Book Review: The Redpoint Crux

When Red finds herself no longer able to qualify for rock-climbing competitions, she returns home, defeated, to the ballet.

Morgan Shamy’s personal knowledge of ballet and piano along with her husband’s gold-medal expertise in rock climbing makes her uniquely qualified to write the Redpoint Crux, where the three skills are woven together in a retelling of the novel Phantom of the Opera and the ballet Giselle.

My Thoughts on The Redpoint Crux

After reading the description of this particular book, I wondered if it could be a retelling of the Phantom of the Opera. A few phrases stood out, making me think it might be. These included: “A series of murders” and “a tortured young man who lives beneath the depth of the theater.”

The first chapter of the Redpoint Crux takes place in the mountains where the main character, Red, finds herself in quite a predicament… dying after falling from a cliff. An older sensation, similar to being whisked back in time, opens the next scene as readers are introduced to the theater and its new owner, Liam.

Most of the story takes place in the theater, which is located in Halifax, Canada.

Being a person who enjoyed the Phantom of the Opera novel by Gaston Leroux, my mind started making connections. I found Christine, Raoul, Meg, Carlotta, Madame Giry, a few other characters, and obviously, the phantom within this new novel. Throughout the story, other similarities came into view, a mirror with a hidden passage leading into a private room, a chandelier scene, a music box, a torture room of sorts, a violin at a funeral… a noose.

Of course, the story line caught my attention, too. But as I continued reading, the Redpoint Crux diverted from the Phantom of the Opera. Some characters changed. becoming different than they first appeared. Other mysteries popped up–mysteries I now recognize as similar to the story told throughout the ballet Giselle. Ghost-like ballerinas, a mentally-tortured character, a hero, and a love story that I hope isn’t over.

The difference between the chapters that take place at the theater and the chapters that take place away from it is fairly stark. Candles and behaviors similar to those found in the late 19th to early 20th-centuries with tutus and pressed suits (except for the main character, who misses rock climbing and wears casual clothes) fill the pages surrounding the theater. Modern technology and speech patterns cover the pages of the scenes away from the theater. These differences work well together throughout the story, and combine toward the end when Red must make a choice.

As I discovered similarities between the Redpoint Crux and the Phantom of the Opera, I worried they were too alike. I worried because the author’s description doesn’t mention a retelling. But in the end, I enjoyed The Redpoint Crux. Morgan Shamy writes well. She does a great job setting up a scene and making your heart race at the right moments. The ending of her novel surprised me some, and I hope there is a sequel planned. I still have questions that a character promised to reveal answers to. And they haven’t been answered yet. So, don’t take too long, Morgan; I’ll be waiting.

I do suggest the author mention her story is a retelling in the description. That way people familiar with the other stories (especially the well-known Phantom of the Opera) know to expect that. However, the fact that it is a retelling shouldn’t stop anyone from reading the Redpoint Crux. The differences are enough to make it time-worthy.

The Official Blurb

When Megan Van Helsburg gets kicked off the U.S.A. Climbing Team, she has no choice but to return home and leave her climbing career behind. With no coach, no money, and no prospects, she joins the corps de ballet determined to improve her strength and agility. But the ballet theater is in dire straits. Not only do a series of murders break loose, but the ballerinas are becoming deathly thin and brain-dead. As Megan investigates, she meets Bellamy, a tortured young man who lives beneath the depths of the theater. Megan falls hard and fast for Bellamy, who becomes her mentor, but something is off about him.

It isn’t until the company announces they’re doing Giselle for the fall performance that Megan realizes the parallels between the ghost story and the lives around her. Megan must find a way to not only save her climbing career, but balance her feelings for Bellamy, and stop the murders and dying girls before she, too, is numbered among the dead.

More info

Pre-order your copy of The Redpoint Crux on Amazon

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I received this a copy of this book for free in exchange of a honest review. All opinions are my own.
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Book Review Flight of the Spark

Iskra lives in a small village with an abundance of laws to keep her safe, but do they keep her from happiness too?

Award-winning author Evelyn Puerto has given us a gift: Flight of the Spark Book One of the Outlawed Myth Fantasy Series. Like many authors, she spent years writing her first novel, but as you’ll see below, those years were well spent.

A lover of borscht and liberty, Puerto presumably also loves her psychotic cat.

My Thoughts on Flight of the Spark

Most fantasy takes a few chapters for me to settle into as I get used to the world the author creates and work to pronounce the names of the characters (perhaps the one thing I’d change about the genre). Flight of the Spark starts with Iskra, the main character, traveling from her little village of Gishin to Shinroo with a friend and the traders. Because Puerto took the time to introduce the world in a way I could process as I read, the story of this 15-year-old traveling a dangerous path wasn’t hard to grasp. It opened up my ability to savor the story without worry of forgetting some worldly law.

At first, I expected my review to discuss how Flight of the Spark shows the vast differences between communism and capitalism. People burdened by the laws forced on them in the name of safety, and the people who soar because few laws keep them from their dreams–aka the riskers.

But the more I read, the more I realized that while the story does have similarities to communism with leaders who live lavish lives while commoners live in cookie-cutter hovels, it focuses more on one emotion everyone experiences: fear. The villagers surrounding Iskra may be burdened by laws and aspects of communism, but fear keeps them in bondage.

Fear kept Iskra in bondage. Then Xico, a risker, saves her from a bandit, and a new world opens up to her. With that new world fear crashes down, and she has to decide what matters most in life.

The story, alone, intrigued and later amazed me, but the writing and characterization reaches levels every author wishes to attain. The years Puerto spent perfecting this novel shines through, brightening her talent for all to see.

Flight of the Spark falls under the YA fantasy genre. However, it does have closed-door sex between a married man and a prostitute, which is shown later in a negative light through his grief. There is also closed-door sex between husband and wife.

The Official Blurb

Iskra doesn’t question the rules. The rules are there to keep her safe from those who are deemed unsafe or unfair. Anyone who breaks the rules is taken, never to be heard from again. But that’s the price everyone gladly pays for peace and safety. And no one wants to live like the Riskers–barbarians who reject order and justice, and could kill or be killed at any moment.

When a friend is taken because of Iskra, the guilt forces her to do the unthinkable: seek out the Riskers. Iskra’s quest to save her friend quickly entangles her fate with a cryptic prophecy and a young Risker named Xico, who ensnares her heart and is willing to put it all on the line to win her.

With every risk Iskra takes, the closer she gets to true freedom. But every choice carries a consequence. The choices she makes set events she never imagined into motion, and the price of her freedom could very well be her life and the life of the man she loves.

More Info

Purchase your copy of Flight of the Spark on Amazon

Follow Evelyn Puerto on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
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Book Review: The King’s Shadow

With civil war on the horizon and his brother dying, King Halavant must decide who to save first, his country or his family.

M.L. Farb, author of The King’s Trial, a Whitney Award nominee, has released The King’s Shadow (The King’s Trial Book Two). Don’t be surprised when you love it as much as I do.

My Thoughts on The King’s Shadow

As I’ve mentioned before, Amazon is riddled with poorly written fantasy. So much so, I am extremely careful when determining what fantasy books to accept for reviews. It would, then, make sense that becoming an award nominee in the fantasy category would not be a simple task. Yet, as I suspected, M.L. Farb managed the task. Don’t be surprised when The King’s Shadow shows up in the next Whitney Awards round. Just as wonderful as the first in the series, this book captures hearts.

The King’s Shadow continues the story of brothers Yoseph and Halavant. After traversing the King’s Trial and helping to save their people from Halavant’s evil mother, Yoseph remains with his brother. Together they work on a plan to equalize their people. But Yoseph is dying. In a last ditch effort to save him, Halavant travels to the land of the Carani in search of a cure for what ails his brother.

With old and new characters joining the story, readers follow the journeys of Yoseph, Katrin, Halavant, and Elise. Each battle their own demons as they strive to protect one another and their country. Fighting for all but themselves, they also learn to trust those around them and Yoseph’s god.

Filled with plenty more action, romance, and a story line that instills faith in God within its readers, The King’s Shadow has me hooked just as much as its predecessor. Expect mild war scenes, some PG-level violence, and mild kissing.

Official Blurb:

Two princes lead a war-broken people. One rules while the other serves in the shadows, haunted by encroaching death.

Halavant overthrew his queen mother to save his people from slavery, and now she seeks his life. Yosyph acts as the new king’s eyes and ears, but being invisible comes at great cost and his life is slipping away.

To save his closest friend, Halavant travels to the land of the skin-carving Carani, leaving Yosyph to rule a troubled people despite his ill health and the nobles on the verge of rebellion.

Unless Halavant can survive in the land of his enemies to find a cure and Yosyph can unite the frightened and starving people against a second war, both will die and their budding democracy will crumble under a new tyrant.

More Info

Purchase your copy of The King’s Shadow (The King’s Trial Book Two) on Amazon.

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I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a blog review. All opinions are honest and my own.
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Book Review: The Kings Trial

Many have died traversing the King’s trial, but Yosyph has only one chance to save his people from the Queen’s wrath.

Many have died traversing the King’s trial, but Yosyph has only one chance to save his people from the Queen’s wrath.

After years of staying up at night and telling stories to her sister, M.L. Farb enters the world of fantasy with her newest book The King’s Trial. A story filled with adventure, royalty, heroes, and a smidgen of romance, this is a tale lovers of fantasy won’t want to miss.

My Thoughts about The King’s Trial

Though I write women’s fiction and read several genres, fantasy stands as one of my favorites. Don’t spend a second longer wondering why; it’s because I can’t fathom the amount of talent it takes to create worlds and abilities, let alone understand the finer points of swordplay. I’ve enjoyed it for several decades, and still do, when it’s written well.

Amazon is riddled with poorly written fantasy. In fact, as a past product review blogger, I eventually refused indie books in the genre. However, having read a few other stories of Farb’s and knowing her writing ability, I decided to give The King’s Trial a chance, and I’m glad I did.

Farb clearly paints a picture of the kingdoms where this story takes place. The abilities given to characters are not overdone and there are no ridiculous monsters. Swords, honor, courageous fair maidens, and a clearly stated evil exists. The main character fights his way through personal demons while exerting himself physically. The characters are well-rounded and easy to like – or not.

As in many fantasy stories, the main character in The King’s Trial has to trust a higher power. Obviously based on Christianity and the idea of faith, The King’s Trial is perfect for all ages. Those who are not Christian will find the same integral standard we all desire in ourselves and for our children: honesty, kindness, and selflessness.

Written in first person, from the perspective of two characters, readers enjoy two adventures and are rewarded with the desired suspense as they wind together. Plenty of twists and turns exist, and at no point will one become bored. I sure didn’t.

The official blurb

In a land where stories of the Shadow Demon keep children shivering in bed and tales of the Yorel bring hope to the commoner, Yosyph is both the reason for their fear and their hope.

By day Yosyph appears nothing more than a mute tavern-hand. By night he plans a revolution and slips through shadow, rescuing those marked for death by the xenophobic queen.

When he learns that thousands of his people will be sent as slaves to the mines, he must choose—fight the royal army with an ill-prepared rebellion or journey to the land of his ancestors through the deadly King’s Trial. If he succeeds, he’ll win his kins’ loyalty and their help.

His journey grows complicated when he rescues a maiden and enrages a prince, but if he doesn’t return with help in time, the people he’s loved and secretly served will be gone.

More Info

The King’s Trial is available on Amazon beginning July 16, 2019.
Enjoy your free e-copy if you pick it up July 16-17, 2019.
Enjoy it for $0.99 July 18-22, 2019

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The Worlds of M L Farb

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