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Friday, November 30, 2012

October and November Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Whispers in Autumn by Trisha Leigh



Whispers in Autumn by Trisha Leigh
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (388 pgs)
Age Recommendation 14+
Rated: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon



In 2015, a race of alien Others conquered Earth. They enslaved humanity not by force, but through an aggressive mind control that turned people into contented, unquestioning robots.

Except sixteen-year-old Althea isn’t content at all, and she doesn’t need the mysterious note inside her locket to tell her she’s Something Else. It also warns her to trust no one, so she hides the pieces that make her different, even though it means being alone.

Then she meets Lucas, everything changes.

Althea and Lucas are immune to the alien mind control, and together they search for the reason why. What they uncover is a stunning truth the Others never anticipated, one with the potential to free the brainwashed human race.

It’s not who they are that makes them special, but what.

And what they are is a threat. One the Others are determined to eliminate for good.


READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE

Timekeeper by Alexandra Monir



Timekeeper by Alexandra Monir
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (272 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

When Philip Walker appears as a new student in Michele Windsor's high school class, she is floored. He is the love she thought she lost forever when they said goodbye during her time travels last century. Overjoyed that they can resume the relationship they had a lifetime ago, Michele eagerly approaches him and discovers the unthinkable: he doesn't remember her. In fact, he doesn't seem to remember anything about the Philip Walker of 1910.

Michele then finds her father's journals, which tell stories of his time-traveling past. As she digs deeper, she learns about his entanglement with a mysterious and powerful organization called the Time Society and his dealings with a vengeful Windsor ancestor. Michele soon finds herself at the center of a rift over 120 years in the making, one whose resolution will have life-or-death consequences.


Ever hear of a cross-century war? This book has one going on. The charming time-travel story continues in this second part. The first was incredibly romantic and left off with a cliffhanger; however, this second book in the series could be read alone.

Things start off with a mystery. Michele is a sixteen-year-old girl from the present who fell in love with a boy from the past; a century past. She met him before her grandparents were born. Then she loses him, being forced back into her present.

One day, to her shock, the new kid shows up at her school. It’s him! He found a way to cross time and be with her. The problem is, he doesn’t seem to know her, and he is hanging out with another girl. Her heart crashes. What’s going on here? Her character is well written as she pursues her answers. What a strong, brave girl.

Mixed in with thismystery is the romantic tale of how Michele’s parents meet and fall in love. It’s a lovely story on its own, but with a tragic ending. Also, Michele is told that children of cross-timed parents are strictly forbidden to exist—her. A woman from the past wants to kill her and does horrible things to get at her. Time is running out for Michele. Will Philip remember her and help her?

There are tender moments, not only for Michele and Philip, but for Michele’s parents. She gets to watch them, see their young love. Another great moment is when Michele goesback in time and meets the father she never knew. She gets answers. Her dad’s background is quite interesting.

This book is filled with suspense. Though it seems to focus more on Michele’s parents than on her and Philip, it’s still a great read from a talented author.





Night of the Gryphon Book Three: The Prince of Light by Tasarla Romaney



Night of the Gryphon Book Three: The Prince of Light by Tasarla Romaney
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (104 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Five dragons are hatched. Designed to be guardians of the Elders, gone for centuries from the world of humans and the Land of Shadows, there is nothing that can destroy them – or possibly – control them. Crenshaw and his sister Syvia are distant descendants of the Elders but will it be enough to stop the beast from devouring all living things?

The god, Darivic, is on the verge of losing control of the Land of the Dead and with it the paths to the afterworld will be permanently destroyed ending the life/death cycle.

The looming destruction of all living things becomes more real as the forsaken break through their barrier.

While, the final battle must take place to reset the scales of balance between light and dark, first Sancha, Taraly, Crenshaw, Jalie, and Taigo need to return things to the way the Fates had meant them to be.


In order to save the world, some members of the quest for the Scepter of Hope must sacrifice everything, but do they have the strength to do what is required?

I have eagerly been anticipating the third installment in the Night of the Gryphon series for months. The Prince of Light certainly lived up to my expectations. The action in this story picks up right where the second book, The Warrior Queen ends, so readers wanting to enjoy this book absolutely must read the previous two books in the series first.

The band searching for the Scepter of Hope has been fractured. Taraly and Sancha have broken away from the group for their own reasons. However, they are still working in their own ways to ensure that the side of the light prevails in the final battle. Even though I understood why Sancha and Taraly had to go off on their own for a while, I did miss the interaction between original five members of the quest.

In the second book, The Warrior Queen, a host of minor characters were introduced, all of whom made several attempts to ensure that the positions of hollow king and warrior queen went to the people of their choosing. In this book, even more minor characters appear attempting to do the same thing. As with the second book, I again found all the meddling of these characters to be slightly overwhelming and a bit much at times. I really had to focus in order to remember who everyone was, which side they were on, and what their motives were. This is not an easy task given that many of these characters are adept at concealing their true intentions. Despite this issue, I will say that these minor characters do further the development of the principal characters. I loved watching Taraly, Taigo, Crenshaw, Sancha, and Jalie really come into their own and fulfill their roles at the final battle.

Taraly’s romantic dilemma is interesting. She began to develop feelings for Taigo in the first book, but never truly acted on them. Now, a new suitor is vying for Taraly’s affections. At first I wasn’t sure who Taraly would pick, however, in the end she finally decides to let her heart guide her. I have no doubt that she made the right choice.

Surprisingly, I found the sorceress Ovezara’s romance with Jur to be the most touching. Though she was raised to do the evil bidding of her father, I truly enjoyed watching Ovezara break free of the years of abuse she suffered and open herself to love. I can’t say much without spoiling the ending, but I will say there is a moment between Ovezara and Jur that brought tears to my eyes.

I definitely enjoyed reading The Prince of Light. It completely lives up to what I have come to expect from Ms. Romaney and her Night of the Gryphon series and was certainly worth the wait. I recommend not only The Prince of Light, but also the entire series to fans of romantic fantasy.





Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ameca J and the Revenge of Rex-Ultar by Paul Xavier Jones



Ameca J and the Revenge of Rex-Ultar by Paul Xavier Jones
Publisher: Storyteller Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (271 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 8+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Peppermint

In Book I of the Ameca J Chronicles, Ameca aka The Flame, Fraya aka The Flower, and Paul aka The One are the heirs of Menindus, each with fabulous, magical powers. Previously thought to be normal people from Earth, the father and daughters had been magically transported to the land of Mythrania where they successfully battled the Scelestus, the evil entity bent on domination of the entire universe—or was it successful?

In Book II, Paul is dead, murdered while rescuing Fraya from the clutches of the malignant Scelestus. Torn with grief, both Ameca and Fraya jump at the chance to bring their father back to life. Seeking the guidance of Menindus, the ancient Magi tells the girls they must leave Mythrania and return to their own world, taking three companions with them on a quest to recover a powerful magical artefact that has the ability to return the dead to life or make the living immortal.

But all is not as they left it on their world. Their mother has been abducted—and so have they—according to the newspapers. The girls must contend with the police, who are trying to “rescue” them; Lord Bellatrix, the High Priest of the Scelestus, who is implementing a plan to enslave humanity; and the immortal Rex-Ultar, who has been waiting for them ever since Menindus killed his father, centuries ago. While they are occupied on their quest, the Scelestus’ agents continue their work to dominate the Kingdoms of Mythrania by infecting the population with a disease that turns them into almost indestructible, flesh-eating monsters.

Can Ameca, Fraya and their companions recover the artefact and stop Bellatrix, rescue their mother and return to Mythrania to restore their father to life before the Kingdoms are overrun and the Scelestus returns triumphant?

Look out evil...here come the girls...again.

Ameca has been forced to age beyond her fourteen years and become the leader of not only her family but the people who follow her. As the leader of the search party to find the ancient artifact to bring her father back to life, she will have to prove that she is the leader those around her believe her to be.

This second installment of the series picks up right where the last story ended. Anyone who tries to read this as a standalone novel may have some difficulty. Those who have read the previous story will feel right at home with the storyline and excited to see how the girls fix their new installment of problems. The book also brings in a few new interesting characters that I enjoyed getting to meet and learn about, including the girl's mother.

Ameca and Fraya really seem to be coming into their own in this story. It was nice to see the girls growing as their surroundings demanded. You seen a new patients and understanding to Ameca that she has been missing previously especially when it comes to her sister. Fraya, on the other hand, no long seems to be the small, timid little girl that relies on those around her to make all the decisions. I think that this really helped to display the strength of the Flame and the Flower and how their new roles are creating self assured young ladies and heroines.

While some old enemies are still in the picture some new one also present themselves in the forever growing obstacles against the group of merry men and ladies. We learn who Rex-Ultar is, as well as some authorities from the world who have been searching for the girls and their family. I especially enjoyed how they seemed to foil the authorities plans on trying to capture them under the assumption that they need saving.

This story is one that anyone of any age can enjoy. Their subject matter and content is one that I would feel comfortable with any of my kids reading. I especially enjoy the lesson on family bonds and friendship ties that the author incorporates into the story. This is a story I would recommend to any parent who is looking for an entertaining story to read with their child or as one that they can trust their child to read on their own, but you're going to want to enjoy it with them.





Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Velveteen by Daniel Marks



Velveteen by Daniel Marks
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (464 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review by: Cholla

Velveteen Monroe is dead. At 16, she was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that’s not the problem.

The problem is she landed in purgatory. And while it’s not a fiery inferno, it’s certainly no heaven. It’s gray, ashen, and crumbling more and more by the day, and everyone has a job to do. Which doesn’t leave Velveteen much time to do anything about what’s really on her mind.

Bonesaw.

Velveteen aches to deliver the bloody punishment her killer deserves. And she’s figured out just how to do it. She’ll haunt him for the rest of his days.

It’ll be brutal... and awesome.

But crossing the divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences. Velveteen’s obsessive haunting cracks the foundations of purgatory and jeopardizes her very soul. A risk she’s willing to take—except fate has just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and completely off-limits coworker.

Velveteen can’t help herself when it comes to breaking rules... or getting revenge. And she just might be angry enough to take everyone down with her.


Revenge can be so much fun. Just ask sixteen-year-old Velveteen Monroe. Murdered by a local serial killer, her sole ambition in the afterlife is to exact justice for what he did to her. Trouble is, Purgatory is crumbling around her, leaving it up to her – and her team of experts – to stop the shadowquakes before they tear it all apart.

Velveteen Monroe is gothy, snarky, and generally unlikeable… until you get to know her a bit. Although some of her rougher characteristics are still evident, she’s much more likely to let her softer side show. Which, between you and me, drives her just a bit crazy when it happens. I really like Velvet, despite her rather grumpy exterior. She’s honest to a fault and has a larger mission on her mind. Not just justice for herself, but for the others that have or might have to go through what she did with Bonesaw. Velvet is also a born leader, one who commands attention with little effort and earns the respect of all those that serve with her.

Nick is something else altogether. After Velvet and her crew free him from imprisonment in a crystal ball, he’s a mess. He’s lost, he’s frightened, and he’s more than a little disoriented. However, in true hero fashion, it doesn’t take him long to get it together and become a real part of the team. Not to mention falling completely for Velvet, abrasiveness and all. His effusive personality and well-timed humor only serve to make me adore him more.

While Velveteen isn’t laden with offensive material, I’d still recommend it for an older audience, at least 14+, due to some graphic violence and the budding romance between Velvet and Nick.

Velveteen is a highly enjoyable story chock full of colorful characters and enough twists and turns to keep you on your toes. I loved the way Mr. Marks envisioned Purgatory in this novel. It became just a bit more bleak and terrifying than I had ever pictured it, giving it new life. The afterlife hasn’t ever been so much fun – or so dangerous – until now.





Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hot Wheels by Stephanie Campbell



Hot Wheels by Stephanie Campbell
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (58 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Lindy thinks her life is defined by her wheelchair, but one secret admirer sees more—he sees Hot Wheels.

Lindy Harris is a quiet, studious high school student who’s in love with books. When she sees a note written in her favorite poetry book to “Hot Wheels”, she’s in disbelief. That’s when she realizes the book belonged to the sender—Mark Ferry, the student body president. She’s all but convinced when she finds out that he, of all people, wants to go out with her.


Will Lindy’s doubts sabotage her chance at love?

Ms. Campbell has certainly captured the drama filled days of high school in this story. Lindy is a sweet girl trying to cope with the trials and pressures of being a disabled teenager. I think Ms Campbell gives just enough detail concerning the tragedy that cost Lindy the use of her legs while keeping the plot moving at a good pace. Though Lindy and her mother have certainly come to terms with Lindy’s situation, their pain and regret still comes through very clearly in regular conversations as well as their actions.

Lindy is a very easy character to like. She’s smart, sensitive, and has a great appreciation for books. My heart ached when Lindy broke down and cried in the bathroom. I know I certainly had some moments like that when I was going through high school. While Lindy’s problems are very specific to her situation, I think most teenage girls can relate to needing to have a good cry somewhere private. Though Lindy is a little awkward in social situations, I like the fact that she is still open to forming new relationships. Her friendship with Ann is certainly a bright spot in Lindy’s life. Though the girls become friends very quickly, I believe their bond is authentic.

I do wish some of the secondary characters, especially Mark, were a bit more rounded. Mark seems too good to be true. I can certainly understand Lindy’s hesitation to become involved with him because if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Mark’s lack of flaws kept him from truly coming to life in my mind. However, I did find Mark’s nervousness endearing. The moments he blushed as much as Lindy were particularly enjoyable.

I did find the plot of Hot Wheels to be fairly predictable. As soon as certain events were set into motion, I knew almost exactly how things were going to play out. While this meant there was very little surprise regarding the story line, I still enjoyed getting to know Lindy and watching her interact with those around her.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Hot Wheels. It is a fun, fast paced story filled with all the turmoil and excitement of high school life.





Gamers by Thomas K Carpenter



Gamers by Thomas K Carpenter
Publisher: Black Moon Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (313 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Sunflower

Augmented reality has the potential to bring digital artifices to the real world. AR gurus constantly speak of geo-location, intuitive search, the Internet of Things and other such high concepts. Digital natives squeeze efficient behavior out of a chaotic world, using their social media, smartphones and apps.

What if we applied those concepts to our lives through a living breathing game designed to make our civilization more efficient than the others? Much the same way we are using No Child Left Behind to apply testing to our school systems to make the US more competitive in a global market. Does testing and measuring and keeping score make people better? Can an algorithm be applied to every skill? How does one nurture innovation?

These are all the questions, and more, that I asked myself when thinking about the world of Gamers. What would our society be like if everything was a game designed to make us better?


Life isn't all fun and games, even when it's really a game. Gabby DeCorte finds out that when you're on top, there's still plenty of opportunity to fall. The game becomes all too real when secrets are exposed and danger is ahead. There's much more at stake than just collecting points and winning. So much more....

If you've ever imagined yourself stuck in the middle of a game, you might want to rethink things after reading Gamers. First in a trilogy, we're introduced to LifeGame, which on the outside appears to be an every day life occurrence. Wake up, it's not! There's more to it than that. Gabby, being a hacker, and one of the best at the LifeGame, will soon learn this, as she's taken on an adventure unlike she'd ever imagined.

The world created in this story is pretty intriguing, although to be honest, there's still a lot of holes. That could very be due to the fact that there are two more books in this trilogy, and that there will be plenty of times in either of those two for answers.

I like Gabby. She's a strong heroine and makes for a great leading character. Her passion to succeed is evident, but she also holds herself back for a reason. What's that you ask? Read the book and find out! Let's just say she cares about others and many times puts them before herself. I am definitely interested to see how the story plays out, as Gamers is simply just the beginning.

If you like books that are set in an alternate world with plenty of action and intrigue, and aren't afraid to try your hand at a new game in life, then check out Gamers. Grab a copy and hold on tight.





Monday, November 26, 2012

Whispers in Autumn by Trisha Leigh



Whispers in Autumn by Trisha Leigh
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (388 pgs)
Age Recommendation 14+
Rated: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon



In 2015, a race of alien Others conquered Earth. They enslaved humanity not by force, but through an aggressive mind control that turned people into contented, unquestioning robots.

Except sixteen-year-old Althea isn’t content at all, and she doesn’t need the mysterious note inside her locket to tell her she’s Something Else. It also warns her to trust no one, so she hides the pieces that make her different, even though it means being alone.

Then she meets Lucas, everything changes.

Althea and Lucas are immune to the alien mind control, and together they search for the reason why. What they uncover is a stunning truth the Others never anticipated, one with the potential to free the brainwashed human race.

It’s not who they are that makes them special, but what.

And what they are is a threat. One the Others are determined to eliminate for good.


Utterly enthralling, Whispers in Autumn has an immediacy that keeps you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. The mood is serious…or perhaps, seriously creepy. For this is a dark world not embattled, but controlled; a society not of revolutionaries, but anxious sheep… except for the odd one, here and there. The ‘broken.’

Whispers in Autumn  kicks off with teenage Althea's own, immediate (yet intriguing) problems, a first-person account with identity issues. Her experience is outside our world – it is in fact, outside her own world – or so it seems. However, it isn’t long before we start to share Althea's sense that things are not, truly not, quite right, with the world. We settle into her autumn persona, come to know her ‘family’ and realize with her that things are not right. Her developing power seems to have purpose…

We puzzle over the issue of just who or what Althea is, all the while realizing that her issues are not her own, and that this truly is a world (or society) shattering … or perhaps saving…story. The story grows from the miniscule to the massive. And, every minute, this story becomes more and more eerie and unpredictable.

In this dark society, people’s own lives are beyond both their understanding as well as control. Yet, they fail to perceive this horrifying truth. They are under the jurisdiction of the 'wardens.' They hardly recognize that they have lived a lifetime of fear. Some (okay, most) seem to think the wardens are a benevolent group...but there, Althea has doubts. Or fears. She recognizes manipulation; we recognize misinformation. When Althea meets Lucas, well, the doubts become solid distrust. She and Lucas will perhaps change the world… we hope.

Trisha Leigh handles this other-worldly society in a straightforward and completely believable way. The author's world building skills rival her character creation skills; and the best way to talk about that is to bring you into one of Althea’s moments.

Wardens—two this time—tread heavily down the street sweeping flashlights in an arc. I hold my breath, body vibrating as Lucas sucks his in as well. If my heart weren’t pounding from terror it would be struggling with such nearness to a boy—to another human being, really. His peculiar scent mingles with my own odd fragrance, creating a not entirely unpleasant mixture that hovers around us in a cloud. I fervently hope it doesn’t extend to the sidewalk because if the Wardens smell it, they…”

The smallest details bring with it such intensity in this story. Although the big questions are out there, it is ultimately the characters who drive this story.

Whispers in Autumn is a noir mix of psychological horror and unpredictable fantasy that had me completely engrossed throughout. You don’t need to be a fan of the genre to find this an exceptional read.  I am anxiously waiting for the next, and a chance to see what happens in Iowa in the winter.





Cluing In by Jo Ramsey



Cluing In by Jo Ramsey
Publisher: Featherweight Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (228 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Age Recommendation: 16+
Reviewed by Astilbe

Jamey Mandel has life pretty good. But things may not be as good as they seem. Jamey and his girlfriend Tina Kane argue constantly. When Jamey finally gets tired of the fighting and ends the relationship, Tina almost immediately starts dating--and sleeping with--another guy. And then, a few weeks later, rumors start flying that Tina's pregnant and that her new boyfriend wants nothing to do with her or the baby.Tina comes to Jamey for advice, and he brushes her off. When Tina takes drastic action, Jamey blames himself. Too late, he realizes that he might have been able to help her if he'd just listened.


What happens when high school isn’t the best time of your life after all?

Not only does Jamey genuinely like his parents but he listens to (most of) what they have to say and while he loves his girlfriend he’s in no rush to become sexually active with her. In fact, she’s the one who is pushing him for sex! Too often young adult fiction portrays guys Jamey’s age in a rather stereotypical manner. It’s refreshing to meet a character who breaks the mold without coming across as an after school special.

Unfortunately the dialogue doesn’t sound like it came from modern day high school students. Their speech patters were a little too formal and didn’t include the slang that one would expect sixteen year olds to fall back upon when out of earshot of adults. For example, in one of the first scenes Tina and Jamey argue about "making love", a phrase that most high schoolers probably wouldn’t use in earnestness when talking about sex with their boyfriend or girlfriend.

I would have also liked to see more time spent explaining something terrible that happens to a secondary character. While she does show signs of being impulsive early on I had trouble making the connection between those scenes and what happens later on in the plot. It would have been nice to see a more nuanced treatment of this individual before pushing her in the direction the author wanted her to go. Without this information what happens to her becomes a little less believable which is a real shame as she was quite interesting.

Due to controversial subject matter and some potentially disturbing scenes I cannot recommend this story for younger teens. Some of the young adult books I’ve reviewed in the past can be enjoyed by people a few years younger than the age I end up suggesting. This is not one of those tales. With that being said, older teenagers will find kindred spirits in characters that are going through difficult social, emotional and medical issues that many young adults experience.

Even with its flaws Cluing In provides a wonderful introduction to tough conversations for people of all ages who are looking for a good way to start a dialogue. From abuse to eating disorders almost every topic is addressed with the utmost respect and compassion.





Monday, November 19, 2012

Gnit-Wit Gnipper and the Ferocious Fire Ants by T J Lanz



Gnit-Wit Gnipper and the Ferocious Fire Ants by T J Lanz
Publisher: Happy Gnome Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Age Recommendation: 8+
Length: Short Story (17 pgs)
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Gnipper is an eight year old gnomish scientist trying hard to earn the community’s respect for her work. She just needed an idea that could benefit everyone and now she has it- she’s going to create a growth serum to fix the gnome’s height issues. Everything is great until she decides to test her product on Chloe, the queen of her fire ant farm. Now she needs to act quickly or the entire community is about to be destroyed by twenty pound, angry insects. Can she save Rosehaven from another one of her mishaps?

Gnit-Wit Gnipper is back and she’s still facing some challenges if she wants to get a real hat instead of a frying pan for her head…

This author has a great imagination and writes a silly, busy story that should grab young ones’ attention and keep them reading to the end. Everything Gnit-Wit does seems to evolve into big trouble. You find yourself waiting to see just how things are going to turn out this time.

All she wants is a cookie. How could trying to reach where the cookies are stored cause a problem? Well, it can if you try to create a growth potion you can use to reach up there and manage to test a drop on your fire ant queen. The potion DOES work and now you have a monster aunt who happens to be pregnant!

T J Lanz’s world of gnomes is fun to visit. Everyone seems to be a bit crazy. Gnit-Wit’s Granny can fly (her plane is out of this world), and her friend, Sam, is part human and part squirrel. With characters like these and a BIG ant that is going to hatch thousands of babies shortly, the action picks up and races through the short story.

Any child who likes silliness, has a good imagination or would just like to be surprised by how a story will enjoy this one. It’s a fast read that could easily work into a fantastic conversation about the things your own child can imagine. Why not let them write their own story and read it to you? I’m sure this author would be pleased to know that his/her work has created another fantasy story.

Still Alive by Kelsey Harwood



Still Alive by Kelsey Harwood
Publisher: Featherweight Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (144 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Age Recommendation: 14+
Reviewed by Astilbe

Two years after their parent's death, siblings Cassie and John Sullivan's lives are starting to get back to normal in their hometown of Hazelhurst, Georgia. Cassie goes to school with her friends and boyfriend while John works to put food on the table. But their world is turned upside down when a virus that is threatening civilization as we know it breaks out across America. When John hears of a place in California that is supposed to be protected from the infection, they take off with the one hope they have. While heading for their safe haven, John and Cassie's lives change forever.

Do you know how to survive a zombie apocalypse?

Cassie is intelligent, level-headed and reacts quickly in even the most unexpected situations. When she drives into a seemingly abandoned town her vehicle is suddenly surrounded by zombies. Despite not having a driver’s license she out manoeuvres them and delivers all of her passengers to safety. This was by far my favourite scene in the book because it was such a tantalizing glimpse into the woman she will evolve into as a result of her experiences in a post-apocalyptic world.

Ms. Harwood’s interpretation of what a zombie is and how it behaves is a little out of the ordinary for the genre. This decision breathes new horror into some of the scenes and moral dilemmas that zombie fans have learned to anticipate.

John and Cassie are too trusting for two people described as knowledgable about zombie movies. While it comes from a good place, their willingness to help others is somewhat out of place in a world where surviving is already so difficult. As much as I admire their altruism it would have been more realistic for them to temper that urge over time as they realize how dangerous day-to-day life remains even long after the outbreak began. With that being said they are two people I’d love to run into in the event of a disaster. The world would be a much better place if everyone shared their moral code.

I would have also preferred to learn more about a guy named Paul who is introduced a little later on in the plot. What we are told about his background is almost as interesting as the questions that aren’t answered and it would have been simple to include this information in the conversations the main characters share or as a flashback.

While working on this review I learned that Kelsey Harwood wrote Still Alive when she was just fifteen years old. There’s definitely something to be said for young adult novels written by people in that demographic! Ms. Harwood’s knowledge of teenage slang and culture shines through in the dialogue and I’m looking forward to what she comes up with next. This would be a good choice for reluctant readers in particular as it’s a fast-paced, action-heavy tale that spends a minimum amount of time on characterization before the plot thickens.



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Flutter by Gina Linko



Flutter by Gina Linko
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mystery/suspense
Length: Full Length (342 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

For as long as 17-year-old Emery Land can remember, she's suffered from seizures. In recent years they've consumed her life. To Emery they're much more than seizures, she calls them loops—moments when she travels through wormholes back and forth in time to a mysterious town. The loops take their toll on her physically, so she practically lives in the hospital where her scientist father monitors her every move.

Emery decides to escape the hospital and travel to Esperanza, the town from her loops on the upper peninsula of Michigan, where she meets Asher Clarke. Ash's life is governed by his single-minded pursuit of performing good Samaritan acts to atone for the death of a loved one. Drawn together they must unravel their complicated connection before it's too late.


The books for young adults seem to be getting better and better and Flutter was no exception. I think this is a title that both adults and teenagers, especially teenage girls, will both really enjoy.

It’s got a little of everything, sweet romance, suspense, and a nice helping of sci-fi thrown in. It’s told in the first person and you immediately connect with Emery whose point of view the story is told from. She has epilepsy and is confined to a hospital room where her father is a doctor. He comes across as a mix of doting father and someone who isn’t all that he seems so you begin to feel uneasy for Emery. Her seizures or loops as she calls them, are getting worse. Each one is given its own chapter which I thought were all perfectly described and pulled you into the story.

There’s a mystery brewing and it seems that Emery is time traveling when she goes into a loop. So strong is her belief that she takes off to the town she’s seen while in a loop. It’s at this point that the story really takes off and has you turning the pages. The last seventy-five pages of the book I couldn’t put down and kept on reading. I won’t give the ending away but will just say it left me with a few tears in my eyes.

I thought the author presented a unique twist of what happens to people and their brains when they experience seizures. This is a fun book to read yourself or even one to think about giving as a holiday gift to the teenage girl on your list.





Monday, November 12, 2012

Ameca J and the Legacy of Menindus by Paul Xavier Jones



Ameca J and the Legacy of Menindus by Paul Xavier Jones
Book 1 of the Ameca J Chronicles
Publisher: Storyteller Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (381 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Peppermint

The Legacy of Menindus... Teenage life seems vastly unfair to fourteen year old Ameca or Ameca J, as she prefers to be called always being pressured by her Dad to watch out for her stupid and annoying ten year old sister, Fraya. But when the girls are mysteriously transported by The Spirit to a dangerously different world populated by mediaeval Men, noble Elves, magnificent Dragons, and savage creatures, Ameca s whole perspective has to change and change quickly if they are to escape the clutches of an evil entity known as the Scelestus, who wants them for the magical powers they did not even know they possessed.

Their stressed out and overworked father, Paul is summoned by The Spirit to join his daughters in the mythical land of Mythrania, where he learns that they are the One, the Flame and the Flower . They are the heirs to the legendary High Magi, Menindus, who foretold of their coming to save this world and their own...But this is no fairytale; the dark entity known as the Scelestus has a plan to harness the power of the universe and to completely dominate all life...... Can Ameca and her family stop the Scelestus, and prevent a catastrophe that would see the enslavement of countless worlds, as well as the destruction of their own...?

Look out evil...here come the girls.


This is unlike any fantasy story I have ever read. From start to finish this story drew me in. With a vast array of both recognizable and new mythical creatures, I was truly entertained.

Ameca J is everything you expect in a fourteen year-old girl. She has a strong will and sassy tongue that can rival anyone. I also enjoyed her view of her "annoying" little sister, Fraya. Though she has all the makings to be a great woman, I was still able to see her innocence and inexperience. I could not wait to see what she did next throughout the story. Especially since she was dealing with forces that could break even the strongest of adults.

Though I can see how Ameca was the main character of the story, the author provided me some insight on other characters such as her sister, father, and others helping them on their quest. Each character had their own traits that seemed to shine through and make them intriguing. Whether it be Ameca's father's impatience, or her sister's ability to manipulate people, I looked forward to their actions and what kind of effect they'd have on the plot.

The fantasy element on this story is what really made it stand out from the rest for me. The author did a wonderful job with incorporating fantasy with various myths such as werewolves, wizards, and folklore. I quickly found myself picturing Menindus and felt as if I was there with the characters experiencing all this fascinating world had to offer. I can easily see why kids and parents would enjoy reading this story.