Book Review of Carnival Magic by Amy Ephron

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Book Review of Carnival Magic by Amy Ephron

This book just showed up in the mail one day! Fun, right? I love bookmail, and surprise bookmail is even better! Needless to say, I was excited to read this. I’m always looking for fun, new middle-grader reads, and I had high hopes for this one. What could be more magical than a carnival at night with the lights, rides, acts, animals, interesting people, and yummy smells? Check out my book review of Carnival Magic by Amy Ephron to see what I thought!


“Tess and Max are back in England for another summer with their Aunt Evie—this time by the seashore in South Devon. And they’re incredibly excited about the travelling carnival that’s come to town. There are rides, games, and acrobats, The House of Mirrors—and even a psychic, with a beautiful wagon all her own.

In a visit to the psychic’s wagon, while Tess is being hypnotized, the wagon seems to move. Before Tess can shake herself out of the hypnosis, before Max can do anything, they seem to be travelling—along with the rest of the carnival—too quickly for the two of them to jump out. But where are they going and what awaits them? Will they be caught in a world different from their own? And do the Baranova twins, acrobats who miss their sister almost as much as Tess and Max miss their family, hold the keys to the mystery?

Internationally bestselling author Amy Ephron returns with a companion novel to The Castle in the Mist and creates a magical tale filled with adventure, mystery, fantasy, family, and fun.”

My Book Review:

Let me start off by saying that as I read I got the feeling that there was a book previous to this one. I didn’t know for sure that there is another book until after I finished this one. There may have been some things I would have understood more if I had read the first book. This book starts out as an adventure when Tess and Max’s mom drops them off at the airport. They fly by themselves from the United States to England. They’re going to stay with their Aunt Evie  for the summer.

Aunt Evie seems like the perfect, fun aunt. She has a fun cottage by the ocean and picks up tickets to the zoo on the way home from the airport. While at the zoo, strange things start to happen. The zookeeper allows her to run in for just a few minutes, 6 ½ to be exact. In those 6 ½ minutes she sees a baby tiger in pain and pulls a pin out of its paw. I think that’s exciting, but what? I’ve never been to a zoo that has the tigers available to touch through a rod iron fence. I’m good with fantasy though, so ok, I’ll keep reading. I didn’t quite understand the reason behind the 6 ½ minutes, but I figured it’d be explained later on.

The next day, Aunt Evie takes the kids to a roadside carnival. She allows them to spend most of the day by themselves while she checks out a local antique store. The plan is that she’ll meet them at 1:30 by the big dinosaur. Well, a lot happens before 1:30! It gets a little weird! Tess goes into a psychic’s trailer to be hypnotized and the carnival ends up moving. Magically. In minutes the kids are transported to who-knows-where. The strange thing is that it’s not the same carnival they end up in.

Honestly, from here on out I was a bit confused. The characters that the kids meet are fun and interesting, especially Tatiana, Alexei, Tara, Anna, and Julian. Maybe it’s my old brain (but I usually like middle-grader books!), but I just didn’t understand. Why? How? What purpose? The carnival moved, but they ended up at a different carnival. So, they had to be the ones to move, not the carnival, right? They kept talking about a ghost carnival, but which one was the ghost carnival? Was it the second one or the third one, or both?

The whole part about them escaping really confused me. What? You want two kids and a horse to do what? How? The 6 ½ minute thing was used a few more times, but never explained, so that was a big hole. Also, how time worked at the different carnivals confused me. I don’t want to give anything away, but it just really didn’t make sense.

The writing is descriptive and engaging and the characters are fun and personable. This book has so much potential! Unfortunately, it just falls flat. There are a bunch of holes and unanswered questions, and I felt like things weren’t explained well enough. If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you know that I’m good with middle-grader books. I’ve read and loved many of them. This one, however, just has too many holes. I would also recommend reading the first book because it may answer some of the questions I had. I’m going to hand it to my nine-year-old, have her read it, and I’ll let you know what she says.  

Content Rating PGRating: PG (It’s clean! There isn’t any profanity, violence, or “intimacy.” There are a few kind of tense, scary-ish parts.)

Recommendation: Middle-graders (4th-6th grades) and up

My Rating: 3/5 

3 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here:


Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Fablehaven book #1 by Brandon Mull Adventurers Wanted: Slathbog's Gold (Book #1) by M.L. Forman  Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

Book Review of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Book Review of A Wrinkle in Time (Book #1) by Madeleine L'Engle

How have I never read this book? I don’t know, but when I saw that the movie was coming out, I told my kids that we needed to read it! We have been diligently reading almost every night to get it read in time. Whew! We finished! I sure hope the movie is good! (Look for my Book vs Movie showdown coming after we see the movie next week.) Are you looking to read the book or wondering what all the hype is about? Read my book review of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle to find out what we thought.


“Out of this wild night, a strange visitor comes to the Murry house and beckons Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe on a most dangerous and extraordinary adventure—one that will threaten their lives and our universe.

Winner of the 1963 Newberry Medal, A Wrinkle in Time is the first book in the Madeleine L’Engle’s classic Time Quintet.”

My Review:

Wow! What an adventure! A Wrinkle in Time takes you on a journey through the universe. Have you ever wondered what’s out there? Do you ever look up at the stars and imagine who or what lives on those planets, and what the stars are made of? Do you ever dream of traveling through the universe? Well then this book is for you! It’s very unique and imaginative. It seamlessly mixes fantasy and science fiction into an incredible tale of courage, sacrifice, and love.

I read this book aloud to my kids, and it was so fun to take this journey together. Even my 16 and 14 year-old boys sat with us. I thought it worked great as a read aloud. There are quite a few exceptional vocabulary words, and so it was good that I could explain (or look them up) if needed. I think it works for a read aloud for about 2nd grade and up, and as a silent read for middle-graders and YA.

I thought it was written well. The characters are so likable and realistic. Charles Wallace differs a little; he’s very likable, but a little hard to relate to. He’s very young and very smart. He reminds me of the main character in Ender’s Game. Meg thinks she’s ordinary, but does some extraordinary things. I love Calvin. He’s a sweet, thoughtful, smart, and caring friend. It’s hard not to like Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. Yep, you read that correctly!

The story definitely takes you out of this world! Some of it is WAY out there. I had a friend tell me that she could never get into this book because of how far out there some of it is. I did feel that some of it was hard to grasp because it’s so unique, but since I was reading it with my kids I had to keep going. Once you let go of your boundaries and let your imagination take over, the story comes to life. We all enjoyed it.

As a mom, one thing I loved were the lessons learned. You get to see courage, sacrifice, bravery, and love in action. The characters do hard things that they don’t want to do, but they do them anyway. They learn to trust each other, and to trust themselves. I also love how much you need to use your imagination. As an adult, mine may not get used as often as it should, and it’s fun to delve into this crazy universe of ours.


Content Rating GRating: G (Clean! There’s no profanity, no “intimacy,” and no violence.)

Age Recommendation: Middle-graders (4th-6th) and up as a silent read and Early Readers (2nd-3rd grade) and up as a read aloud.

Rating: 4/5 stars

4 Star Rating

 Hurry! If you start reading now you may still be able to finish while the movie is still in the theaters! To purchase this book click here:

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The Inventor's Secret by Chad Morris Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson  Mysteries of Cove by J. Scott Savage

(This post contains affiliate links. You don’t pay any extra and I receive a small commission.)

Book Review of Wizard for Hire by Obert Skye

Wizard for Hire by Obert Skye

Book Review of Wizard for Hire by Obert Skye

Have you ever needed help? Lots of help? There’s no way you can do this alone help? Well, that’s what Ozzy needs. He has a big mystery to solve; a mystery that has affected his whole life, and he needs help. He doesn’t know who to turn to until he sees an ad in the newspaper for a wizard for hire. Of course, this is the job for a wizard! Ozzy calls him, and that call begins the start of an answer-finding quest. Find out more in my book review of Wizard for Hire by Obert Skye.


“Fourteen-year-old Ozzy is desperate to find his parents, but he’s not so sure about that ad. . . . He’s read about wizards in books like Harry Potter, but they couldn’t actually exist in the world today, could they?

Enter Labyrinth, aka ‘Rin,’ who dresses the part. Sort of. His bathrobe high top tennis shoes seem unorthodox. At least Rin acts like a wizard, but Ozzy has his doubts. Do real wizards write notes on their shoes and eat breakfast for every meal? Most of all, Ozzy just wants to know if Rin can cast any magic spells.

With the help of a robotic-talking raven invented by Ozzy’s father, a kind and curious girl at school who decides to help Ozzy, and, of course, a self-proclaimed wizard who may or may not have a magical wand, Ozzy begins an unforgettable quest that will lead him closer to the answers he seeks about his missing parents.”


My Review:

First, Brandon Dorman has outdone himself again! That cover art is awesome, right? Seriously. I love the cover art! As soon as I saw the cover I had to read the book. Yes, I totally judge books by their covers (Shhhh! Don’t tell!).

The image was idyllic–a mother and father with their small child on the porch steps of a quaint mountain cabin. There were city families that would have paid good money to have their pictures taken in such a scene–a family portrait they could show to their friends as proof of how close they were to nature and each other. For the Toffy’s, however, it wasn’t an act–it was their life. They were safe and hidden away from something of which Ozzy was completely unaware.

Things change quickly, however. Their ideal life changes in an instant. What happens next will keep you reading and reading because you have to know what happens. This is a mother’s worst nightmare! Ozzy is a great character. He has a great voice, and he’s one tough, brave kiddo. I love his independence, his ingenuity, his curiosity, and his will to live.

Enter the wizard. Or is he? That’s part of the mystery with this book. You see hints of greatness at times, and huge shortcomings at other times. He’s a fun character, though. His eccentricities make you laugh and scratch your head. Half the time you think it’s possible that he’s a wizard, and the other half you just think he’s crazy. He doesn’t come into the book right away, but when he does, he brings craziness with him.

Part of the fun of this book is trying to figure out if Rin really is a wizard. And what should Ozzy do if Rin’s just making it up? This book is so fun, I liked it a lot. There’s a hint of sci-fi, and maybe some fantasy? Ozzy makes up for seven boring years by having all sorts of crazy adventures within a short period. Some of them are a little far-fetched, but then again, with a wizard on your side are they really that implausible? I loved the parts where he began learning about the world outside his forest. Ozzy’s sidekick is hilarious too!

I liked Obert Skye’s writing style. It’s easy to read and understand, it flows well, and it’s highly entertaining. His descriptions are well crafted, and the characters are well developed and likable. I thought the ending could have used a few more pages, but that’s a small thing. One other thing I liked were Rin’s words of wisdom throughout the book. So funny!

Look, you two, I know it appears as if we have unwittingly found ourselves on a great adventure, but it’s important to know that this adventure started years ago. We are just now playing out the plot. Little things that were said, little things that were done—all those things, both granular and grand, shaped the choices and consequences that have led right here.

Content Rating PGRating: PG (There’s no profanity, no “intimacy,” and only some minor violence as they fight off the bad guys.)

Age Recommendation: Middle-graders (4th-6th) and up

Rating: 4/5 stars

4 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

To purchase this book click here:


Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Janitors (Book #1) by Tyler Whitesides   The Inventor's Secret by Chad Morris  Adventurers Wanted: Slathbog's Gold (Book #1) by M.L. Forman

(This post contains affiliate links. You don’t pay any extra and I receive a small commission.)

wizard for hire_blog tour

[Book Review] Road to Eugenica by A.M. Rose

Road to Eugenica by A.M. Rose

Book Review of Road to Eugenica by A.M. Rose

Wow! What a ride! I wish I could suddenly wake up with amazing abilities, especially the ability to read so quickly! That one is my favorite. I hope you enjoy my book review of Road to Eugenica by A.M. Rose.


“Overnight, Drea Smith has transformed from barely able to walk and text at the same time to a boss fighter with encyclopedic knowledge, and she is pretty freaked out. But when Drea learns that someone out there knows her secret and has been searching for her since she was born—created—freaked doesn’t even begin to cover Drea’s mental state. As Drea pushes her new skills to the limits to learn the truth of who, or what, she is, she uncovers that nothing, not even her world, is quite what it seems.

My Review:

A.M. Rose takes the reader on quite the adventure with Road to Eugenica! At times you want to hug Drea, and at other times you want to slap her for teenagerness (Yep, I totally just made up that word.). For the most part, Drea is a great character. She has a good voice, and she usually acts as a good, strong character. She has her flaws, for sure, but that makes her relatable and realistic.

The people that surround Drea play a big part in her life. I love the relationship she has with her dad. He seems like the perfect dad for her, and I liked his character a lot. Her mom comes across as more standoffish and not quite so loving, but she is busy with a demanding job so you cut her some slack. Dylan is Drea’s rock. They’ve been friends forever, and he always seems to know exactly what she needs. I liked Dylan a lot. Maddox is the new, hot guy at school. He seems nice, and Drea has fun with him. For awhile you’ve got the Bella from Twilight thing going on, and although it’s a little annoying, it’s understandable because of the circumstances.

I like A.M. Rose’s writing style. She does a great job of pulling the reader into the story. It’s easy to read and understand, the story flows well, and it comes to life on the page. It did take me a bit to get into the book, but by about halfway I couldn’t put it down.  I like the concept of the book as well. It’s creative and unique, has a bit of mystery and sci-fi to it, and you can’t miss the romance as well. And the twist at the end of the book–wow! I seriously did NOT see that coming! Ahhhhhhh! What???

I ended up liking this book a lot. It has great characters, an exciting story, mystery, romance, and good writing, but unfortunately, I have a big dilemma. This book is written for the YA audience. They will definitely enjoy Road to Eugenica! However, the profanity in this book makes it so I can’t recommend it to the YA crowd. I would not allow even my 16 year-old to read this book because of the profanity. There are probably eight or nine “f” words, and that pushes my rating up to an R, sadly. Now, if the language doesn’t bother you, then you will enjoy it.

Note to YA Authors:

*Note to YA authors: Please don’t put “f” words in a book you want YA reading. I know they hear it at school, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be in the books they read. It’s distracting and distasteful, and the stories are so much better without the profanity. Okay, I’ll step off my soap box now.  


Content Rating RRating: R (There’s a lot of profanity, including probably eight or nine “f” words. There isn’t any “intimacy,” but the actual word is said once. This book does have some kissing, and there is also some minor violence as Drea fights off the bad guys.)

Age Recommendation: Adult (It’s written for the YA audience, but I can’t recommend it for that age group because of the language.)

Rating: 3/5 stars. I would have given it 4 stars, but because of the language I knocked it down to 3.

3 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The Inventor's Secret by Chad Morris The Sage Challenger by Chad Rassmussen  Devil in the Microscope by Ryan Decaria

[Book Review] Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

[Book Review] Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians (Book #1) by Brandon Sanderson

I haven’t read anything else by Brandon Sanderson, but I think he has outdone himself with this book. Let me just say that I haven’t ever laughed out loud at a book like I did with this one! I am so excited to share with you my book review of  Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians! 


 “On his thirteenth birthday, foster child Alcatraz Smedry receives a bag of sand in the mail, an inheritance from his lost parents. When it is immediately stolen, he learns that it is no ordinary bag of sand. With it, the evil Librarians who secretly rule the Hushlands–Librarian-controlled nations, such as the United States, Canada, and England–will finally overtake the Free Kingdoms as well. Alcatraz and his ragtag band of freedom fighters must stop them, once and for all.”

My Book Review:

One of my friends in my book group recommended this series to me about a year ago. I got them at the library for my son, but never had the chance to read them myself. I checked them out again for my daughter to read, and finally  read the first one. I have to say, this book is so much fun! The voice in the book is hilarious! It’s told in first person, and I don’t think I’ve read another book where the first person narrator has such an engaging, witty, and humorous voice. Alcatraz suddenly gets pulled into this crazy world of evil librarians and conspiracies. Even though he’s the supposed hero, the first words in the book are, “I am not a good person.”
This book is a (fictional) autobiography of Alcatraz. In it, he tells his life story. I love how he says in the book that the evil Librarians will advertise it as a fictional book (because they don’t want the truth out), but it’s really an autobiography. So fun! It is very well written, engaging, creative, imaginative, and humorous. Yes, there are some scary parts where Alcatraz, Bastille, Grandpa Smedry, and Sing are in grave danger and have to fight those evil Librarians, but the way they’re written makes it seem not so bad.
I love the idea of the different lenses (Want more info. on the lenses….read the book!). Did you know that there are actually more than seven continents on the earth? Those evil Librarians have gotten away with not teaching us about them. Hahaha!! I knew some of those librarians were secretly evil! Alcatraz is a great character. He’s definitely not perfect, but in the book that imperfection becomes his strength, which is a great lesson! I love the part about their different talents! Grandpa Smedry is awesome too. Bastille is a little rougher around the edges, but I liked her more as the book went on.
If you’re looking for a fun middle-grader/YA series (moms like it too), you’ve come to the right place! There are five books in this series. As a mom, I love finding series for my kids to read. It’s great because then I know I have five good books in a row for them to read. If you want to laugh and learn the secrets of the evil Librarians then you need to read this! The kids love it because of the humor and the adventure, and I loved it for the same reasons. It’s very creative, imaginative, and unique. I highly recommend this book! 

Content Rating PGRating: PG (There is no profanity and no “intimacy.” There is some violence with characters being tortured-it’s not too graphic, fighting with different weapons, and lots of stuff breaking. Of course there is a bad guy, and he’s a really good bad guy!!)


Age Recommendation: 3rd grade and up (It’s a great middle-grader/YA book!)

Rated 4/5 Stars

4 Star Rating

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Fablehaven book #1 by Brandon Mull Adventurers Wanted: Slathbog's Gold (Book #1) by M.L. Forman  Janitors (Book #1) by Tyler Whitesides

This post was first published on 12/23/16; updated on 2/27/18.

[Book Review] The Sage Challenger by Chad Rasmussen

The Sage Challenger by Chad Rasmussen

[Book Review] The Sage Challenger by Chad Rasmussen


“The day Arian Coles stepped into the CUBUS his life would be changed forever. His scores were high enough to thrust him into the world’s greatest and most dangerous competition. But this is no game, the winner will become one of the ten world leaders–a Sage. According to Sage Law there must always be Ten Sages, but the eldest, Kanja, is dying. He must be replaced. Unable to find a suitable replacement among their own people, the Sages turn to the working class populace and institute the Challenger Competition. Through their love of intelligence, athleticism, technology, and extreme sports they have created The Challenges–ten Challenges in the most dangerous locations on earth. Making friends and foes along the way, Arian must be on his guard at all times. He must decipher his feelings between Maria and Ciana and decide if one is his ally or enemy. At the brink of death, Arian will have to prove if he has the fortitude to make it through unimaginable adversity and be crowned a Sage. But is this the end goal for Arian? He must decide what his true purpose is.” 

My Review:

Wow! What a ride! Full disclosure: Chad Rasmussen lives in my neighborhood. It always makes me a little nervous to review books for people that I know. What if I hate it? What if it’s poorly written? Especially with first-time authors, you never know what you’re going to get. So, when his wife asked if I’d read his book, I said, “Yes,” and then I got worried. However, I needn’t have worried. In his debut novel, Chad Rasmussen takes one part Hunger Games, one part The Amazing Race, and one part Olympics, and successfully mixes them all up into one crazy concoction of action, revenge, betrayal, amazing feats, and change for the Cive people. You can’t help but like Arian. He’s strong, determined, intelligent, easy to relate to, and courageous. The Challenges are insane! Racing on snowboard-type boards on sand dunes, capoeira to the death, soccer on water skates, and flying suits. I was really glad that my brother-in-law and sister-in-law introduced me to capoeira so that I knew what they were talking about. I watched them in a tournament once, and it was quite exciting! Here’s a video of what capoeira is. It’s 8.5 min, but you just need to watch the first couple of minutes to see what it is.  

What did you think? Pretty fun to watch, right? Now just picture them fighting to the death using capoeira. On a small platform. Thousands of feet in the air. Scary! Overall, I’d say that this book is well written. The characters are developed well, the story flows well, is easy to read and understand, and it’s full of action. The Challenges are exciting to read about, and the relationships Arian has with Maria, Shen, and Komi add such a great element to the story. I loved how they supported him. I’d say that overall it was a bit predictable, but there were enough surprises along the way to keep me reading. I came to enjoy this sci-fi world that Chad Rasmussen has created. The ending was a bit of a drop-off-a-cliff, so I hope there is a second book to take us off the ledge we’re hanging from.

Content Rating PG+

Rating: PG+ (There was one swear word that I remember, so not terrible there, and there isn’t any “intimacy,” except for some brief kissing. It is quite violent though. A lot of characters die, and some of them quite graphically.)

Age Recommendation: Young Adult and up (12+)

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, and Chad Rasmussen does live in my neighborhood; however, this did not affect my review.

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Earth-Sim by Jade Kerrion   Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card   The Inventor's Secret by Chad Morris

[Book Review] Devil in the Microscope by Ryan Decaria

Devil in the Microscope by Ryan Decaria

[Book Review] Devil in the Microscope by Ryan Decaria

 Blurb (from

“When “science-fair-geek” Anika goes to live with her scientist father in a town built around his mysterious genetics laboratory, she is determined to prove herself worthy of his legacy. But all preconceptions about her new life are thrown out the window when Anika discovers her father is a megalomaniac living in a town populated entirely by mad scientists. Now Anika will have to navigate her way through a high school filled with vindictive evil geniuses, deadly science projects, and unspeakable human experimentation. Relying on her wits, scientific know-how, and talented allies, Anika fights for her very life, and the lives of her new friends. Will Anika have to become like her mad scientist father in order to save the day?”

My Review:

Anika is a fun character. She’s smart, witty, sassy, and doesn’t put up with anything. She’s a good, strong, female leading character. I liked her voice a lot, and thought she was well developed. It’s always good to have a science nerd as a main character. Her mom isn’t in a lot of the book; even though she’s a bit mysterious, you find out more about why she is the way she is as the story goes on. I did think that Anika was a bit quick to disregard her mom after all they’d been through together, but teenagers are never predictable. I liked Billie a lot, and felt so bad for her and the situation she was in. Anika’s father is quite the interesting guy. I didn’t feel like he was developed as much as Anika was, but part of that is the mystery that surrounds him. Anika doesn’t know him very well either, so I guess it’s fair that the reader is also kept in the dark.
I liked the story line a lot at the beginning, with the science fair and all that. It was when Anika got to Moreau that the story became a little unbelievable to me (you may not feel the same way). It’s sci-fi, and you know I love a good sci-fi, but this definitely bordered on fantasy, and was a little hard to believe. I liked her friends at school, especially Misty and Sasha, and I did think they were well developed and likable characters. Victor is scary, creepy, and intimidating, but his situation is a bit on the unimaginable side. Well, honestly, a bunch of the characters have sides of them that are unimaginable. On one hand, it gives the story a lot of action. It’s definitely full of action, Anika is a go-getter for sure! On the other hand, some of the scenarios are a tad on the strange/inconceivable side.
I liked that the teenagers took matters into their own hands because they really didn’t have anyone they could turn to for help, but at the same time, that included them doing some things that I don’t think teenagers should have to do. I wanted to scream at their parents for putting them in that situation. You never really heard anything about their mothers, either. Where were they in all of this? The ending wasn’t my favorite, either. It just ended. I’m assuming that means that a second book is in the works, but there were still quite a few things that could have been tied up a little better. Overall, the book was ok for me. There were some parts of it that I really enjoyed, and some parts that I had a hard time believing. If you’re a science nerd then you will definitely enjoy this book.
Content Rating PG-13

Rating: PG-13 (There is some profanity, and there are times where they don’t actually say the “f” word, but they say a word that is VERY similar, so you know that’s what they mean, which is a tactic I don’t particularly care for. There isn’t any “intimacy,” but there is a lot of violence. There are a few characters that are killed, and there is a lot of fighting.)

Age Recommendation: 14 years-old and up

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Also, the author is the son of my good friend. 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card   Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention (Book #1) by J. Scott Savage  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

[Book Review] Mysteries of Cove: Embers of Destruction (Book 3)

Mysteries of Cove: 
Embers of Destruction (Book #3)
J. Scott Savage

“After the battle of Seattle, Trenton and Kallista–along with their friends, Plucky, Simoni, Angus, and Clyde–fly their mechanical dragons south toward San Francisco, looking for any sign of Kallista’s father, Leo Babbage. Arriving in a new city, the young riders investigate the area in secret, only to be reunited with Leo Babbage, who reveals that the humans in the city are working as slaves to the dragons. What’s more, the humans don’t want to be rescued–himself included. He says they are being protected by their new master: a huge, powerful white dragon who lives in an impenetrable tower fortress overlooking the city. Kallista is stunned by the news. Why would her father ever willingly work for dragons? With the white dragon watching their every move, Trenton and Kallista will need every bit of creativity and ingenuity they can manage to find a way to enter the dragon’s tower fortress and break its hold over the city–and the world–once and for all.”
My Review:
This has been such a fun series to read! My boys both got to this book before I did (they’re now 16 and 14), and they loved it. I enjoyed it too, which I love because then we can talk about it together. We have our own in-house book group going on! Love it! Trenton is just such a great kid (and character). I love his humility, his creativity, and his ability to think and act appropriately under pressure. He has his flaws, he’s not perfect, but that’s one thing I like about his character. Kallista is a great character as well. She’s a little more complex than Trenton is, and may be strong-willed, but I love her ingenuity, her work ethic, and I love that she’s a strong female character. The descriptions in this book are very good. I loved reading all about the different dragons, especially the white one; you could just feel the evil dripping out of him! I love that the kids need to use their brains and skills, and that it’s difficult, but they are determined and work hard. Some of those qualities are hard to find in kids these days, so it’s a great example of what working hard and being smart can get you! This book is very well written, it’s engaging, and I couldn’t put it down! There are a few surprises, and a bunch of new characters. It’s a great ending to a very fun trilogy. At our house we are sad that this is the last book in the series. I highly recommend this book and series for middle-graders and YA.
Rating: PG+ (I marked this one a little higher than I did the other two because there is quite a bit of fighting (they’re fighting dragons, mostly), and a character dies in this one. There is no profanity or “intimacy.”
Recommendation: 3rd grade and up! (Middle Graders and Young Adults)
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Mysteries of Cove Trilogy:
Book One Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention by J. Scott SavageBook Three Mysteries of Cove: Embers of Destruction by J. Scott SavageBook Two Mysteries of Cove: Gears of Revolution by J. Scott Savage

      Book #1                                                       Book #2                                           Book #3
Also by J. Scott Savage:
Far World: Air Keep Book 3 by J. Scott Savage   Far World: Water Keep Book 1 by J. Scott Savage   Far World: Land Keep Book 2 by J. Scott Savage
                                  Book #1                       Book #2                      Book #3

[Book Review] Mysteries of Cove: Gears of Revolution (Book #2) by J. Scott Savage

Mysteries of Cove: Gears of Revolution (Book #2) 
J. Scott Savage

“After finding a compass and clues left by Kallista’s father, Leo Babbage, Trenton and Kalista head west aboard their homemade mechanical dragon to search for the missing inventor. The teenagers hope to find answers about their mountain city of Cove, but instead, they find only a blackened forest, ruined buildings, and a small underground city. Almost immediately, Trenton and Kallista are caught up in a civil war between a clan of scavengers called Whipjacks and the Order of the Beast, people who believe that dragons are immortal and divine. Stranded in a new city, the two friends meet Plucky, a Whipjack girl with mechanical legs, and Ander, a young member of the Order who claims humans are able to communicate with dragons. Can they trust anyone, or have they unknowingly stepped into a trap? And high above in the sky, the dragons are gathering…”

My Review:

I enjoyed the first book in this series, Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention, so I was excited to read this second book. It did not disappoint! Trenton and Kallista may have been the same, there was that same feeling of searching for answers, and yes, the mechanical dragon is there too, but other than that, this book is very different from the first one. I liked that we really got to know Trenton in this book. We get to see his strengths, weaknesses, successes, and failures, and we get to see him using his creative/mechanical abilities. There are a few new characters in this book that we get to know quite well. Plucky, Ander, and Cochrane are a few of the new characters. These new characters definitely have different names! There is a lot of tension in this book because Trenton and Kallista are constantly wondering who they can trust, and they’re somewhat at odds with each other as well. There are some surprises in this book that totally threw me off, and then there were parts that were a bit predictable. I loved it when Trenton and Kallista were able to fly the mechanical dragon together. What a neat thing for them to be able to experience. Too bad there’s not a “Build a Mechanical Dragon That Flies” kit I could purchase my boys for Christmas! Overall, this book is well written. There were a few parts that I saw as a little superficial, and a couple of places that I didn’t think fit well, but other than that this book is well done. The characters are done well and the story is exciting and full of action. I didn’t love the place where they found themselves, I thought it was a bit off, but because I enjoyed the first book I’ll give it some leeway. I did enjoy the book and would recommend it, especially if you enjoyed the first book.

This book is clean, thank goodness! There isn’t any profanity and there isn’t any “intimacy” at all. There is some violence though. The people are attacked by dragons and at least one character dies.

Rating: PG (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy.” There is a little more violence in this book, but it is not too bad. The dragons attack and at least one character dies.)

Recommendation: Third grade and up. (Great for Middle Graders and YA)

*This post was originally posted on 10/24/16, and was updated on 11/3/17.

Mysteries of Cove Trilogy:

Mysteries of Cove: Embers of Destruction Book 3 by J. Scott Savage
Book #3

Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention Book 1 by J. Scott Savage
Book #1

Mysteries of Cove: Gears of Revolution Book 2 by J. Scott Savage
Book #2

Saturn Run

Saturn Run by John Sandford and Ctein


In 2066, a Caltech intern notices an anomaly – something is approaching Saturn, and decelerating. Space objects don’t decelerate. Spaceships do. A flurry of meetings produces the inescapable conclusion: Whatever built that ship is at least one hundred years ahead in technology, and whoever can get their hands on it will have an unmatchable advantage. A conclusion the Chinese share when they find out themselves. The race is on, and a remarkable adventure begins – an epic tale of courage, treachery, resourcefulness, and astonishing discovery, as the members of a hastily thrown-together crew find their strength and wits tested against adversaries both of this earth and beyond. What happens is nothing like you expect – and everything you could want from one of the world’s greatest masters of suspense.

My Review:

I usually enjoy a good sci-fi story, so I was excited to read this book. This book has a lot of science and detail in it; you can tell the authors put a lot of time into researching the technology and science of it. Some of the technology in the book is actually quite interesting. The different engines, the heat shields, the eggs (little personal space transporters), and the unusual gadgets on the ship especially caught my attention. The writing got a little technical in a few spots, but it wasn’t too bad, and it didn’t last long. The characters are fun. Many of them are well written; some of them are a little cliche, like the intelligent, good-looking, stuck-up, spoiled, lazy, ivy league Sandy, who doesn’t really deserve to be there, but is. I like that the President of the United States is a woman, Santeros. Also, the commander of the ship is a woman. She goes by Fang-Castro. The story is somewhat predictable, but there are a few surprises along the way that hold your attention. You could feel the characters’ excitement, fear, worry, stress, and feeling of accomplishment at every step of the way. I don’t have any idea if any of it is really possible, but it’s a fun and unique story. 

There is a lot of profanity in this book. A lot. And much of it is the “f” word, which is extremely annoying and distracting. There is violence in this book as well, with several characters dying, and some intense fighting scenes. There is also quite a bit of “intimacy.” There are scenes, innuendos, jokes, and bets. Without all the profanity and “intimacy” I would have enjoyed this book more. All that stuff is so distracting and irritating. I wish authors would leave it out (ok, I’ll step off my soap-box now….)!

Rating: R (Profanity, including a lot of “f” words, violence including fighting scenes and several characters dying, and a lot of “intimacy,” with scenes, innuendos, jokes, and full-on, ship-wide bets with a lot of money.)

Recommendation: Adult. This book is NOT appropriate for YA readers, or younger.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.