tHe crooKed WorD

As of April 30, 2014 we will no longer be posting reviews on tHe crooKed WorD. Reading is like breathing for us - and discovering new books and authors has been a wonderful adventure - but the time has come for us to move on. Thank you for your support, for allowing us into your lives, and for letting us influence in some small way the contents of your bookshelves.

Monday, December 17, 2012


by Laura Lam

392 pages
Expected Publication February 5, 2013

This is a pre-release review. Thanks to the publisher, Strange Chemistry, for the ARC.

R. H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass—remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone—are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.

Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star.

But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.

* * *

This review won't really discuss the book. Just saying. Not that I wouldn't talk about it, but I won't ruin it by sharing, well, much of anything.

Okay, if I'm being honest, I was slightly disappointed by this book. No, it wasn't bad. It wasn't even just so-so. It just wasn't as fabulous (to me) as the publisher's other books.

At first I thought I didn't like it. Really, the back-and-forth between what's happening "now" and what happened "before" just drove me out of my mind. Until about a quarter of the way in, when I loved both story lines, and it made the reading go faster because I was constantly looking forward to finding out what happened in two different stories.

Turns out, when the book ended, I was annoyed. Which means I liked it more than I realized.

I have to say, things felt kind of slow. I could feel/see the story leading toward some great things I was looking forward to, but they never happened. Not that they won't, just not in this book. A lot of time was spent dawdling, IMHO. Of course, we were getting to know our main character, and that counts for a lot. Just don't expect a fast-paced story.

3/5 stars

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Orphanage of Doom

The Orphanage of Doom (The Grimm Chronicles, #4)
by Isabella Fontaine and Ken Brosky

116 pages
Published October 9, 2012

This book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Senior year of high school has begun. For most students that means settling into classes, doing homework and maybe working part-time over the weekend.

For Alice Goodenough, it means navigating the tricky cliques of her high school, staying on top of her studies and making new friends ... in addition to experiencing more nightmares, more sword training and more doing battle with the Corrupted.

After facing off with the dreaded dwarf named Sam Grayle, Alice finds her dreams plagued by two separate visions. In one, she's floating through a massive mansion filled with old, dusty furniture and drafty windows. Shadows dance across the wall. Children cry out in terror. A mysterious animal growl echoes through the halls.

In her second dream, a terrible smoke-like creature roams the streets of Minneapolis, feeding off human victims while it plots a terrible revenge that threatens to have far-reaching consequences. Alice must decide which dream to pursue: does she foil the smoke-creature's plot or try to rescue the children from an unseen evil?

* * *

As with the other books in this series, The Orphanage of Doom is a fast, fun read.

This time through, Alice is dealing with the start of her senior year, parents who realize their daughter is growing up but still have the ability to ground her when she stays out all night, more Corrupted, and guy friends with potential.

Two separate situations require Alice's attention this time around, and she handles them well, with the help of Brer and Seth. With the book being short, there couldn't be a lot of time spent on each of the problems, which helps keep the book moving. I would, however, have liked more of each of the Corrupted situations. The idea of someone stealing music from a person is fascinating, and I really liked the whole thing with the orphanage. Especially a certain orphan who can see Alice even when she's only there in a dream.

One of the better books of the series.

4/5 stars

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Crimson Crown

The Crimson Crown (Seven Realms, #4)The Crimson Crown
by Cinda Williams Chima

598 pages
Published October 23, 2012

A thousand years ago, two young lovers were betrayed--Alger Waterlow to his death, and Hanalea, Queen of the Fells, to a life without love. 

Now, once again, the Queendom of the Fells seems likely to shatter apart. For young queen Raisa "ana'"Marianna, maintaining peace even within her own castle walls is nearly impossible; tension between wizards and Clan has reached a fevered pitch. With surrounding kingdoms seeking to prey on the Fells' inner turmoil, Raisa's best hope is to unite her people against a common enemy. But that enemy might be the person with whom she's falling in love. 

Through a complicated web of lies and unholy alliances, former streetlord Han Alister has become a member of the Wizard Council of the Fells. Navigating the cut-throat world of blue blood politics has never been more dangerous, and Han seems to inspire hostility among Clan and wizards alike. His only ally is the queen, and despite the perils involved, Han finds it impossible to ignore his feelings for Raisa. Before long, Han finds himself in possession of a secret believed to be lost to history, a discovery powerful enough to unite the people of the Fells. But will the secret die with him before he can use it? 

A simple, devastating truth concealed by a thousand-year-old lie at last comes to light in this stunning conclusion to the Seven Realms series.

* * *

This book almost killed me. Seriously, I was so beyond stressed out over some of the things that were happening. Normally, I would have read this book in a matter of days. Well, this one had parts where it took me DAYS to get through 50 pages. I'd just get so worked up I had to walk away or face a heart attack. (Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration.)

Now, if I'd just read the blurb first, I could have handled it better. Because I didn't know it was the last book in the series. If I'd known that, I wouldn't have worried so much, because I would've known that certain twists I was panicked about would NOT happen.

Anyway. This series is one I absolutely love. The characters are my friends, which is part of why I kinda freaked out reading this. I wanted everything to be perfect for them. They'd been through so much over the course of this series, and I didn't want them to have to put up with anything more.

If you haven't read these books yet, you absolutely MUST. And that's all I have to say about it.

5/5 stars

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Holders

The Holders (Holders, #1)The Holders (Holders, #1)
by Julianna Scott

368 pages
Expected Publication March 5, 2013

This is a pre-release review. Thanks to the publisher, Strange Chemistry, for the ARC.

17-year-old Becca spent her whole life protecting her brother from, well, everything. The abandonment of their father, the so called 'experts' who insist that voices in his head are unnatural and must be dealt with, and the constant threat of being taken away to some hospital and studied like an animal. When two representatives appear claiming to have the answers to Ryland's perceived problem, Becca doesn't buy it for one second. That is until they seem to know things about Ryland and about Becca and Ryland's family, that forces Becca to concede that there may be more to these people than meets the eye. Though still highly skeptical, Becca agrees to do what's best for Ryland.

What they find at St. Brigid's is a world beyond their imagination. Little by little they piece together the information of their family's heritage, their estranged Father, and the legend of the Holder race that decrees Ryland is the one they've been waiting for. However, they are all--especially Becca--in for a surprise that will change what they thought they knew about themselves and their kind.

She meets Alex, a Holder who is fiercely loyal to their race, and for some reason, Becca and Ryland. There's an attraction between Becca and Alex that can't be denied, but her true nature seems destined to keep them apart. However, certain destinies may not be as clear cut as everyone has always believed them to be.

Becca is lost, but found at the same time. Can she bring herself to leave Ryland now that he's settled and can clearly see his future? Will she be able to put the the feelings she has for Alex aside and head back to the US? And can Becca and Ryland ever forgive their father for what he's done?

* * *

This is one of those books I have a hard time putting down. I (*ahem*) read it in a day. Then I nearly cried because I couldn't jump right into the next book in the series.

So many things about this book grabbed, and held, my attention. Becca's love for her brother, and the way she'd do anything to protect him. The way she has an opinion about her father, but is careful not to allow that to influence her brother's feelings toward him. The way she tries to protect her mother. The fact Becca and Ryland go to Ireland! The way the relationship between Becca and Alex is believable. The way Alex speaks fluent Gaelic. The idea of the Holders--who they are, their history, what they're trying to do now. A great villain, even if we haven't laid eyes on him.

I excitedly await the next book in the series . . . and every one after that.

5/5 stars

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Feyland: The Twilight Realm

Feyland: The Twilight KingdomFeyland: The Twilight Realm (Feyland, #3)
by Anthea Sharp

325 pages
Published Dec. 10, 2012

This book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Faeries. Computer games. A boy from the wrong side of the tracks, and the girl he’s forbidden to love.

NOTE: Book 1 in the series, The Dark Realm, is currently on sale for only .99 cents at all ebook retailers!

~ Book 3 in the Feyland Trilogy ~


Jennet Carter and Tam Linn are almost out of time. Feyland, the most immersive computer game ever designed, is about to be released into the world—along with the Realm of Faerie’s dangerous magic.


The faeries, desperate to break free from their realm, have set treacherous plans in motion. Despite magical allies of their own, Jennet and Tam have no idea what dire threats await, both in-game and out.


Battling for their lives against the united powers of the Dark Queen and Bright King, Jennet and Tam’s quest to stop the fey takes them into the perilous Twilight Kingdom, where illusion reigns—and magic can break all the rules.

* * *

You'll know how excited I was for this book when I say I read it--the whole thing--the very day I got it. It's been on my TBR list since I read book 1.

Ms. Sharp is a master storyteller. She's managed to create a phenomenal world, full of richly layered detail. A world I would love to be able to experience for myself.

The characters through this series have been impressive and diverse. I love that in this installment we get to know Zeg better--he's the kind of guy everyone needs for a friend! And we get a new character, Spark. No spoilers, but you will love her! (Or else.)

We've got excitement, tension, action, love (of many sorts), and much, much more. Would someone please make a movie or three out of these? Without ruining them, of course!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: This is a must-read! Really. I'm not sure I know anyone who wouldn't enjoy it, and I can't imagine it not becoming a favorite for everyone who picks it up.

The Feyland books have found a prized place on my all-time favorite books list.

I can't give this book a star rating. There just aren't enough stars to give you an accurate idea of how phenomenal it is.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Lost December

Lost December: A Novel

Hardcover346 pages
Published 2011 by Simon & Schuster 

From one of America’s most beloved storytellers comes his most spiritual book since The Christmas Box.

“It has been said that sometimes the greatest hope in our lives is just a second chance to do what we should have done right in the first place. This is the story of my second chance.” —Prologue of Lost December

When Luke Crisp graduates from business school, his father, CEO and co-founder of Fortune 500 Crisp’s Copy Centers, is ready to share some good news: he wants to turn the family business over to his son. But Luke has other plans. Taking control of his trust fund, Luke leaves home to pursue a life of reckless indulgence.

But when his funds run out, so do his friends. Humbled, alone, and too ashamed to ask his father for help, Luke secretly takes a lowly job at one of his father’s copy centers. There he falls in love with a struggling single mother and begins to understand the greatest source of personal joy.


Lost December is a prodigal son story that is positive and uplifting.  Luke's story of going from the top to the bottom and having to start from scratch is very realistic and close to home for a lot of people these days.  I enjoyed following Luke through his struggles to make his own way and seeing how his perspective changes as he is humbled and shows genuine concern for those around him.  A wonderful holiday read!

5/5 stars  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Noah Zarc: Cataclysm

by D. Robert Pease

pub. Dec 3, 2012
Kindle Edition


Thirteen-year-old, Noah Zarc, rockets to Venus in a quest to learn more about his past. He just can’t believe his father is really the monster everyone says he is. Maybe there are valid reasons for everything he’s done, including abandoning Noah at birth.

While searching for answers to secrets no one wants to talk about, even those that have remained hidden for over a thousand years, Noah becomes embroiled in a mission that could end up causing the greatest cataclysm in the history of the solar system. And the name, Noah Zarc might be forever linked to the most devastating crime in humanity's existence, all because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Noah has grown up a lot since Mammoth Trouble ended. My only complaint is the whole tone of his narration seems slightly too sophisticated. Other than that, though, Cataclysm is the perfect adventure to follow Mammoth Trouble. The plots and twists were a little more grown up (which they should be!) and had me guessing up to the end. I love that!
Pease really is masterful at great pacing and doling out information at the right time to keep you from getting lost, but still wanting to find out what happens. I loved the little reveals about stuff that happened in Mammoth Trouble, and I love that they never took away from what was going on in Cataclysm.
Anyone who enjoyed the first book, will eat this up - it's a quick and thoroughly fun read! And if you haven't read Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble, it's a perfect time because now you can breeze through both books.
Again - if you are looking for a gift for a young reader, this is perfect! It's compelling without being too grown up. It will make for a great gift - for a younger reader, or yourself!
I would give this 4.5/5 stars (lower than the first only because the narration seemed a little older than the narrator. But, I'm incredibly picky, so... take that for what it's worth)
As always, thank-you to Mr. Pease for graciously giving us a free copy of Cataclysm in exchange for an honest review. We hope to hear more from you in the future! 

Release Party Notes

Noah Zarc: Cataclysm, the second book in the Noah Zarc series, is about a boy named, surprisingly enough, Noah Zarc. If you haven’t read the first book, Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble, then you probably want to start there. But if you are well-versed in all things Zarc, then take a gander at the description of the next book below. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Noah Zarc: Mammoth TroubleOVERVIEW
Thirteen-year-old Noah Zarc rockets to Venus in a quest to learn more about his past. He refuses to believe his father is really the monster everyone says he is. Could there be valid reasons for everything he’s done, including abandoning Noah at birth?

While searching for answers to secrets no one wants to talk about, even those that have remained hidden for over a thousand years, Noah becomes embroiled in a mission which could cause the greatest cataclysm in the history of the solar system. And the name, Noah Zarc, might be forever linked to the most devastating crime in humanity's existence, all because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Get your copy today by visiting (available in paperback or as an eBook.) Other online retailers listed below.

Guess what? You could win a $50 Amazon gift card as part of this special release party. That’s right! Just leave a comment below saying something about the post you just read, and you’ll be entered into the raffle. I could win $50 too by having the most comments. So tell your friends to stop by and comment on this post too! You have until the end of December to comment.
Also, we will be giving away one pair of signed books (Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble, and Noah Zarc: Cataclysm) to one winner as well.

D. Robert PeaseTHE AUTHOR
D. Robert Pease has been interested in creating worlds since childhood. From building in the sandbox behind his house, to drawing fantastical worlds with paper and pencil, there has hardly been a time he hasn't been off on some adventure in his mind, to the dismay of parents and teachers alike. Also, since the moment he could read, books have consumed vast swaths of his life. From The Mouse and the Motorcycle, to The Lord of the Rings, worlds just beyond reality have called to him like Homer's Sirens. It's not surprising then he chose to write stories of his own. Each filled with worlds just beyond reach, but close enough we can all catch a glimpse of ourselves in the characters.

Discover ways to connect with the author by visiting his site at


THANK YOU! for visiting. And don't forget to comment below for that chance to win the $50 Amazon gift card. And of course head on over to your favorite online book store and buy a copy of Noah Zarc: Cataclysm, for you or for the kids in your life.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Madman Dreams

Madman Dreams (Book One: Reanimated)Madman Dreams (Book 1: Reanimation)
by Keith A. Ferstl

156 pages
Published April 27, 2012

This book was provided to the author in exchange for an honest review.

After suffering the loss of his family from an avian flu pandemic, seventeen-year-old Jonathan Chaulk, meets McKenna Dupree, the girl of his dreams. Living in a remote cabin on Bear Claw Island, Jonathan’s sole neighbor is the mysterious Phoenix Institute. With the heart and soul of an intrepid adventurer, Jonathan’s surreptitious exploration of the Institute’s underbelly reveals shocking and deadly secrets that renowned resident scientist, Dr. Sandor Serpa cannot allow to be exposed. Thanks to the murderous act of the madman, Jonathan discovers that his one chance to save McKenna’s life will come only after her death.

* * *

This was a fast, interesting read. The premise caught my attention, and it was well-written.

My biggest complaint is that I didn't really connect with any of the characters. There was a lot these "people" were going through, but I just couldn't take it all that seriously.

That said, I still wanted to find out what happened.

I can't say it's one of my favorite books, or even that I look forward to re-reading it. But it was good while it lasted, and there were some great scenes.

3.5/5 stars

Monday, November 26, 2012


by Dave Becker

416 pages
Published Sept. 18, 2012

This book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

After uncovering a universal code in the brain waves of all living things that could revolutionize psychology, Martin Keller wakes one morning to find himself covered in blood, surrounded by his butchered family. Convinced he’s being framed by a diabolical organization set on stealing or sabotaging his work, he dodges a multi-agency manhunt that pursues him from the seediest corners of DC to the highest offices of government. Struggling to stay alive and find his family’s killer, Marty soon finds himself lost in a maze of conspiracies and paranoia, and eventually begins to doubt his own sanity. How can he find the truth when he doesn’t know what’s real?

* * *

This book grabbed me at the beginning. I loved that first chapter, where a woman is killed, a chess piece with her name on it is . . . well, you'll have to read that.

Then we go to Martin Keller. He has some intense moments, which held my attention for a while. After that, I kind of lost interest. However, once I got a few more chapters in, it really picked back up.

Mindfront is fast-paced (for the most part), and has some interesting twists. I wasn't surprised very often with it, the clues left along the way spelled most of it out, but there were a few things that I wasn't expecting to turn out quite the way they did.

Very well written, and a great read for any conspiracy theorist.

4/5 stars

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Moonlight Mayhem

Moonlight Mayhem  (Spellbound, #2) Urban FantasyMoonlight Mayhem (Spellbound, #2)
by Sherry Soule

Published July 2, 2012

This book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Otherworldly Creatures. Dazzling Magic. Fiery Romance.

Shiloh Ravenwolf thought she was getting used to the strange events in Whispering Pines, until the full moon brings another surge of supernatural threats to her coastal town. Ferocious wolves, deadly necromancers, and shambling zombies have descended upon the neighborhood, so Shiloh needs to gain control of her magical abilities—fast!

It sucks that she has a crippling fear of the dark, which for a demon hunter can be an epic problem. But she spends so much time wallowing in the darkness, how can she not become a part of it?

When her classmates are attacked by a mysterious creature and her father is murdered, Shiloh vows vengeance. Forcing her phobias aside, she forms an unlikely coven of supernaturally gifted teens to help her eradicate this menace. Except that’s not all Shiloh has to worry about. She’s battling a different monster within herself and struggling not to become the very thing she fights: evil.

But with demon blood inside her—anything can happen…

* * *

There's a lot going on in this book. I can say this, because it doesn't give away anything that isn't in the blurb: There's a pack of wolves, a zombie, Shiloh and her mother are witches. Shiloh's father is killed, and the only person who's seen the wolves and hasn't been killed or turned is Shiloh. Oh, and add in fallen angels and Fae.

I can't decide if I liked the first or the second book in this series the best. There were great things about both, and little nit-picky things about each that I wish hadn't bugged me. (Seriously, I'm tired of werewolves.)

However, the storyline was great. Probably the best part of the book. Yes, the characters are well-rounded, "real" people. Yes, the setting is good. Yes, that spookiness carries over from the first book. But the storyline carried it. I wanted to know what would happen, even if/when I didn't particularly care about what the characters were doing.

This is a quick read, and if you enjoy paranormal books, you should really check out this series!

4/5 stars

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Halifax Tour

HalifaxWe're please today to be a stop for The Halifax Haunted Halloween Tour!

by Leigh Dunlap

When the Halifax siblings arrive at Lexham Academy, they don't seem any more or less odd than any other students. They have more important things to do, however, than take exams or find dates for the prom. They have aliens to kill. With the help of his sister Izzy and brother Rom, Farrell Halifax has to stop an escaped alien and save the Earth --- though that's hard to do when the captain of the basketball team is after you and you're falling in love with his cheerleader girlfriend --- who may or may not be an alien herself. Halifax is a teen Torchwood meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer --- with a little bit of The Breakfast Club thrown into the mix.

* * *

We're lucky enough to be able to share with you an excerpt from Halifax. Enjoy!

* * * 

            Farrell and Izzy scurried around the house.  They began stuffing things into bags, tucking whatever useful items they needed, whether they looked useful or not, into whatever they could carry.  Rom, meanwhile, turned his attention to the mother.  She still had a smile on her face.  She beamed at Rom and he looked away.  He couldn’t take it.
            “What seems to be the problem?” she asked him.  He just shook his head sadly.
            “Goodbye, Mother,” he said as he hugged her, wrapping himself around her waist.  “I’ll miss you.”
            “What seems to be the problem?” she said yet again. 
            “Let’s go!” Farrell yelled at Rom as he ran back into the room, bags on each shoulder.
            Rom reluctantly pulled himself away from the mother.  He opened a drawer on the bureau in the hallway and pulled out a Magic Eight Ball.  It was a children’s toy.  It was like a large plastic eight ball from a pool table with a small window at its base.  You asked it a question and it displayed an answer in the window, as if it had some kind of magical, eight-ballish psychic powers.
            “Will I ever see Mother again?” Rom asked the Magic Eight Ball as he shook it.  He turned it over to reveal the answer printed on a triangle floating behind the small window on the ball.  The message read Don’t Count On It. 
            Rom put the ball in his backpack, which was black and white and shaped like a penguin.  It had a friendly, smiling penguin face and a nose that squeaked when you pressed it.  He headed for the back door, pausing for a moment to take one last, longing look back.  Mother stood in the hallway, her arms on her hips and her head cocked slightly.  She was still smiling.  Smiling at her little boy.  She looked like the perfect mother.  Rom averted his eyes, keeping his head down, as he rushed out the back door and slammed it behind him.
            Farrell and Izzy and Rom scrambled up the hillside behind their house, climbing up above the cul-de-sac.  They pushed aside dried scrub brush and slid through the dirt, finally making their way to a fire road overlooking the neighborhood.  From this vantage point they could see all the cloned houses and the network of roads that wound around and around, connecting identical street to identical street, past identical mailboxes in suburban bliss.  Roaring through the neighborhood, though, overtaking sensible mini-vans and screaming at top speed, were a squadron of police cars, sirens blaring.  From every direction they converged on the cul-de-sac.
            Police officers climbed out of their cars, guns raised, and slowly began to surround the house as the kids looked on from their perch on the dry hillside.
            “It’s time to go, Rom,” Farrell said.
            “Do we really have to?” Rom asked as he reluctantly removed the Magic Eight Ball from his backpack.  He looked down at it and rolled it across his palm.  “I like it here.  It’s a good place to raise a family.  Nice and wholesome and…leafy…”
            “Now, Rom!” Farrell yelled at him, right into his face.
            “Fine!” Rom yelled back.  He held up the Magic Eight Ball and looked down at its small screen.  The message on it read Outlook Not So Good.  Rom reluctantly pushed his thumb down onto the screen.  It gave way like a button being pressed and suddenly their house EXPLODED!  It exploded into a giant fireball.  The police officers hit the ground and covered their heads as burning pieces of wood and insulation and, yes, pieces of the mother, fell around them.
            Smoke drifted up the hillside as Farrell turned to Izzy and Rom.  He hadn’t even flinched when the house exploded and he wasn’t at all concerned about the chaos below --- the burning house, the panicked officers and the approaching fire trucks. 
            “Izzy, we need a new house,” Farrell said to them.  “Rom, we need a new mom.”