The Waterfall Traveler by S.J. Lem
When Ri ventures out into the forest to find some food for her adoptive father, she never imagines that she will be saved by a charming boy and swept up in a battle against an evil that threatens humanity. Filled with adventure, drama, provocative characters and fantasy lore, The Waterfall Traveler is the tale of a girl willing to risk it all to save those she cares about. This novel is a good fantasy read. It moves along at an expeditious pace with an original story and satisfying ending. The writing is above average with descriptive scenery and good word selection. If anything was lacking, I wanted more character growth from the main protagonist, Ri. At times, she felt a little wishy-washy and I think she should have been learning more from the admittedly extraordinary situations she into which she was continually thrust.
*Disclosure: I was provided a free copy of this novel with a request for an honest review.*
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The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro
After their harrowing case during the fall, Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are hoping for a calmer winter break. But when Charlotte’s beloved Uncle Leander goes missing, Watson and Holmes are once again thrust into the dangerous game of deduction and mystery. As they chase clues as to Leander’s whereabouts across Europe, Charlotte and Jamie must also deal with the messy emotions of their unique partnership. Brittany Cavallaro has written another excellent Sherlockian mystery novel as her follow-up to A Study in Charlotte. She manages to balance fun and thrilling adventure with character development and broad drama. It continues to amaze me just how much Jamie and Charlotte are like their namesake characters and yet, still different and have their own personalities. All in all, I’m recommending you dive into Brittany Cavallaro’s latest Charlotte Holmes mystery with both feet.
Starflight by Melissa Landers
Solara Brooks needs to restart her life and the best way to do that is find passage to the outer realm where no one will care about the felony tattoos across her fingers. Unfortunately, the only way to get there is to become the indentured servant of her former classmate, Doran Spaulding, the spoiled heir to a fuel fortune. Suddenly, everything changes when Doran is accused of conspiracy and must flee the authorities. Solara tricks him into playing her servant and the two find refuge aboard the Banshee with its rag-tag crew. Starflight is a refreshing YA science fiction space adventure with excellent protagonists and an enjoyable supporting cast. It’s a fast-paced read with engaging plot points. I particularly liked Solara. She was an independent, non-apologetic, yet still feminine character. You’ll have fun with this easy, sci-fi tale.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Becky Chambers spins a lively space opera in The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. It takes place aboard the Wayfarer, a hyperspace tunneling ship with a multi-species crew. When the Wayfarer is offered a very lucrative but long and dangerous job, they begin a journey filled with adventure and mishaps that test the limits of the tight-knit family. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is a wonderful, spacey read. I picked up this book because the description on the back reminded me of Firefly, which is never a bad thing. And yes, the story and characters have some similarities but Becky Chambers definitely wrote her own unique take on the space opera. A quote on the back says “A rollicking space adventure with a lot of heart” and I think that’s a great way to describe this book.
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Crooked Kingdom is the sequel to last year’s novel, Six of Crows. Again, Leigh Bardugo comes through with an engaging, character-driven action story. The story picks up right after the events of Six of Crows with Kaz Brekker and his gang having narrowly escaped their first mission. Now, double-crossed and still dealing with the effects of nearly dying, Kaz must use his mastermind skills to get his friends out of the city. Told in alternating point of view chapters from each of the six characters, Crooked Kingdom takes readers on the same roller coaster ride as its predecessor. And that’s not a bad thing. Having been absolutely taken in by the characters after Six of Crows, I found this novel to be even richer and more captivating. But, beware. Leigh Bardugo is a master of the end-of-chapter cliffhanger! This book is incredibly hard to put down after you get into the heart of the action.
The Explorers Guild: Volume One: A Passage to Shambhala by Jon Baird with Kevin Costner & Steven Meyer, illustrated by Rick Ross
The Explorers Guild marks an imaginative return to old time adventure stories. It is told partly through dense journal prose and partly through the style of a graphic novel. The incredibly creative meeting of the two distinct styles weaves a story of the mythical traveling city of Shambhala against the backdrop of World War I. This novel is not for everyone. It’s dense, archaic writing and length are difficult to maneuver at times and I felt myself wanting more of the graphic novel portions because most of the action happened there, but I have to say that I enjoyed it overall. The story is filled with adventures in far-flung places of the Earth and the characters are memorable. However, it is the beautifully rendered illustrations that really stand out. If you like good adventure stories, check out the unique novel that is The Explorers Guild.
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan
Having now read 13 of Mr. Riordan’s mythology-based adventure novels, I can say with certainty that he knows what he’s doing. While each pantheon (Greek, Roman, Egyptian and now Norse) has its own feel and characters, all of the books have the same wittiness, fun, and charisma. Magnus Chase has been living on the streets of Boston for the past two years. Since his mother’s death, nothing has felt quite right. Then on his sixteenth birthday, he is tracked down by his estranged uncle who tells him that he is actually the son of a Norse god. Magnus must fulfill his destiny by finding the Sword of Summer and keeping it from falling into the wrong hands and hastening Ragnarok. Cue a quest through several of the Nine Worlds using runic magic, dwarven crafting, and a sword with a mind of its own. I absolutely recommend Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer, but then again, I was predisposed to like it.