Sunday, March 12, 2017

Review ~ Elemental Secrets by Elle Middaugh

Elemental Secrets 
Elle Middaugh 
(The Essential Elements, #1) 
Publication date: February 27th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Valerie Moore was a beautiful, headstrong girl with below-average social skills and above-average anxiety (including a flair for over-analyzing).

With her mother long deceased, and her father recently deployed, she ends up being sent to live with her eccentric aunt in a tiny town nestled in the mountains of Pennsylvania. But, being a Navy brat had made her into a bit of a loner, and making friends certainly wasn’t her strongest suit. As if the life of a typical teen wasn’t hard enough.

But Valerie soon discovers she’s not a typical teenager. Not by a long shot.

SECRETS are revealed…

…About her family, about her newfound friends and relationships, and about her whole world… Things that have been kept from her for her entire life…

But the biggest secret of all is revealed when Valerie discovers that she has Elemental powers, and a chain of inexplicable and irrevocable events unleashes throughout the little town…



This ebook was sent to me free in exchange for an honest review... 

I'm giving Elemental Secrets a solid four stars. It was a great start to what I hope will be a really good series... but there were some things I didn't like. Firstly, what I enjoyed...

I really liked the world building in this book, something that has been sadly missing in the last few fantasy books I've read.  I liked the deep history that is hinted at in this book, though I hope the next few books build on that and give more details about elementals and their history. I also liked the magic and the imagery. Middaugh did a fantastic job setting each scene and drawing me in... as if I was watching a movie. While I normally hate when I can predict how certain mysteries unfold and how they end, Middaugh kept me wondering just enough that while I did predict many things correctly, I was in no way bored... it was still very interesting and immersive. 

Ok... now what I didn't enjoy... I wasn't crazy about many of these characters, but I hope they improve over the series. Valerie, though she comes off as very independent and a marcher of her own drum in the beginning, quickly becomes a little too vapid, self-absorbed, and attention seeking in my opinion. But there are other times that she seems quite selfless, so I dunno... it was like she absorbed the personalities of those around her. When she was around Holden and his friends, she was very much the typical preppy, shallow teen. But in her scenes with Cade and her aunt, she was more grounded, more like the person I thought she was at the beginning. I didn't quite like that pendulum... it was a little distracting. Unless of course she literally is absorbing the personalities of those around her... like maybe somehow she absorbs Holden's careless air, Cade's grounded Earth, and Chase's passionate fire... in which case, that would be really cool... but that is never mentioned here. It is kinda the feeling I was getting though... I just found it weird that she has this strong attraction to, so far, an elemental of three elements.... and her personality changes in subtle ways depending on who she's with, reflecting the difference in her attraction to them (Holden lifts her and makes her feel like she's flying - hence her carelessness when she's with him, Cade makes her feel grounded and true, and Chase seems to set her on fire). I thought that maybe there was something there. It just seems like too much of a coincidence. Is she going to be attracted to a water elemental too? To complete the circle? 

I also hated that I didn't like Cade past the first couple chapters. He had such great potential but quickly became a jerk. And I really would have liked to have more Chase... but I'm fairly certain we'll see more of him in the next given what happened in this. 

Overall, four stars. As I said, it was a solid start and I hope the next couple books either stay at this level or get even better!


Elle Middaugh is a newly published author, born in the sticks outside of Clearfield, Pennsylvania. After moving around the east coast a number of times, she now lives in her hometown with her husband and three children.

Reading has been a favorite past time since Elementary School and choose-your-own-adventure books. Writing has been her dream since Middle School when she first began penning her own material. Being published is the most awesome achievement in her writing career so far, but she hopes for more exciting landmarks and stepping stones in the future!

She’s a proud Navy wife; a frazzle-brained mother; a homebody who dislikes cleaning; a fan of tennis, and fitness in general; a lover of hot tea, mountain dew, and all things fiction; and she’s a bigger My Little Pony fan than her children.


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Review ~ Shadows of the Forest by Emma Michaels

Shadows of the Forest
by Emma Michaels
Genre: YA Fantasy

Everyone is dying to live in the Shadows of the Forest.

They gave me three rules to follow in exchange for my brother’s life:

1. Do not enter the West Wing;
2. Do not go outside after darkness falls; and
3. There is only one exit; The Gates.

This is what happened when I broke them…

Rating: 3.5*

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the fantasy and the folklore of it all... and I quite enjoyed the journey Lily took to save the life of her brother... however, it did fall a little flat for me, it fell short of it's potential. The first pitfall was the need for another editorial lookover. Overall, the prose was nice, lovely even in many parts, but there were sections with fragmented sentences and incorrect word placement... which took me out of the story a few times because I had to go back and reread it to understand what the author was saying or describing.

Another pitfall - and I'm kinda torn on this in some ways - was that there could have been MORE... more character development, more world building. I would have liked to see more of both the spirit world and the hospital Lily found herself in. I would have liked to see more detail about the culture within these places. You know, Lily is told many times that not everything is as it seems, that she needs to be careful about how she responds to the spirits... giving on this idea that perhaps Lily is in danger... but I never actually saw that. Other than a couple dirty looks and some secrets being kept from her, I never got the feeling that Lily was in any kind of danger. And this goes double for Arro. Many of the characters warned Lily about Arro, that he was a trickster fox and she had to look out for his tricks... but I never got the feeling that he was particularly mischievous... perhaps a bit wary of her, but never cruel. I also would have liked to see more development into their relationship. I know all of this takes place within a short time span because Cole's life is hanging by a thread, but a couple conversations between Lily and Arro would have been helpful in believing their relationship and the depth of their feelings for one another.

I also would have liked to see more of Lily and Cole's life before the accident. Their life is pretty vague, probably purposefully so, but I would have still liked to know more of who they were before all this... and it would have helped out in character development. 

And this is where I'm torn... It really could have been twice the size it turned out to be... and in many ways, I do wish there had been more to the story and definitely to the world building, but I do kinda like that in keeping it mysterious, in keeping it vague, Emma left much of it up to the reader's imagination. It's always kind of cool when authors do this and do it well.

Overall, although I'm torn on the purposefully vague and mysterious aspects of it all, I still really enjoyed reading this and I look forward to checking out more of Emma's books. 


Also, what IS Usagi/Sachiko, Willow and now Lily?? I've been trying to find out what kind of spirit/creature they are but I haven't been able to. I find it FASCINATING... especially Lily with her cosmos/galaxy markings!

Emma Michaels is the award winning author of the Society of Feathers series. With over 15 written publications and hundreds of book covers under her belt she plans on taking over the literary world one cup of coffee at a time.



I just HAD to include some of her art... they're gorgeous! Check out her website for all her cover art!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Freebies Friday!

Some offers only free through Kindle Unlimited. 

Subscribe to for daily free ebooks in your preferred genres!

The Noru: Blue Rose (Book 1)
By Lola StVil | Fantasy/ Paranormal
After speaking to the other angels on the team, I hang up my cell and sigh. No one’s heard from Aaden in months. This bothers me not only as the leader, but as his girl — well, if I was his girl, which I’m not. Great. Now on top of being grounded, I’m sitting here acting needy. Then something out the window catches my eye. Soundlessly and without ... Read More
Orion's Curse: The Andromeda Series (Book 2)
By Amy Bartelloni | Young Adult
It's been two months since the blowout with President Vise. The Valley is rebuilding and elections have been planned, but things are about to change when a new group of refugees arrives seeking the cure. They've brought with them someone Anyon never thought he'd see again, but he's not the only one who's surprised. While Anyon sorts out the new arrivals, ... Read More
Pride's Prejudice
By Misty Dawn Pulsipher | Young Adult
Beth Pride really can’t stand William Darcy: he snubbed her at the Hartford College Children’s Benefit Auction; he has an infuriating propensity for pushing her buttons; his actions are frequently at odds with his words; and even his melting chocolate eyes and impressive physique don’t quite make up for his deficient personality.Beth’s plan to avoid ... Read More
The Price of Creation
By Lance Conrad | Young Adult
The Historian tells a tale of destiny and destruction. The blacksmith's son is born with a dark omen that dooms him to a life of violence. The abilities he gains are nothing, however, compared to the discoveries he makes among his people’s enemies ... Read More

The Truth About Drew
By Krista Noorman | Young Adult
Claire Thomas leads the average life of a teenage girl, but her best friend Drew is far from average, speaking in clich├ęs and Bible verses, disappearing before her eyes. After realizing he only appears to her, she is determined to discover the truth ... Read More
By Rebecca Clark | Young Adult
Alexa Jenkinson is a self-appointed class nerd with no friends. Lately, her only excitement comes in the form of a tall, dark, and handsome Greek-like god, who visits her every night in her dreams. On top of the strange dreams, she can't help but think she's leading the wrong life. She believes that her mundane existence is the average teenager's worst ... Read More

A Raucous Time
By Julia Hughes | Young Adult
A break-neck chase across country in the hunt for King John's lost treasure. Wren's discovered an ancient diary; he's convinced that it's the key to a legendary treasure trove. All he has to do is persuade cousin Rhyllann that this isn't a geeky flight of fantasy, escape the protection of Detective Inspector Crombie of the Metropolitan Police and outwit a ... Read More
The Pillar of Dominance
By Valya Boutenko | Young Adult
To save his world, 16-year-old Warren takes on a dangerous quest that was never meant for him. Warren travels across a land ruled by evil for one thousand years in search of the Pillar of Dominance. While navigating his treacherous world he befriends an ancient wizard with a mysterious curse, and comes upon the beautiful Nella, a clairvoyant girl from ... Read More

The Man in the Box
By Christina G Gaudet | Young Adult
Lou regrets opening the box her gran left after she died. Not because it holds a spider as she thought, or toenails as she feared. Inside is a person, an impossible miniature man, and her life will never be the same. THE MAN IN THE BOX is a modern day fantasy full of magic, adventure, and laughs. If you’re looking for a fast paced story with a strong girl ... Read More
Atmospheric Pressure
By Aaron Frale | Young Adult
Olson lives in a city that has been sealed from the damaged atmosphere. He is too smart for a school that prepares him for menial labor. His life is upended when one of the few adults who cares about him commits suicide - or so it appears at first. While investigating, Olson meets a girl named Natalie snooping around his school. He soon learns that one of ... Read More
The Heartbreaker Society: The Opposite of Ordinary
By Jessica Sorensen | Young Adult
One day ago my life was pretty perfect. But a lot can change in a day.In one day, I went from being Ashlynn Wynterland, one of the most popular girls in school to being the girl who spends lunchtime hiding out in Mr. Chester’s classroom and watching Maxon Harter and his science obsessed friends mess around with experiments. All because Queeny Harlington ... Read More
Lucid Man
By Gil Gray | Young Adult
In this Psychological Thriller, Joseph is a skillful lucid dreamer, able to create and control his dreams. A prominent psychologist offers to teach him a secret way into other people’s dreams if he agrees to enter a patient’s mind to save her from suicide ... Read More
Shifters Alliance
By Shaun L Griffiths | Young Adult
One moment, Kerri's best friends are there beside her. The next, they've been kidnapped and taken through a Gateway to an unknown land. To be used as pawns in a raging conflict for a Crystal so precious, civilizations have fallen trying to control it.Passing through the Gateway portal in search of them, she finds the world she knew no longer exists. In a ... Read More
From The Wreckage
By Michele G Miller | Young Adult
“In a matter of minutes on a Friday night, I lost my school, my identity, the security of my first love, the personality of my sweet fearless brother, my best friend, my town, everything as I knew it. Everything changed ... Read More