Book Reviews, Fiction Blog

Indie Book Review: Checkmate by A.M. Offenwanger

checkmateCheckmate by A.M. Offenwanger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Checkmate is the third novel in A.M. Offenwanger’s Septimus series. You can read my reviews of the previous books, Seventh Son (Book 1) and Cat and Mouse (Book 2) by clicking on their titles.

While this review does not contain spoilers for Checkmate, it does contain spoilers for the first two novels. I should also note that Seventh Son is FREE at the time of this writing, so if you haven’t read it yet, download your copy from Amazon today!

Thus far, Checkmate is my favorite novel in the Septimus series. It takes place several years after Cat and Mouse, and shows Guy and Cat’s growing family fully settled in the Ruph community. The main action revolves around the return of Bina’s (formerly Bibby’s) cousin Rhitha and her family to Ruph, as well as the two girls’ growing friendship.

As with the other books in the series, Checkmate was well-written in what I have come to recognize as Offenwanger’s distinctive narrative voice: a balance of playfulness and poetry. My only criticism is that some of the chapters would start in present time, then jump back to the past-perfect tense for a scene or two. I would have liked to be “in the moment” with the characters (especially Rhitha) as some of that action unfolded.

Since I don’t want to risk spoiling anything about the plot of Checkmate (it’s that intricately tied and well-developed), I’ll touch quickly on the aspects that made this novel my favorite in the series so far:

– Meeting new characters to love (or love to hate), who fit into the story as if they were always a part of it.
– Reading from the perspective of new characters.
– The complex and realistic relationships between the characters (both loving and hate-filled).
– The development of Bina’s powers and how she learns to control them.
– Seeing Andy and Ben advance in their prospective fields.
– The themes of family and friendship, with the moral message that family can be chosen and friendship should be steadfast and loyal.
– Learning about new traditions in the world (such as trade/economics, other countries, and Ruph’s Solstice festival).

The ending of Checkmate? Perhaps one of the most fun and cleverly executed magical climaxes I’ve ever read. I adored it.

Overall, Checkmate is a heartwarming addition to the Septimus series that comments beautifully on family, friendship, and the importance of both. A fun and magical tale, it will delight readers of fantasy and young adult fiction.

REMINDER: As I said at the beginning of this review, the first novel in the Septimus series, Seventh Son, is FREE for a limited time. Download your copy now, then leave your own review for Ms. Offenwanger!

View all my reviews

checkmateIf you are interested in reading Checkmate. and would like to help sponsor my writing and research, you can purchase it at my Amazon Associates Store. By doing this, you will not pay a cent extra, nor will the author receive a cent less, but I will receive a small commission on the sale. Simply click the book’s title or the book’s image.

Fiction Blog, Musings & Bookish Things

8 Traits I Hope I Get From My Mother

To the mothers and grandmothers of the world, happy Mother’s Day! To the children of the world, I hope you have the opportunity to spend time with your mother or remember her fondly, whichever the case may be. On holidays like this, I am always aware that not everyone has a mother in his/her life, for myriad reasons, and I hope that you are able to find comfort in your other loved ones.

high school graduationAs for myself, I am blessed to have a wonderful mother. However, one of my biggest pet peeves about my mom is that she rarely ever sees herself as I, my dad, and the rest of her loved ones do. My mom is way too hard on herself (in basically every way possible), and sometimes, I feel like she just needs a good kick in the butt to make her see, if only for one day, how amazing she is.

So, Mom, since I know you will be checking your work email (even though it is the weekend) and will therefore see this post in your inbox, pay attention and listen to me for once. You are a beautiful person, inside and out, and to prove it, here is a list of eight traits you hold that I admire and hope to one day grow in myself.

1. Forgiveness

I am just about the worst person on the planet for holding grudges. But Mom, you are able to forgive without forgetting and be gracious to those who have wronged you. I hope I can learn this kind of compassion one day.

2. Financial savvy

Mom, you are so smart with money. When the GFC hit, you are the reason our family lived on basically like normal. You. While I have not had to deal with “full adult” finances yet, I hope that I am following your example and pinching pennies wisely.

3. Selflessness

Mom, there has to be a picture of you next to this one in the dictionary. You would literally do anything for me and Dad, and you constantly put other people before yourself. While sometimes I think you do it too much, I wish that I did it more.

4. Gemini thinking

You are so talented at seeing both sides of an issue and weighing all your options. You always joke that this is because you are a Gemini, and therefore, perpetually indecisive. Well, indecision aside, your skills in understanding multiple perspectives and empathy are masterful.

wedding5. Love of animals

Mom, I’ve grown up watching you nurse injured baby bunnies, adopt dogs others cast aside, and buy rounds of medicine before giving up on an old cat. If we were Catholic, you would surely be in the running for an animal-related sainthood.

6. Integrity

I don’t know if I’ve ever heard you lie. (Maybe you’re just really good at it.) You’re always straightforward and truthful with people, especially me. But you’re not too blunt or conflict-prone, either. You avoid making waves, but you’re always honest.

7. Productivity

Let’s continue the honesty theme, Mom: you don’t know how to relax when you’re at home. While this isn’t always a good thing, you really do get a lot done. You do pretty much all of the cleaning and cooking, the bulk of the yard work, most of the pet care, and pay all the bills. I don’t know how you do it, but you do it. And by it, I mean everything. You are Superwoman.

8. Appreciation for beauty

Picasso couldn’t find as much beauty as you do. Stockton Lake, dragonflies, the flower garden, the horses — you recognize the wonder and artistry in so many aspects of nature. My Mother’s Day wish for you is that you take that eye and use it when you look in the mirror, because there is even more beauty there.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you.