“Kistishi Island”: An Unbelievable YA Journey

Kistishi Island

I recently had the pleasure of reading Kistishi Island, by Jordan Elizabeth. This YA novel was a well-written story, with a plot that comes full circle. Although the names are a bit difficult to pronounce, the characters are interesting and likable, especially Corvo (goddess of crows, and Krieg, goddess of war). The main character, Serena, is portrayed to be a teenager with depth, but still a teen, and you won’t be able to help but like her.

When Serena talks to her imaginary friends, they just don’t feel imaginary. The kids at school taunt her and she winds up in trouble all the time. Her aunt thinks she’s crazy and wants to send her to an asylum, her mom is off on archaeological digs all the time and is never around, and her imaginary friends are the only friends she has.

What will happen if she learns her imaginary friends are really goddesses watching over her? We’re about to find out, when she runs away to the Island of Kistishi to find her mom, where the walls of the ruins suck you into underground dwellings and other people see her friends, too. Besides learning that her friends aren’t imaginary, Serena also learns that she is capable of depending on herself, and that she’s capable of having real friends.

This story is well-crafted and perfect for YA readers, (or older readers who secretly love YA stories but don’t want to admit it). It is a fun and exciting read. I give Kistishi Island four quills.

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“Wicked Treasure” is a Wicked Story

Wicked Treasure

Wicked Treasure, by Jordan Elizabeth is a read you won’t want to put down. Elizabeth captures the reader’s attention from the first page. It’s a truly enjoyable read. Wicked Treasure is the third novel in her Treasure Chronicle series. Preceding it are Treasure Darkly and Born of Treasure. As with all of Elizabeth’s YA steampunk romance novels, (including Runners and Riders, from her Return to Amston series). Wicked Treasure is an enticing adventure that leaves you wanting more.

Garth and Amethyst are thrown into sleuthing out a new mystery, when the kidnapping of their daughter  throws them onto the trail of a diabolical conspiracy of government cover up that threatens to rock the entire country. Exposing the cover up threatens to rock the very structure of the government, making all Treasures and Grishams dispensable liabilities and they find themselves in a race to save their own lives. Full of twists, turns and outright surprises, Wicked Treasure keeps readers guessing and pages turning.

Wicked Treasure is a well crafted YA steampunk novel, filled with suspense and intrigue, that holds readers’ interest from the very first page. I give it five quills.

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“The Path to Old Talbot”: A YA Novel That Deals With Tough Real Life Issues With Sensitivity

The Path to Old Talbot

The Path to Old Talbot, by Jordan Elizabeth appears on the surface to be a novel about a doorway leading to another time, and it is that. But it is also a story about how a young girl and her mother cope with her father’s mental illness. It’s a tough issue. What does a teen do when their parent has mental problems. It may be something that isn’t talked about, so the child or young adult must deal with it internally, not expressing their feelings outwardly. Our heroine, Charity, expresses her inner thoughts and feelings to the reader, even when they are thoughts and feelings she can’t express to friends or family, giving readers a unique insider’s view of a tough love scenario. It is a difficult issue and I give Jordan Elizabeth kudos for tackling it in a realistic, but sensitive manner.

When Charity and her mother discover a door to the past in their new home, they can hardly believe it, but they quickly take advantage of to make brief escapes from their own reality. But with each visit, it gets harder for Charity to leave her new found friends from the past to their fates, as she digs up the past in the present. But can the past really be changed or is it preordained?

The Path to Old Talbot is a well written and engaging story, perfect for today’s YA readers, who may be dealing with similar issues in their own lives, (mental illness, not time travel). I give it four quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs at no charge. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.

 


“Perils for Portents”: A Steampunkish Novel with a Heroine to be Admired

Perils for Portents

Perils for Portents, by Diana Benedict is a well crafted story and a truly enjoyable read. Taking place in an era when women had to struggle to be taken seriously, young Francie Wolcott proves a heroine who young women today can look up to in a story of mystery and adventure.

When their parents die, Francie and her brother, Rooney, are left to make their own way in the world. Francie uses her resources, combined with Rooney’s ingenuity to travel across the country by unconventional means, to their uncle and grandmother in San Francisco. On the journey, the automaton Rooney designed is possessed by a ghost, whose fortunes are right on the mark. When she reveals a murder the circus owner was involved with, it puts Francie on his radar as a liability. Once they’ve reached their family, Rooney settles in well, while Francie entertains plans to travel the world with the fortune telling automaton. But her grandmother has other plans for her, as she puts Francie on display for all eligible suitors, regardless of how repulsive Francie finds them. Besides thwarting her grandmother, Francie must also evade the circus owner, who is set on her demise, and she proves herself up to the task.

Perils for Portents is a delightful historic YA novel, with elements of adventure and romance. It is well written and entertaining. I give it four quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs at no charge. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


“Crossroads” Moves Across Worlds

crossroads

Crossroads by Chandler McGrew is an alternate world YA story about a young girl, Kira, who finds herself on the run with her friend, Jen, after her parents and her carnival family are massacred. Unsure of where to go, but following her instincts, Kira explores her other-worldly powers which allow her to create, and uncreate, by will, learning about her family’s true origins and discovering that only she can save the last of her people.

It’s a role she didn’t ask for, and she doesn’t want as she realizes that she and Jen are being pursued and everyone she comes into contact with dies. Then she meets Sheila, who has the gift of talking to the dead, and is tied to Kira and the world beyond the mirror, although neither knows it. They go through the mirror and embark on a quest to stand against the evil empty-eyed man, who has overtaken Dream Time, (the world beyond the mirror, and is trying to overtake all worlds.

Crossroads is character-driven with a strong story line, but it is almost a little too convenient that although she does not understand what she is supposed to do, Kira always knows what to do when the time comes to do it. The answers just seem to come to her. I give it four quills.

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“Victorian”: A Ghostly Story Packed Full of Secrets

Victorian

Victorian, by Jordan Elizabeth, is a truly unique YA story featuring not one, but two young girls, Celeste and Weronica, who each have a dark secret hidden in the past that keeps them closed off to others. When they both get jobs at a historical fair in a strange old village which harbors secrets of its own, things turn interesting, as each one learns to trust again with the help of the fair’s colorful cast of characters and the ghosts of the past.

Elizabeth’s characters are realistic and believable. Weronica acts as if she’s self assured, but worries more about what others think of her than she lets on. She shares only enough to keep curiosity at bay, keeping her ghosts close and the secrets they hold even closer. Celeste really just wants to belong, but fear that her secret will be revealed causes her to hold others at bay. Her ghosts are really those of the historic village, but they hold the key to unlocking her secrets, as well as unraveling the mysterious past of the village.

This well-crafted story builds just the right amount of suspense to keep the pages turning, as it alternates between the two co-protagonist’s points of view. The story line is easy to follow, the village setting becoming a character in and of itself. Victorian is well worth the read.

I give Victorian four quills.                 Four Quills3


“Treasure Darkly” presents a great genre combo

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Clark Treasure carries within himself a dark treasure, which gives him control over life and death, and allows him to communicate with spirits. The army wants his secret and drives him into a life as a fugitive, in this haunted YA steampunk romance with a western flair, Treasure Darkly, by Jordan Elizabeth. Clark seeks refuge with the man he believes to be his father, a rich man with a lot of pull in Hedlund, the Big Valley of steampunk, hoping to ride on the Treasure name for protection. His true father comes to him as a spirit after the ruse has already been set in motion and sends Clark on a mission to take care of his unfinished business. Amethyst Treasure, the feisty, spoiled sister who’s not, becomes an object of affection when they both learn there’s no blood between them, and by the end of the book they’ve fallen in love, of course.

Elizabeth sets this first book up well to carry the rest of her Treasure Chronicles series, wrapping up the romance, while leaving the main story open ended to carry on another day, or another book or two. My only criticisms lie in the fact that at times, it didn’t feel like the characters actions and reactions were genuine and that Elizabeth detours from the main storyline from about Chapter 33, after Amethyst’s male friend from the city, Joshua, shows up at the ranch unexpectedly. The family choses this exact time to all go on a family outing, making it feel as if we’ve taken an abrupt jog into a subplot involving Amethyst’s brother, Jeremiah, and a brief romance. While this was a neat little tale driven by the urge to reveal character, I had to pause and ask myself why Elizabeth chose to stray so far from the main story with this section that doesn’t seem to move the story forward.

The place in which Elizabeth choses to end this tale feels unfinished, leaving many unanswered questions, but perhaps this was purposefully crafted to carry us into the next book in the series. For me, however, it felt like an abrupt drop off, leaving many loose ends dangling. It felt like there should have been more, maybe just one more chapter to tie everything neatly together before sending readers off to ponder the story in their own minds, which they will, because Treasure Darkly is a story that inspires deeper thought processes. It has an interesting and well thought out premise, that leaves many possibilities open to discovery. I look forward to seeing what future tales will be inspired for this series.

Overall, this is a very entertaining read. I’m a sucker for westerns, even in a steampunk world. Throwing in aspects from the spirit world, Elizabeth certainly added an interesting twist, if at times too convenient, but none-the-less enjoyable. I look forward to reading its sequel and hope to have the opportunity to review it, as well.

Jordan Elizabeth is a steampunk princess well on her way to living out her fairytale dream of being a successful YA author in New York. Her other works include Escape from Witchwood Hollow, Cogling, and Book Two of the Treasure Chronicle series, Born of Treasure. I give Treasure Darkly three quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read, and she never charges for them. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.