Beginning January 1, 2013

Stop by the new site and take a look around.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Silver Dew by Suzi Davis

Silver Dew by Suzi Davis
Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (335 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Sunflower

Just weeks before graduating from high school, Grace is running for her life with her magical and mysterious boyfriend, Sebastian, by her side. An ancient magic has been awakened inside of Grace that is powerful, frightening and barely within her control. The Others, who possess their own dangerous magic, are hunting them, and their only hope is for Grace to learn how to harness her incredible powers to stop them. The answers they seek are hidden within a life lived thousands of years ago, shrouded in mystery, magic and deceit. When their past catches up to them, Grace and Sebastian are faced with a truth that shakes the foundation of their relationship, their lives and everything they thought they knew. It is up to Grace to learn to control the Lost Magic, to right the wrongs that have been done, and to discover once and for all, who she really is.

If readers didn't get enough of Grace Lynn and Sebastian in Amber Frost, worry not, because Silver Dew is here, and the story of these two continues. On the run from those that want to hurt them, this story is powerful and intense.

There was a time Grace Stevenson was a normal teenager. She went to school, had her friends, dated. Who would have though in just a span of a few months that she'd be deeply in love with a mysterious boy and now fleeing her home to be safe? Grace is learning to embrace the things that are deep within her. She faces situations that seem to make her stronger. There is a darkness that wants to overtake this young girl, it it will take strength and wits to beat it all.

Sebastian is still a mystery just like before, but readers slowly learn more about this character. It's time Sebastian faces his past, his memories, and the people that were in his life. His love for Grace is intense. He's just as strong as a hero as Grace is the heroine.

This sequel is so much more action packed than Amber Frost. For those that like to read series in order, I'd advise to read Amber Frost first, so you're clued into what's going on. There you'll find the story of the couple's beginning and how things came to be in this story. There are a few scenes that are mature content, this is by far not a light read. It has its dark moments, but nothing too over the top. Overall, I enjoyed it and was glad to know more about Grace and especially Sebastian.

If you enjoy paranormal young adult with plenty of action and intrigue, add Silver Dew to your reading lists. If you've read Amber Frost, this exciting installment has the potential to keep you up in to the late hours of the night, or keep you distracted from other duties during the day. This book is definitely an attention grabber...and keeper.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Closer Look by Karen DelleCava

A Closer Look by Karen DelleCava
Publisher: WestSide Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (302 pgs)
Age Level: 14+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Peppermint

Freshman year is going well for Cassie, a standout sprinter who is about to move up to varsity; school has been fine, her best friend Tara is also running track, and Tommy, that cute sax player she likes has asked her to come see his band rehearse. But in a matter of weeks, Cassie has a secret she is trying to hide from everyone. Her hair has started falling out, and she s doing everything possible to keep it from showing. When her parents tell her it happened to her once before, at age 3, she s horrified, and a trip to the dermatologist confirms what she has been afraid of: that all of her hair may fall out. She has alopecia, and there s no known effective treatment. Cassie eventually gets a wig when she can no longer disguise the truth, and she finally confides in Tommy about it. But when he starts being standoffish and avoids her, she feels betrayed. Then, at a track meet, Robin, her rival on the team, exposes her secret to the whole crowd. With her worst fears realized, will Cassie ever be able to face her classmates, her teammates, and most of all, Tommy?

Cassie's story is one that is truly inspiring for all ages. At the age where she is just starting to discover boys and have a sense of independence, Cassie must also deal with her hair falling out sporadically. With such a delicate subject, I knew from the first page this story would be riveting. At times, I was so sad thinking about everything this young girl had to go through.

While it may sound vain, my hair has always been my crowning glory. So while reading about Cassie's alopecia, I found myself in tears at times because my heart went out to her. There were times it was difficult to keep reading because of how upset I was for her. That effect actually speaks volumes about the effectiveness of the subject matter and the author’s ability to make me feel for the main character in the story.

Not only was the subject matter riveting, the charaters were as well. For example, at moments I felt like I could sympathize with Cassie's mother and other times I wondered how a mother can treat her daughter the way she treated Cassie. Another character I enjoyed was Cassie's best friend Tara. The way she supported Cassie throughout the whole ordeal displayed a true friendship that can never be replaced. These characters really added a certain amount of depth to the story, which help with the flow and made it much easier to read.

One of the most amazing things about A Closer Look is that I highly recommended it to people around me even before I finished the last page. This will be a great story for mothers to read with their daughters, or for anyone to enjoy on their own. Ms. DelleCava's book should make it to Oprah’s reading list because after I was done reading it, I was convinced that it has the ability to change lives.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Destined by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast

Destined by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (325 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Peppermint

Zoey is finally home where she belongs, safe with her Guardian Warrior, Stark, by her side, and preparing to face off against Neferet – which would be a whole lot easier if the High Counsel saw the ex-High Priestess for what she really is. Kalona has released his hold on Rephaim, and, through Nyx's gift of a human form, Rephaim and Stevie Rae are finally able to be together – if he can truly walk the path of the Goddess and stay free of his father's shadow…

But there are new forces at work at the House of Night. An influx of humans, including Lenobia’s handsome horse whisperer, threatens their precarious stability. And then there’s the mysterious Aurox, a jaw-droppingly gorgeous teen boy who is actually more – or possibly less – than human. Only Neferet knows he was created to be her greatest weapon. But Zoey can sense the part of his soul that remains human, the compassion that wars with his Dark calling. And there’s something strangely familiar about him…

Will Neferet’s true nature be revealed before she succeeds in silencing them all? And will Zoey be able to touch Aurox’s humanity in time to protect him – and everyone – from his own fate? Find out what’s destined in the next thrilling chapter of the House of Night series.

Destined reignited my passion for this series the moment I read the first chapter. I have been following this series for a few years now and have read every story to date. Unfortunately, the last few stories have left me feeling a little passionless when it comes to this group of kids I had come to care for. This story however, captured the reasons why I had fallen in love with the series to begin with. It showed me that this mom and daughter author duo still has the capacity to weave the magic that can enchant an audience.

If a reader has not been following the series, they'll most likely be lost if they jump right in with Destined. The stories follow the same group of young adults who are fighting the ultimate battle between good and evil. That means that Zoey has found her way through a barrage of tough decisions and loss. It is worth reading each story and even though I have read them all, after reading Destined, I am ready to go back to the first book, Marked,and start the experience all over again.

One writing technique that these authors use that really keeps readers interested is changing the point of view character. I can experience the same scene through another's eyes and catch various changes, or even get to understand the characters differently. It gave me a more enriched experience and kept me entertained. It also helped flesh out the antagonistic conflict because I then understood that characters who are thought to be on evil’s side instead fall into the category that “Darkness does not always equate to evil. Light does not always bring good” as the prophetic Kramisha had declared in this story.

While this is a young adult's novel, this is not a story I would recommend for young teens or tweens. There is profanity throughout this story as well as intimate situations. The characters in the book are older teens and some have already went though the change as they went from fledglings to adult vampires. They act accordingly.

Destined is a book that older individuals as well as young adults can enjoy. They really try the whole series. A tale as captivating as this one is deserves five stars as well as a place in my must read again pile.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cracking the Ice by Dave Hendrickson

Cracking the Ice by Dave Hendrickson
Publisher: Westside Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (365 pgs)
Age Level: 14+
Rated: 4 stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Delves into the perilous world of a black teen hockey phenom in 1968, during the highly charged Civil Rights era. Jessie leaves home for New Hampshire, despite misgivings of his parents and girlfriend Rose, to pursue his dreams at an elite, formerly all-white prep school, which he hopes will put him on the path to the Ivy League and NHL. He is realistic about encountering racist fans and opponents at his new school, but finds that he's in the most danger from his own teammates and coach, who clearly despises him based only on the color of his skin. Full of exciting on-ice action and heart-wrenching realism, Cracking the Ice will have readers rooting for Jessie as he fights for what any standout student and athlete deserves.

The best of Cracking the Ice is on the ice - hockey descriptions are in-the-moment, bring-you-there. "Jessie cradles the puck on his stick and took off, skating ahead ten feet, then dropping the puck and cutting to the left..." Hockey is important, not only as the game itself, but how it impacts the dreams and goals of the main character.

Ultimately, this is a personal journey story: goals, and the future are what drive the main character and the plot. He's an admirable young man, ethical and strong, but he lives at a time when those dreams seem one step too far: Jessie is a young black man, in the late 60s.

The Civil Rights movement is in full swing; Martin Luther King is a hero - and those events are important backdrop and in a odd way, parallel some of the action. For Jessie gets an opportunity: he's accepted at a predominantly white prep school with an amazing hockey team. This school might be the ticket to his dreams - but then things start to go wrong. The coach doesn’t want him, even if the principal does. Coarse players go from hazing to threats to worse. The reader will worry and hope that what seems predictable downward turn of events will not be the actual events. The dark side here is dark indeed. It must be admitted that this is an unsettling story. It will stir emotion and anger and leave one wondering how our world could have ever been like this. It is however, sadly believable.

Spoilers would do this story no good at all; it is a worthy, if heartwrenching read, with a fair amount of violence. The best of humanity is explored -- and some of the worst, exposed. It is very readable, written with a clear and powerful voice, and is engaging from beginning to end.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Kid From Southie by John “Red” Shea and Michael Harmon

A Kid From Southie by John “Red” Shea and Michael Harmon
Publisher: WestSide Books
Genre Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (239 pgs)
Age recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 Suns
Reviewed by Cholla

High school senior Aiden O'Connor's life is in turmoil. Bored with school, his growing skill at boxing won't pay the rent when his drunken father leaves, and someone is keeping his mom from finding work in any pub in South Boston. Lured by childhood friend Tommy's promise of easy money, Aiden reluctantly gets mixed up with the Irish mob. Aiden's strong sense of honor makes him a bit too good at his job with the King of the Street, who wants to keep Aiden involved for reasons of his own. Conflicted about nearly everything, Aiden has to decode where his loyalties lie and when he has had enough. Exploding with tough choices and the grit of true crime, A Kid from Southie is the story of one teen's dangerous trip through the temptations of power and the sacrifices that come with it on his way to deciding who he wants to be.

Life is hard in South Boston and there aren’t a whole lot of opportunities for a kid from Southie, either. Enter Aiden O’Connor, a high school senior who gets a double kick in the gut when his alcoholic and abusive father runs off, leaving him and his unemployed mother alone to fend for themselves. In the fashion of so many teenage boys, Aiden is bound and determined to find another way to survive, no matter the cost. But to what lengths will he go to keep a roof over his head?

Aiden O’Connor has a lot in common with his father – a quick temper, a need to fight, and a desire to prove himself in any way he can. However, he at least sees the disaster his father has made of his life because of his alcoholism and does his best to not follow in his old man’s footsteps. Unfortunately, Aiden can be an utterly unlikable character at times: he’s hard hearted, rude, sometimes inconsiderate and just arrogant to the extreme. However, he does have his shining moments of clarity, too. He has a huge soft spot for his mother, even when he feels she doesn’t deserve it. Those moments when he’s around his Angel, a beautiful Cuban girl from his neighborhood, he finds that he may just be able to redeem himself, too. With her help, he may someday make himself into a good and decent man, despite the odds.

A Kid From Southie is chock full of lessons about life. From the discrimination against Aiden based on where he’s from to that against his girlfriend of mixed race, Aiden is forced to combat Boston’s – and the world’s – misconceptions and prejudices. He learns the hard way about so-called easy money vs. hard work and why the easy way isn’t always the best way. This trip through the school of hard knocks is about to knock this young boy around and good, but when he comes out the other side, he’ll be more man than he ever dreamed he could be.

While tough to read sometimes due to the extreme circumstances Aiden finds himself in, the ending for Aiden and his family is worth it all.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Open Wounds by Joseph Lunievicz

Open Wounds by Joseph Lunievicz
Publisher: WestSide Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (344 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

Cid Wymann, a scrappy kid fighting to survive a harsh upbringing in Queens, NY, is a almost a prisoner in his own home. His only escape is sneaking to Times Square to see Errol Flynn movies full of swordplay and duels. He s determined to become a great fencer, but after his family disintegrates, Cid spends five years at an orphanage until his injured war-veteran cousin Lefty arrives from England to claim him. Lefty teaches Cid about acting and stage combat, especially fencing, and introduces him to Nikolai Varvarinski, a brilliant drunken Russian fencing master who trains Cid. By 16, Cid learns to channel his aggression through the harsh discipline of the blade, eventually taking on enemies old and new as he perfects his skills. Evocative of The Book Thief with a dash of Gangs of New York, Open Wounds is the page-turning story of a lost boy's quest to become a man.

Talk about courage. Cyd Wymann is a kid living in New York one could not soon forget. He grows up in harsh circumstances in the thirties and forties, and the things he sees and goes through are heart breaking. But what does he do to survive?

Open Wounds by Joseph Lunievicz is a memorable coming-of-age story. Many colorful characters such as Siggy, Tomik, and Betty, Leftie, Nikolai and others have their place here, but Cyd, young as he is, is a true hero. He constantly gets beat down in life but picks himself up, making the best of things. His story is inspirational and entertaining.

The vintage setting comes across naturally, as if coming right out of journal from the era. The language is smooth and appropriate for the hero telling his story. The writing is active, upfront, and straight to the point. There are beautifully descriptive moments putting the reader right in the scene.

A major theme is friendship, and the authentic form is shown here, forged through hard times. Other important themes—well written—are courage, loyalty, and family.

My heart went out to Cyd while reading, and I rooted for him as he went through his adventure. The exciting moments didn’t disappoint. The end was satisfying, but I can honestly see a sequel being written here. There is room for one.

The glossary of fencing terms in the back is helpful since fencing plays such a large part in Cyd’s life. But fencing isn’t a sport for him. It’s so much more. I got a new appreciation for it, a better understanding, not to mention for acting and war veterans as well.

This is not a romance but a young adult, vintage, adventurous story that I’d recommend to anyone loving those genres.