Book Reviews Insecure Writer's Support Group

Book Reviews: The Or’in of Tane by Yvette Carol & Up on the Roof and Other Stories by @JudyAnnDavis4 & Wielder’s Prize by @ElleCardy & Keepers of Sulbreth by @SusanKelley & Reaching for Normal by @jemifraser & Magic at Midnight by @miladyronel #IWSGBookClub #IWSG #BookReviews

We’ve changed things up with the IWSG Book Club, featuring books from members.

Learn more here.

The books for May were books from members lower on the IWSG sign-up list.

About the Book

Aden Weaver lives with his grandparents, and is an eleven-year-old when he discovers his Papa Joe and Nana Jeen are keeping secrets. When his grandparents agree to let him start warrior training, Aden learns more than just fighting techniques. He learns of his destiny as the son of Kal—the first chief of the shape shifting dragonfly tribe. He learns about the legendary stone, the Or’in of Tane, gifted to them by Tane Mahuta and missing for thousands of years, and the mysterious Order of Twenty-four, charged with finding it. Chief Wako, the leader of the Sasori Empire also seeks the Or’in of Tane. When he hears of Aden Weaver, the sole surviving son of Kal—the only person who can stand between him and possession of the stone—Chief Wako determines Aden must die.
An ordinary boy. A vicious warlord. Both seek a stone with special powers. But only one can possess the Or’in of Tane.

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

This is the book club selection for May 2022.

I won’t be reading this. I’ve started making these decisions based on the book package (title, blurb and cover). “The Or’in of Tane (The Chronicles of Aden Weaver #1)”: I like that it is in a series, but the actual title isn’t something that I can pronounce or remember easily. Most middle-grade books have an easy-to-remember title that ten-year-olds can pronounce. I got great advice from an editor once where it comes to middle grade fantasy: keep the titles and names simple. The blurb: so we learn what he has to do, find this stone, and that someone wants to kill him because he’s the chosen one. So what? Why should a reader care? Shapeshifters – awesome! But where’s the hook, the reason a reader should pick up the book and care about Aden? I do like the final paragraph “An ordinary boy. A vicious warlord. Both seek a stone with special powers. But only one can possess the Or’in of Tane.” And I do like the cover (though I don’t think the boy is eleven…). The book is in KU and right now I don’t feel like going through the trouble of asking a friend to get it for me and then borrowing their Kindle (especially not after the last time I did this for a Book Club book that didn’t impress me). So with only one thing in the book package I like out of three, it’s a no for me.

About the Book

“Up on the Roof and Other Short Stories” is a unique collection of nineteen humorous and serious short stories that explores the lives and relationships of the young and old. A grizzled, old farmer, Pop, climbs up on his farmhouse roof to meditate, check his chimney and antenna, and ends up talking to God on his portable phone in “Up on the Roof”. In “Bald Revelations,” Maureen is convinced her husband of twenty years is planning to leave her when he purchases ten new pairs of black socks and starts singing Beach Boy songs. Greta Nielsen of Inuit heritage is searching for an amulet to remind herself of home, but her money-conscious boyfriend keeps thwarting her efforts in “The Amulet”. Storyteller Judy Ann Davis weaves her award-winning tales to make her readers laugh, maybe cry, but always able to relate to the unique characters and the dilemmas they encounter.

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

This is the book club selection for May 2022.

I won’t be reading this. I’ve started making these decisions based on the book package (title, blurb and cover). “Up on the Roof and Other Stories: Revised with Bonus Story”: the start works, but why that specific subtitle? Why not something that will hook a reader more? And the blurb: The moment the word “unique” appears in a blurb, I cringe: Why doesn’t it fit it with the rest of the book world? And as I continued reading the blurb, I knew why: though all are short stories, they don’t fit into a single genre. And then the cover. Modern single-author anthologies are eye-catching: sometimes bold text with textures and colours competing for attention, sometimes collage-style images with the text overlaid, and if an authentic photograph is used to keep things real, the text is on the photograph (everything smoothly flowing from element to element just as with the other two examples). Though the reviews by others are positive, I’m looking at the book package alone when making my decision whether to read or not.

The books for June were books from our most senior members on the IWSG sign-up list.

About the Book

Every twenty years, one specially trained and gifted Keeper journeys into the dark cavern from whence the demonic horde arrives. Far beneath the daylight, the Keeper uses magic to re-energize the iron seals holding the demons from their human prey. But this year, something is wrong.

Demons spill from the cave entrance before they should be able to pass out of their prison. They wreck havoc on the Keepers, killing the woman training to entrap them and slaying the king

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

This was one of the book club selections for June 2022.

I’m not going to read this one. Looking at the book package (blurb, title, cover), there are some issues that keep me from wanting to read it. Cover: the font and colour isn’t legible unless the cover is enlarged – and even then it isn’t much better. The image is fine, it’s obviously fantasy. Title: “The Futhark Chronicles Book One: Keepers of Sulbreth” is a mouthful because the series title is part of the title instead of in brackets (as is the norm). Should be: “Keepers of Sulbreth (The Futhark Chronicles #1)”. Blurb: We get that there’s something going on, but there’s no-one to root for, no-one to get attached to so one wants to read the book.

About the Book

Snatched from the only home she’s ever known aboard the Wielder’s Prize, Jasmine is forced to work as a crew member of a different ship. To survive, Jasmine must dodge her captor who has a personal vendetta against her, outsmart a fearsome magic wielder who has taken a dangerous interest in her, and get back to her ship. Somehow.

Just when she thinks things couldn’t get worse, she learns she too is a wielder—an untrained wielder who is a threat to everyone on board if she can’t control her magic. And she’s not the only out-of-control wielder on the high seas. The secret of that wielder could shatter everything Jasmine thought she knew.

Time and hope is running out. At any cost, she must get back to her ship and discover the truth behind all the secrets before everything is lost.

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

This is the book club selection for June 2022.

The blurb, title and cover are all good.

Jasmine/Midge is a cook’s apprentice on a merchant vessel. She’s sixteen going on seventeen – and has pretended her whole life that she’s a boy so she can live aboard a ship. The story reads a lot like a pirate’s adventures on the high seas. But…

If I hadn’t read and enjoyed another book by the author and if a friend hadn’t recommended this series, I would have stopped reading the moment her father had struck her – in what seemed to be near-daily beatings. And then there’s the matter of consent: The Madam forcing “him” to take a bath, the crewmates forcing “him” to drink until she’s well past drunk, the wielder exerting his will on her, etc.

It’s well paced, the worldbuilding is intriguing, there are various characters I can easily see, and the “why” of it all is compelling. But I have ambivalent feelings towards this book. There are some issues, like how she could have survived on an all-male ship at sixteen (you know, the usual issues in fantasy that aren’t dealt with). But that would probably be explained later in the book. What triggered me, though, is the emotional and physical abuse the main character experiences on a daily basis, including having to pretend she’s a boy for most of her life, and people beating her because they can – and this is all treated like it’s normal. So despite my curiosity, I’m giving up at 37%.


one unicorn star rating

The books for July were from member from the middle of the sign-up list.

About the Book

After a childhood spent in hospitals and foster homes, Myla’s freelance adventure writing suits her perfectly. A couple of weeks trying out new things then move on. Now, if she can only get her guide to all things winter interested in helping her lose her V-card.

Sawyer’s lost his parents, his SEAL team, and his legendary Spidey senses. Now he’s faced with a sexy, secretive woman who makes him want things he has no business wanting.

When someone starts butchering the wolves Sawyer is trying to reintegrate, he ends up in the bush with Sexy City Girl whose titanium attitude is more than enough to compensate for her weak leg.

If Sawyer and Myla can’t learn to trust each other and themselves, they might not make it out alive.

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

It’s good. I enjoyed Myla and Sawyer’s story, how they grow and how they complement each other. The scenery is gorgeous. And I love the dogs – too bad they didn’t have more page-time. I liked the danger element and the obvious (if you read a lot of romance) culprit. That person is crazy!

The hashtag titles without chapter numbers didn’t work for me – I need chapter numbers to know where I am and where I’m heading. Also, Sawyer using the Lord’s name as an expletive didn’t sit well with me.

As for the title, cover and blurb: it all works for the genre. I just think the author’s name should stand out a bit more.

Trigger warnings: flashbacks to war, mutilation and slaughter of wild animals by a crazy person.

A fun, steamy story set in the middle of a small town Vermont winter.

4 unicorn star rating

About the Book

I liked the first in series enough to keep on reading.

Darby Banks’ yearly Reno List for her B&B is legendary. When her octogenarian guests give her fashion advice, she realizes she needs a renovation of her own. So along with fixing toilets and painting walls, she decides to buy some sexy lingerie and learn to flirt. If only her Risk List didn’t terrify her as much as the reason she’s been hiding in plain sight.

Quinn Charters has turned CharterGear Sporting Goods into a thriving business to spite his family. When they start contacting him with demands he wonders if its time to leave town. But there’s a certain B&B owner who makes him want to stay. If only he could figure out why she’s so wary around him.

An accident that damages Quinn’s store has him staying at Darby’s B&B and helping out with the renovations. And wondering what sexy secret is hidden in that renovation notebook of hers. When Quinn’s brother appears to strong-arm him into helping out the family business, Darby’s anxiety jumps and Quinn digs deep to discover the cause.

Darby should have added Stay Alive to her Risk List.

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

(Some spoilers because of trigger warning.)

It’s good. Darby and Quinn complement each other well and they are good for each other. As a love story, without looking deeper, it’s steamy and sweet.

But, it has the brothers trope and in the worst way: she falls for the brother of the guy who raped her. Though she denies it was rape, as it was described, he had his hands all over her and his fingers inside her – only stopping him by chance from consummating it supposedly makes it not rape. It’s still rape. And her hiding for a decade because of it and not being able to make eye-contact with someone who resembles the man who assaulted her (and constantly being afraid in his presence) is textbook reactions for someone who was sexually assaulted. If she’s not ready to own what had happened and take back her power, then she isn’t ready. But don’t say it didn’t happen in an attempt to make a happily-ever-after with his brother who looks so much like him.

Back to the brothers trope: there are literally millions of other available men on earth, why his brother? Serious psychological eww factor.

Trigger warning: Gender based violence. Flashbacks to rape.

And, again, the men use the Lord’s name as an expletive. Not cool.

So I’m DNFing this series.

2 unicorn star rating

About the Book


Amy has only known one life. Now she needs to put it all on the line to save what is precious to her. Can this simple farm girl survive court-life? Can she stop a war from burning down her world? And what of the mysterious princess of Hazel Wood and her covert glances…? Not to mention the prince of Acacia Wood who might or might not be involved with the prophecies ruling their kingdoms. With mysteries and secrets threatening the life she longs to return to, can she separate her feelings from the mission?


*Book club questions included.

Check out it out on Goodreads.

Check it out on my book’s page.

Check out it’s book club page.

What do you think of these books? Have you read them? Have you read anything by these authors? What are your thoughts on book clubs?

*FYI, my reviews are my honest opinion and if something bothers me, I tell it straight. How else will anything change? My opinions are based on being a voracious reader and book buyer, not an attack on the author.*

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