Road trips are supposed to provide a sense of adventure without actually exposing the people on them to any real harm. Unfortunately Jason and Levi’sRoad trips are supposed to provide a sense of adventure without actually exposing the people on them to any real harm. Unfortunately Jason and Levi’s trip isn’t exactly following that rule.
As interesting as all of the human characters are, by far my favourite character was Otanewainuku. I’d never heard any legends about the Taniwha before, and it was fascinating to imagine what it would be to meet one of them in person. They are a unique species that fit in well with the rest of the science fiction and paranormal elements of this book.
While Jason and Levi’s paranormal abilities are clearly described early on in their adventures, I would have liked to learn more about the origins of them. The handful of hints about where these powers might have come from are intriguing, but the story would have flowed more smoothly had the author taken the time to explain such an important part of their identities.
The well-paced, exciting plot made it hard for me to put this novella down. It has the kind of worldbuilding I’d expect from a full-length novel, but each chapter was so engrossing that I finished it within a few days. The plot-based narrative introduces background information as needed, and while there were times when I wished certain details were revealed a little sooner I soon learned to appreciate how the author brings up the most important facts in such a fast-paced story.
A Taste of Gold is rollicking adventure that is begging for a sequel. While I don’t know if the author is planning to revisit these characters, I highly recommend getting to know them in the meantime. This is a fun, short tale that this reader had a great time zipping through. ...more
Imagine helping your mother clean up an old house that is part of the Historical Society’s inventory and finding a loose board that holds an old, oldImagine helping your mother clean up an old house that is part of the Historical Society’s inventory and finding a loose board that holds an old, old diary. Would you tell your mother and give it up or would you keep it and read it? Emily Grace (called Em) did what I would do: She kept it to read.
Ms. Norkus mixes Civil War history, time travel, slavery, and a modern girl all together in a story that I found fascinating. The more of the diary she reads, the more Em gets caught up in Sarah’s life. When she finds out Sarah’s husband dies at the hands of the military, she is devastated.
The author makes Em a young woman who has begun to fall away from God and her church. She doesn’t believe God is there. None of her prayers get answered. Reading about Sarah’s husband Robert dying makes her angry and she shouts at God, giving Him her whole list of grievances. Em is fifteen and I remember what puberty was like; I cried all the time. Em carries a lot of anger. What she didn’t expect was to be transported back in time. Apparently God does listen. Going back 150 years means things are quite different there. She finds Sarah and they take her in but she has no real plan to save Robert.
The author works with the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, so her information about the times and practices of the era are accurate. The only hesitation I had about the story was that Em changes history while she’s there. And, any change you make in history would affect the future, but the only thing that really changed in the future was the diary and a sign. I had a difficult time believing nothing else was affected.
Overall, this is a very nice read and young women readers should find it fascinating. There’s history, the beginning of romance for Em and it has a happy ending. It also might lead them to read more about the Civil War era. The Christianity is lightly stated and not overwhelming. Why not give it a try and see what you think?...more
Being the new girl in school sucks, especially when you move around so frequently that you always seem to be the new girl. Carly has tried to make theBeing the new girl in school sucks, especially when you move around so frequently that you always seem to be the new girl. Carly has tried to make the best out of life, even if what she truly longs for is a stationary home where she can develop real friendships. As she enters Astoria High School she hopes that this will finally be the place she can call home for a while.
Carly may be a bit naive but she has a good heart and head on her shoulders. She has managed to stay grounded even if her father’s job forces them to continuously relocate. Add onto the fact that her father usually contributes or causes mass layoffs and you have a socially awkward life for a young teen girl to deal with. My heart really went out to Carly and her need to fit in. Every teenager wants to fit in and develop solid friendships, sometimes more than they want to breathe. Carly is at an age where relationships play a large role in not only her present life, but also in her future so I kept my fingers cross that she could find a place where she truly belonged.
The romantic plot in this story is very G rated, as long as you are not squeamish about a gay relationship. I appreciated the fact that the author wrote Carly and Jane’s self discovery so tastefully. I got to experience the confusion a young girl can face when figuring out what she wants in a partner, and that the same issues arise in any relationship whether it be bisexual, straight, gay or anything in between.
While the relationship does play a role in the story it is not the main plotline. This story is really just about a girl trying to fit in and discovering who she is. I found it inspirational for young girls and boys who just want to know that they are not alone during this confusion time in life. As an adult it helped to remind me about what life was like at that age, and think about what my own children or either experiencing or may experience in the future, and think of ways it can help make it easier on them.
I found some of the relationships and connecions within this story a bit frail and confusing at times. While I do understand that Carly herself was also confused due to her lack of experience and age, I would like to have seen a bit more conviction in the development. For example, some of her friendships even in the end of the story were a bit undefined for me. Just a bit more understanding on where everyone stood would have been appreciated.
This story would not be appropriate for younger children because it does involve drugs. While they are not being used by any of the characters, it does discuss the usage and distribution of illegal drug use. Again, the author does this in a very tasteful manner and actually teaches a lesson about not only the use and selling of drugs but even about associating with individuals who are involved in drugs. This would be a great story to open up a communication between parents and teens about drugs as well as peer-pressure. With so many life lessons this would be a great story for teens and parents to read together or separately.
Jo feels like the school counselor, Kirsty, is the only person she can talk to. So when their twelve provided sessions runs out, Jo feel a little likeJo feels like the school counselor, Kirsty, is the only person she can talk to. So when their twelve provided sessions runs out, Jo feel a little like the world is ending. When Kirsty suggests Jo join in a group session on Saturdays at the local Community Center, Jo isn’t sure, but is willing to give it a try. She meets with four other kids from her school and together they can talk about anything and everything, and especially help each other with their problems. They become the Superhero Club.
This is a wonderful tale of a twelve year old learning how to overcome issues such as bullying, her parents’ divorce and her own struggles to grow up. I found it to be warm, inspiring and full of self-confidence boosters for pre-teens. Jo (and her mother) struggle with weight issues and teasing in particular, but deeper problems are also more carefully dealt with and discussed – things like “fake” or fair weather friends, learning to rely on yourself and not be needy, anger management issues and how to balance the desire to grow up but still retain the imagination and joy of being a twelve year old.
I loved how the kids came together, and how by expressing themselves as Superheroes and having special powers they could build themselves and each other up by focusing on their strengths. The kids really become good friends in a realistic fashion, ending up fully supporting each other and sharing their secrets, dreams and experiences. They learn that together they’re far stronger and the fact they’re not alone after all helps them all come to terms with their concerns. I found this to be a warm, wonderfully written story full of positive messages for pre-teens and one that left me with a great, optimistic feeling.
Richard may be considered old in human years, but for a shifter he is still an immature teenager trying to find his way through life. Then he sees theRichard may be considered old in human years, but for a shifter he is still an immature teenager trying to find his way through life. Then he sees the girl who sends sparks shooting through his veins and makes him want to become the man his father has tried to force him to be for years.
The plot in the story had plenty of depth and excitement. I really enjoyed Derek’s involvement in the conflict as well as the overall story development. The conflict also helped to introduce other types of shifters, which helped to build the tension to figure out which type would be the alpha or strongest. Richard’s enemies also helped to move the story along well and helped to develop both the personal and romantic growth of all the characters.
While Richard and Molly are good characters on the surface their characterization lacked a certain depth that made it hard for me to fall in love with them. I got a little about what makes Richard tick, but would like to have understood his internal process throughout the story. This would have allowed me to appreciate his development a bit more. With Richard being the main focus of the story I got very little about Molly — only that she is a victim of circumstances who really doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere.
While this is a young adult novel some may find it difficult to process the relationship between Richard and Molly. He is not close to Molly’s age as we would normally view it, but because of his shifter blood it was easy for me to see him as a teenage boy. I appreciate this because it gave a certain air of truth to the character. Since shifters can live so long it makes sense that their adolescents is longer than humans, but I can understand why some may find this a bit uncomfortable. Another aspect that some may question is the amount of violence. There are a few physical conflicts that can get a bit gory. Again, I did not view this is a problem, but I would not let my pre-teen read a story with this amount of gore.
This is a story that I think old teens and parents can enjoy alike, especially if you are looking for a good shifter story to pass the time.
Amelia had a real crush on Rising Wolf, but she knew it would never amount to anything. She was a half-breed and Rising Wolf was an important warriorAmelia had a real crush on Rising Wolf, but she knew it would never amount to anything. She was a half-breed and Rising Wolf was an important warrior in his tribe. He’d undoubtedly marry a full-blooded Indian tribe member.
This author takes you for a walk back in history. The story is set in the time period when Native Americans were first being confined to reservations. Indians had their own ceremonies, their own land, and their own lifestyles. The Army was only interested in confining them and had no remorse in the way they abused the Indians and killed the warriors. All they wanted was to have them confined. And, once they did, they stole the meat the government sent to feed them and told them they couldn’t hunt their own food. This is a shameful piece of history that the author shows accurately. It doesn’t take long until you’re rooting for the Indians and hating the bad white men, too.
Amelia is amazed when Rising Wolf makes an offer for her. She lets him know she won’t live in marriage without love, and he tells her she need not worry about that. She knows he’s a big part of her life, but she doesn’t find out just how much she loves him until a bear attacks him and he almost drowns in the river. She’s deathly afraid of the river because her mother almost drowned in it long ago. There’s no hesitation on her part, though. She leaps in, fights the bear, and drags her husband out of the river. Unfortunately, he’s been injured very badly and no one knows if he will live…
Ms. Smith’s tale is factual and leads you down an ugly path in our history. She makes Amelia’s family and the Indian tribe feel alive and vital. Love is a strong power when shared. Her words flow well and make you feel like you’re living in that time era. This story is suitable for young adults as well as adults. History can be a good teacher if we listen.
Ashlyn is very much her own person–she’s a ninja and proud of it. She’d much rather fulfill her role as ninja than fulfill her role as the heir of herAshlyn is very much her own person–she’s a ninja and proud of it. She’d much rather fulfill her role as ninja than fulfill her role as the heir of her father’s kingdom. But, once that birthright is threatened, then she decides to take matters into her own hands.
Ms. Santiago drops the reader right in the middle of the action–and doesn’t let up. In fact, it’s so much so that if the reader didn’t know better, she might think she had joined a series in the middle. Ms. Santiago, though, does a good job of bringing the reader up to speed — you aren’t bored, that’s for sure. You don’t have time to get bored!
Not only is there non-stop action, there’s a love triangle that will leave the reader pulling for either Drake or Vargo–if she can make up her mind! I’m looking forward to the second book of the series to see what happens next with Ashlyn Li.
Now that Jessica finally has the power to determine her own path, will she make the right choice?
There are no words to describe Jessica’s situation. HNow that Jessica finally has the power to determine her own path, will she make the right choice?
There are no words to describe Jessica’s situation. Her life is beyond tragic. With her mother, Evelyn, constantly dangling the life of her father over her head, Jessica is forced to submit to outrageous demands, including an engagement to Seth, a man who just might be more nefarious than her mother. After her father’s death, Jessica runs away at the first opportunity. What Jessica finds beyond the walls of her home will challenge everything she’s ever known.
Jessica is a very strong heroine. Despite her rather twisted and sheltered upbringing, Jessica has grown into a fine young woman. I admire her bravery and the strength it took for her to go into the world alone with absolutely no one she could trust. Once Jessica finds her way into the swamp, she comes across a group of people who show her the true meaning of trust and unconditional love. It was a pleasure to watch Jessica gradually let down her guard and open herself up to others.
I also enjoyed watching Jessica come to know Christ through reading the Bible and the gentle guidance of Hunter and Ms. Mabel. As Jessica steps on the path to Christianity, Hunter and Ms. Mable encourage her to ask as many questions as she wants. I liked that they never forced her into anything. When Jessica comes to a pivotal moment in her faith, Hunter and Ms. Mabel are there to support her, but Jessica remains in control of her life. I have no doubt that Jessica will grow into a very courageous woman.
Hunter is exactly the kind of man that Jessica needs. He lends her strength and support when she needs it, but also gives her the tools to stand on her own. Their romance is very touching and moves at just the right pace. I look forward to watching their love continue to bloom in the next book.
I must admit I had a hard time understanding the motives of Evelyn, Jessica’s mother. She doesn’t appear to have any redeeming characteristics. Consequently, she didn’t strike me as a very realistic character. Evelyn’s past is murky, and I’d definitely like to know a bit more about what would drive a woman to treat her only child the way she treats Jessica. Perhaps I will learn more about her in future installments of the series?
Seth is an interesting villain. While Seth is definitely evil, I do believe he has something that resembles feelings for Jessica, no matter how misguided or warped they are. He seems to have been shaped into the evil man that he’s become through some poor choices on his part as well as through the influence of Jessica’s mother. I can’t help but wonder if Seth’s life would have been different if Evelyn hadn’t gotten her claws into him.
Ms. Wright has crafted a wonderful story of love and faith in Twisted Roots. I enjoyed every minute spent reading it and am definitely looking forward to learning more about Jessica in the next book. I recommend Twisted Roots to anyone looking for a different kind of paranormal tale.
This is a fun story and not just for children who have a parent in the Armed Services. Lots of the experiences in the book, like facing the school bulThis is a fun story and not just for children who have a parent in the Armed Services. Lots of the experiences in the book, like facing the school bully and having to make new friends after a move, are topics most children can relate to.
I liked Spanky and I think the author did a great job with showing us who his was through his thoughts and actions. The only thing I felt was that sometimes Spanky and his buddies used dialogue that seemed more mature for their age, and some of their actions seemed more like teenagers.
There are some touching scenes in the story like when he’s at the airport and saying goodbye to his dad. Also, the author created a sense of suspense every time Spanky didn’t hear from his father when he was actually serving in Afghanistan. In the end, I, like Spanky, was hoping that his dad had a safe tour of duty.
In the second part of the story, is the part where Spanky really proves himself and makes his father proud. I won’t give it away but it’s a little slice of adventure within this book that I think young readers will especially enjoy.
I think this would be a fun story for both boys and girls and the ideal read for children whose parents are away on active duty.
What could be worse than moving to a half-finished house in the middle of nowhere?
Abby’s mood swings and pessimistic attitude make it difficult to symWhat could be worse than moving to a half-finished house in the middle of nowhere?
Abby’s mood swings and pessimistic attitude make it difficult to sympathize with her plight. Yes, changing schools and moving to a new state can be really stressful but from the moment she sees their new home Abby is determined to hate everything about it. Her intelligent and intuitive understanding of human nature soften the edges of her character, though, and after a few chapters I found myself looking forward to her witty, insightful descriptions of her family and friends.
Greg is one of the creepiest teenagers I’ve ever met in a young adult novel. Phrases that would sound harmless coming from anyone else in this story take on a much darker meaning when he leans in and quietly whispers them to Abby when no one else is listening. I would have preferred to see a deeper exploration of his personality and life history as the chapter in his life that probably molded his socially inappropriate behavior as a young adult was mentioned so briefly some readers may miss that clue. Those that figure it out will be rewarded with a chilling glimpse of Greg’s most important influences, though, as no one is born with the desire to terrorize other people!
I had trouble figuring out an appropriate age recommendation for this book. There was some use of inappropriate language and while the protagonist is quite appealing to tweens there are a few scary scenes that I would hesitate to recommend for anyone younger than twelve.
Obsession is a great stepping stone for middle school students who love the paranormal or horror genres and are ready to transition to slightly more mature stories. It’s spooky and spine-tingling without resorting to the blood and guts found in many adult stories in this style of writing but the plot is complex enough to to easily hold the interests of this age group.
The Sweetest Dark had a little bit of everything, romance, a gothic setting, a mystery, a lot of paranormal elements. I enjoyed Ms. Abe’s writing stylThe Sweetest Dark had a little bit of everything, romance, a gothic setting, a mystery, a lot of paranormal elements. I enjoyed Ms. Abe’s writing style which is rich and layered. The main character, Lora was interesting and I found myself reading on to learn more about her. Some of the chapters in between the main ones threw me off a little at first but then as I read on they became clearer to the overall plot.
The book does have some historical inaccuracies about what happened during first half of World War 1 when the book is set, for example nightly bombing, children being evacuated, and the mention of Land Girls but if you can overlook these it’s a fun read with an almost creepy setting. And true to the gothic sub-genre, characters who you’re not quite sure if they can be trusted or not.
I really enjoyed seeing Lora and Jesse’s relationship unfold and I found myself wanting these two to be together. I think girls will probably enjoy this book more than boys and, while it’s a long read, the pacing is such that even younger girls shouldn’t have a problem. If you enjoy a slice of romance, mystery, especially gothics, with lots of supernatural elements, this would be a good pick.
Not everyone gets a second chance. Eighty year old Cass Goldman got hers.
Cass ended her own long life after a diagnosis of terminal cancer. Instead of the pearly gates, Cass woke in a hospital room in the body of a seventeen year old suicide survivor, surrounded by her parents. She soon learns Casey, the girl who was actually successful in her suicide, although no one but Cass knows, had alienated just about everyone in her life. Further investigation, however, showed Cass that Casey was much more of a victim than a perpetrator.
This was an interesting story. Casey was a very strong person to have endured what she did, and my heart bled for her. Seemed everyone in her life abandoned her when she needed them most, so she needed to turn inward to survive. The journey Cass takes to save Casey from further harm was complex, suspenseful, and full of twists and turns.
I was left with a few questions, or holes I felt the story contained, which kept it from scoring higher. Cass was supposed to be eighty when she passed originally. As Casey, she spoke very young, so other than occasional reminders of her chronological age, it was hard to remember Cass was actually a much older soul. It just seemed at times she was another person in a strange body instead of being so much more experienced. I wondered why Cass didn’t mention, or at least investigate, what happened to her original self after she passed, but once she was Casey, she was Casey. I’m still not sure we ever got reason for the switch, either.
The romance between Cass/Casey and Troy was not believable to me. I can see Cass relying on Troy, since he was her protection, but there was little reason, or opportunity, for Troy to develop feelings for Cass. As far as he was concerned, she was a seventeen year old kid (to his thirty). I knew he admired her tenacity, but as far as anything further – especially something long lasting – I just wasn’t sure what that was based on. The romance seemed a secondary storyline, but it did take much of the second half of the book.
Poor Casey endured much more than any person should ever have to, and reading it was difficult at times. Her mother was far from likable, but her father seemed a good guy. If you’re looking for a story of survival, redemption, strength and ultimate victory, this one has an interesting ride....more
Travis Cho, visiting Door Peninsula, spots a fairy. A fairy? this is a new realm to him, in an otherwise really familiar summer vacation. Or, maybe golfing in the hot sun has left him delusional? But no; the fairy returns and conversation sweeps Travis, and we readers away. It’s fun to discovered the viewpoints of a fairy. Travis is intrigued. I was intrigued.
He knows about not-quite fitting in, but this is an unimagined chance at a summer romance…that the reader hopes will be so much more! We start to hope that some sort of magic will intercede. We aren’t to be disappointed in the magic, but the story rambles along; Occasionally with just more detail than we need which drags the pace down, and the challenge to their romance seems to drag on a bit, as well. Conversations are uniformly super, however, and will keep you reading.
The true highlight of this work is the subtle humor infuses that specific lines, revealing Bardan’s light and clever style… On Par with a Fairy is a charming and original light fantasy....more
Nera has always had strange terrifying dreams, but now she is having them during the day. She is awakening to her power as a witch, without any knowledge of her family history. Turning to her Uncle Jasper for help and answers, she discovers that she is supposed to stop an eight hundred year old curse.
Ari Harper does a good job of telling a compelling and intriguing story. Nera is a strong heroine and her character is well portrayed. She has two close friends, Brie and Sully, who stand by her as she is faced with the challenges of learning strong magic, and learning it quickly.
Harper’s writing is overall strong and effective, with just a few editing flaws, or times when there is too much telling rather than showing. However, I feel that Harper could have given the reader more help with the family history. I like a book which makes the reader think, but there were missing details which even at the end, I couldn’t figure out. We are told in the beginning, for instance, that Jasper is eight hundred years old and has always lived in his current home. I couldn’t help but wonder why the villagers never noticed this. I’m sure there is an explanation, and I think Harper could deepen her story with more details about the family history.
Nevertheless, this was a very enjoyable read. I was quickly drawn into the story and Nera’s journey from typical teen to powerful witch was intriguing to watch. The interactions with her family and best friends were believable and her fights with Bones, her protector and instructor, as well as Bones’ reactions to a teenage girl, were very realistic.
This is the first novel in a series, and it ends at a good point, but with plot lines yet to be explored. I look forward to reading more in this series....more
Ms. Anderson has once again expertly captured small town life within the pages of this installment of the Honey Creek Royalty series. I could practically smell the vinyl seats of the school bus as Beckie rode home from the cheerleading competition. Memories of my own bumpy bus rides in high school brought a smile to my face as I read.
I liked Beckie immediately. When the town goes crazy after she and her fellow cheerleaders win state, Beckie doesn’t let her new found fame go to her head. In fact, aside from accepting an invite to a good party, Beckie decides to ignore the attention as much as possible. Beckie is a very responsible young girl. She found herself in a scary situation with an older guy the previous summer that could have ended very badly. Fortunately, Beckie is smart and learned from her mistake. I have no doubt that she’ll never go down that path again. However, Beckie’s lapse in judgment has led her to swear guys off indefinitely. Will the guilt of her past cause her to miss out on a chance for a meaningful relationship?
Even though Beckie strikes me as a very mature young woman, she’s also a very realistic character. When all the attention from her victory at state becomes too much, she doesn’t always handle it gracefully. Beckie’s frustration with the superficial behavior of the people in Honey Creek comes to a head after her Grandma ends up in the hospital. The emotions become too much for her to handle and she ends up snapping at people who genuinely care for her. I found Beckie’s reaction to the unwanted attention to be completely believable.
Beckie’s dilemma concerning Kurt and Andrew is also very well written. I could clearly picture Beckie trying to figure out her feelings for an old friend versus the new boy who quickly found his way into her heart. Beckie makes a few missteps while sorting out her feelings, but this only serves to make her a more endearing character in my mind.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Queen Mean. It is a heartwarming tale of romance, friendship, and the meaning of family. Fans of young adult romance would do well to give Queen Mean a try....more
Liam is cursed by the past while Anna is privileged and free. When the two come together again on the timeless island of Dòchas, it seems as if they’d never been apart. With a love as strong as theirs, it’s no wonder the Otherworlders not only sit up and take notice, but decide to place a wager on the strength of their love.
Liam McGregor is quite the fascinating character. Convinced from birth that he’s harboring a demon within him, he strives to keep his head above water and simply survive. However, despite the hatred and bigotry from the community surrounding him, he immerses himself in the beauty of the written word and the world of art. What I found most impressive was that, even though Liam only had the use of one arm, he still managed to paint, draw, and hold down a job. Even when everyone around him swears he’s evil incarnate, he doesn’t let it get him down. He just accepts it – for better or for worse – and continues to do what he needs to survive.
Anna Leighton, on the other hand, starts out as just another spoiled rich girl slumming it at her parent’s ancestral home on the island. However, her character probably has the most growth over the course of the novel. She evolves from a rather self-centered and self-absorbed teen and becomes a selfless, loving woman. There were moments where I didn’t like Anna very much, but she always managed to redeem herself later.
Ashes on the Waves is a beautiful and haunting retelling of one of my favorite Poe poems, “Annabel Lee”. The author did an amazing job translating the darkness and strength of the narrator’s love for Annabel Lee into a gripping novel. Although the ending left me feeling a bit cheated, every page leading up to that point was pure enjoyment. A very enjoyable, if heartbreaking novel, Ashes on the Waves was nothing like I’d expected, but everything I had hoped it could be.
What a journey! From the birth of Markus — already marked with special powers– there is tension present in this book. Although his older brother tries to counteract the influence of their father, more and more Markus turns hard–killing for the pleasure of killing and no longer merely to provide food.
Eventually, his behavior leads to the fruition of a curse promised at his birth–and the death of his family. Now, he has to find a way to reverse it before his brother dies.
The author has done a great job creating this world where the families of the village depend on hunters for their survival–and shows the fine line that exists between the necessary killing for survival and killing for the sport of killing. Other issues she touches on are child abuse and the need to take care of the environment.
Her primary accomplishment, though, is the creating of characters that leap of the page and come to life. All of them, even the secondary characters, are fully drawn and three dimensional. The reader cares about the characters and what happens to them. And, since this is just the first book of the series, leaves the reader anxious to find out what will happen next.
Eleven year old Tyranna Wolfskin was used to being different. Among all the orphans at Lipkos Monastery, she was the only female. She was always pushed into activities like mending clothes or working in the kitchen when she would much rather be studying or learning about the forest. But if she thought she was different just because she was a girl, she would soon discover a much greater difference as she came to learn about the non-human species she had never known existed. These “retics” were as different from each other as they were from humans, but they had a common goal of surviving against the human “retic” hunters.
This story revolves around the theme of difference and how those differences are treated. T. J. Lantz’ story is very loosely set in Europe during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. While Lantz has the Coalition of the Burning Heart searching out non-humans or half-humans, the message is the same as it was in the Inquisition. Differences will not be tolerated and those who are different must be destroyed. In order to save themselves, the “retics” have built a hidden sanctuary governed by the Counsel of Rosehaven. The “retics” must learn to put aside their own personal differences and work together for the survival of all.
I like the way Lantz tells the story from multiple perspectives. We begin with Tyranna, who discovers she is half human and half elf, and then we are introduced to Jaxon, a demon/human half-breed. One of the problems with the “retics” is that they too have difficulties with differences and they also don’t like half-breeds. So for Tyranna and Jaxon the challenges become immense.
Tyranna is forced to learn about the world of the retics very abruptly and cruelly. Nevertheless, she doesn’t lose her smile and her enthusiasm for learning. She is also a very kind person, able to see the true nature of others, and in this way, her gentleness and her determination, her skills and her wisdom, enable her to make friends with a variety of personalities in a way that has her friends working together even when they had begun as enemies. Her vision for herself and her world is one which sees past any individual differences and instead focuses on what individuals have in common.
Lantz does an excellent job of portraying the many different species in his world. Each character is well developed with a clear and unique voice. Lantz alternates between Tyranna’s story and Jaxon’s, but the switches are easy to keep up with and by the end Lantz has brought them as well as a smaller third thread into a cohesive ending for this first novel in his series.
I really enjoyed this novel and I feel that Lantz tells a compelling and riveting story about how differences are handled. I can recommend it for any reader of fantasy, adult or young adult. I can’t wait for the next book in this series....more
Being born fully grown and eighteen years old would be a shock to anyone. Being born as quadruplets just as their mother died was heart-breaking and yet the girls, Anila, Terra, Aydan, and Yara, knew they had been brought into the world of Rare Root for one purpose and that was to destroy the evil known as the Rot. Finding that their first task was to bury their mother and then all the villagers in a neighboring town meant that they had no time to discover who they were. They had to hit the deck running and learn as they went.
Alyce Lewis has crafted an excellent story filled with diverse and well-defined characters. The plot moves along swiftly as the girls discover their elemental powers and grow into their fullness as Sprites. It is captivating to see them mature as they train. While they were born with fully functional young adult bodies, their emotional age seemed far younger at the beginning. Lewis does an excellent job of showing how each of the four Sprites masters her own element, fire, air, water, or earth, and learns to wield appropriate weapons in the fight against the Rot, while at the same time, maturing into a fully functional adult. The quadruplets are definitely individuals and their different voices and personalities are clearly shown and developed.
The Sprites are also forced to learn about the nature of love and friendship. They make mistakes, and they have to learn to see themselves as individuals, but ultimately they mature into a strong team with the ability to work together. They discover that while each of them is powerful in her own right, together they make a team which has a power beyond the linking of their individual gifts.
The book was most enjoyable even though the plot was a bit predictable. While there were no major surprises, Lewis keeps her readers engaged. I did feel that the love scenes between King Luster and Lady Harte were more sensual than sweet. For this reason, I rated the book for 14+ even though most of the book would be fine for younger readers. I also felt that this added sensuality felt jarring and out-of-place, given the tone of the rest of the novel.
The interactions between different species was handled with great sensitivity and clarity. It was easy to see the scenes between sirens and fairies, for instance, and the descriptions of the world of Rare Root were vivid and colorful. Rare Root is a consistent,well-crafted. believable world.
This is the first in a series and I am looking forward to reading the next in the series about the adventures in Rare Root and the battle between Light and Dark....more
Daughter of the Earth and Sky is absolutely captivating!
I jumped at the chance to read Daughter of the Earth and Sky, the second book in Ms. Bevis’ Daughters of Zeus series. I loved the first book, Persephone, and I couldn’t wait to read more about Persephone and her adventures. Ms. Bevis completely blew me away with this latest offering. This book picks up not long after the events in the first book ended, so anyone wanting to enjoy this story should read Persephone first in order have a complete understanding of Persephone’s situation.
When Persephone found out that she was a goddess, her world was turned upside down. Now that the initial shock has worn off, Persephone is discovering that her status as a goddess changes every facet of her life, particularly her relationships. Persephone’s journey is very touching and I felt every growing pain she endured as I read. My heart ached as she and her best friend Melissa fought. I wiped away tears and she struggled to trust her mother, and I felt Persephone’s frustration as she tried to make Hades see a secret she was unfortunately bound to keep. The emotional rollercoaster was exhausting at times, but I’m so glad I was able to take that journey with Persephone. She is certainly a stronger young woman at the end of this book, and even though the dynamics of her relationships have changed, the bonds between Persephone and her friends and family are stronger than ever.
Persephone suffers a great deal physically and emotionally in this book, and yet she remains one of the toughest young adult heroines I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Even though Persephone hasn’t grown into her full powers, she is never content to sit on the sidelines. She does everything she can to fight against Thanatos and Zeus. Even though Persephone is a goddess, she is far from perfect. She makes good and bad choices, especially where Aphrodite and the human boy, Joel are concerned. Her mistakes serve to make her an even more relatable and well rounded character.
I must say that Hades makes an interesting hero. In other paranormal or fantasy books, I’ve run across heroes that are supposed to be “dark,” but more often than not these heroes are not very scary. However, Hades really does have a dark side that is truly frightening. When I stop and think about some of the things he’s done to punish people who have hurt Persephone, I am chilled to the core. As dark as Hades seems, he is not a bad person and he loves Persephone very much. I really enjoy watching them grow as a couple.
I thought I had things figured out as I approached the end of Daughter of the Earth and Sky. However, Ms. Bevis threw in a twist that completely floored me. I knew something wasn’t quite right concerning a certain character, but I was definitely not prepared for the way the story ended. The conclusion of Daughter of the Earth and Sky is a cliff hanger. As soon as I finished reading, I literally jumped up and ran to my computer so I could find out when the next book will be out. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!
Daughter of the Earth and Sky is one of the best books I’ve read. Long after I finished reading, I continued to think about Persephone and wonder what sorts of challenges she will face in the future. I highly recommend Daughter of the Earth and Sky to anyone looking for a young adult tale of love and friendship....more
Althea is the younger sister. The one who is different. Her parents want her to be more like her older sister, Caroline. Her peers at school tease her to the point of retaliation, causing her to be suspended. Her life goes further downhill when sister Caroline comes home from college and resumes her goal of making Althea’s life unbearable.
The only bright spot in her life is her boyfriend Jacob who sees a beauty in Althea that no one else does – not even Althea. The return of Caroline and the arrival of Jacob’s brother Davis sets her life spinning. Unable to please anyone and frustrated by her parents believing Caroline’s lies, the final straw comes when her sister taunts her about why Jacob is dating Althea. She snaps and hits out at Caroline who falls to the floor – dead.
Althea is a strong character, despite her conviction she’s not worth anything. Her problems are similar to those of most teenagers but enhanced by her own dark nature. Davis has a similar type of personality although he tends to come across as a bit psychopathic. All the main characters are well defined and the author had me wondering how Althea would cover her part in her sister’s murder.
At this point I found the story became confusing. However, that could be due to the fact I’m not a teenager. I’m sure that age group would read this with a different outlook on the story than I did. Despite this, I believe Althea’s character was an accurate portrayal of teenage angst and Ms Dotson has told the story with definite insight into teenage life.
Ten-year-old Nikki Landry lives in the same home she was born in, but she has moved several times each and every year of her life. She lives with her mother, father, and younger brother on a houseboat, and her father relocates them frequently as he searches for the best crabbing spots. Nikki hates moving. She no sooner starts making friends when she is uprooted once again. The latest move to a really mysterious bayou takes her from her best friend, Lydia, and forces her to start over yet again in a new school. If that weren’t enough, Nikki thinks she is being watched by something on a nearby island.
Rita Monette has spun a wonderful mystery based on the life of the Cajun people in Louisiana during the mid-1950’s. The reader is immediately drawn into life along the Bayou. The characters are believable, and the hardships of life aboard an old houseboat, where the family is living in poverty and the father is doing his best to keep things together, is portrayed with sensitivity and compassion. Monette details clearly Nikki’s trials as she tries yet again to adjust to a new school, make friends, and avoid a bully. Nikki’s bond to her beagle, Snooper, is shown as a vital element in Nikki’s life, providing companionship and stability through all the family’s moves. So when Snooper goes missing and there is a legend of someone on the nearby island stealing dog’s souls, the reader is right there, following Nikki into danger as she hunts for Snooper and tries to solve the mystery of the island with the strange howling sounds.
I really enjoyed this book and I think Monette has done an excellent job of capturing a time and place now gone. The issue of language, for instance, is shown as Nikki wants to learn Cajun French after hearing her father and others speaking it. This novel is set during the time when it was illegal to speak French in public. The laws changed in 1961, but for Nikki, learning French was like a forbidden fruit.
Monette also describes in mouth-watering detail the food that was common for the Cajun community. She uses a number of words common to this part of Louisiana as well, and she provides a brief glossary at the beginning of the novel defining the terms. I found that this technique of using a glossary first, but then letting the words flow naturally in the novel, was most effective. Monette’s own drawings scattered throughout the novel are most effective in showing Nikki’s world. I really think that Monette’s readers will find it easy to learn about the Cajun people as they read a suspenseful story with plenty of action. The ending ties things up a bit too neatly, but it is satisfying to have everyone sorted satisfactorily.
I think that this novel would be a fun read for anyone from middle-school upwards. It is a very good story in its own right. In addition, I could really see this being used in a classroom with the possibilities for many teaching moments....more
And even those words don’t do this justice. Ms. Scott has got serious writing chops. She made me love this book, even though it’s nothing like my usual choice for reading and even though it’s terribly sad and tragic for the vast majority of its pages. She creates incredibly real characters in Jacob and Sam, then puts them in a place that broke my heart.
They aren’t always the most endearing of people. They do things that are frustrating, dishonest, and heart-rending. But they always love each other, and they always determine to make a life for themselves. Jacob’s first and only real goal in life it to take care of his sister. As we learn the truth of what happened, we understand what drives him so frantically to keep her safe.
Sam doesn’t remember what happened to put them in the place where they are. And she’s remarkably typical for a girl her age, except that she’s dressing and acting as a teenaged boy. No punches are pulled in this book; there is language, graphic situations and more. Even something like Sam’s first period are described so clearly I was cramping up right there with her.
Thankfully, all is not bleak here. Eventually they meet a good-hearted man and his girlfriend who take them under their wings, but even that doesn’t go smoothly.
This isn’t a book for light reading. It’s one you will think about long after you finish and wonder if this is how it truly is for some kids out there. It’ll make you grateful for your rather normal life and will cause you to count your blessings, no matter how small.
Reading Desert Rice is a life-changing experience and I’m glad I was able to read it.
Joanie has a secret that only her best friend Zane knows about. She is torn between blurting it out to the world and fearfully keeping it to herself. However, time is running out and she must decide on what to do and how to do it…
Joanie and Zane, who are both juniors in high school, have been best friends for a long time. They know each other very well and spend lots of time together. In fact, Joanie’s parents are under the impression that they are more than best friends and are assuming that they would be going to the prom together despite Joanie’s repeated protests that they are not more than friends.
Joanie is 16 and has a great family with parents and a sister who all love her. She does well in school and has a best friend to hang out with, so she seems to have the perfect life. However, she is afraid of what her family and her classmates’ reactions would be if they found out she is gay. Would she lose them as family and friends?
Kate, a new girl in school, is about to shake things up for Joanie. Not only is she pretty and smart, but she also likes girls. When she asks Joanie out on a date, Joanie begins to worry that even though this is what she has been waiting for, could she handle the consequences if someone found out???
I Kiss Girls is a sweet story that is a bit predictable, but nevertheless satisfying and reassuring for teenagers who are in similar circumstances. While I was reading it, I felt as though it were similar to an episode of my favorite family TV series in which things got resolved neatly, which is not a bad thing since I always want to watch reruns of it.
I Kiss Girls does have a couple of very interesting twists to the story which I really enjoyed. For a great young adult story that has a LGBT theme, be sure check out I Kiss Girls to find out how Joanie figures out how to live her life and be true to herself....more
Can a stolen Therizinosaur egg laid millions of years ago actually hatch? How does a girl go about solving the mystery of what happened to it when her mother insists on shipping her off to a ranch in the middle of nowhere for two weeks?
Chiana may have a knack for getting into scrapes but she’s also good at navigating her way out of them again. At twelve years old she’s just beginning to understand why her mother disapproves of her tendency to get caught up in adult investigations but this doesn’t mean that Chiana will stop acting like a private investigator anytime soon. Her witty and sometimes sarcastic opinion of how the adults around her handle delicate situations injects some much needed humour into the plot. While The Case of the Missing Dinosaur Egg appears to be part of a series I was not familiar with the earlier stories when I picked this book up. I had no trouble understanding what was happening or how everyone knew each other.
My major concern about Chiana is how her relationship with her step-sister, Sarah, is portrayed by Ms. Whyte. Chiana is an intelligent, brave, and resourceful girl who hates the thought of dressing up while Sarah is described as a natural beauty who is obsessed with wearing flattering outfits and making sure every hair is in place even after a long afternoon of training with her horse. The dichotomy between Chiana and Sarah seems out of place. Why can’t a girl love fashion and running around in the woods solving mysteries?
Professor Goodenough helped to make up for the odd relationship between Sarah and Chiana. I sympathized with his efforts to keep nosy kids off of his property. Farms can be full of dangerous objects and creatures and it completely made sense that the professor would want to limit his legal liability. His sense of humour was also well developed and unflappable. It would have been amusing to observe certain scenes through his perspective as Chiana’s understanding of what is happening is only tangentially related to Professor Goodenough’s point of view.
This tale doesn’t contain any material that is inappropriate for readers age 10 or older. Some of the vocabulary used might be too difficult for younger preteens, though, which is why I’m recommending it for the 12+ age group, but younger children with more advanced reading skills would enjoy it, too.
The Case of the Missing Dinosaur Egg is a classic young adult novel in the best sense of the term. Despite a handful references to modern day books and movies I could see it being popular with late elementary and middle school students for many years to come. It is a good choice for reluctant and avid readers alike and I look forward to recommending it to young friends and relatives in the future....more
Leira is tired of being told what to expect out of life. She just wants some time to herself, but is she willing to give up everything to get it? What will be the consequences of her actions? The events in Renounced pick up where Discovered, the first book in the Shalean series, ended. Anyone wanting to enjoy this tale should certainly read Discovered first.
When I met Rach in the first book, I thought she was stubborn. However, Leira brings the concept of stubborn to a completely different level. She is smart and loyal to her family, but I found her to be very narrow minded at times. She is so focused on what she wants, or doesn’t want, that she often misses the more subtle things happening around her. This is most clearly illustrated in her interactions with Donny. It is very clear that Donny has feelings for her, and I’m pretty sure that Leira has feelings for him as well. Unfortunately, Leira is determined to push him away. While I understand Leira’s need to “find” herself. Her actions come off as childish, especially when she deliberately misunderstands Donny and his actions.
Donny is certainly a very forward young man. He knows that he wants and isn’t afraid to go after it. His brash attitude is off putting sometimes, but his motives come from a good place in his heart. Leira is the only girl for him and while their relationship has gotten off to a rocky start, I’m holding out hope that they’ll find their way back to each other eventually.
The group of rogue Shaleans from the first book are back in this installment and are clearly not done wreaking havoc in the lives of Leira and her family. As if that weren’t enough, Struan, a Shalean boy with evil intent, is back and has turned his attention on Leira. It is unclear what Struan and the rogues want from Leira, especially after she renounces her power. There also seems to be another unknown and malevolent force at work that has yet to be revealed in its entirety. As with the first book, I felt that the action came to an abrupt end in this book. Just as things were getting really intense, everything stopped. I also felt that the actions of some new characters were explained away too quickly, or were not made clear enough. Despite these issues, I will say that the open ended conclusion of Renounced has me extremely curious about what will happen in the next book.
Renounced is a very good addition to the Shalean Moon series. Leira is an interesting character, and I truly enjoyed watching her grow and mature as the story progressed. I’m definitely looking forward to reading about Leira and her friends in the next installment of the series....more
Every time I hear the name of this book, it makes me want to dance around the room and sing for a minute, I loved it! I mean – with crazy ravens, weird cats, a vengeful, spitting llama, genius older cousins, a boy named Puppy, mysterious moms and a protective ancestral ghost – what’s not to love?
This family is completely dysfunctional but in the best possible way. The best part about this family, though, is that even though everyone is different, they all love and support each other no matter what, even when they don’t agree. While blood-related family is very important to all of them, they also pull others into their “pack” and consider them family. If anyone messes with someone in their pack, they will end up answering to all of them. The presence of unconditional love, acceptance and loyalty is never questioned by family or friends throughout the book and the kids all stick together like glue. Every teenager should get to experience this environment.
Initially, I wasn’t too sure about reading a book with a main character named Puppy. Then, I started reading it and found out that not only was it a nickname from his mom but it had also carried over to school, teachers and friends and it became even weirder. But somehow it worked. It gave the character a chance to rise above what you expect with a moniker like “Puppy”. Puppy is a lovable, easy-going typical teenager most of the time, but the protective man in him rises to the surface when needed. Puppy stumbles into some adventure (and trouble), with rest of the pack right there to help him, but ultimately there is a moment when it comes down to Puppy alone. In that moment, I think we see Puppy transition from the more innocent childhood days to his real journey to the person he will eventually become.
The pack spends the summer at what they all call “camp”, which is some rural family property with a lake, a creek and woods. With the ever-present ghost of Puppy’s ancestor, shown in very interesting and fun ways, and the question of exactly what it is the moms can do, there is an element of intrigue and mysticism that carries through the entire book. The plot moves along very smoothly and is, at times, fast-paced with some moments that kept me on the edge of my seat.
With two sets of twins, plus moms that are twins, and a multitude of friends and other people that make appearances in the book, it would be easy to start confusing characters but the author does an excellent job of making them all very individual. Even the animals become unique and memorable. This book is very well written, with enough twists and turns to keep my attention from beginning to end, including one incredibly late night.
One of the things that I loved is the song list at the beginning of the book. Throughout the book various characters (usually the moms) are singing different songs – which will end up being one of the songs from the list. I love music and it’s usually a big part of the lives of most of the teenagers that I know, so I love that this is included as a focal point and not just as a background element. In contrast, one thing I was slightly confused by was the elephant. Was it a way to give honor or invoke/evoke? I was just never really sure. I don’t want to say much more than that because I don’t want to give anything away.
There are a lot of lessons to be learned with this book, but not in an in-your-face kind of way. The lessons are subtle, which is perfect for young adults. It is fun, reads at the perfect pace, with mystery, intrigue and hilarious antics of some of the more zany members of the pack. I’ve read that this might be a series (not confirmed by any reliable sources) and I’m really hoping that they are right. I would love to spend some more time with this group. They were just a lot of fun and I was always anxious to see what sort of mess they were going to get themselves into next!...more
Brian is called into his Guidance Counselor’s office to explain why he hasn’t turned in his community service proposal. He’s resisting doing the project because it makes high school feel even more like prison than usual. What was the point? Now, since he hadn’t thought up a plan for himself, he’s given a project instead. Every other day he has to assist the teacher in the Life Skills class – for children with special needs. Quickly calculating, Brian works out it’s only for fifteen days – not the end of the world after all. After the first few classes though, he discovers he likes the kids. More and more frequently he finds himself helping them, protecting them from bullying and becoming friends with the other students.
This is an enjoyable Young Adult book, I found it to be easily relatable to and with a good message. There is no overt profanity (though there are a few initial “community service sucks” style comments) and I feel the majority of parents won’t have any concerns with the language. Personally, I also enjoyed how Brian is testing out different things emotionally with his personal relationships. He’s openly dating both a girl – Trista – and a boy – Javier. All three of them know the score and there aren’t any secrets. While I felt this added to the realism of teenagers exploring their desires – I could also understand some parents might not be comfortable with this, particularly for their teenage children. There is nothing more heated than a few kisses shared between some of the characters, and while the challenges of dating two different people is explored, it’s a secondary plot.
I also particularly like how, while a good protagonist, Brian isn’t perfect. He’s realistic. He drags his feet over the assignment, hoping it will go away. He’s not jumping with eagerness to help in the Life Skills program – though he does admit he has nothing against the children themselves – he just doesn’t want to lose his spare class and have more work on his shoulders. When he gets to the class he’s extremely polite and tries to be as helpful as he can be. He’s a very understandable teenage boy and at heart a very good character. I enjoyed how as he came to know the students and the challenges and bullying they face Brian became far more eager and leapt in to do what he could to help and support these kids. I feel other young boys and girls will be able to relate well with him, and maybe have their eyes opened to situations outside their own personal experiences. Showing respect to others and how unthinking/unconscious some bullying can be also is a strong lesson here....more
I found this book to be truly inspirational, not in the religious sense, but in the way it shows teenagers how to cope with the unusual in their lives and proves that they are not alone, even when it seems everything is against them.
Many dolphins beach in the mud on the nearby beach catching the attention of Cece, the autistic sister of teenager Chris. Cece escapes to look at the dolphins and Chris rushes after her, and his life changes from that time forward.
Chris, whose parents accept he is gay, is attracted to a boy he meets when he catches his sister and stops to look at the dolphins. His wishes are thwarted by his mother who suddenly disappears, leaving Chris and his father to cope with Cece who is naturally upset by the huge change in her routine.
I liked this story being told from the first person point of view of Chris. It enabled me to get inside his head and know what he was thinking. To some he may have seemed jealous of the attention his sister received, but although Chris admitted there was an imbalance, he didn’t blame Cece. Autism was not something a nine year old could help.
Chris and his family had moved to the coastal area recently and, wisely, the young man kept his sexual preferences discreetly to himself. In time he hoped to meet someone, but was content to wait for the right person.
The author approached both children’s differences in a truthful, but helpful manner. I don’t know much about autism, but this book helped me understand it more widely than before. The teenage angst of being different was also handled with tact and might, I believe, prove of assistance to young people in a similar situation.
I believe this book is well worth rating of 5. Not one but two difficult circumstances were dealt with in a natural way. Prejudices, whispered remarks and loss of temper were not kept out of sight, everything was out in the open which kept me involved with the story right to the end. A truly remarkable book.
Rach’s past is filled with secrets and not all of them are pleasant.
Poor Rach. Not only does she have to deal with the drama of making a major move to Scotland, she also discovers that her father has hidden a great deal of information concerning her heritage from her. Once Rach meets Brios, the revelations concerning magic and shape shifters come very quickly. Rach has an incredible amount of information forced on her all at once. At first, Rach is very reluctant to accept the truth about the shape shifters. However, I thought her resistance felt forced. So much in fact that it was really quite comical when Rach tries to convince herself that she is “dreaming.” Though I found Rach’s reactions entertaining, at a certain point, her actions failed to feel realistic, especially when the truth was literally staring her in the face.
Rach is very easy to like. She’s a smart girl with a bit of an attitude who isn’t about to let anyone push her around. Once Rach fully accepts her gifts, I have no doubt that she is going to be a very powerful leader within the Shalean society.
I also really enjoyed Rach’s budding relationship with Brios. It was clear from the moment they met that they had a strong connection. However, Rach is only fifteen and she knows she is much too young to be making a serious commitment. I admire Brios’ restraint and resolve to take things slowly. He never tries to force anything on her and lets her make her own choices. I truly believe they will be a very powerful team, and I look forward to watching the development of their relationship.
I feel that the conflicts in this tale were resolved much too quickly. There are a lot of interesting things going on in this story that I wish had been explored in greater depth. The ending felt rushed to me, especially the part where Rach was told about her history and the fate of her mother. I realize that Rach and Brios were in a difficult situation at the time, but I truly feel that Rach deserves much more than she was given. I hope she has the time to explore her past and new abilities in future installments of this series.
Over all, I enjoyed reading Discovered. The world Ms. Lilley has created is interesting and I found the concept of the Shaleans thought provoking. I certainly look forward to following the adventures of Rach and her friends in the next book.