‘Full Of Mystery And Imagination.’ Robbie Reviews #Ya #Fantasy Bloodstone by @Marjorie_Mallon #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Robbie. She blogs here https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Robbie has been reading Bloodstone by MJ Mallon

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Bloodstone is a fascinating book, beautifully written and full of mystery and imagination.

Amelina is a sixteen year old girl who is caught in a cycle of unhappiness. Her happy family life changed on her thirteen birthday. She can’t remember the details but “[her] mind, resurrecting buried memories from [her] thirteenth birthday: an imprint on glass, a charades card, and a young man’s beguiling voice bewitching [her].” Since that dreadful night when her father disappeared and returned months later an altered man, whose youth had been stolen, Amelina has been sad. Her mother changed on that day and became a harridan who works all the time and who cannot ever be pleased.

Amelina’s only ‘friends’ in her own home are self-harming Esme, an ex-school colleague who seemed to have the perfect life but is now trapped behind the mirrors in Amalina’s family home, and Shadow, her creepy black cat. Amelina does have some strong friendships outside of her home which are her saving grace.

The story starts with Amelina receiving a strange invitation to visit the mythical Crystal Cottage. On the same day, while out for a walk to think about this unusual invitation, she meets the mysterious and handsome Ryder to whom she is instantly attracted.

These two events trigger an unusual adventure where Amelina must take certain actions in order to save her father and restore the happiness of her family.

I enjoyed the character of Amelina. She had a troubled and difficult life with her disapproving mother and elderly and convalescent father. She just want’s her life to return to how it was before and she knows that her lot in life is poor compared to her best friends. I admired Amelina for being sensible and seeing the reality of her relationship with Ryder, despite her anguished state of mind and intense attraction to the man. I think this shows great strength of character and sends an excellent message to YA female readers of this book. I also liked the fact that Amelina looked for solutions to her problems and actively sought happiness. These are all positive characteristics.

Amelina has a gift for art and is given a magic art set by her aunt. The scenes involving Amelina painting with this gift are among my favorite in the book.

The following extract demonstrates the energy and mystery of the painting:

“As I dipped the brush into the paint, a gripping sensation overcame me. I painted in haste with a multitude of dissolving crystal paint flecks staring back at me from the canvas. A dark grey, bluish black, sinister tinge blemished the artwork. Shares of varying hues moved across the painting, competing for supremacy in a powerful duality of light and darkness.”

Ryder was a dark character and that was evident form his first encounter with Amelina. It was satisfyingly for me that Amelina did not succumb to his charms in a completely thoughtless and silly way. She kept her head and assessed Ryder’s behaviour even though it hurt her to do so.

The self harm references could be a trigger for some young readers, but they are skillfully and carefully handled so I think it is unlikely to cause distress. They are more likely to provide comfort, but that is just my opinion and I haven’t had any dealings with the victims of self harming.

An excellent and engrossing read and one I recommend to young adult and adult readers alike. 

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I didn’t think my life could get weirder, but I was wrong…

Fifteen-year-old Amelina Scott lives in Cambridge with her dysfunctional family, a mysterious black cat, and an unusual girl who is imprisoned within the mirrors located in her house.

When an unexpected message arrives inviting her to visit the Crystal Cottage, she sets off on a forbidden path where she encounters Ryder: a charismatic, perplexing stranger.

With the help of a magical paint set and some crystal wizard stones, can Amelina discover the truth about her family?

A unique, imaginative mystery full of magic-wielding and dark elements, Bloodstone is a riveting adventure for anyone interested in fantasy, mythology or the world of the paranormal.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Ya #Fantasy A Shifting Of Stars by @KathyKimbray

Today’s team review is from Jessie, she blogs here https://behindthewillows.com

#RBRT Review Team

Jessie has been reading A Shifting Of Stars by Kathy Kimbray

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The words you guys. The words. Yes, I know, you are thinking. “Uh, excuse me Jessie, books are literally made of words.” But these words describe places in such lyrical ways they roll around in my head painting vivid pictures. I was only on page two…  “Beside me, buildings cringe with moss. Walkways glisten with dirty puddles. Teetering balconies slouch from walls with garments strung between casements like cobwebs.” …and there I was, in love.

I’d like to think it’s more than personal preference that makes this setting of such a vivid scene so important. Thrown into a whirlwind of a fantasy world where the heroine is being marched away in chains by the end of the first chapter you’ve got to be able to get your bearings quickly.  And the beautiful descriptions make sure you do.

I hit the unveiling of the big plot point and found myself in an unexpected conundrum of not knowing whether to complain to the book (sometimes I talk to my books) that “Your characters “big news” is the same thing everyone says and does” or yelling “OH MY… You did what now?!?” which brought me right up to the end where I still was in a conundrum because I couldn’t decide if I was so mad the book ended because I just really wanted to know what happened next or that a reader should seriously and legitimately not be left hanging at such a point.

Would I recommend it? Fellow YA Fantasy readers I suggest you give this one a read and then call me so we can talk about that ending!

Book description

A squandering emperor. A handsome stranger. A reluctant heroine. And the ancient magic that will capsize a kingdom.

Seventeen-year-old Meadow Sircha watched her mother die from the wilting sickness. Tormented by the knowledge that the emperor failed to import the medicine that would have saved her, she speaks out at a gathering of villagers, inciting them to boycott his prized gladiator tournament.

But doing so comes at a steep cost.

Arrested as punishment for her impulsive tongue, Meadow finds herself caught up in the kind of danger she’s always tried to avoid. After a chance meeting with an enigmatic boy, she’s propelled on a perilous trek across the outer lands. But she soon unearths a staggering secret: one that will shift her world—and the kingdom—forever.

Filled with longing and heart, surprise and wonder, A SHIFTING OF STARS is perfect for fans of AN EMBER IN THE ASHES, RED QUEEN and SHADOW AND BONE.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Fantasy The Standing Stones by Caren Werlinger #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Barb, she blogs here http://barbtaub.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Barb has been reading The Standing Stones: Chronicles of Caymin (The Dragon Mage Saga III) by Caren J Werlinger.

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In my reviews of the the first and second book in this series, I mentioned early Ireland’s rich history of what we would today call magic and fantasy. But now that I live near circles of standing stones dating back thousands of years, while just up the hill from us is an ancient sign politely indicating the way to the Fairie Glen, the mystery and power of these sites is a tie to people and events going back before our records. From our modern viewpoint, we may find it hard to believe that so much of ancient society was informed by the belief that supernatural forces controlled and influenced almost every aspect of their lives. Only…what if that was exactly what was happening? What if there were people with special gifts, trained and honed over a lifetime to wield tools we can’t understand? What happens when that supernaturally-based belief system crashes against the equally supernaturally-based system propagated by Christian missionaries?

This is the third book in the series, and I have to be honest with readers. Like any epic, there are a LOT of characters, whose interactions and adventures in earlier books form the backbone to the story arc. But the good news for those new to the series, is that you have the chance to take in the entire series, without waiting for each new instalment like the rest of us.This conflict forms the basis for Caren J. Werlinger’s Dragonmage series. Set in an ancient Ireland steeped in magic traditions, it tells the story of a young girl who is the one chosen to fill ancient prophecies while her entire world is crashing against the rapidly spreading new Christian beliefs. In one sense, a story like this seems like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic when we all know what is coming. But in another sense, it gives us a chance to imagine the lives of people to whom magic was a very real and present force. Author Caren Werlinger continues to balance delicately  between the magic lore taught and practiced by her fictional mages and the reality that we know it was the Christians who were eventually successful.

As a short (and hopefully not too spoilery) recap, the earlier books have already told the story of a child called Ash. Adopted by badgers (badgers!) as an infant after her village is destroyed by invaders, she survives because of her ability to communicate with animals. Although discovered and accepted as apprentice by mages, Ash and her new friends’ existence is threatened by the increasing influence of the Christianity introduced to Ireland by Saint Patrick in the fifth century.

Bonded with the baby dragon Péist, Ash receives her true name—Caymin—and discovers  her destiny as a dragonmage, one chosen to travel through a time Portal to save other mages and their dragons, prevent a horrific war, and keep the spreading Christians from destroying Ireland’s magic heritage.

The world building continues to be wonderful. Not only do we get the strong sense of the realities of everyday life, but we also see the lure of the “what if”. In Book III, for example, Caymin and Péist learn the true nature of the rings of Standing Stone that dot the British Isles. In telling their story, author Caren Werlinger takes many of the tropes of epic fantasy and converts them to the needs of her tale:

  • Setting: Yes, there is an ancient world where a deadly enemy, once thought defeated, now returns to gather his [why is it always his?] dark forces. In a typical epic fantasy, this would mean the end of the world (or at least the bits we like with, you know, dashing heroes, and good sanitation, and of course ice cream…) is at hand. But wait! Although raised in secrecy with no knowledge of his true destiny, our epic fantasy Hero gathers a devoted but motley band, some Shitastic Artifact/ Ring of Power/ Awesome Sword-thingie, and they all proceed to kick Dark Force butt, after which Hero manages to personally defeat the Dark Lord, probably in one-on-one combat. In Caymin’s tale, while she was technically raised in secret—by badgers!—and does gather a group around her, the hero thing is done by a girl who is still basically a child, with help of course from her pet dragon.
  • Props: There is a properly scary shitastic artifact of doom—not to mention dragons aplenty—but the motley posse is basically children, really old people, and of course badgers.
  • Quest: Although there is a reluctant quest, Caymin isn’t The One, hidden heir to the kingdom. She’s the child of peasants, brutally burned as a baby and further scarred. She and her dragon just get on with saving the world because they are the only ones who can, although neither expects to survive the attempt.
  • Romance: In typical epic fantasy, the Hero finds a snarky but brave girl who is surprisingly good with a sword, but nevertheless needs to be rescued with depressing regularity, after which they have sex (or if it’s YA they have a Moment and maybe even a Kiss) on horse/dragon/flying creature-back. Okay, not so much in this story. Not only is Caymin still, technically, a child but she’s separated by literally hundreds of years (and the odd dimensional shift) from the one person for whom she starts to feel an attraction. So—to the probable relief of her dragon Péist—there are no romantic dragonback encounters.

There are a few things that I might have changed. In keeping with the huge cast common to epic fantasy, this volume continues to introduce new characters whose main purpose seems to be tying up the fate of every orphan ever mentioned (and like all good epics, almost everyone IS an orphan). Also, Camin and Péist’s ultimate fate is still a bit unclear.

But all that pales against what I consider to be the finest achievement of these volumes. I admire the way Caymin’s character develops and grows, even as the slightly more alien dragon also tries to find his path as he matures. Caymin’s confusion about her attraction to another girl is sensitively and beautifully handled, fitting well into the context of the strong women who have guided her. And her acceptance of the heroic role she accepts owes more to those who have guided her than to any Prophecy, fighting prowess, or innate magical ability.

If you know a child entering adolescence, especially if they are questioning their sexuality, if they have any handicaps, or if they would like to see a hero who is NOT a Hollywood Ken-&-Barbie-R-Us clone, please do them a favor and send them this series. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA fantasy, adventure, and coming of age stories.

Book Description

Caymin and Péist, the young dragonmage and dragon who helped to end the last dragon war, have returned from that conflict longing only for peace. But peace is not to be found. Éire is on the brink of being torn asunder as Christians battle pagans, raiders from the north attack the coast, and their enemies—the power-hungry dragonmage and dragon they fought in the otherworld—have escaped from their prison.

Caymin and Péist are the only ones who can thwart them but, in order to do so, they’ll have to do the unthinkable—bring all of the dragons and their mages back to this realm. The dragons can only be summoned and controlled by one who holds the Méarógfola—the Bloodstone. The problem is, the Bloodstone hasn’t been seen since it was stolen a thousand winters ago.

In a race through time, Caymin and Péist will have to go back through the Portal, back a thousand winters, back to set in motion everything that must unfold as it was meant to. Finding the Méarógfola is only the beginning of their challenges. Old factions among the dragons make them as difficult to control as the human clans. Destroying the Bloodstone is the only way to end this once and for all, but there are those who will do anything, anything, to get their hands on it.

About the author

Caren J. Werlinger

 I was raised in Ohio, the oldest of four children. Much of my childhood was spent reading everything I could get my hands on, and writing my own variations on many of those stories where I could play the hero, rescuing the girl and winning her love. Then I grew up and went to college where I completed a degree in foreign languages and later another in physical therapy where for many years, my only writing was research-based, including a very dry therapeutic exercise textbook.

In the mid-nineties, I began writing creatively again and re-discovered how much fun it is. My first novel, Looking Through Windows, was published in 2008 and won a GCLS award for Debut Author. In 2012, I decided to begin publishing my own books under my imprint, Corgyn Publishing. Corgyn’s first release, Miserere, followed in late 2012 to excellent reviews.

I live in Virginia with my partner, Beth, and our canine fur-children

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