A MelanieM Release Day Review: ​ Alcatraz! (Repeating History #4) by Dakota Chase

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Repeating History: Book Four

In their further efforts to recover the historical artifacts lost when they set fire to Merlin’s office, Ash and Grant go back to the early 1930s, where they must infiltrate Alcatraz Prison and secure a locket belonging to Al Capone. They find themselves at odds when Ash plays the role of a prisoner, while Grant is a guard. Capone takes a liking to Ash, whom he sees as a younger version of himself, and places Ash under his protection.

Before they can return to their own time, the boys must help foil an escape from the Rock, expose a corrupt and dangerous guard, and secure the pendant.

Dakota Chase continues the incredible YA fantasy series with a jump back into time to the infamous prison island of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay.  A series that started because two boys with at odds social backgrounds were both in juvenile criminal court with three strikes against them, which most likely meant prison with the judge presiding over their cases.  But instead, in an strange, perhaps even mystical toss of the coin, both Ash and Grant were sent to the Stanford School for Boys .  To learn to “straighten up ” their act so to speak.  Instead by accident , when arguing with each other, they set fire to their history teacher’s office and destroyed it and all his collection of relics.  He wasn’t pleased considering it had taken him centuries and more to collect all those mystical artifacts and that he turns out to be none other than the Merlin!

Now both Ash and Grant are tasked with going back through time and finding, collecting, and bringing back each and every one of the relics lost in the fire or suffer the consequences.

And if they happen to learn something about history, humanity, and even themselves, growing a bit in the process….well. who is to say if Merlin had that planned all along.  It certainly hasn’t occurred to either of them yet.

Of the two boys, Ash is still the most angry, tilting at windmills, feeling put upon by fate and Merlin.  He has so much growing and maturing to do.  We still need to find more of where all this heat, and angre is pouring out from.  Grant with  his upper class upbringing has also made many adjustments, both to Ash, his attraction to Ash (both are gay), his situation at the school,  and the situation that got him there.  Think more hacker, less anger.  Still neither boy, and they are typical teenagers in so many ways (thoughts, dialog, and actions) have yet to understand the full consequences of their actions.  Here it will start to come home.

Dakota Chase’ research, no matter what the subject, and its incorporation into the storyline, has been flawless over the series to date.  That continues here with Alcatraz.  From the stomach churning boat journey across the Bay, the meeting by the guards, the motions through the gates into prison hell, you actually feel like you are walking into Alcatraz as it must have existed during the days of Al Capone’s “stay”.  The details are chilling, vivid, and, cuts to the bone of the matter of what it was like to be a prisoner or lifer in Alcatraz.  That includes men there solely because they loved other men.  What is shocking is that the prison wasn’t closed until 1963.  I have seen those cells personally.  You can’t believe any human beings were ever put into cells like those.  And the author has used great discretion here in the day by day existence of these men. This is a YA novel afterall. No sex and graphic violence, still real and alive.

Part of the joy of these stories is the discovery with Ash and Grant of the roles they are meant to play in finding said relic, how they need to retrieve it, and then get back to their time period.  So I won’t go into that here.  Again the characterizations are superb, the writing tight, and the storytelling  moves swiftly from start to finish.

No, here my only complaint (small one that it is) is the length of the quest and the swiftness with which they completed it.  I think that’s probably due to the location, who their “companions” were there, the seriousness of the boys situations, and , frankly, the need for the author to pull them out of there before realistically something would happen to them.  They had to get in and then get out.  Unlike the other stories where both Ash and Grant became parts of a “community”, where we almost fell in love with some of the people in the past, here we are dealing with seriously criminal elements, including Al Capone  who even at his most benevolent is still a murderer.  So it was much harder to feel engaged for the population there unlike all the other stories where there was an enormous  pull on your emotions and you wanted to know what happened to them after the boys returned.

For Ash and Grant, whether they fully acknowledged it or not, this story was them seeing what could have happened to them had they not been sent to the school.  They both might have ended up in prison.  For Ash this trip was a revelation about how poor judgement  sometimes comes truly with a high cost.

Time and the next story will see how much this personal growth will be carried forward by both of them. I can hardly  wait.

Cover Artist: Tiferet Design.  I am so in love with these covers.  They have both a retro feel that wouldn’t be out of place in a Hardy Boy adventure and yet still seems so fresh.  It’s as great as the story!  Kudos!

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st Edition , 180 pages
Expected publication: May 14th 2019 by Harmony Ink Press
ASINB07PDRQH71
Edition Language English
Series Repeating History #4

Series:

The Eye of Ra

Hammer of the Witch

Mammoth!

Alcatraz!

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Mammoth! (Repeating History #3) by Dakota Chase

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

In what might be their most dangerous adventure so far, Grant and Ash are sent back in time ten thousand years to recover a mammoth talisman for their teacher, Merlin. Life is a struggle in the Stone Age, and if they want to eat, they’ll have to learn to use spears, track animals, and build fires without the benefit of matches.

Most importantly, they must recover the artifact so they can get back to their own time, but it won’t be easy. They’ll need to reunite two warring tribes, help a boy around their age prove his worth, and demonstrate their own courage on a deadly mammoth hunt. In this harsh and unforgiving world, hate and suspicion are as prevalent as they are in modern times, but understanding and acceptance can also be found if they know where to look.

Well, this series just keeps getting better and better.  This time Merlin sends the boys, Grant and Ash, back 10,000 years in pursuit of a bone carving worn around the neck.  This time the boys face the most dangerous challenges of their lives and just find out how resourceful they can really be when their lives depend upon it.

Dakota Chase just absolutely amazed me here.  The author took meticulous research about the Ice Age, cultures, flora and fauna and these resilient young men and turned it into a heartwarming, sometimes hair-raising adventure that truly belongs up on the big screen.

From the moment Ash and Grant tumbled onto the sandy beach in Virginia and realized belatedly that their outfits belonged  not in cosplay or a carnival but in an era where the passing giant sloth lived, we were off on an incredible adventure into the past.  Chase brings Ice Age Virginia, the tribes that lived there, their daily lives as the author imagines it (beautifully and vividly) to life.  You walk with Rabbit, Ash, and “Grass” through every aspect of the Bison Tribes lives. You see how precarious it is and yet how real it feels.

Like the boys who get caught up in the Tribe’s politics, drama, and need for survival which includes a rivalry with another tribe and  a hunt for the mighty mammoths, a big element in the storyline.  This was a story I couldn’t put down.  Told from Ash’s pov, again the author’s stays perfectly within Ash’s age and yes, character.  He’s far from  perfect.  Stubborn, argumentative, sticking his foot in his mouth, and blurting out the wrong thing at the very worst time happens far too often.  And Ash knows it.  And isn’t happy that’s a trait of his.  Lack of self control is something he’s working on.  Both boys have their issues but together they make quite the team.

That’s the other thing.  Each of them show personal growth, they support and communicate with each other, and even find time for an occasional stolen kiss.

This story, this series and these two young men have me totally hooked.  I can’t wait to see where Merlin send them next.

Cover Artist: Tiferet Design.  Once again, an excellent job.  Recreates the feel of the old time covers of the old adventure books and pulls you in with the design and feel of the graphics.  love it.

Sales Links:   Harmony Ink Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 180 pages

Expected publication: August 7th 2018 by Harmony Ink Press
ISBN139781640806719
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Repeating History :

A MelanieM Review: Hammer of the Witch (Repeating History #2) by Dakota Chase

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Rating: 5 stars ot of 5

Repeating History: Book Two

History isn’t dead when you’re living it.

Ash and Grant are about to learn why it was called the Dark Ages, when Merlin, in the guise of their teacher, once again sends them time traveling to reclaim one of the antiquities their prank destroyed: a book called the Malleus Maleficarum, or Hammer of the Witches, which was used to persecute and kill innocent people throughout medieval Europe.

They’ll need to keep their heads down and their wits about them in a Germany ruled by the iron fist of the Inquisition, where anyone who is different is dragged off to horrifying prisons, tortured to confession, and ultimately killed in the worst way imaginable. But it won’t be easy to navigate a frightening and brutal time, secure Merlin’s book, and make it home without attracting attention.

After having successfully procured the Eye of Ra from its source, the boy Pharaoh Tut, in ancient Egypt, it now time for their next retrieval.  Something far more malevolent.  And their experiences will be far different from the luxury and ease into society they had with Tut.

No, with  Hammer of the Witch, Dakota Chase has Merlin sends our rambunctious duo back to medieval times and witch hunts.  The item they seek for Merlin?  The book a means for identifying and punishing witches.  Instead of perfumed and painted people on the Nile, Chase gives us the harsh reality of the times in medieval Germany.  The plague, the unsanitary conditions, the indentured poor whose servitude gets longer due to the dubious circumstances under which they work…its all there.  Add to that the greed of the landowners combined with the religious fervor of Inquisition…and no one is safe from the cry of “witch”.

This is what Ash and Grant face as they travel back to Germany to search out and steal the Malleus Maleficarum, or Hammer of the Witches.  Chase once again unforgettably brings these times alive for the boys and us.  The reality  of the clothes (a shock to them both) and the fear the strangers are met with.  Worse yet, the burning bodies that greet them in the square once they get to the city.  Yes, this a grittier story, the harsh reality of the witch hunts hits an emotional punch right to the heart with each victim (young and old) declared guilty of witchcraft.

Again the question arises, how much of history, if any, can they change?

The writing is so well done, the era so well researched, that I was one hundred percent emotionally invested in that question along with Ash and Grant.  I felt for these people living under these heinous conditions, waiting for their loved ones to be hauled away  at any moment to be burned alive at the stake.

Hammer of the Witch is an emotional, intelligent adventure.  Thrilling, somber, and one hell of a story for Ash, Grant, and the reader.  And it ends as it should with not all of our questions answered, just the big ones.

I love this series and can’t wait for Mammouth.  What are the boys going to do with the I wonder?  And yes, I highly recommend this and the first story as well.  Read them in the order they are written.

Cover Artist: Tiferet Design.  I love these covers for this story and the series.  They have an old time design feel about them that you might have seen on the old boy adventure novels.  Yet there’s movement in the art work, along with a chilling feel with the color tone.  Marvelous.

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 180 pages
Published January 9th 2018 by Harmony Ink Press
Original TitleHammer of the Witch
ISBN139781640800953
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesRepeating History:

A MelanieM Review: The Eye of Ra (Repeating History #1) by Dakota Chase

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Repeating History: Book One

Both Aston and Grant have a talent for finding trouble—it’s what landed them at the Stanton School for Boys—but this time, their mischief might send them to a completely different world.

When they accidentally destroy their teacher’s priceless archaeological artifacts, he demands they replace them. And since the teacher in question is Merlin, refusing isn’t an option for the two boys. Thanks to Merlin’s magic, they’re about to become time travelers.

The first piece on their list is the Eye of Ra, a mystical amulet belonging to the young King Tut. Ancient Egypt is nothing like Aston and Grant expected, with its war, disease, and lack of modern technology. To survive, they must befriend King Tut and learn to trust him—and each other. In a primitive world, where death and danger wait around every corner, one thing is clear: revisiting history could cost someone their life.

From the moment you meet Aston fidgeting away in a juvenile courtroom, he’s instantly identifiable from his jumbled emotions and thoughts.  Trying to be brave, on the cusp of breaking down in tears as he sits next to a father giving him no support other than his presence, he none the less recognizes the role he’s played in getting himself in this situation.

Yes, he takes absolute responsibility for all his actions, including the stealing the car and joyriding.  The hints as to why Aston is acting up comes later…the anger and pain that’s launching many of his bad decisions and actions stemming from the death of his mother and his abandonment issues.

All these feelings and thoughts are bubbling up inside of him…some clear, some not.  All speaking to his age and maturity levels.  And it makes him so easy to relate to in his fear and brashness.

Even when he lands his third chance and old patterns lead to yet more bad decision making, we get him. And Grant.  When they are pulled into Merlin’s class and circle of control, it’s at their own doing. Or is it?

A fight, a fire, a loss of precious objects of Merlin’s sends the boys on flights through time to retrieve them and return them safely back to Merlin.

Chase has crafted a highly adventurous tale, full of well researched details that add to the journey of Aston and Grant back to ancient Egypt.  The author brings the boy King Tut and his times vividly to life as Ash and Grant precariously befriend the boy Pharaoh, try to change history, and still retrieve the Eye of Ra which hangs around Tut’s neck.  It’s exciting, entertaining, and in many ways bittersweet for us and the boys to find that history can’t be changed no matter how much we wish it too.

Add to all this a burgeoning sort of attraction between Ashton and Grant, and you have the makings of a fantastic series and relationship.  I can’t wait to see where this all goes.

Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska, thought it captures the rush of adventure and the magic of the era.  Great job.

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 151 pages
Published May 16th 2017 by Harmony Ink Press (first published May 15th 2010)
ASINB06ZYHBBRK
SeriesRepeating History #1