Annie Z

Books

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Smashwords book reviews by Annie Z

  • Darl and the Spider Cult on July 17, 2012

    Franz McLaren’s new book is about a wonderful 16-year-old named Darl, who doesn’t understand the world he lives in. Darl is different than the other villagers, and for some reason he brings wrath upon his head and gets beaten by his father for the slightest infraction. One day Darl is sent on an errand, where he has his first taste of freedom and encounters a wizard who changes his life. He hears about the Captain--a man who’s presumably his real father--and is thrown into a world he never thought possible. Thus begins an unforgettable journey into a realm of magical creatures and perilous adventures. Underneath this fantastic tale is a stirring coming-of-age story. “Darl and the Spider Cult” begins with the stunning image of Darl’s father stripping the bark off a tree with a bullwhip. “When he was especially angry, his Dad would look at the whip then at Darl. Each time Darl felt his stomach tighten into a rock ball.” I felt immediate empathy for Darl and his dilemma, and I was swept along on his adventures, at the core of which was finding his identity amidst a struggle for survival. The chapters are short and punchy, the pace is fast and the pages are full of dazzling action, but most importantly the main character will win you over with his pluck and personality. Highly recommended.
  • Home Lost on Oct. 09, 2012

    Destiny calls to Leena, a young witch in training, when she returns to her village to find that it’s been raided and destroyed. Everyone she knew and loved is gone. Thus begins her journey to find her family and meet her fate. Gifted author McLaren puts us in the middle of the action in this magical world of goblins, witches, wizards, and demons. He is a master of poetic understatement: “She opened her eyes. In front of her face a single black feather, caught by its quill end in a small mound of snow, waved like the mittened hand of a departing friend.” Teenager Leena sets off on a harrowing adventure, where all her skills as a budding witch are put to the test. For as-yet-unknown reasons, she was given the Garlan branch, a powerful instrument that in the right hands can save the world. However, there’s a price to pay for the use of magic. We are given a hint as to the Garlan branch’s awesome power in the book’s prologue, where thousands of years ago, the young commander of a ragtag band of the few remaining humans on Earth, manages to hold off pure blood-curdling evil with the branch. On her quest to confront the evil that seeks her out, Leena teams up with Darius, ambassador to the Great Wizard. The dialogue is lively and believable. McLaren’s writing never ceases to cast its spell: “Like ripples from a pebble thrown in still water, lights appeared in the windows.” “Home Lost” is an exciting, entertaining and emotional read. I highly recommend this riveting start to the series!
  • A Spell Cast Volume One on April 14, 2013

    This paranormal romance saga has it all! I love this series and highly recommend it. Chloe is in love with both Oliver and Tristan. Her feelings for them are warm and intense, and we watch with fascination as a delicate dance between partners commences, while magical events unfold all around them. Magical waterfalls, precious stones, a romantic love triangle. These are just a few of the mysteries Tessa Stokes explores, just as Chloe, Tristan and Oliver explore their feelings for one another. I immediately got caught up in the dreamscape of the novel and carried away on gentle waves of emotion and language. Few describe falling in love better. And the Middle Ages are described in intricate detail - you see cupboards, baskets, cloaks. This timeless series takes unexpected turns into wizardry and witchcraft, but the steamy love scenes and romantic entanglements keep you riveted to the page. Highly recommended.
  • A Spell Cast Volume Three on April 14, 2013

    I love this series and highly recommend it! Chloe is in love with both Oliver and Tristan. Her feelings for them are warm and intense, and we watch with fascination as a delicate dance between partners commences, while magical events unfold all around them. Few describe falling in love better. The steamy love scenes and romantic entanglements keep you riveted to the page. Highly recommended!