When the library board in Crossing Trails decides that it is time for a new Santa Claus, Mary Anne McCray finds herself stuck with the job. Instead of a visit from Santa Claus, the kids of Crossing Trails are going to receive a visit from Santa’s other half, Anna Claus. Mary Anne must now discover Anna Claus’ purpose and offer some new insights into this Christmas tradition.
Meanwhile, in the quaint little town of Crossing Trails, not everything is merry. The McCray’s friends are facing a difficult divorce and it is particularly hard for their two young children, Keenan and Emily.
Todd McCray has moved back to Crossing Trails to help run the new no-kill animal shelter and be closer to his girlfriend of three years. He also brought the little dog he helped nurse back to health and has been trying to train as a service dog, Elle. However, Elle is not the easiest dog to train and Todd usually can be heard yelling “No, Elle!” Not only is Todd dealing with the stubborn Elle, but he is worried that his parents may be disappointed in some of his recent choices. Will a Christmas miracle descend upon the residents of Crossing Trails to bring about a Merry Christmas after all?
This is the fourth installment in the “A Dog Named Christmas” series by Greg Kincaid. Thankfully, it can also be read as a stand-alone.
I grew up in the country outside of a small town, so this story was very easy for me to imagine. The detailed settings and characters reminded me of that small town. Many of the characters reminded me of people with whom I grew up.
The story itself was very unique. The idea behind Anna Claus and her message to children being different from Santa’s was an inspired idea. Though most Christmas novels I have read have messages of family and love, I have never read one that challenged the Santa tradition in the way that this one did.
The characters were well constructed beings, very realistic, entertaining, and dynamic. The writing was fluid and engaging and the plot line is unique.
I enjoyed this novel very much and am very thankful that it could be read as a stand-alone as I have not had the opportunity to read the first three novels. I would recommend this novel to readers who enjoy heartwarming Christmas tales.
I received my copy of this novel from bloggingforbooks.com and have permission from the publishers at Penguin Random House to use an image of the cover artwork above.
Many years ago, the world was ripped asunder by the Great Wars. Those who survived were changed, left to build new societies from the rubble. Then came the Wars of the Races in which people of the Four Lands fought each other for dominance.
Now, living a quiet and peaceful life in the Vale, Shea Ohmsford enjoys the solidarity and the simplicity of his life. When a mysterious giant of a man arrives at Shea’s father’s inn one night, Shea learns that the Warlock Lord, an evil tyrant believed to have been dead for hundreds of years, has returned and Shea’s half-human, half-elfin heritage has put his life in danger. Shea is the last living descendant of Jerle Shannara and now the Warlock Lord wants him dead. There is one weapon with the power to defeat the Warlock Lord, the Sword of Shannara, and Shea is the last man alive who can wield it against the Warlock Lord.
Now Shea and a group of friends must set off on a quest to retrieve the Sword of Shannara before the Warlock Lord discovers Shea’s identity, and before his army attacks the Southland in his attempt to conquer the Four Lands. Can they find the Sword of Shannara and avoid the Skull Bearers long enough to prevent the enslavement of all of the citizens of the Four Lands?
Many people have been made aware of this series since the launch of the television series. I managed to see the pilot episode but that was about it.
I enjoyed this novel, though it was not what I was expecting. The writing is well constructed with appropriate, though not difficult, vocabulary. The settings are detailed and easy to visualize and the characters are dynamic.
Shea Ohmsford is your typical “unexpected” hero. While his mixed race heritage makes him stand out from the other characters, his personality marks him as the unremarkable character who grows into the hero throughout his journey. Though the changes to his personality and growth of character occur out of necessity, he remains a normal person whom the readers are able to connect to.
As for the plotline, I found that this novel reminded me in many ways of “The Lord of the Rings” by J. R. R. Tolkien. A band of characters including a wise and mysterious leader with magical talents, two young warriors, two elves and a dwarf accompany Shea and his brother Flick across the Four Lands to stop the evil Warlock Lord from destroying the world as they know it. Along the way they encounter gnomes, trolls, and Skull Bearers who are working for the Warlock Lord. Shea is the only one who can stop him.
All in all, I did enjoy this novel, though the extreme closeness to “The Lord of the Rings” was highly unexpected. I would recommend this novel to fans of “The Lord of the Rings” series.
I received my copy of this book from my uncle who originally recommended the series to me. I do plan to read the rest of the trilogy. I have requested permission to use an image of the cover artwork from the publishers at Orbit and am still awaiting a reply.
The Great Library has controlled the flow of knowledge to all of the lands for centuries. Now, however, the library faces its greatest threat, one that may bring their tyranny to an end.
Jess Brightwell and his friends survived Rome and London to wind up in Philadelphia, a city held by Burners, people who would rather burn books than be controlled by the library. For 100 years the entire city of Philadelphia has been controlled by the burners. When Jess and his friends arrive they are taken prisoner, their only bargaining chip being the books that they brought with them and a promise to build Thomas’ machine, a tool that would bring the library to its knees.
Once the machine is finished their usefulness to the burners will be over. Now Jess and the others will have to come up with a plan to make it out of Philadelphia alive. They will also have to decide how far they are willing to go to stop the library and return it to its original purpose. Will they choose to continue fighting, risking their lives and the lives of those they love, or will they spend the rest of their lives running and hiding?
The main idea behind these novels has persisted and is what originally drew me to them. Knowledge is power. The more knowledge you have the more powerful you are. When a library hoards the knowledge and controls what a person can read and learn, then the library controls the people. That is their power. Censorship at its heart.
The writing is complex, but not overtly so, as well as well structured. It followed the previous novels and I have no doubt will continue into the next installment.
The action starts from page one. I had to remind myself how the second book ended in order to understand what they were doing in Philadelphia and how they got there. The settings are rich with detail and descriptive narrative that helps the reader to form the images in the mind’s eye.
I found Jess to be more devious and cunning than I remember him being. Where some may feel that this detracts something from the other characters, or even Jess himself, I found it to be realistic due to the kind of upbringing that Jess had. I also feel that it helps us to better understand his character.
The ending of this novel surprised me completely. I thought that this was the last novel in the series and I am so thankful that it isn’t because the ending upset me so much. I enjoyed the ending, however, I did not see it coming and am anxious to see where it leads. I have to find out what happens next.
I really enjoyed this novel and would encourage anyone who read the first two novels to read this installment as well.
I borrowed a copy of this novel from my local library and have permission from the publishers and Penguin Random House to use an image of the cover artwork above.
Since graduating college, Susannah Simon and her long time, previously deceased, boyfriend Jesse de Silva have become engaged and are planning their lives together. Suze has landed a job as a guidance counselor at her old high school. While there she discovers the ghost of a little girl haunting one of her students. If that weren’t enough, Paul Slater decides to intrude upon her happily ever after.
But what Paul has to tell her will send her down a rocky path that could tear apart everything she holds dear, including her relationship with Dr. Jesse de Silva. In the meantime, can she help the ghost of a child by solving her murder and helping her move on?
I read the Mediator series by Meg Cabot when I was in middle school. At the time, one of my closest friends and I were having a very nasty fight, the kind that lasts months rather than minutes. I fell in love with the series back then and it has become one of the few series that I have re-read over the years. When I heard that Meg Cabot was writing another book in the series, I was elated, and a little worried. What if the author completely reinvented the characters after all of these years? It had been twelve years after all.
The writing is very similar to the original six novel series, though perhaps a little older. Since the character is older, this makes sense. The vocabulary is ideal, though there is more Spanish in this novel than the others. Thankfully, they were, more or less, translated inside the book, since I was never very good at Spanish.
Suze Simon was the same character whom I grew to enjoy in the first books, just a little bit older. Her character and personality have grown and matured but there was no denying she was the same Suze Simon. As for Jesse, he seemed to change much more. Though I expected this because of his situation and all of the changes he had to go through between books six and seven. Paul Slater was also changed. He came across much more evil and manipulative than I remember him being in the sixth novel. I had hoped that he might change for the better over time, though I did not expect him to become an entirely different person.
As for the plotline, there were some areas that surprised me, for instance the details of the murdered child’s death, and the tactics that Suze utilized in order to get justice for the young girl. The story moves along at a decent pace and the action and mystery are similar to the other novels in the series. The ending made it possible for the author to either continue the series or leave off with this newest installment. I for one hope to see more Mediator novels in the future.
I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoyed the original six novels.
I bought my copy of this novel from bookoutlet.com and have permission from the publishers to use the cover artwork image above.
SIDE NOTE: I am very thankful that the publishers went with a cover artwork similar to that of the original series, especially since that cover artwork has since been updated.
Josh Shine loves blues music, watching old movies with the guys, and taking his weekly yoga class with his good friend Ramona. He’s not like most of the guys in his high school. He prefers chess to contact sports, he’s a vegetarian, and he is rather short for his age.
None of the girls in his high school have ever really interested Josh. He would much rather spend his time raising awareness for multiple notable causes. That is until the day he sees Jenna Capistrano in his class. Josh quickly falls for the new girl, but he knows that they could never be an item, because she is out of his league. Surprisingly, they become friends and the closer they become the more Josh wants to be a couple.
Will Josh be brave enough to put his heart on the line and tell Jenna how he feels?
Not many teenage love stories have a male main character. In fact, this is the first one that I believe I have ever read.
Josh is a very unique, interesting character. He is very involved in educating his peers even when they don’t want to hear it. He’s also into older forms of entertainment like old movies and music. His best friends are a lot like him. Sal is passionate about films, especially older ones with deep meaning, while Carter is into environmental sciences.
Then there is Ramona. She’s a stand-out kind of girl who doesn’t care what most people think of her. She’s eccentric and loves fashion.
Despite the character’s obvious level of intelligence, I found myself frustrated by these characters. Especially by Josh and Jenna.
The plot line is one of those ones where you can guess where everyone will end up in the end. Mainly it is just the journey between that is different and unpredictable.
I’m unsure how I feel about this novel. I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys unique coming-of-age love stories.
I received my copy of this novel from LibraryThing.com and the publishers, for the sole purpose of providing an honest review. I have requested permission to use an image of the cover artwork above and am still awaiting a reply.
Casey Cox discovered her friend, murdered in his home. Knowing that her DNA is now all over the crime scene and that the police are very unlikely to believe her, she has to get out of town fast, before she can be arrested. Or worse.
Dylan Roberts is a war veteran, retired from the army police, hoping to land a job as a detective. He suffers from PTSD, however, which makes him a liability on the police force. When his childhood friend is brutally murdered, his friend’s parents hire him as a private investigator, to track down the woman that the police believe to be responsible and bring her back to face justice. Dylan begins to question her guilt, however, when the evidence and details don’t add up. But why did she leave town and disappear if she isn’t the killer? And if she is innocent, then who is the killer?
Why would an innocent woman run from the police after finding one of her best friends brutally murdered? Why wouldn’t she be able to go to the police?
This story begins on page one, jumping right into the mystery. The mystery continues to build from there and the actions of Casey Cox makes you wonder, what would you do if you had to suddenly flee your home town?
The plot line is fast, yet comfortably paced so that you can appreciate all that is happening and the urgency that Casey feels.
As for Dylan, it is understandable that he would have PTSD, and I am glad that the author included the fact that this would have affected his attempt to find a job. I feel that few people realize the effect that PTSD has on the life of the sufferer.
I really liked the character of Dylan Roberts. His investigative skills were realistic and sharp. I also appreciated that though at first he believes Casey to be the murderer, he approaches the case without bias and looks at the facts first.
Casey Cox’s character is very intelligent and her personality is compelling. I enjoyed getting to know her. Some aspects of her personality reminded me of some of my friends and family.
The mystery itself was extremely entertaining. I enjoyed reading about Casey’s escape as well as Dylan’s investigation into Brent’s murder.
My greatest complaint about this novel is that at one point, when Casey has found a place to settle for a little while, one of the friends that she has made calls her by her real name ‘Casey’ and not by the name that she was going by, and the friend had not yet discovered her true identity. I believe that this is simply an error in the text, because I never found any indication that the friend already knew who she was, or that the friend had any reason to know her real name.
This book ended in a bit of a cliffhanger. I am anxious to read the next book in the series, which I believe is a trilogy. I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys Christian mysteries, or just mysteries in general.
I bought my copy of this novel from a library sale and have permission to use a copy of the cover artwork.
Adult, Young Adult, and Teen Reviews.
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