Book Review – Wind Catcher (Chosen #1) by Jeff Altabef and Erynn Altabef

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Wind Catcher (Chosen #1) is a Young Adult novel by the father/daughter duo, Jeff Altabef and Erynn Altabef. The reader is introduced to teenager Juliet Wildfire Stone whose life balances between two worlds, that of the rich and wealthy who attend an elite high school called Bartens and that of her Native American heritage. While Juliet tries to fit in at her new school, she is also taught the wisdom of her heritage by her grandfather, Sicheii. Along the way, you meet Juliet’s friends – Katie who also attends Bartens and has a father who will soon go to jail, Troy who is Native American and lives near the reservation and attends a normal high school, and Ella and Marton who are friends of Juliet’s from her former school. Juliet has a special gift. She hears voices and when she dreams, she has visions of her Native American heritage. All of this confuses Juliet, but soon becomes clear as a series of murders occur and are tied to her grandfather. Juliet and Troy embark on a journey to discover what the strange tattoos mean, why her grandfather is involved in a secret society and what all of it has to do with Juliet.

Wind Catcher takes the reader on a wild ride of fantasy, science fiction and Native American lore. As the story unfolds, the reader will learn about the Great Wind Spirit, Coyote, a demon, and the Seeker. The plot is complicated, but unfolds in a well-written series of events. Juliet is the Chosen and she must stop the Seeker, an alien, from destroying all she holds dear as well as Earth itself. The characters are all well-developed and even a bit complicated through their woven relationships. The Altabefs do an excellent job with settings, from Juliet’s school, to Slippery River, the town, and all of the vision worlds Juliet visits. The battle scenes near the end are exciting and well described.

What I loved most about this novel is the Native American lore sprinkled throughout the story. You can tell that the Altabefs spent an enormous amount of time researching it to make it believable, even though they do not link any one particular tribe or nation to it. I also loved the science fiction elements to this story, which the read will discover near the end.

Wind Catcher is one of the most original stories I have read. It has mystery, adventure and aliens. Who could want for more? I highly recommend this first novel in the Chosen trilogy for anyone who enjoys fantasy and science fiction. Although it is categorized as Young Adult, I believe even adults will enjoy it. I know I did.

Note: I received a free copy of this novel for a fair and honest review.

Rating: 5 stars

Genre(s): Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult, Native American Lore

To Purchase: Amazon

Book Review – Escape From Witchwood Hollow by Jordan Elizabeth

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Escape from Witchwood Hollow by Jordan Elizabeth is a YA fantasy novel. Elizabeth introduces us to Honoria, a fifteen year old who lost her parents in the 911 attacks. Along with her brother Geoffrey and aunt and uncle, they leave New York City and the tragedy behind to settle in the small upstate community of Arnn. Arnn holds many secrets and legends. Witchwood Hollow is one such legend. It is said that anyone who wanders in never returns because of the witch who lives in the woods. Honoria and her new friend Leon set off to uncover the truth of Witchwood Hollow, finding more than just a legend.

This novel is told in three time periods – the 1600s, the 1800s, and 2001 – and weaves together a story  of family histories, lost loved ones and reunions. The story begins in 2001 with Honoria and her family’s arrival in Arnn. Then switches to the 1600s where Lady Elizabeth Clifford, the witch who, accused of murder, stumbles into the woods and makes it her home. It continues in the 1800s with Albertine who travels from England to live with her father in Arnn, but gets lost and trapped in the woods. Other characters are woven throughout and add richness to the tale. The story then switches back and forth between these time periods as it unfolds to reveal a deranged witch, a vengeful curse of sorts and the need to save all of Arnn from the witch’s control.

I really enjoy the plot of this novel. It is original, entertaining and keeps you guessing until the very end to figure out how everything ties together.  All of the characters are well-developed and distinctive. Elizabeth does a great job of keeping all of their personalities separated and original. The settings, especially Witchwood Hollow, are descriptive and well-written.

The only problems I had with the novel are 1) not being able to like the character Honoria at the beginning of the novel. She is snobbish and a bit glib in her interactions with others and reminded me of people I’ve avoided most of my life. However, during the course of the novel, I grew to understand her and like her more, especially after she begins to interact with Leon. And 2) I wasn’t overly impressed with all of the clothing descriptions in the 2001 parts of the book. I do understand why they are there – a city girl comes to the country and there is the need for distinctions to be made between the previous lifestyle and the current one she is living in. These two issues only barely detract from the great story being told.

If you enjoy paranormal stories with witches, then you will definitely find this novel entertaining. It is not your usual witchy story and that makes it a step above other novels with similar themes.

Note: I was given a free copy of this novel for a fair and honest review.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult

To Purchase: Amazon

Short Story Review – A Cerberus Jaw by Lee A. Jackson

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A Cerberus Jaw by Lee A. Jackson is a 13-page (7,460 words) Fantasy short story. Jackson introduces the reader to Clay, a man who lives his life via order and routine. He must walk the same path each day to meet Elsa (his wife) at Mrs. Quinn’s Tea Room and perform a shaving ritual each day. Along that path, he encounters a dog that he has named Cerberus who quickly becomes Clay’s nemesis. A fear of this beast grows, but because of his need for order and routine, Clay forces himself to pass the corner house where this dog is fenced in instead of crossing the street to avoid it. Everything changes after the Coffee Bang. Instead of order, Clay’s grief causes his life to spiral into chaos. During his shaving ritual one morning after the Coffee Bang, Clay discovers a black strip along his jaw – a black, sucking hole that confuses, fascinates and consumes him.

Jackson tells this story in the present with flashbacks to the moment of the Coffee Bang. This weaving of the past and the present allows the reader to witness the breakdown of reality in Clay’s life. It also creates suspense. Just what is this Coffee Bang and what does it have to do with the black hole in Clay’s jaw?

Jackson is a clever storyteller, one who slowly builds upon the story by dropping small hints along the way that entices and encourages the reader to keep reading to the very end. His characters are well-developed, the settings are masterfully descriptive, and the scenes of the Coffee Bang are rich in details. What I enjoy most about this story is the way Jackson uses Cerberus as a metaphor for fear, loss and grief throughout the entire story.

Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: Fantasy

To Purchase: Smashwords

Lee A. Jackson’s Website/Blog | Twitter | Facebook

 

Book Promotion – Trouble By Any Other Name by Lori L. MacLaughlin

Trouble By Any Other Name

 (Sequel to Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble)

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About the Book:

Tara Triannon is no stranger to trouble. She’s yet to find an enemy her skill with a sword couldn’t dispatch. But how can she fight one that attacks through her dreams?

With her nightmares worsening, Tara seeks answers but finds only more questions. Then her sister, Laraina, reveals a stunning secret that forces Tara to go to the one place Tara’s sworn never to return to. Her troubles multiply when Jovan Trevillion, the secretive soldier of fortune who stole her heart, is mentally tortured by an ancient Being intent on bending him to its will. And worst of all, the Butcher — the terrifying wolf-like assassin she thought she’d killed — survived their duel and is hunting her again.

Hounded by enemies, Tara sets out on a harrowing quest to discover the true nature of who she is, to come to grips with the new volatility of her magic, and to defeat the evil locked in a centuries-old trap that will stop at nothing to control her magic and escape through her nightmares.

Buy Links:

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About the Author:

LoriLMacLaughlinLori L. MacLaughlin traces her love of fantasy adventure to Tolkien and Terry Brooks, finding The Lord of the Rings and The Sword of Shannara particularly inspirational. She’s been writing stories in her head since she was old enough to run wild through the forests on the farm on which she grew up.

She has been many things over the years – tree climber, dairy farmer, clothing salesperson, kids’ shoe fitter, retail manager, medical transcriptionist, journalist, private pilot, traveler, wife and mother, Red Sox and New York Giants fan, muscle car enthusiast and NASCAR fan, and a lover of all things Scottish and Irish.

When she’s not writing (or working), she can be found curled up somewhere dreaming up more story ideas, taking long walks in the countryside, or spending time with her kids. She lives with her family in northern Vermont.

You can find her here:

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