The Dark Hills Divide (Land of Elyon #1) by Patrick Carman

The Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: 2005
Synopsis Source: I own this book

Rating:
Characters: 18/20
Plot: 19/20
Originality: 19/20
Writing: 19/20
Recommendation: 19/20
Overall: 94/100 or A-


Synopsis: Twelve-year old Alexa Daley is spending another summer in Bridewell with her father. She looks forward to exploring the old lodge where she stays each year, with its cozy library and maze of passages and rooms. She’s also eager to finally solve the mystery of what lies beyond the immense walls that ere built to keep out an unnamed evil that lurks in the forests and The Dark Hills–an evil the townspeople are still afraid of.


As Alexa begins to unravel the truth about what lies outside the protective barrier she’s lived behind all her life, she discovers a strange and ancient enchantment. Armed with an unexpected new power, Alexa exposes a danger that could destroy everything she holds dear–and change The Land of Elyon forever.

My Thoughts: I’m usually not a reader of middle-grade fantasy, yet The Dark Hills Divide is a novel I’ve enjoyed throughout my childhood. The book begins with twelve-year old Alexa Daley and her father. Readers will notice the strong bond between the two as the story progresses. To me, this is an important aspect of the book. Alexa proves herself a caring daughter, but also and independent adventurer. She deeply loves her father, yet she is not afraid to stray away from him at times to satisfy her curiosity and inquisitiveness. It is these characteristics that propel young Alexa to solving the great mysteries surrounding her home.

The spirit of adventure is obviously the prevailing theme of this fantasy. The demolition of the immense walls surrounding Alexa’s home signifies breaking away from safety and taking risks. Alexa herself takes many risks to save her home and in the process discovers a magical secret that will indefinitely change her life. I found her character bold, daring, loving, and a loyal friend. Her actions attest to her loyalty. Everything the does is for the benefit of somebody she loves or to help someone in need. The author did a fine job in constructing a suitable persona for her character.

The Land of Elyon is a very mysterious setting for the events happening in the story. The map provided in the front allows readers to foreshadow where Alexa’s destiny will take her next. It alludes to coming adventures.  

This is a fast-paced novel that I would deem most suitable for a middle-grade audience. Although the writing suggests such, an adult could still enjoy the shroud of intrigue and resourceful characters that fill its pages. Indeed, The Dark Hills Divide is a great introduction to a surely captivating series that anyone should like.

http://www.patrickcarman.com/enter/elyon/

Carman, Patrick. (2005) The Dark Hills Divide. United States: Scholastic Press.

Legends of the Light Bearer: The story left untold by L. M. Aldrich

Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: July 18, 2011
Synopsis Source: Amazon

Rating:
Characters:19/20
Plot: 20/20
Originality: 20/20
Writing: 19/20
Recommendation: 19/20
Overall: 97/100 or A

Synopsis: A transformational treatise on hate, greed and war, Legends of the Light Bearer: The story left untold is speculative visionary fiction that weaves politics, religion, ancient mysteries, conspiracy theories, physics, the paranormal and sci-fi into a fast-paced, spiritual thriller.

In the months leading up to 9/11, the newly elected Senator from Virginia is drawn into a nightmare that threatens her sanity, and then her life. She uncovers a secret so ancient, so complex and profound that it will take the combined efforts of a NASA scientist, a Biblical scholar, a government spy, a paleontologist and Heaven itself to unravel it. Based on ancient and forbidden scriptures, this is the story you were never meant to hear…until it is too late. Legends of the Light Bearer will challenge everything you thought was true, while offering a startling yet compelling new paradigm: Conspiracies and the supernatural are the only true reality, opposing forces in a spiritual war that uses humans as pawns on a chessboard. It is not mere happenstance that we find ourselves on the brink of extinction; economically, environmentally, or in terms of our inhumanity to one another. It is by design. And the one little thing they do not want you to know is that we have the power to defeat them.

My Thoughts: When L. M. Aldrich contacted me, requesting a book review, I was thoroughly excited. This is only the second time an author has asked me to review her book, and I am eager to share my thoughts. When I read a synopsis of Legends of the Light Bearer, my anticipation increased dramatically, for the topic of this novel is one I am greatly interested in. I hope I can harness the power of words once again as I try to justify the evident uniqueness and greatness of this book. 

Legends of the Light Bearer: The story left untold is an intriguing novel comprised of government conspiracies, possibilities of extraterrestrial existence on Earth, and religious mysteries. The combination of these aspects makes for an intricate and enthralling plot. It is evident that the extensive research required for this story was in-depth. The obvious passion L. M. Aldrich put into her work is highly commendable and shines throughout her writing.  
Texts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gnostic Scriptures provide a large segment of the story. This was one of the ingenious twists I discovered in the book; each chapter began with a line from one of many ancient scriptures. These texts included those that were omitted or excluded from the Bible. The sections that were prevalent in L. M. Aldrich’s novel often hinted at possible alien presence on Earth. Indeed, I found this interesting…
I believe L. M. Aldrich was hinting at something while writing this book. A curious theme seems to crop up in every corner of the plot and encompasses the entirety of the text; salvation can only be found in the true light of God. Spiritual enlightenment cannot be found in the realm of matter and earthly pleasures, only in the omnipresent spirit of the universe where true love resides. I hope I have not completely missed the point of the novel, as that would be embarrassing. This is what I received from reading the book and what I found truly beautiful. 

Legends of the Light Bearer: The story left untold is a book I am absolutely lucky to have read. The message and theme presented is one I completely believe in. I understand that not everyone will enjoy it as much as I have, but only because they will read it with their minds and not their hearts. This is a book I envelope with admiration and adoration. I hope to learn more about this fantastic author and her future works in a possible upcoming interview. Until then my dear readers, I highly recommend you check out this intriguing, unique, and truly mind-blowing novel. ๐Ÿ™‚

Goodreads 

Aldrich, L. M. (2011) Legends of the Light Bearer: The story left untold

Fire World (Last Dragon Chronicles #6) by Chris D’Lacey

Fire World by Chris D’Lacey

Publisher: Orchard Books
Release Date: January 6, 2011
Other Titles in Series: The Fire Within (#1), Icefire (#2), Fire Star (#3), The Fire Eternal (#4), and Dark Fire (#5)

Rating:
Characters: 20/20
Plot: 20/20
Originality: 20/20
Writing: 20/20
Recommendation: 19/20
Overall: 99/100
Source: Library

Synopsis: David Rain, Lucy, Zanna, and the Pennykettle dragons disappeared after destroying a trace of dark fire.

In a world between Earth and Ki:mera, called Co:pernica, lives a twelve-year-old boy named David. He and his friend Rosanna spend their days in the librarium, a museum for books, with the curator, Mr. Henry, and the mysterious firebirds that roam the upper levels.

When the two friends accidentally injure one of the firebirds, David and Rosanna find themselves on a remarkable and dangerous adventure. The evil Ix have found a way to Co:pernica from their home planet and have taken over a firebird turning it to the side of darkness. The birds have a secret, though: They know about the existence of dragons.

With the help of David and Rosanna, the firebirds must reach across the universe to call on the dragons for protection. But will the dragons arrive before the Ix destroy everything?

My Thoughts: For one of the few times in my life I am actually nearly at a loss for words. Expressing the boundless veneration I have for Fire World and its author seems daunting and nearly impossible. This was one of those rare times where I actually chewed a book before swallowing it, instead of devouring it outright. I cannot pretend to do justice to this book through a review, but as I am a writer, I am compelled to make the attempt.

Fire World is the sixth and most recent installment of the Last Dragon Chronicles, ingeniously written by Chris D’Lacey. Throughout the previous books of the series, the storyline has evolved greatly, but generally retained the same overall character or essence. Amazingly, Fire World takes a drastic turn away from what readers would consider familiar about the story. Firstly, just understanding the fact that the events in the sixth installment are taking place in an alternate reality tells readers not to expect the ordinary.

Co:pernica is an alternate universe version of Earth, where all the familiar characters of the series appear โ€“ but not quite as theyโ€™ve been before. As the book starts out, readers of the previous novels may be confused. They may even say, “What the heck is going on?” I certainly had a similar reaction upon opening the book. There are several peculiarities throughout the novel that may also strike readers as odd or intriguing, including the return of Gwillana (known as Aunt Gwyneth on Co:pernica). The death of Gwillana in Dark Fire was one of the highlights of the series and to see her return, to me was an intense moment. Totally awesome, to say in modern teen words.

I have deduced that Fire World is by far the epitome of the series’ greatness, even if it borders on confusing at times. For that reason only, I cannot give the series a perfect 100/100 rating. Certain readers may find the novel a bit too “out there” and too dissimilar from the remainder of the series. I, myself found it superbly fantastic and worthy of being remembered and revered throughout the ages. Chris D’Lacey is truly a genius, hands down, and an excellent writer. I hope many young readers discover this series, as it can truly change someone’s perspective on fantasy.

http://www.icefire.co.uk/

D’Lacey, Chris. (2011) Fire World. United States: Orchard Books.

Dark Fire (Last Dragon Chronicles #5) by Chris D’Lacey

Title: Dark Fire
Author: Chris D’Lacey
Publisher: Orchard Books
Release Date: July 2, 2009
Other Titles in Series: The Fire Within (#1), Icefire (#2), Fire Star (#3), The Fire Eternal (#4), and Fire World (#6)


Rating:
Characters: 19/19
Plot: 20/20
Originality: 20/20
Writing: 20/20
Recommendation: 20/20
Overall: 99/100
Source: I own this book

Synopsis: Bestselling author David Rain was lost in the arctic for five years. Now, his daughter, Alexa, has brought him back, but a lot more has returned to Earth with him. Dragons are back as well. And with them is a hidden trace of Dark Fire, the deadliest force in the universe. Life hangs in the balance as David, Lucy, and the Pennykettle dragons must destroy the dark fire before it’s discovered and used to birth a darkling. Yet David’s success could come at a terrible price — the sacrifice of a beloved dragon.

Is David’s power strong enough to protect an entire world, including those he loves and all the dragons, from an evil older than time?

My Thoughts: The fifth installment of the Last Dragon Chronicles is assuredly the most action packed so far. There were quite a few events in this book left me excited, yet thoughtful. I find that Chris D’Lacey incorporates his rich stories with fantastical and sometimes mind-boggling ideas which give his overall writing style a unique twist. Indeed, Dark Fire is a perfect example of such.

Throughout the book, the plot of the series is obviously escalating, almost hinting at an extreme future climax. The excitement is almost tangible. For those who are not offended by spoilers; the most striking or riveting event for me in the entire book would be when the dragon Gawaine (yes it’s spelled with an e) was wakened by Lucy. This was intriguing, especially when the dragon’s urine was added to the mix. Don’t let this turn you down, the inclusion of such topics actually makes the book delightfully witty.

Overall, Dark Fire has definitely been the best of The Last Dragon Chronicles so far. D’Lacey’s writing just keeps getting better and better. He knows how to appeal to his audience, even while writing about confusing topics such as Dark Matter and the mechanics of physics. I also appreciate the fact that he is trying to instill a sense off environmental awareness in his readers. Truly, any fan of Chris D’Lacey will not be let down in the slightest by the stunning content just waiting to be read in Dark Fire. A fabulous author’s ingenuity has expressed itself once again. I must say, bravo Chris D’Lacey!

http://www.thelastdragonchronicles.com/

D’Lacey, Chris. (2009) Dark Fire. United States: Orchard Books.

The Fire Eternal (Last Dragon Chronicles #9) by Chris D’Lacey

Title: The Fire Eternal
Author: Chris D’Lacey
Publisher: Orchard Books
Release Date: 2007
Other Titles in Series: The Fire Within (#1), Icefire (#2), Fire Star (#3), Dark Fire (#5), Fire World (#6)

Rating:
Characters: 19/20
Plot: 20/20
Originality: 20/20
Writing: 20/20
Recommendation: 20/20
Overall: 99/100 or A+
Source: I own this book

Synopsis: Five years have passed since the mysterious disappearance of cult author, David Rain in the Arctic. Now, a number of strange events have come to pass โ€“ the Arctic ice is melting, polar bears are starving and the ghosts of Inuit souls haunt the skies. As the weather grows wilder and the icecaps melt, all eyes turn from the north to Davidโ€™s daughter, Alexa. She may be the key to stopping it, but can one girl save the world from the forces of evil?

Review: The Fire Eternal is the fourth installment of the Last Dragon Chronicles. It takes place five years after the events of the previous book, Fire Star, where the protagonist David Rain mysteriously disappears. Now completely enthralled with the series, Chris D’Lacey’s way with words still manages to awe me. With each new addition the series progressively evolves, both in plot and in writing talent.

As with the previous installment, the fain play a major role in the story’s course of events. I am still befuddled by these mysterious beings, yet my veneration for them eclipses my confusion. I hope to someday understand just a tiny percent of the ideas that run through D’Lacey’s head. It would be both intriguing and mind-boggling.

Overall, The Fire Eternal comprises the best of the series (so far). Any dragon fanatic or lover of the Last Dragon Chronicles will not be disappointed. For those who are just beginning the series, I hope you look forward to book 4, as it is quite phenomenal. The steady evolution of the series should not be lost on you. It’s one of the major parts of reading it that I enjoyed.

http://www.thelastdragonchronicles.com/

D’Lacey, Chris. (2007) The Fire Eternal. United States: Orchard Books.

Fire Star (Last Dragon Chronicles #3) by Chris D’Lacey

Title: Fire Star
Author: Chris D’Lacey
Publisher: Orchard Books
Release Date: 2005
Other Titles in Series: The Fire Within (#1), Icefire (#2), The Fire Eternal (#4), Dark Fire (#5), Fire World (#6)

Rating:
Characters: 20/20
Plot: 20/20
Originality: 20/20
Writing: 19/20
Recommendation: 20/20
Overall: 99/100
Source: I own this book

Synopsis: A research trip to the Arctic and a contract for a new book – life can’t get much better for David Rain. But as soon as David finds himself in the icy climes, he begins to write his legend of bears, dragons, and the mysterious fire star. Soon he realizes that his tale is beginning to mirror real life, and that an old enemy is on her way to meet him. Can David thwart her terrible plan? Or will his world be destroyed forever?


My Thoughts: Fire Star is the third installment of the Last Dragon Chronicles, and the plot is finally beginning to heat up. Much of the setting takes place in the arctic, where serious events are beginning to escalate. Now three books into the story, I am devouring Chris D’Lacey’s writing with a passion. I am now very familiar with his writing style; the way he incorporates vast, complicated, and fascinating ideas into a a simple script that anyone could read with ease. I am in awe. ๐Ÿ˜‰

In this fascinating book, Chris describes a race of beings that reside on a different vibrational frequency than humans. They exist in the realm of Dark Matter, where thoughts are substance. They are called Fain. The Fain have mastered inter-dimensional travel and often visit us humans, influencing our thoughts and overall aiding us in achieving spiritual enlightenment. This is a thought-provoking idea. . .

The concept of a fire star (a portal from the world of fain & dragons to Earth) is extremely exciting.  It carries the same vibes as a mass revolution, shift of global consciousness, or any other momentous event. Throughout the novel, any reader will realize that tensions are beginning to increase. You can tell something high-scale is coming. When the climax finally comes to pass, readers will not be disappointed. 

http://www.thelastdragonchronicles.com/

D’Lacey, Chris. (2005) Fire Star. United States: Orchard Books.

Icefire (Last Dragon Chronicles #2) by Chris D’Lacey

Title: Icefire
Author: Chris D’Lacey
Publisher: Orchard Books
Release Date: 2003
Other Titles in Series: The Fire Within (#1), Fire Star (#3), The Fire Eternal (#4), Dark Fire (#5), Fire World (#6)

Rating:
Characters: 20/20
Plot: 19/20
Originality: 20/20
Writing: 19/20
Recommendation: 20/20
Overall: 98/100 or A+
Source: I own this book

Synopsis: In the exciting sequel to The Fire Within, David must uncover the truth behind the mysterious clay dragons. David’s quest is to discover the link between the fire of the last known dragon on earth and the icy regions of the Arctic, It’s a journey that will bring him to the very heart of the legend of dragons and the mysterious, ancient secret of the icefire. . . .

Review: The stunning ingenuity of Chris D’Lacy expresses itself once again in the second installment of the Last Dragon Chronicles. In this continuation of the plot, David finally discovers the secrets of the Pennykettle Dragons, along with the uncovering of a link between polar bears and and dragons of ancient times. Icefire is indeed a step up on the maturity level compared to The Fire Within, yet the childish innocence of the first book manages to carry over as well. 

One aspect of the book that really impacted me was the description of “auma” or someones inner fire. Auma can be compared to the breath of God, or universal consciousness. It is the animating force of the Pennykettle Dragons, and it is a major part of the plot. I’m guessing (but not entirely for sure) that “auma” is the author’s personalization of the Hindu and Buddhist “Aum” or “Om.” It is often referred to as the sound of the Earthโ€ฆ Creation… The heart of existence. This idea is very inspiring. ๐Ÿ˜‰

All in all, Icefire is definitely a good read. If you enjoyed The Fire Within, you will be satisfied by it’s sequel. I will give some warning though, this book seems to open the door to the more cosmic aspects of the series, which may be confusing to some. I am looking forward to reviewing the later books in the series, including the recently released Fire World. Until then, read on! ๐Ÿ˜‰

http://www.thelastdragonchronicles.com/

D’Lacey, Chris. (2003) Icefire. United States: Orchard Books. 

The Fire Within (Last Dragon Chronicles #1) by Chris D’Lacey

Title: The Fire Within
Author: Chris D’Lacey
Genre: Adventure/Fantasy
Publisher: Orchard Books
Release Date: 2001
Other Titles in Series: Icefire (#2), Fire Star (#3), The Fire Eternal (#4), Dark Fire (#5), Fire World (#6)

Rating:
Characters: 20/20
Plot: 18/20
Originality: 20/20
Writing: 19/20
Recommendation: 20/20
Overall: 97/100 or A
Source: I own this lovely book ๐Ÿ˜‰

Synopsis: When David moves in with Elizabeth Pennykettle and her eleven-year-old daughter, Lucy, he discovers a collection of clay dragons that come to life. David’s own special dragon inspires him to write a story, which reveals the secrets behind a mystery. In order to solve the mystery and save his dragon, David must master the magic of the fire within–not only with his hands but also with his heart.

Review: The Fire Within is one of those books that might not seem very special, or as if it would be a worthwhile read, yet is actually a story that will touch the hearts of all who decide to open its cover. In my opinion, the writing style of this first installment is most suitable for someone of a younger age than my own, yet the themes expressed have the ability to capture anyone’s interest. This easy read is a favorite of mine and will always remain so.

Throughout the entirety of the novel, a prevalent theme becomes evident; We all have a fire within us, and it is called creativity. This message is expressed in every essence of The Fire Within. The protagonist, David Rain, finds his fire within while discovering inspiration. David manages this only with the help of his special dragon, Gadzooks who often writes ideas down on the notepad he was kilned with. David receives inspiring ideas from Gadzooks only in his imagination. Or does he?

Again, this seemingly trivial read is actually a book I wish all of humanity had the chance of reading. The thought-provoking themes the author provides will undoubtedly effect the current generation of readers. I am quite fond of The Fire Within and the rest of the Last Dragon Chronicles as well, which I hope to be reviewing in the near future. Truly, Chris D’Lacey has constructed a beautiful, touching, and adventurous novel that will kindle the fire within each and every one of his fans, including me. ๐Ÿ˜‰   

http://www.thelastdragonchronicles.com/

D’Lacey, Chris. (2001) The Fire Within. United States: Orchard Books.

The Light (Morpheus Road #1) by D.J. MacHale

Title: The Light
Author: D.J. MacHale
Genre: Young Adult/Psychological Horror 
Publisher: Aladdin
Release Date: April 20, 2010
Other Titles in Series: The
Black

Rating:
Characters: 18/20
Plot: 20/20
Originality: 19/20
Writing: 19/20
Recommendation: 19/20
Overall: 95/100 or A
Source: Library

Synopsis: Marshall Seaver is being haunted. It begins with mysterious sounds, a fleeting face outside the window, a rogue breeze-all things that can be explained away. That is, until he comes face-to-face with a character who only exists on the pages of a sketchbook–a character Marshall himself created.

Marshall has no idea whi he is being tormented by this forbidding creature, but he is quickly convinced it has something to do with his best friend, Cooper, who has gone missing. Together wih Cooper’s beautiful but aloof sister, Sydney, Marshall searches for the truth about his friend while ultimately uncovering a nightmare that is bigger and more frightening than he could ever have imagined.

Review: D.J. MacHale has been one of my favorite authors ever since I feasted upon the Pendragon Series. His writing style is immensely captivating, keeping you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire book. This was the first horror I have read in a long time, and I must say MacHale seems to have a knack for the genre. I was surprisingly and utterly enthralled.

D.J. MacHale definitely incorporates his ingenuity in all literature he has a hand in. His most recent project, The Morpheus Road Trilogy, is… unique to say the least. It was unlike anything I usually read, a true psychological horror with paranormal aspects. I have no regrets upon reading it though, I actually enjoyed it quite well. The characters were solid, the plot was intricate, and originality was rampant.    

For YA readers, The Light is assuredly a novel worth checking out. I found myself shocked, chilled, and in some cases disturbed while reading. If you are looking for a thrill ride that will surprise you multiple times, than the first installment of Morpheus Road will undoubtedly satisfy you. A hunger for horror and paranormal goodness will quickly be satisfied upon opening the cover. I am looking forward to read and review the next in the series, The Black. The prospect of continuing to indulge upon the story of Marshall Seaver is exciting.

http://djmachalebooks.com/

MacHale, D.J. (2010) The Light. United States: Alladin

Brisingr (Inheritance Cycle #3) by Christopher Paolini

Title: Brisingr
Author: Christopher Paolini
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Release Date: September 20th 2008
Other Titles in Series: Eragon (#1), Eldest (#2), Inheritance (#4 to be released)

Rating:
Characters: 20/20
Plot: 20/20
Originality: 20/20
Writing: 20/20
Recommendation: 20/20
Overall: 100/100 or A+
Source: Borrowed from Friend

Synopsis: Oaths sworn. . . Loyalties tested. . . Forces collide. It’s been only months since Eragon first uttered “brisingr,” an ancient language term for fire. Since then, he’s not only learned to create magic with words–he’s been challenged to his very core. Following the colossal battle against the Empire’s warriors on the Burning Plains, Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have narrowly escaped with their lives. Still, there is more adventure at hand for the Rider and his dragon, as Eragon finds himself bound by a tangle of promises he may not be able to keep.


First is Eragon’s oath to his cousin, Roran: to help rescue Roran’s beloved from King Galbatorix’s clutches. But Eragon owes his loyalty to others, too. The Varden are in desperate need of his talents and strength–as are the elves and dwarves. When unrest claims the rebels and danger strikes from every corner, Eragon must make choices–choices that will take him across the Empire and beyond, choices that may lead to unimagined sacrifice. 


Eragon is the greatest hope to rid the land of tyranny. Can this once simple farm boy unite the rebel forces and defeat the king?

Review: Wow… I am at a loss for words, which rarely happens. I must express my deep gratification toward Mr. Paolini for reviving an emotion inside of me that I have not felt since many books ago… As my first ever perfectly rated book (100/100 points) I deem it appropriate to say this read was totally awesome!!! Although this is unusually immature for me, it is undoubtedly my true reaction. Brisingr brought out the best of enjoyment inside of me. A literal tingling pervaded my entire body as I read, especially toward the end of this phenomenal book.

Once again, Christopher Paolini proves his indubitable talent for comprising a brilliant plot. I could compare his skill and craft to chocolate making, the perfect combination of essential ingredients that leads to an amazing finished product. Paolini is a true master when it comes to implementing characters into a plot, finding the environment that suits them the best. When it comes to the setting of the story itself, his ingenuity is unmatched. An entire world, the plot of Brisingr is built upon, a world of ceaselessly discovered detail. Simply spectacular.

For those who eagerly await the next installment of The Inheritance Cycle, Inheritance, I feel your apprehension. How could anything rival the splendor of Brisingr? I have no doubt Christopher Paolini’s fourth and final book of the series will be the best by far. He has done it before with the earlier installments, and he can do it again. Join me in waiting as the closure of the Inheritance Cycle draws ever nearer. Join me, as the story of Eragon and Saphira finally ends. 37 days and counting. . . 

http://www.alagaesia.com/

Paolini, Christopher. (2008) Brisingr. United States: Alfred A. Knopf.