The Tree of Mindala (Elle Jacklee) Book Review

Good morning (or afternoon, or evening) all, and here we are with my latest book review: The Tree of Mindala, by Elle Jacklee. I’m sorry this book has taken me the two weeks to read, but it’s a fairly sized book at 306 pages, and hey, I’m not technically working to any deadlines here; reading takes time! You see, before I started reviewing on request predominantly, I would review books I’d read before, so I could just skim-read through them to remind me of the plot and so forth, bringing all my feelings on reading it for the first time back to the fore. When reading these new books though, I get to sit down and read through a story that’s new to me, and that takes time as it rightly should. So, lets get going.


The Tree of Mindala is the story of siblings Miranda and Marcus Moon, two normal children going to a normal school. One thing though – Miranda’s obsession with adventure and her runaway imagination tend to land her in trouble, and having gone one step too far, she’s been suspended from school. Miranda’s parents decide to take the children on a holiday, of sorts, to a cabin in the forest owned by their late grandparents, Truman and Sunny. It’s halloween time though, and everything is not as it seems. Miranda finds a glass snow globe in which a little house is depicted. Miranda turns the globe upside-down, and that’s when things really get weird.

Miranda and Marcus both find themselves in front of the very stone house that had been in the snow globe. Little did they know that they had just entered Wunderwood, a land of trees and magic – and they had just freed the worst warlock of the lot – Thornton.
Continue reading

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The Language of Stones (Robert Carter) Book Review

Right then, let’s get this show on the road! I have now finished the most recent book I’ve been commissioned to review by an author; ‘The Language of Stones’ by Robert Carter, the first book of a trilogy set. In fact, I came across Robert’s work myself, on the Goodreads website. I read through his biography and tre book description and I was enthralled, it sounded great. I sent Robert an email if he’d like a review of the book, and to m delight he said yes. And what a journey it’s been for me through this book.


The Language of Stones is, as Robert himself describes it, a story about a boy becomes a man. Young William (or Will, or Willand, or even Willy-Wag Staff) is a boy from a small village called Nether Norton. That’s what he thinks anyway, but a certain wizard knows more than that, and reveals even less. Master Gwydion appears at Will’s house at the dark of night, and whisks him away with all but no explanation.
A magic flows through the land, through the ligns, channels of power connecting many stones together. Stones of power. For these are the Ancient Stones, in which is contained much of the harm of the realm. Times are changing though, and the power of the lorc flows. The battlestones begin drawing men and etching out suffering to the world. Master Gwydion believes that he has the key, the young boy Willand, to prevent the calamity of war. However, Maskull, an evil sorcerer akin to Gwydion himself plots against him, and threatens to use the battlestones to wreak havoc. Gwydion and Willand must move quickly, for the third coming of Great Arthur is at hand!

Note: I have found it very difficult to summarize The Language of Stones, for it is a very deep and complex novel, and I can’t quite seem to pin it down in words. It is a tale of epic proportions; of magic, heroism and the love and loss of many. For a full description, read the author’s words on his work here. Continue reading

The Cry Of The Icemark (Stuart Hill) Book Review

Okay, this is my first book review in a while, and is in truth an interval as I am reading a book for an author. The Cry Of the Icemark (TCOTI) is a book I first borrowed from the library a number of years ago. Since then, I have bought the book that I may read it again, which probably tells you something of how much I enjoyed it! But anyway, I hope you enjoy the review as I get myself back into blogging.


TCOTI is the story of Thirrin Lindenshield, who becomes the young Queen of the Icemark kingdom following the death of her father in the first moves of an invasion into their lands. The Empire of the Polypontus holds the most ruthless army in the land, led by the General Bellorum and his sons. The Icemark is a small region in the coldest part of the land, for it lies under snow for most of the year. Thirrin knows that her small army cannot hope to repel the Empire and the vicious Bellorum, and she knows that she must find allies. Who can she turn to in her hour of need. In a time of need, Thirrin will look to the most unlikely of allies. The talking leopards of the north, the vampires and the savage werewolves. And perhaps, just perhaps, the magic of the White Witch’s son. Continue reading

The Divide Trilogy (Elizabeth Kay) Series Review

Whilst I’m reading a book ‘on contract’ for an author, I’ll write this small review to keep the blog active whilst I read! The Divide trilogy is a series I first read as a child, where I borrowed it from the library. The fact that it’s still on my bookshelf, about six years later says something (my own copies that is, I didn’t steal them!). They are for a younger generation than most of the books I review, probably early-secondary school children (11-13) but they’ve a charm that makes me want to read them over and over.


The Divide – Felix is a boy of thirteen. He has a heart problem that has held him back for his whole life, and his parents constantly fear for his safety. Whilst on holiday in Costa Rica he passes out over ‘the Divide’, a watershed where water flows to the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Waking, he finds himself somewhere he’d never imagined – a place where legendary creatures are real, and humans the things of legend. He meets Ironclaw, a Brazzle (Griffin) and Betony a tangle-child (elf). He finds out from the brittlehorn (unicorn) leader that there may be a cure for him in that world – so Felix sets off on a quest to find that cure.

Return to the Divide – Felix is happy, he’s cured and home again. Until Snakeweek, the antagonist of the first book turns up at his door, and turns his parents to stone! Then, Felix has no choice but to help Snakeweed get home, for he must also go to the world across the Divide to find the cure before it destroys his world, for anything that touches his parents’ statues is also petrified, and so it spreads..

Jinx on the Divide – Felix is back at school. That is, until Rhino – a bully at his school – is kidnapped by a genie from a lamp Felix kept from across the Divide. The genie demands to be taken home and given physical form, else it won’t give Rhino back! Meanwhile, inside the box, Rhino has found a box that gives him any of his worldly desires – if only he’ll say little magic words that wreak havoc on both sides of the Divide!


Ah, that’s the problem with series reviews, summarising the plot is monstrous! Anyway, it’s all done now so let’s go on to actually look at the plot! Let’s be honest, it’s not a complex one and there are good reasons for that. It’s aimed at the younger end of young-adult fantasy, so a complex plotline would ruin the book for the majority of it’s readers. I actually like how simple it is, it’s a carefree and easy read! It’s funny and light, something you can enjoy that you don’t have to dig deep into. I know I’ve said that I love the opposite, real nitty-gritty books, and it’s true, I like a bit of the both. There aren’t many sub-plots and behind-the-scenes goings on, it’s all there in front of the camera, as it were. I love it, it’s an innocent story of a young lad trying to find a cure for his life-threatening disease in a fairy world. It’s the sort of book that has me keening and remembering with fondness the childish tales of knights in armour. If you want an easy read, this trilogy will make you happy. It probably won’t take you too long to read, but I think it’d be nice for, say, a holiday read. There are some genuinely funny bits too, bits that still make me laugh when I read them now.


The characters are cute and charming. Sure, they’re not the deepest, most soulfull folks you’ll have met on your travels through fantasy, but that doesn’t matter. That’s not to say they’re bland though, they’ve got distinct and interesting personalities, just not ones that’ll set you thinking for hours upon end. I’ve got to say that without a doubt, Ironclaw is my favourite character – he’s hugely witty and hugely clever, which makes for a hilarious combination. Betony is an emotional lass, quick to anger, and folly perhaps, but she becomes Felix’s best friend. Their relationship is a strong one, and true. Again back to innocence, it’s not a relationship fouled by the dark things they go through (there aren’t really that many) nor does Felix suddenly propose his love for his, it’s a charming child’s friendship. It’s sweet. The characters are believably, even if the bad guy is a bit generic. That fickly ol’ Snakeweed, we all come to love him for his nasty tricks.


Perhaps I’m biased. Perhaps it’s just a series I loved in my childhood and can’t think but to love it now, but they are lovely books. There aren’t deep messages or harsh words. A boy goes on a short series of adventures and saves the day more than once. Now, I can’t say fairer than that, myself. It’s a series I’d recommend picking up for a light read, as I think it’s one you should read. Funny and light-hearted.

I’m going to give The Divide Trilogy an 8/10. Obviously as an adult fantasy book, it stands nowhere near that score, but it isn’t adult fantasy. It’s a young-young-adult book, and it’s a beautiful one.

The Silmarillion (J.R.R. Tolkien) Book Review

The Silmarillion is another of Tolkien’s books set in The Lord of the Rings universe. Most of his books are, of course, and all are brilliant. Every regular to this site knows of my love affair with Tolkien literature, so if you don’t want to read a review brimming with affection and enjoyment. Alternatively, if you found the Silmarillion too difficult to read, and are now searching the Internet for a bad review to make you feel better, you can leave too.


The Silmarillion is the story of Arda, the world, ranging from its creation through its elder history, the awakening of the elves and the coming of men and dwarves. It tells of the gallon of Melkor, who was the master of Sauron, and on through all the history of Arda – the world, through the Lord of the Rings trilogy era (summed up in about a page) ending with the last ship leaving the Grey Havens, as it does in the Lord of the Rings. Continue reading

Dark Rift – The Grey Tower (Alesha Escobar) Book Review

Yay, my second free book review, again from the wonderful Ms. Escobar. Dark Rift is the sequel to The Tower’s Alchemist in the Grey Tower trilogy, you can see the previous review here. I hope you went and bought it, as this really is an awesome series, gripping and thrilling. You can probably tell from my buoyancy that I enjoyed this book; and you bet I did! Let’s get going, then.


In Dark Rift, Agent Isabella George knows that she is The Drifter – the time travelling wizard seeking the Akashik Records. Except she isn’t looking to infiltrate and steal the records. However, the Grey Tower law states that all Drifters must be hunted down and killed for the threat they post. Isabella’s father, a master Philsopher has them believing that he is the Drifter, and the seven trackers hunt him without pause. The war still rages through Europe, and Octavian’s forces are still pushing at the Allies. Isabella knows that she must prove to the Tower that she will use her powers as the Drifter to help them, whilst keeping them secret all the while. Octavian, however, is planning his move.


The plot of this book is not quite as fast as the previous book. There is a reason for this, however – it all adds to the sense that Isabella is treading on eggshells. She is trying to figure out the secret of her powers, and waiting for her father to contact her. She knows that time is limited, but she cannot expose herself for fear of becoming a fugitive of the Tower. There are a lot more subtleties to this plot, and it makes for a very rich read. It’s not quite as action packed as Tower’s Alchemist, but this serves to highlight the fun when it really starts blazing; and there are a few scenes where things get pretty intense. It’s a very believable plot line, and Isabella does not overstep her bounds. You see, I saw one comment on the net regarding these books which claimed that whenever Isabella gets into trouble, she just uses a new power to fix things again. This is definitely not true, the author stays within the bounds of the restrictions she has placed on her character and doesn’t use a deus ex machina! This plotline will grip you relentlessly, and I’m sure you’ll absolutely love it. Going back to the romantic subplot I discussed in the previous review, it has refined a little. Let me just say this; one of the two blokes gets knocked off, so the choice becomes pretty clear. However, Ms. Escobar doesn’t move on to begin creating a relationship there. Will we see this in the third book? I don’t know for certain, but I can’t wait to find out!


If you remember (or have read the books) you’ll know that the characters of the books are of a really good quality. They are incredibly deep, and believable. Not much is done to advance Isabella’s character, though we do see new elements of it. There aren’t too many new characters brought in, though we meet Isabella’s family. I’ve found it quite hard to tell which (if any) of the new characters will become a major plot element. We learn the names of a few of the seven trackers, most specifically Hotaru. However, I get the feeling that his part is played by the end of the novel, as you’ll be able to tell when you read it.We meet Octavian, but there aren’t any forays as to exposing him as a character, although I’d love to find out more about him in the third book. He’s been built up as an almost godlike figure, incredibly powerful and nigh on impossible to destroy. I doubt we’ll see it, but I think it would be amazing if there were a few chapters from his point of view in the third book, so as to show just how twisted and insane he is. Isabella’s first person thought-stream is also still vivid and very enjoyable to be a part of. The characters are much in the vein of the first book, so there isn’t a huge need for adaptation.


Again, I have tried for a balanced review, and I feel that I have given it. It’s a very positive review as I really loved the book, but I hope the author can take the few pieces of advice I’ve imparted on-board. Thinking about it, it’d be really nice to think I’ve given a little bit into the final book, but that’d be indulgent of me. I really think you should purchase this book (and the first). They’re wonderful examples of modern literature, and anybody into fiction-fantasy is in for a wonderful ride! It’s only $4 on the Kindle, as it’s a very recently published novel (only a few months off of the press). Please, please download, and take a look at Alesha’s site (that’s free).

9/10. I really loved this book, and I’d recommend it highly. Congratulations, Ms. Escobar, another successful novel!

The Tower’s Alchemist – The Grey Tower Trilogy (Alesha Escobar) Book Review

Well, how’s that for a long title? Anyway, no matter. Now, I’m very excited about giving you all this book review. The reason being, it’s my first requested review! Ms. Escobar contacted me at datbookreviews.gmail.com to ask I I could review her book. I put up the ‘What Can I Do For You?’ page ages ago, but haven’t had any interest. Until now, yay! I’ve really enjoyed speaking with Ms. Escobar, and I’d love for you to visit her blog here. It’s been a pleasure chatting with Ms. Escobar via email, and she has very kindly provided me the second book for reading as well!


Isabella is a trained wizard – an alchemist by distinction. She’s working for the Allies’ Special Operations, and it’s World War 2. She’s tired though. She’s had enough of fighting, and hands in her resignation saying this mission will be her last. The mission? Extract the Warlock Veit Heilveig from where he is creating chemical weaponry for the Germans. Under the guises of Emelie and Noelle, Isabella makes as many enemies as friends as she strives to find Heilveig. When she finds him, though, he is not the person he is thought to be – and nor is she. As secrets of her dead father begin to circulate, Isabella has more and more to contend with; and love not least.


The plot of this book runs well. I wouldn’t say it’s an easy read, but it doesn’t chop around so as it doesn’t make sense. The book is written in the first person narrative voice, which means that the whole of the book is shown through Isabella’s eyes. This means that we aren’t confused by swapping perspectives and hopping around, which can make a book difficult to read. The plot moves at a fair pace, and you won’t find yourself getting bored! I myself was compelled to keep reading. I didn’t feel like the ‘romance subplot’ was a major element of the book, more a subtle undertone. However, the book isn’t a romance novel, so I think that this is right. Whether or not the author will choose to expand on this or not I’m not sure, but I found it to be an interesting part of the novel. It is kept on edge which way Isabella will go, so it isn’t a drab “yeah, she’ll choose the unlikely one”. Another subplot that Ms. Escobar has going is that of Isabella’s father. Thought to be dead, Isabella is beginning to not be so sure. It begins as a small thread of the story – a subplot if you will – but towards the end of the book it becomes more and more entwined with the solid plot, and it’s set to be a main string of the next book (I love my rope analogy – the story is a rope, and the subplots that make it up are it’s fibres. Loose ends are the frayed ones that stick out of the end, and weaker parts of the story is where the rope is worn). Either way, this plot will definitely keep you hooked.


Writing in the first person voice can be a risky manoeuvre. If you can’t feed the constant thought and emotion into the character, then it can feel like a cutout paper character with no depth. This doesn’t happen here. One thing I’ve found is that in writing first person, the perspective character seems to draw off of the personality of the author or somebody the author knows well. Let me say this; Ms. Escobar either has, or knows somebody with a very interesting personality! Unfortunately, I don’t know her well enough to say. Isabella is a very interesting and depthful (it’s a word now) lady and a pleasure to read about. You can very much tell that she has strong feelings about how she no longer wants to play the game, and the hate she has for the warlocks, especially the vampiric Cruenti. We feel her pain as she loses two of her friends, and it is all very real. There are quite a few different characters that can get a little confusing, but if you’re on the ball then you’ll manage just fine. It’s just the small difference between Brande and Bernarde (I thought it might be a nickname, but they’re separate people). I also thought Ernest and Gabriel were one person (they aren’t). It’s not something that takes from the book, just something you should watch out for. It also doesn’t help that most people go by other alias names for their spy-work, so just keep on top of it all.


I’d just like to write a little about new authors. This book has opened my eyes to the fact that a book doesn’t become a bestseller off of the printing press. The authors all start somewhere. Just because you haven’t heard of the author, doesn’t mean that it won’t be as good as a printed published author. The Tower’s Alchemist is better than a good few of the books that I have on my bookshelf that are sold physically in major chain stores. This book has no reviews on iBooks, and before now I would have glided over such a book as a risky purchase. On Amazon.com most of the reviews are very good, and the overall rating is 4.5 stars. Some nut on Amazon.co.uk has given it a 2 star rating which I feel is highly unfair as it is a very good book. Shame on you, Bob. Therefore, I’d like to say thank you to Alesha for opening my eyes to the fact that authors are real people, and it isn’t popularity that makes a book, it’s the book that makes the popularity. Thenceforth, I am going to try and take this blog in a new direction in helping new authors gain publicity. Subscribe and watch the blog for more information on this.


Now, for the rating! I hope you can tell that I think thi has been a greta book, and I dearly hope you’ll all read it. It’s $2.99 for Kindle – that’s like a packet of cigarettes you don’t need, or a coffee, or maybe a McDonald’s burger. I don’t believe there’s anybody who can’t afford a coffee for a good read and to help a great writer keep writing. I promise you won’t regret this book. I’m not a big reader of spy-books, but I really enjoyed this one.

The Tower’s Alchemist left me wanting more, so I’m giving it a 9/10. What a book.