arthur is up to the challenge, but as he finds out, his fight seems to be only one-seventh over.

With a weapon-wielding hero and a villain who doesn't make Mondays any nicer, Nix's Keys to the Kingdom launch is imaginative and gripping. After an action-packed crescendo to the book's middle -- when Arthur finally learns his destiny -- Nix keeps the drama going and doesn't let it fall. By the end, you might be winded from all the fantastic explanation, but you'll definitely be salivating for what's to come. (from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
~ Arthur Penhaligon
~ Suzy Turquoise Blue
~ The Will

Review: I have never read a story like this before. And truth be told, I'm having mixed feelings about it. Honestly, I really liked the steampunk flair and the machines and clock references. I'm fairly new to the steampunk genre, but I felt that this story captured it really well. 

Personally, I really enjoyed the main character, Arthur. He was asthmatic! I've always been slightly frustrated with books when they make heroes out of healthy guys, but no one ever remembers that poor little hero who has trouble with his lungs. I have asthma as well, so I was really able to relate to Arthur's breathing problems. And the asthma was described well. Many people don't realize how difficult living with asthma is, but I applaud Arthur for living and saving the world while battling asthma. The world needs more heroes with asthma. Okay, I'll get off my soap box now.

The adventure is fun, the characters are fun, and the writing style (though sometimes difficult to follow) is fun. I'd hate to parallel it to the Percy Jackson series, but certain things in the book often reminded me of that famous demigod. The end was clever, with pleasant twists. I found a few times that I had to slap myself in the face for not realizing how the author was setting certain things up. *should have seen that coming* But, well done. 

The down side is that the tale sometimes felt a little simple and somewhat boring. Multiple times I had to stop just because certain elements/sections of dialogue were just unbelievable. I was willing and able to accept the stretch of steampunk/fantasy/magic without difficulty. There were just too many things besides the steampunk that were difficult to comprehend. My brain would change things just to explain them better - just because I had a hard time accepting what was written as a believable reality. 

And then of course - the end. Mister "Monday" really means that you only get 1/7th of the whole adventure. There's Tuesday, Wednesday, and so on. Which means I need to now go find the other six books, finish the week, and finish the adventure. I'm not in a hurry to find out what happened, but I guess at some point I'll wonder what became of that asthmatic hero. 

Advisory: I can't think of much that I'd put as an advisory for this book. Some fighting and violence, but all a manageable, elementary level. I can't remember anything that would be of a concern, really. 

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Monday, February 6, 2017

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles)

Title: Winter 

Series: The Lunar Chronicles (Book #4)

Year: 2015 

Author: Marissa Meyer 

Summary: Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? (from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
~ Cress
~ Scarlet
~ Cinder
~ Winter
~ Captain Thorne
~ Jacin
~ Kai
~ Wolf
~ Levana

Review: I can't say just what it is about this series. Truthfully, there are certain things that just make me cringe, but at the same time, something always draws me back for more. It could be the fact that it has all the crazy, space-y, awesome elements that remind me of Star Wars. It could also be that Marissa Meyer has a unique habit of creating characters that are impossible to forget and impossible not to care for. OR it could simply be the fact that these are fairy tale retellings, and I absolutely love a good fairy tale retelling.

Or it could be all of those things combined. 

At any rate, here is the stunning conclusion to The Lunar Chronicles, and we're treated once more to the adventures of Cinder and Co. All the things are at stake. People are in jeopardy. The fate of both the moon and the earth hang in the balance. And Winter can't seem to snap Jacin out of Guard Jacin mode. 

This book I felt was maybe a little more action-packed and dramatic than the other three books. Possibly because it's the finale, and I will say that Marissa Meyer doesn't disappoint with this finale. I like how she took several different plots and wove them all together into one, satisfying tale. Granted, not everything is satisfying, but there's a great feeling of an end well done once you hit the last page. 

The Snow White angle I thought cleverly woven in. I was interested to see how the author would use the glass coffin, and it did not disappoint. In the least.

Truthfully, I want more fairy tales in this style. The science fiction/space opera settings do well when mixed with fairy tales, and I was kinda disappointed that this was the last book for Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles. I think the stories could have gone on a little further with more fairy tales. But that's just me. I'm a fairy tale fanatic. *coughs*

Advisory: Violence/fighting/blood/pain/death, but all on the same level as the other Lunar Chronicles books. The queen has a hobby of torturing people, so the narration gets a little graphic at times, but I never thought it too much. I can't recall anything specific that stood out, but it was definitely darker than the other three books. Also, some "adult comments" and language - all typical of the series. 

Romance from all 4 major couples plus some. I remember quite a few kisses/romantic physical content, so that's something to be aware of. It was pretty heavy, and that's a lot more than what I'm normally comfortable with. 

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Monday, January 9, 2017

King's Warrior (The Minstrel's Song)

Title: King's Warrior

Series: The Minstrel's Song (Book #1)

Year: 2012

Author: Jenelle Leanne Schmidt 

Summary: Six hundred years ago the land of Aom-igh was threatened with invasion by the Dark Country across the Stained Sea; in their danger King Llian sought the help of the dragons and the myth-folk. Graldon, King of the Dragons, granted the human king with a gift that would help him defeat his enemies. Graldon also promised King Llian that the dragons would come to the humans’ aid should Aom-igh ever be in such danger again. Years passed, and Aom-igh remained safe and isolated from its enemies. The dragons slowly disappeared and faded into legend and myth, and people forgot magic had ever existed. 

When her kingdom is threatened by the Dark Country once again, the headstrong Princess Kamarie sets off on a quest to find the man who may be able to save them all: the former King’s Warrior. Traveling with her are two companions: her eccentric maid, and a squire who resents his charge to travel with and protect the princess. However, finding the legendary hero proves to be the least of their worries. Together the companions encounter more than they ever bargained for. A beautiful gatekeeper, a sword fashioned by dragons, enemies who pursue them relentlessly and hound them at every turn, and an underground world full of mythical creatures are just the beginning of their adventures. 

As they search for the answers to mystifying riddles and seek a way to save everything they hold dear the comrades will learn a little about courage, a lot about truth, and more about themselves than they ever imagined. But if they can succeed in their quest, they may join worlds together. (from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
~ Kamarie
~ Oraeyn
~ Brant
~ Dylanna
~ Yole

Review: I'd heard a lot about this book through many of my blogging friends, and I've wanted to read it for a while. It took a while to get me to get it for my Kindle, and then it took even longer to get around to actually reading it. No fault of the book's; I'm just a avid procrastinator. 

This is a fantastic fantasy adventure in the style of Narnia or the DragonKeeper Chronicles. I did very much enjoy it. The characters, at first, seem a bit stereotypical of an epic fantasy tale, but once you get to know them, they dash all stereotypes to pieces. Kamarie is a sword-loving, action-loving princess, but she's not above asking for help. Darby is her eccentric old maid, but she's got her secrets and isn't too stuck up to get her elbows dirty in the adventure. Oraeyn is a squire, working towards being a full-fledged knight, but he'll admit that there's still a lot he doesn't know. Brant is a well-trained warrior and outdoorsman, but he has his share of tragedy and secrets. Yole is a fun orphan boy, but there's a lot more to him than meets the eye. 

The style is a little wordy, and I felt that at times a lot of information was repeated, first in the narration and then by someone talking. Personally, I think that this story could have used a little more editing to cut down on the repetitions and wordiness, but it was still very enjoyable.

The plot and events were sometimes a little unusual and full of twists! It was fun to read and ride along on the adventures of Kamarie and her friends. One of my absolute favorite scenes was early on when Oraeyn and Kamarie settle the question of leadership on their quest - involving a river. Quite out of the ordinary, but very memorable. *grins* 

Also: DRAGONS!! I loved the dragons. They were amazing. And dragons are wonderful things to have in stories. They were a pretty epic bonus to an epic story. Dragons are good things to read about. As a confession, I feel like I would read and enjoy almost any story with a good dragon in it. 

I would recommend this book to lovers of fantasy, adventure, and fun. I'm looking forward to reading more of this series (The Minstrel's Song), and I was very pleased to note I already have the other two books (Second Son and Yorien's Hand) on my Kindle. Guess what I'll be doing soon? While the end was satisfactory, I still had too many questions to allow the story to end with book one. Relationships, people, REASONS. Things still need to happen, so I'm going to keep reading and not talk about it because of spoilers. But I'm pretty sure you'd get hooked too, so read, enjoy, and read some more. 

Advisory: Some fantasy violence/fighting/death. Not over the top, and I thought it very well handled for the tone of the novel.

There is also magic in this story, but I think the author handled that well, too. Normally, I don't enjoy books with lots of magic in it (I'll leave my lengthy explanation for another time). The magic in this book is used only by those who have been trained to use it (i.e. the wizards and wizardesses) for the benefit of others. I didn't think the magic overused, but I'd be interested in reading and researching more of this author so that I could more fully understand how she's using that magic as it's not completely clear in this one novel. 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Friday, December 23, 2016

Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales

Title: Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales

Series: None

Year: 2016

~ Elisabeth Grace Foley
~ Rachel Heffington
~ J. Grace Pennington
~ Emily Ann Putzke
~ Suzannah Rowntree
~ Hayden Wand

Summary: A lonely girl plots revenge in the shadow of a mountain. A stolen princess fumbles a century backward. A dwarfish man crafts brilliant automatons. A Polish Jew strikes matches against the Nazis. A dead girl haunts a crystal lake. A terrified princess searches a labyrinth. A rich collection of six historically inspired retellings, Once is a new generation of fairytales for those who thought they'd heard the tales in all their forms. 

Featuring the novellas of Elisabeth Grace Foley, Rachel Heffington, J Grace Pennington, Emily Ann Putzke, Suzannah Rowntree, and Hayden Wand. (from Goodreads)

Main Characters: 
~ Rosa Jean and Quincy Burnett
~ Maria and Heath
~ Amanda and Byron
~ Kasia and Romek
~ Ruby Black and Max Moran
~ Nella and Benedict

Review: I loved this collection so much! If it's not already on your bookshelf or your Kindle, you need to add this one right away! I'd highly recommend for any fairy tale enthusiast! We've got fantastic retellings for Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Rumplestiltskin, The Little Match Girl, Snow White, and Rapunzel. Truthfully, I was really excited to see some of the lesser-known fairy tales instead of the usual two or three that everyone ends up retelling. Just a pleasant change. 

The Mountain of the Wolf ~ I loved the descriptions and setting of this tale, but I found it difficult to pick up on the Little Red Riding Hood references at times. The point of view shifted a lot, jumping back and forth between the two main characters (Rosa Jean and Quincy) and then sometimes leaping out to a few minor characters, and it was a little confusing at times. However, the pace was really nice, and I got wrapped up in the story fairly quickly. By the middle, I was completely captivated. I thought it a really neat twist on the usual red hood and wolf story. Overall, I'd rate this story at 4 stars. Not my favorite of the collection, but very enjoyable, nevertheless.

She But Sleepeth ~ This was probably one of the cleverest Sleeping Beauty retellings that I've ever read. Rachel Heffington really outdid herself. The setting and historical details were brilliant and so captivating. I loved the vivid colors and descriptions! It was like reading a fairy tale on a roller coaster, honestly; so many twists and unexpected turns. I will admit, the ending caught me very much by surprise, but I thought Rachel handled it well, considering everything. But yes, for the happily ever after lover in me, it was a little disappointing. The gypsy magic was a little uncomfortable for me to read personally, as it borders on actual occult magic. I won't get on my soap box here (for space reasons) but it was because of this that I'd give this story 4 stars. Magic aside, it deserves 5 stars, but sorry, folks. That's just me.

Rumpled ~ This one ties for my favorite of the collection. I love the story of Rumplestiltskin, and this was just a brilliant retelling. Honestly, I'd reread this whole collection just for the enjoyment of devouring this tale. Fairy tale retelling + steampunk. SERIOUSLY. WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT? It was amazing. The tale was wonderfully paced, with twists that were so unexpected, yet crafted so beautifully into the story. SO Rumplestiltskin. Amazing. Really. I loved the steampunk references. The characters, too, were so brilliantly shaped -- instead of just slapping stereotypical fairy tale peoples into the story and calling it good, J. Grace Pennington really took the time to flesh her characters out, making them seem so real and believable. 5 stars. Hands down. No questions asked.

Sweet Remembrance ~ This story had a really interesting concept: The Little Match Girl set during World War II with Jews as the main characters. I began it hungry to get into the story, but kinda floundered a bit while reading it. The chapters alternated between present-time, present-tense action and memories in past tense. Normally, it's hard for me to read in present tense, and it was difficult for me here. But that could just be a personal thing. I thought it went well with the story, considering the emphasis on the memories, but it isn't my favorite style. The story was a sweet romance, but almost a little too sappy and moody for my taste. Knowing the original fairy tale, I began the tale knowing exactly how it would end, and while I enjoyed it, there wasn't a lot that kept me driving on until the end. The only other thing I'd say about this story is a caution about the language. Overall, good, but unfortunately not my favorite. 4 stars.

Death Be Not Proud ~ This one blew me completely away. I've never seen Snow White like this before, but it was AMAZING. I'll admit, at first I was pretty skeptical, because I couldn't see how Snow White was going to come through everything. By the end, I could only sit back in my chair and think, "That was more Snow White than Disney." 5 stars. The historical setting was difficult to follow, and that would be my main complaint. It was so cool to have a fairy tale set in New Zealand with tons of vibrant characters, but oftentimes I felt like the setting slipped into something more American and modern, making it not so completely believable. There is a lot of violence in this one (probably more than any other tale in this collection), but I thought it was handled well. In the end, I really have nothing else to do but to give it 5 stars. Thrilling, mysterious, odd, but so exciting.

With Blossoms Gold ~ If I didn't like Rumplestiltskin so much, this story would probably be my favorite. OF ALL TIME. Seriously, Hayden Wand did an amazing job. And I'm not just saying that. Rapunzel in Italy. I was skeptical, too, about this one, and I wasn't completely sold when I began it as the beginning was kinda cliche and slow. But since I love Rapunzel, I kept with it, and wow! Am I glad I did! The fairy tale details were so wonderfully woven into the story, and it just kept getting better. I found the main character Nella so realistic and believable -- and really easy to relate to. As an asthmatic, I've struggled in the past with panic attacks similar to hers, so it was so interesting to see how they were portrayed. I loved the brother scenes with Benedict and Orlando, and the whole "prince-becoming-blind" element from the original fairy tale WAS JUST SO AMAZING I CAN'T EVEN. I wish this story was a full-length novel, because I seriously need it to be. How many stars? Why ask? I wish I could give it 6. 

Did I already say everyone needed to read this collection? Yes? Okay, good.

Advisory: Romance (several kisses), language, and some violence. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Please note: I received a copy of this collection from the authors in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Warden and the Wolf King (The Wingfeather Saga)

Title: The Warden and the Wolf King

Series: The Wingfeather Saga (Book #4)

Year: 2014

Author: Andrew Peterson

Summary: All winter long, people in the Green Hollows have prepared for a final battle with Gnag the Nameless and the Fangs of Dang. Janner, Kalmar, and Leeli—Throne Warden, Wolf King, and Song Maiden of Anniera—are ready and willing to fight alongside the Hollowsfolk, but when the Fangs make the first move and invade Ban Rona, the children are separated. Janner is alone and lost in the hills; Leeli is fighting the Fangs from the rooftops of the city; and Kalmar, who carries a terrible secret, is on a course for the Deeps of Throg. Meanwhile in Skree, Sara Cobbler and Maraly Weaver care for the broken Artham Wingfeather as Fangs muster for battle across the Mighty River Blapp. 

Sea dragons lurk in the waters. Wicked Stranders crawl through the burrows. Ridgerunners and trolls prowl the land. Cloven haunt the forest. Monsters and Fangs and villains lie between the children and their only hope of victory—in the epic conclusion of The Wingfeather Saga. (from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
~ Janner Wingfeather
~ Kalmar Wingfeather
~ Leeli Wingfeather

Review: This book. THIS BOOK! I have been waiting about four years for this book, AND NOW IT'S OVER! Completely over. It's gonna take me a while to recover from this book. IT WAS THAT AMAZING!

I know. I don't usually get into all caps when writing book reviews. But this book is different. I fell in love with this series a long time ago, and I don't think I know how to handle the fact that it's over. AND I DON'T WANT IT TO BE OVER! The three Wingfeather children, the Jewels of Anniera, have gone through every adventure possible, and now Andrew Peterson has stuck a "The End" on their story. *sigh*

Well, I suppose I ought to put together some sort of review here. After all, that's why I'm at my computer typing right now.

Janner, Kalmar, and Leeli are back for one final adventure. One final battle against Gnag the Nameless. One final push to end the evil destroying their country, their family, their friends, and everything else before it's too late. One final book. One final. Did you get that? 

Life in the Hollows is, at the start, pretty peaceful. Yeah, there's the threat of Gnag looming over everyone, and Fangs creeping where they're not supposed to be, and ridgerunners acting highly suspicious, but it's right where book three left us. However, things start going wrong right after Janner gets blindplopped for his thirteenth birthday. And then everything goes to the Blackwood from there (except for when it all comes back from the Blackwood).

Meanwhile, across the sea, Artham, Sara, and Maraly are having troubles of their own. The book cuts for a bit to follow their storyline, and although there was a big part of me that wanted everything focused on the Wingfeather kids, I really liked how this second story was weaved in. All the action in Dugtown, the horrible Stranders, the devious Fangs... it was like getting to read an epic story within an epic story. [Highlight for spoilers] And I sincerely say that I love the growing father-daughter relationship between Maraly and Gammon. That's all I have to say on that account, because... spoilers.

I also love the development that Janner and his siblings go through. You would think that after everything they've been through, they couldn't get any better. But they do. Janner in particular grew up considerably, and I loved following his journey from selfish boy to sympathetic man (even though he's only thirteen). And, of course, those of you who know the end of this story... FEELS. SO MANY FEELS. I just can't even.

The dragons were so cool. Oskar was perfect, as always. Thorn made me smile every single time he showed up. Leeli was so sweet, and I'm adding a whistleharp to my wish list. SARA -- don't argue, but we need more of Sara Cobbler. Maraly was hilarious. And I even liked the troll. Honestly, there is so much good about this story that I could say, but I don't think you want to hear all that. It really is a good and awesome book -- with illustrations! A wonderful adventure, with epic pictures to boot. Can't get better than that. An awesome end to the Wingfeather Saga.

Although I wish it wasn't the end. But THANK YOU for the epilogue. I needed that. Seriously. Wait 'til you read it. You'll completely agree with me. BUT SO MANY THINGS UNANSWERED.

In the words of Amila Hooperstat, "I won't get on my soap box."

Put me on record for saying that I love Andrew Peterson's narrative and story style for these books. It's so awesome and total fun. Easy to read, but real right down to the core. And hilariously funny. Just what you want in an epic adventure about three siblings. And just what you want to mimic in the book review. 

Advisory: Lots of fantasy action. As the book centers around a war, there are multiple battles in which people (and creatures) are bit, injured, killed, or turned to dust. There are also scary and ugly things, like Stone Keepers, toothy cows, Bat Fangs, and the thirteenth honeymuffin. 

In addition, Gnag uses powerful stones to meld people with animals into Fangs or cloven. There are a lot of scenes centered around the melding and its results, but I thought it handled very well. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Robbers' Tunnel (The Princess Castle Series)

Title: The Robbers' Tunnel

Series: The Princess Castle Series (Book #1)

Year: 2015

Author: Abigail L. Pollack

Summary: A new castle in the forest bring much excitement to Abigail and her friends, but when robbers invade, things get dangerous. A robbed bank, a robbed library, and a hidden valley bring things they never wanted anything to do with. (from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
~ Abigail
~ Charity
~ Matthew
~ Dan
~ Elijah
~ Sammy

Review: This young author is a particular friend of mine, and when she first told me she was writing a book, I was so excited. We'd shared book ideas and talked about our stories, and I was eager to get my hands on anything that she wrote. She contacted me a few times for help with formatting and publishing, and it was such a pleasure to be a part of helping her get this story out. This book is the first in her Princess Castle series, a series that is quickly opening up to be the adventure of a lifetime. In truth, it's not very long, but it is so much fun! 

Abigail is a young girl who has a castle in her backyard. And as any true and kind princess, she wants to share the castle with her friends. So, she has a whole bunch of girls come to live with her at the castle. At first, everything seems just peachy. But that's before things start going missing. A royal stay at the castle quickly turns into a dangerous quest for all involved -- including the boys and men who arrive to become the castle's army. 

I really like Abigail's style of writing. It's a little rough at certain spots, as is usual for young authors, but I'm really eager to see her mature her writing in further books. But she writes in a fun and easy-to-read narrative, and her characters know just how to make you smile! Abigail wrote herself in as the heroine, and the friends and family she has in real life are portrayed as the same in her book. I love how she did that - especially since it's so much fun to see the names of people I know in an actual book. And for those of you who enjoy Easter eggs, some of my own family is mentioned in this book. *grins* I'll leave you to figure that out. 

For anyone who wants to live the adventure we all dreamed about as kids -- this is it. It's not a heavy story, not overly complicated, but it's truly a story unlike any other. I felt myself transported back to my childhood and all the make-believes. Abigail captured the world of any child's dream and put it all on a few pages. 

Advisory: Some violence, as our heroine and her friends have to fight the bad guys. Guns and swords are involved and some people get hurt, but I would still think this book appropriate for most young readers. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars