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Saturday, September 29, 2012

September Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ The Titanic Tale by Lynn Hones



The Titanic Tale by Lynn Hones
Publisher: Devine Destinies
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (109 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid


The Titanic sank one hundred years ago, but the curse it carried lives on.

Beautiful Cornelia Bainesworth cared only about herself and her own life the night the Titanic went down. A curse brought on by a woman who witnessed her selfish behavior that evening destroys her, but it doesn’t stop there.

One hundred years later, the curse rears its ugly head in the life of small-town teenager Callie. As if the tragedy of her boyfriend’s death wasn’t enough, strange occurrences bring her to the brink of insanity. Callie’s search for answers is unsuccessful until a nerdy schoolmate takes up her cause and together they experience frightening apparitions, unexplained phenomena and chilling truths. These truths turn Callie’s life upside down and reveal a shocking ending to a story that began on the deck of a ship doomed the moment it saw light.


READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Alexander Drake’s Extraordinary Pursuit by Elizabeth Parkinson Bellows



Alexander Drake’s Extraordinary Pursuit by Elizabeth Parkinson Bellows
Publisher: Wild Child Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (112 pages)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Alexander Drake is a curious young man. He lives in a drab, oversized mansion with his secretive father and spends his days playing alone. Where is his mother? And why is his father so tight-lipped about the past?

But secrets have a way of getting out. And a stay at his grandmother's cottage provides strange clues to his father's past. A past Alexander is determined to find out about.

With a mysterious key and several maps in his pack, he sets off on an innocent search for answers about his family.

The discovery of a secret passageway opens the door to dangers, and wonders, unimaginable. And each answer leads to more questions and the journey of his life.

Join Alexander for a thrilling adventure in Azra's Pith, a place of beauty and magic... but beware--something evil lurks in the shadows.


A lonely boy, out of place in school, lives with a cold, silent father. Alexander Drake is unhappy. He longs to know more about his mother, but his father won't talk about her. An unexpected visit to his grandmother supplies some of the answers to his questions when he finds articles and maps that belonged to his father, presumably from when he was younger.

The maps lead him to a strange word of magic, unusual creatures and danger. He must go on a journey to his grandfather's castle but the route is dangerous, with flying merks trying to catch him and take him to the dreadful Imperius who has been confined to absolute darkness.

This book was a pleasant read. The excitement and adventure were muted, but the story itself was smoothly put together. Alexander's character is well portrayed with the usual fears and self importance of boys of his age. The land of Azra's Pith is well developed and provides Alexander with some interesting obstacles to overcome.

Alexander's initial interaction is with talking animals and these show sagacity, humor and loyalty, just as a human would. I did enjoy reading the book, just wished there had been a few more highs and lows. Apparently this is the first of the series so there will be more mysteries to look forward to. A book gripping enough for 10 years and upwards, but without any scenes an adult would object to.





Friday, September 21, 2012

The Titanic Tale by Lynn Hones



The Titanic Tale by Lynn Hones
Publisher: Devine Destinies
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (109 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid


The Titanic sank one hundred years ago, but the curse it carried lives on.

Beautiful Cornelia Bainesworth cared only about herself and her own life the night the Titanic went down. A curse brought on by a woman who witnessed her selfish behavior that evening destroys her, but it doesn’t stop there.

One hundred years later, the curse rears its ugly head in the life of small-town teenager Callie. As if the tragedy of her boyfriend’s death wasn’t enough, strange occurrences bring her to the brink of insanity. Callie’s search for answers is unsuccessful until a nerdy schoolmate takes up her cause and together they experience frightening apparitions, unexplained phenomena and chilling truths. These truths turn Callie’s life upside down and reveal a shocking ending to a story that began on the deck of a ship doomed the moment it saw light.


Old Mrs Bainesworth and teenager Sharon disappear from Bainesworth Manor and are never seen again. Time moves forward 25 years and Callie, a modern teenager, babysits at Bainesworth Manor. The eerieness of the place means the fee is high. Her boyfriend Blake joins her but when damage is done by an unseen person, he gets the blame.

The story starts in 1982 with Sharon and the old lady, then flits forward and back between the present time (approx 2007) and the voyage of the Titanic in 1912. Mrs Bainesworth and her long suffering maid Maggie, have infant twins thrust upon them as they board the lifeboat. A woman had been holding the twins, hoping to find a place on the lifeboat. Denied the chance to save herself, she puts a curse on them which warps the whole of Mrs Bainesworth's life and those who came into contact with her.

This story is scary enough to send a chill down the spine, but not enough to give nightmares. It follows the lives of the old lady's adopted children and Callie's life as the daughter of an older single mother. What links all these people together? Why does Bainesworth Manor still put fear into people?

The answer to these questions lies within the pages of A Titanic Tale. Independent Callie, sexy boyfriend Blake, unlikely friend Morey they all play an important part. Those from the past include the arrogant, selfish Mrs Bainesworth, Maggie the all suffering maid, and nearer to the present the teenager Sharon who's part in the story does not become clear until the end.

I like paranormal with a touch of romance and a hint of mystery, so I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The writing was excellent and carried the story forward smoothly until it reached a satisfactory, if unexpected, conclusion.





Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ice Princess by Jennifer Anderson



Ice Princess by Jennifer Anderson
Honey Creek Royalty Series, Book One
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (69 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Mya Newman never minded the routine or quiet that came with living in a small country town like Honey Creek, Ohio. For her senior year, she craved something exciting to happen instead of it melting into a cookie cutter routine like the previous years.

When a new girl, Audrey Moore, moves to Honey Creek, Mya finds herself caught in a triangle. She discovers hidden feelings for her best friend, Michael Graves, but he seems to have eyes for the new girl.

After Mya’s father becomes ill and eventually passes, she turns to her best friend, Michael. Never leaving her side, she can’t help but wonder if he’d rather be elsewhere. With fear of rejection and loss of friendship, Mya decides she can’t confess her recently discovered feelings.

When Michael and Mya share a dance at the Winter Formal, does she confess her true feelings for him? Or does she shy away, forever longing to be the princess who finds her prince?


When Mya wishes for excitement, she gets much more than she bargained for.

I was able to immerse myself in Ice Princess immediately. Since I grew up in a small town in Ohio, it was easy to picture Mya’s world. Even without this experience, Ms. Anderson provides enough detail to give any reader a clear picture without bogging the story down.

I also warmed to Mya right away. She’s smart, caring and has a good group of friends. I also really liked the fact that she is happy with her life in the small town of Honey Creek, but that she was open to a little more excitement. I think this type of attitude is a plausible portrayal of how some teenagers growing up in small towns feel.

Mya and Michael’s friendship feels natural and it clearly has been developed over the course of many years. As Mya begins to have more complex feelings for Michael, I found it easy to picture them transitioning from being friends into being a couple. While I knew how Mya felt about Michael, I wasn’t quite sure how Michael felt about her until the very end of the story. I kept wondering if Mya was ever going to confess her feelings and I eagerly anticipated Michael’s reaction.

I must say I thought everyone in the story was nice... a little too nice really. Everyone was very understanding all the time and no one ever got in a fight with anyone else. It all seemed just a little too perfect. Even Mya’s jealously over Audrey’s closeness with Michael is extremely controlled. Mya goes through some serious emotional upheavals during the story with the death of her father and her newly awakened feelings for Michael. With everything Mya has been through, I think the story would have been even more believable if she’d have lost her cool just once.

I really liked the way the story ended. While the final scenario is a tad predictable, at the same time, it is also very realistic. It is exactly the sort of situation I’d expect a young teenage couple to find themselves in, especially in a small town like Honey Creek. It was the perfect way for Mya and Michael’s story to end.

I really enjoyed reading Ice Princess. It is a wonderfully emotional short story with just the right balance of sweetness and sadness. I recommend it to anyone who relishes a charming story of love and friendship.





Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Unicorn Keep by Angelia Almos



Unicorn Keep by Angelia Almos
Publisher: Thoroughweb Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (164 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Jiline of Ainsley is dismayed when her best friend is selected by the mages to become a unicorn keeper at the Keep, an isolated mountain fortress. Especially since Madelen is in love and engaged to the richest boy in the village. Jiline on the other hand has no prospects of marriage or a trade in their small village. So, she comes up with a plan to take Madelen’s place at the Keep and hopefully flunk out of unicorn keeper training before the mages can discover the deception. Unfortunately, the unicorns have their own plans for her.

Mage Herrick, son of the Keep Mage, returns home to the Keep as the trainee keepers arrive. A chance encounter with Jiline, who he believes is Madelen, on the trail sparks a magical connection between the two. Knowing he can’t feel a magical draw to someone who has no magic, he tries to prove Madelen (Jiline) has magic within her. His attention brings unforeseen complications for both of them.


Jiline's friend Madelen is chosen by the mages to serve at Unicorn Keep. The girls are dismayed, as Madelen is to marry the mayor's son within the year. They hatch a plot and Jiline takes her place at the Keep. She is chosen as a unicorn keeper and becomes friendly with one of the younger mages, Herrick. Her trouble begins when the unicorns decide she is the chosen one who will help them escape from the mages valley.

The interaction between Herrick and Jiline is fraught with tension. Herrick feels the draw mages get when they find their soul mate, but tries to dismiss it as he knows keepers are out of bounds to the mages.

I love unicorns so the title of this book caught my attention right away. Jiline and Herrick are very strong characters, each one determined to do what they feel is right. Herrick secretly defies the Keep authority while Jiline sneaks out at night to meet the unicorns. The unicorns' story becomes the main plot and the author skillfully brings the animals and Jiline together, and includes Herrick in such a way his story blends seamlessly with Jiline's.

Young adults who like fantasy with a light touch of romance will enjoy this book. It's a little out of the ordinary and introduces magic wielded by humans with all the passions and faults of normal people. The unicorns are unique to this story and the author also reveals their personalities so that I got to know them too. I enjoyed reading this book and hope readers try it, it's well worth reading.



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Suck It Up and Die by Brian Meehl



Suck It Up and Die by Brian Meehl
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (416 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Nearly two years after Suck It Up, all Morning McCobb wants is to complete his training at the NY Fire Academy and to stay head over heels in love with Portia for as long as the chronology-crossed lovers can, given that she's now eighteen and he's stalled at sixteen.

It's nearly the first anniversary of American Out Day, the historic day on which the Leaguer vampires of America began going mainstream without going bloodstream on their fellow mortal citizens.

The tension between Morning's wish for a simple, out of the spotlight life, and Portia's cinematic obsession with historic events escalates to the breaking point when a super-sinister vampire rises from the grave with a powerful thirst, for revenge.


Vampires fighting for the right to become full American citizens? Utter craziness! And yet, that’s just what’s happening in New York on this first anniversary of American Out Day. Although, things never quite go as smoothly as planned, do they? Enter our hero, Morning McCobb and his band of crazy friends, ready to step up and save the day… er, night?

All Morning McCobb wants to do is graduate from the academy and become one of New York’s firefighters. But unfortunately, things are never quite that simple, are they? Especially when you’re a teenage vampire forced to be the figurehead for the Vampire League. However, Morning does a great job of not letting the fame and notoriety go to his head. His easy sense of humor and dedication to his EB – eternal beloved – Portia come together to steer his focus onto other things, the kinds of things your average teen would be focused on. Morning is probably one of the most likable vampires I’ve ever come across.

Portia’s sights are set on her art – filmmaking. Even if she manages to push her boyfriend, Morning, to the side, the show must go on or else she might fail to graduate. Because of this, she does have a tendency to put Morning second and her film du jour first. Despite that, she’s an enjoyable character and very fit to be by Morning’s side all the way. When it counts, she is there for him and has complete faith in his abilities. She brings stability to his sometimes flighty moments.

Suck It Up and Die is an entertaining and laugh out loud funny novel of vampires fighting for their rights to be part of the crowd. The author keeps you reading with plot twists I didn’t expect and a very unique take on the vampire myth, coming up with a kicker that caught me by surprise. With its cast of zany side characters and action packed plot, there’s a little of something for everyone inside its cover. So pick up your can of blood substitute and come celebrate American Out Day with Morning and his friends!





Monday, September 17, 2012

The Secret of Willow Lane by Virginia Rose Richter



The Secret of Willow Lane by Virginia Rose Richter
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: mystery/suspense, recent historical
Length: Short Story (47 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Two eleven-year-old amateur detectives set out to solve the mystery of a deceased neighbor's missing will and to identify a stranger snooping around the house where the will is thought to be hidden. What begins as an excuse to use their new detective kit turns into a frightening experience that has the girls running for their lives.


This was a fun read from beginning to end.

There’s nothing more mysterious than a book that begins with a light shining in an attic of a house that’s supposed to be empty. The opening scene drew me in and I felt myself wanting to read it in one sitting. The characters were all well developed and I liked the family setting and how the main character and her father interacted. There’s mystery, suspense, even some danger, and you find yourself looking for clues too, which I might add were cleverly placed by Ms. Richter. I thought the plot was heading one way and that I’d solved the mystery, but it proved that I was wrong. It’s fast paced and the ideal length for the 9-12 year old reader.

I liked the setting of this story too. I’m glad to hear that this is the beginning of a series featuring these two amateur sleuths because I’d like to read more about their adventures. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if adults and children choose to read this one together.





Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Keeper by Natalie Star



The Keeper by Natalie Star
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (230 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

The morning of her sixteenth birthday, Billie feels blessed despite the reoccurring nightmare that wakes her. Loving parents, a caring boyfriend, and great friends surround her until an heirloom necklace throws her into a world she never imagined.

“Gifted” with supernatural powers and an unexpected destiny as the Keeper, Billie and a mysterious boy from her past must work together to find answers. But, as they begin to discover feelings for one another, he disappears leaving her to fight evil alone. Her life spirals out of control. She breaks up with her boyfriend, Tony, and alienates her best friends Arianna and Jocelyn to protect them from the truth.

As dark forces pursue her, Billie longs to run away from it all, yet a need to do what’s right compels her to face the future as the keeper of more than her own fortune.


Sometimes an ordinary life just isn’t possible.

Billie is a typical, if a bit snobbish, teenage girl. She’s pretty, smart, and relatively popular. At first, her attitude put me off. She's overly critical of those around her and the words that come out of her mouth are often harsh. However, Billie changes quite a bit over the course of the years contained in this story. I truly enjoyed watching her develop into a young woman who learns to genuinely love and appreciate those around her.

When Billie becomes the Keeper and starts receiving her supernatural “gifts,” her world is thrown into chaos. On top of surviving high school, Billie now finds herself fighting nightmarish creatures sent by an unknown dark force. Fortunately, Tyler, her Watcher, is there to guide her. I thought Billie handled her new powers and the revelations concerning her destiny surprisingly well. She still has moments where she breaks down and wishes for a simpler life, but I think that's a completely normal reaction for a young woman. While Billie sometimes just wants to be a teenager, she also knows that her position is much too important for her to simply walk away. Her strength is very admirable.

Billie’s relationship with Tyler is complicated to say the least. Both Billie and Tyler know that a romantic relationship between the two of them is not smart, but they literally can’t help themselves. They are powerfully drawn to each other. However, the path to their happy ending is definitely a rough one and the situation they find themselves in is not one I remember coming across in other books I’ve read. I thought Ms. Star’s solution to their problem was interesting. While I didn’t completely understand the reasoning behind the process that Billie and Tyler had to go through to be together, I did find the resolution to be satisfying.

I do wish the supernatural aspect of Billie’s world had been explained a bit more. Ms. Star made the concepts of Billie’s gifts, the creatures, and the forces of good and evil clear enough that I could follow the plot without any problems. However, I still wanted more detail. What exactly are the creatures that Billie fights? What started the battle between the opposing sides? How are people chosen for their specific roles? Who makes the rules concerning what is and isn’t allowed in the supernatural world? How has the supernatural aspect of Billie’s world remained hidden for so long? All these questions were rolling around in my mind when I finished reading The Keeper. Perhaps Ms. Star could delve into them in another book?

I also think that Billie’s confrontation with the dark force that had been plaguing her was over a bit too quickly. Most of the story seemed to be building up to an epic battle and while it was intense, somehow it wasn’t quite as big as I anticipated. I also thought the dark force would have had a larger role in the story. Instead, he showed his face briefly and soon the big showdown happened. After the fight, Billie’s role as the Keeper is clearly not over, so I was left wondering who she would be facing in the future.

I found The Keeper to be a truly enjoyable story. I thought the world Ms. Star created was intriguing and Billie had certainly won me over by the end of the story. I was moved to tears near the end of the book when Billie had to make some hard choices in order to protect her family and friends. I recommend The Keeper to anyone looking for a compelling and emotional tale of friendship, love and loss.



Monday, September 3, 2012

There Are Giants in This Valley by Jack Hillman



There Are Giants in This Valley by Jack Hillman
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (258 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Peppermint

A young boy moves to the Lehigh Valley, meets beings from another dimension and joins a battle to save two worlds!

Thirteen-year-old Eric Johnson never wanted to move out of Philadelphia.

But the untimely death of his parents left him little choice in the matter and dropped him in the farm country outside the Lehigh Valley, an hour away from his old home, living with an aunt and uncle he barely knew. Used to the big city with its constant action and excitement, Eric found the slow pace of the rolling farms frustrating. He kept looking for ways to move back to the city, back to his friends and all his familiar activities.

But when Eric helped a tall, blond-haired stranger escape from a pack of wild dogs, he took the first step in an adventure that took him out of the mundane world of Eastern Pennsylvania and dropped him in the middle of Norse mythology; right at the heart of a centuries old war between the Norse Gods and their ancient enemy, the Frost Giants.


There is nothing more tempting to a young boy than an adventure full of giants, gods, dwarfs, and mystery. When Eric runs into Thor, a god of Norse legend, he knew an adventure would follow.

Add any type of mythology to a story and you have captured my attention. Norse mythology is not one that I would consider myself familiar with, but after reading this story I would love to learn even more. The author did a great job of collaborating mythology with reality, which created a dynamic story. The added twist and turns including other mythical creatures like giants and dwarfs and I couldn’t put the book down.

Eric is a character I can see in any boy. His life hasn’t been perfect, but he still has the innocence and compulsive personality. It's what leads him to want to learn more about Thor and the others, as well as aid them in any way possible. I couldn’t help but think of my son, brother, cousins when reading this story, because I saw similar traits in them as well. These traits also made for a interesting read, because as with any young boy, Eric didn’t always do what was best for himself, but instead did what he felt needed to be done.

This story encompassed some great characters above and beyond just the main character. I got to meet some regular humans as well as other creatures who had personalities that came to life on the pages. They added depth at times, and humor at others. This is truly a story the whole family can enjoy.





Saturday, September 1, 2012

August YA Book of the Month Poll Winner: Drasmyr by Matthew D Ryan



Drasmyr by Matthew D. Ryan
Publisher: Self
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Length: Full (200 pgs)
Age recommendation: 14+
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Poppy



We vampires do not make easy prey. Our weaknesses are few, our strengths many. Fear is something we do not know, and death but a distant memory. So tread softly, pray to your god, and gird yourself with silver when the moons arise and night’s dark prince awakens. We fear not the wizard, nor the warrior, neither rogue, nor priest; our strength is timeless, drawn from darkness and we know no master save the hot lust of our unending hunger. We long for blood, your blood and no blade, nor spell, nor clever artifice, can keep us long from our prize. Feel our teeth at your throat, your life ebb from you, and know as darkness comes to claim you that the price of your folly is your everlasting soul.

Read the Full Review Here!