Beginning January 1, 2013

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Monday, April 30, 2012

Dragon Flame by Sue Perkins

Dragon Flame by Sue Perkins
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (111 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Fire breathing dragons destroy Talei's home but when she links telepathically with a dragon, he explains goblins are holding their females hostage. Talei and her friend Adri lead a group of teenagers to free the beasts. Failure means both dragons and humans will be destroyed.

Eighteen year old Talei and several young children are left orphans after the attack on her settlement by fire breathing dragons. The survivors join up with other refugees but when Talei links telepathically with a dragon, she discovers their goblin riders are holding the female dragons hostage. Talei and her friend Adri lead a group of teenagers to free the beasts. Failure means the end of both dragons and humans.

Landing Day has always been a happy day, a huge celebration in honor of the day they arrived on this new planet after having left Earth for a better place. Although this year, Landing Day is nothing to celebrate. When an invasion of fire-breathing dragons arrive and destroys everything in their path, only a handful of orphaned children are left. It’s now up to eighteen-year-old Talei to help them survive on their own.

Talei is a remarkable girl. Only just turned eighteen on Landing Day, she's quick to step up and take the lead when needed. Even though the responsibility of caring for so many young children and re-establishing a settlement overwhelms her, she never thinks of throwing her hands up and walking away from it all. She takes her responsibilities to heart and makes things work the best she can. A natural born leader, people will follow her wherever she leads.

Adri is Talei’s natural complement. He’s mellow when she’s uptight, rational when she’s not. Being from a more well-established settlement than Talei, he’s a bit more refined and brings a lot to the table when they meet. His addition to the party makes things more balanced and smoother. Together, they make a great pair of leaders, with democracy at the forefront of their reign.

Dragon Flame is an adventure for all ages! From the first dragon attack to the freeing of the dragons from their captors, you’re glued to the words before you. I found it interesting as to why Talei and her brother, Byron, were the only ones capable of communicating with the dragons at first. A different sort of idea and I think it worked well here, showing how the siblings differed from all the other survivors around them.

A great fantasy for younger teens and adults alike, Dragon Flame is a fun and exciting mix of both fantasy and science fiction.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Datura by L.M. Dewalt

Datura by L.M. Dewalt
Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing
Genre: Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (214 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

After nearly a century of wandering the globe alone, Lily finally has everything she never knew she wanted, family, friends, and most of all, their love. As Lily attempts to start her new life, in the lively streets of Lima, Peru, she feels she is constantly being followed. With Ian, her first love and maker, now gone, who is left to destroy the happiness she has finally found? Someone still longs for Lily’s destruction. Vengeance or jealousy threaten to destroy her, and Lily must summon all the strength she can find to protect everything she cherishes against vampires, hunters, and witches.

Lily and Christian marry, but their troubles are far from over. Someone is out to get them. Datura continues the story of Lily from the first book of this series. It can't be Ian, but Maia has disappeared and Lily believes she might be behind the threats. However no one believes her. Lily and Christian are like many newlywed couples, but Christian also has to cope with being newly made as a vampire. Vampires in this series live useful lives and only feed off the criminal types of the world. Taking an innocent is frowned on.

Their honeymoon turns to chaos when they are attacked by vampire hunters in league with vampires. A shape changer is also involved and Lily finds it difficult to comprehend what exactly is going on.

Once again the book starts at a steady, if not slow, pace but gradually picks up speed and intensity which kept me reading. There are many turns and twists to the story which had me guessing what would happen next. The end surprised me but I won't say how as that would be a spoiler.

One thing that confused me was the title. When I first saw it I thought this book had a new heroine, but soon realized this wasn't the case. I spent most of the book wondering when Datura would be introduced. Was it a person? Was it a thing? I felt disappointment when it appeared once only, at approximately three quarters of the way through the book. Brilliant title, but needs to be linked with the book earlier in the story and more often.

On the whole this book is a definite "yes" for lovers of vampire tales. It has that fresh look at an old subject with romance shown more by inference than act, which gives it much more impact. The end of the book indicates there are more in this series and I'll definitely be on the lookout for them.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Maple Express: One Girl’s Unconventional Journey to Find Herself by Peter A. Brandt

Maple Express: One Girl’s Unconventional Journey to Find Herself by Peter A. Brandt
Publisher: Simple Simon Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Action/Adventure
Age Recommendation: 10+
Length: Full length (178 pages)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Sara Maple has a comfortable life—the only child of a wealthy family—a best friend who does everything she asks—and the admiration of most of her schoolmates. Unfortunately, her temper and “indestructible” attitude quickly place her in a very precarious position.

Maple Express” is a powerful novel that captures the author’s take on the miracle of the human mind. “Maple Express” delves into the actions and consequences of a young girl who has never had to take responsibility for her actions before. The story brings the reader into a world where Sara’s determination to find her way off the train sends her on an emotional trip that bonds her to her new friends and changes her life forever.

Both young and old readers will love the emotional journey Sara Maple takes them on as she deciphers the obstacles that confront her. Sara’s story ends with a surprise twist and leaves the reader with a sense of discovery about his or her own humanity.

What happens when an entitled teenager wakes up on a train with no memory of how she ended up there?

Sara Maple is not a very kind person. As the spoiled only daughter of the wealthiest family in town she’s spent the last sixteen years of her life having the rules bent in her favor. In the beginning I couldn’t figure out why anyone would choose to spend time with someone who has such a quick temper and sharp tongue. She’ll grow on you, though, as you discover more and more unexpected aspects of her personality.

There are some truly gorgeous illustrations in this book. Early sketches show a few glimpses of Sara’s mysterious train, another one is of a pivotal secondary character. It would have been nice if more illustrations had been included. Seeing the interior and exterior of the train was interesting but there were far more exciting images that could have been drawn instead.

The metaphors are also vivid and unforgettable. One of my favourites was, “she felt like a side of beef dangling in a butcher’s freezer.” It’s an odd image - what, exactly, would it be like to be a side of beef dangling in a walk-in freezer? - but it worked really well for that particular scene.

I had trouble figuring out an appropriate age recommendation. Sensitive topics like alcoholism, abuse, and neglect are raised but nothing is described in details that are inappropriate for the vast majority of preteens. And, to be honest, many readers in this age range have either experienced these things personally or have friends or family members who have dealt with them!

One of my biggest issues with this book was that it told us what characters were like instead of having them naturally exhibit those personality traits or emotions as they interacted with one another. For example, here’s a quote from one of the earliest chapters:

Sara’s mother was twelve years younger than her father. In many ways, Sara could see they weren’t very compatible. Her mother had always been a partier, both throwing them and attending them, while her father despised being around people. Her mother didn’t let him stop her and loved to party until the wee hours of the morning.

We later learn even more ways in which Sara’s parents have not worked well together but those revelations would have been more meaningful had we, say, heard them argue about an upcoming party instead.

I recommend Maple Express for anyone in the market for a well-paced, exciting adventure. You will not be disappointed!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Shelter by Harlan Coben

Shelter by Harlan Coben
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (288 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Mickey Bolitar's year can't get much worse. After witnessing his father's death and sending his mom to rehab, he's forced to live with his estranged uncle Myron and switch high schools.

A new school comes with new friends and new enemies, and lucky for Mickey, it also comes with a great new girlfriend, Ashley. For a while, it seems like Mickey's train-wreck of a life is finally improving - until Ashley vanishes without a trace. Unwilling to let another person walk out of his life, Mickey follows Ashley's trail into a seedy underworld that reveals that this seemingly sweet, shy girl isn't who she claimed to be. And neither was Mickey's father. Soon, Mickey learns about a conspiracy so shocking that it makes high school drama seem like a luxury - and leaves him questioning everything about the life he thought he knew.

In an instant, Mickey Bolitar’s life is turned inside out. He was living the perfect life with his parents when a car accident takes his father’s life and sends Mickey spinning and grasping for control. Now that he and his mom are somewhat settled, the real chaos is about to begin with the disappearance of his sort-of girlfriend, Ashley. When he makes it his priority to discover what really happened, the race to separate the truth from the lies starts in earnest.

Fifteen and angry, Mickey Bolitar is on a mission. First, he wants to save his mother from the grips of addiction. Next, he wants to put his overbearing uncle, Myron, in his place so he can start to feel like himself again. Lastly, but most importantly, he needs to find Ashley. What Mickey doesn’t realize is how things are going to get a thousand times more turbulent before they finally settle down. During his investigation to find her, he learns a lot about himself and his family, causing him to question many things he’d never considered before. With the aid of his two very odd friends, Mickey solves the mystery and comes to understand a lot about who he really is.

Shelter was an intense and action-packed mystery that was hard for me to put down. The deeper you get into the mystery, the more questions you have. I love it when a novel does that, answering just enough to keep you happy, but not showing all the cards at once.

Mickey and his friends are fun and exciting and really make the story more enjoyable with their presence. The author leaves you with a major revelation at the very end of the story making me hope that another in this series in on the way soon. A definite must-read for mystery lovers of any age.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ship of Souls by Zetta Elliott

Ship of Souls by Zetta Elliott
Publisher: Amazon Encore
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (123 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

When 11-year-old Dmitri (“D”) loses his mother to breast cancer, he finds himself taken in by an elderly white woman, Mrs. Martin. D loves to watch birds and, while in the park, is amazed to find an injured bird that can talk. He takes it home and soon learns there are malevolent forces inhabiting the region beneath Prospect Park and they are hunting for the bird; Nuru is a life force that has been kept hostage by the earthbound spirits who are ghosts of soldiers that died in the Revolutionary War. Nuru’s mission is to guide the ship that will carry the souls of the dead back to her realm. D has been chosen as Nuru’s host, and must carry the bird from Brooklyn to the African Burial Ground in lower Manhattan where the dead await deliverance.

Dmitri’s entire world is turned on its ear when, at eleven, his mother loses her battle with breast cancer. Because he’s being shuffled between foster care and his new home, starting a new school, and finding new friends, he’s more than just a little off kilter, to say the least. So, he shouldn’t be too surprised when the injured bird he rescues from the park turns out to be anything but a bird, right?

Dmitri, or D as he comes to be called, is an example of entirely too many kids in this day and age. He’s being raised by his mother and has no idea who his father is. When his mother dies, he’s on his own. Left without any family, he becomes a ward of the state, but he’s okay with that. He’s even okay with the idea of being fostered by an elderly white woman, as odd as it seems at the time. His easy manner and ability to adapt to the situation are what guide him along in his quest to help Nuru, the otherworldly being he found in the park, ferry lost souls to their final resting place.

He’s a good kid who’s had a bit of bad luck, but makes it work for him as best as he can. It was nice to see a story about a misfit who not only finds his fit, but also his purpose. D takes his passion for math and bird watching and embraces them, giving himself some kind of focus in his out-of-focus world.

Ship of Souls is a different sort of story sure to catch your attention and hold it tight. An entertaining novel that's good for any age. Its inventive storyline and charming band of misfit characters will intrigue you. It’ll also help reassure you that no matter how lost you’ve become, there will be someone there waiting to help you find your way home. It may be in the form of a friend or an otherworldly being like Nuru, but you will find your guide.

A charming story, well worth the read.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Stein & Candle Detective Agency, Vol. 1: American Nightmare by Michael Panush

The Stein and Candle Detective Agency, Vol. 1: American Nightmare by Michael Panush
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Action/Adventure, Historical, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (254 pgs)
Heat Level: 12+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Water Lily

Morton Candle is a tough guy.

He grew up on the streets of Brooklyn, dodging from mobster-ruled neighborhoods to reform school before the army snapped him up and sent him to Europe to fight Hitler. That’s where he met Weatherby Stein, the scion to one of the greatest occult families of Europe. Weatherby and his parents were being held prisoner by the Nazis, forced to use their supernatural knowledge to aid the Third Reich’s war effort.

Morton Candle got Weatherby to safety, but the kid’s parents didn’t make it.

Now it’s the 1950s.

Weatherby’s a teenager, with his father’s knowledge and a chip on his shoulder from the indignities of the modern world. Morton bumps into him again and they decide to go into the only business they can – paranormal private detectives.

This time, Weatherby and Mort have cases that will take them from a vampire’s decaying mansion to the mob-controlled streets of Havana. They’ll take on roadside attractions gone wrong, hordes of the living dead, and ride against the devil in a high speed car race to the death.

Between them, Weatherby and Mort have a small arsenal and a deep knowledge of matters arcane and bizarre. They’ll need brains and brawn to survive in a world where horror, action and hardboiled noir come together in a cataclysmic mix.

Move over Mike Hammer and Sam Spade, here comes Morton Candle. If you like 1940’s/1950’s detective stories, you are going to love Michael Panush’s The Stein and Candle Detective Agency, Vol. 1.: American Nightmare This is book noir with a paranormal twist. The bad guys are frequently monsters—literally.

Written as a chapter book, with one case per chapter, this is marketed as a Suspense/Mystery, but I think the real target audience is young adults, especially boys age 10 and up, depending of their reading level. As a mother of boys, I know how rare it is to find a good “boy book”--something featuring boys that's exciting enough to hold their interest but not too graphic to bother their mother. The Stein and Candle Detective Agency, Vol. 1 has monster/comic book style violence that's perfect for this age group. I think my thirteen year old will love this. The fact that each chapter comes with its own “cover” adds to its appeal and the young adult feel of this book.

My only complaint is character development. Because of the presentation—separate stories for each chapter—there was no particular chronology and therefore, no character growth. If you read each story as a tale in itself, this isn’t too objectionable. But if you read it as a novel, it may bother you. I don’t think it will bother my son at all.

It’s a credit to Mr. Panush that, while reading, I kept “seeing” the scenes in black and white. If you’re a film noir fan or have a son you want to entice into reading, you might want to pick up a copy of The Stein and Candle Detective Agency, Vol. 1: American Nightmare.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Reva’s Quest by Sue Perkins

Reva’s Quest by Sue Perkins
Publisher: Muse It Up Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (74 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4 stars
Review by Snapdragon

Reva and her garden gnome arrive in Fey to fight the evil, Malice. Joined by three quest companions, they travel across the land to Malice’s lair. Only Reva can rid the world of Malice, but their journey brings danger, and she wonders if she will survive. Malice’s evil has invaded many of the animals and these beasts try to stop them reaching their goal. One of the companions begins to act strangely, and Reva must consider the possibility of a traitor in their midst.

Reva’s Quest by Sue Perkins intrigues and entertains. Unexpectedly, what seemed a light setting with fluff for characters -- after all, one of Reva’s companions is a garden gnome -- actually presents a thoroughly engaging plot, and believable, surprisingly meaningful characters.

The world Ms. Perkins created ensnares and leaves us forgetting to doubt reality. Grumpy Gareth, an actual griffon, the elves ... those into fantasy will delight in the array of creatures they find here, and how completely perfect they are in their roles. And Reva’s knight in shining armor seems exactly right. From the first moment we meet him, we start worrying about how she’ll feel about going home eventually. And will she?

Complaints? Early on, this world’s conversations seem stilted, and it takes a few pages for this work to really find its rhythm. It’s worth getting past those first couple pages. Once through the portal we truly arrive in a different world andstory.

Best: Reva makes friends and experiences a trove a heartfelt emotions, and we are right there with her.

Reva’s Quest is fun and engaging and so worth reading.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Gone by Michael Grant

Gone by Michael Grant
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (558 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Peppermint

In the blink of an eye.

Everyone disappears.


Everyone except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not a single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Gone, too, are the phones, internet, and television. There is no way to get help.

Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day.

It's a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen and war is imminent.

The first in a breathtaking saga about teens battling each other and their darkest selves, gone is a page-turning thriller that will make you look at the world in a whole new way.

This is an amazingly well written fantasy which will intrigue all ages. Gone encompasses a plot line that is truly unique from any other story I have read. The concept of children having to fend for themselves is not different, but the author incorporated kids developing powers with animals and morphing into something no one has ever seen, and the result is a compelling world.

This story certainly shows how, no matter what the situation, you will always have your heroes, bullies, and followers. The traits of each child, in what is now known as the FAYZ, are intensified when the adults and older children disappear. These types of personality explosions made the story more entertaining and exciting. It helped to enhance the overall plot and antagonistic conflict between the characters.

Sam is the type of child most parents wish they could raise. He may not realize it, but he's a born leader who others can't help but follow. I remember these types of individuals from my adolescence, and they're the ones who go on into adulthood and become successful. If Sam ever realizes how much power over others he truly wields, he'll be an unstoppable hero and I cannot wait to see what he can achieve in his life.

While Sam makes an excellent hero, Caine and Drake make excellent antagonists. Caine and Drake’s personalities complement one another perfectly. Caine is methodical, charismatic, and cunning, while Drake is psychotic and dangerous. Just like any set of bullies, they can't even trust each other. This creates a compelling twist to the conflicts within the story, which of course makes it that much more entertaining.

There are a few words in this story that may be inappropriate for younger children. Additionally, because it involves bullies there are some situations that may seem offensive such as when a child is called a "retard". While some may not agree with this term, it truly does help in understanding the psychology of the children involved in the story.

This is only the first of many stories about the FAYZ and I plan on continuing the series with my daughter. I know my daughter wishes there were a movie coming out because she would love to see it, but we'll have to be satisfied by reading the next story.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Dragon Night by Stephanie Campbell

Dragon Night by Stephanie Campbell
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full length (243 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

The only thing more shocking than discovering that dragons really exist is finding out that you are one.

Ever since he could remember, Ford was treated cruelly by his parents, Liddy and Wicker Forks. He cannot figure out why they hate him so much. It is only when he discovers that his father isn’t really Wicker Forks but instead is a mysterious, red-eyed stranger that he goes on a quest to find his true identity—and much, much more.

As he heads forward down the path of danger and illusion, he uncovers a world that he had never imagined, a world of dragons. Ford must decide who he is—a dragon or a boy—and whichever path he chooses will be his future for forever. After all, once you are a dragon, there is no going back.

Ford always wanted to have some special abilities or powers to make him different from the other folks. You know, superpowers or unusual knowledge or something like that. But he never expected to be as different as he was…

This author does a nice job of creating a fantasy world that seems reasonable. Besides humans, her world holds draconians and dragons. And woe be to anyone who has been sired by a dragon.

Ford only knows his parents treat him like a servant and never offer him any love or support. He doesn’t know why but assumes it must be because they don’t care for him. That’s all he knows until he suddenly finds himself feeling strange sensations and getting extremely hot. He even confuses paramedics trying to help him. After a few sessions of this, he realizes his body is changing. The problem is he doesn’t know to what.

Ms. Campbell writes a busy story with lots of complex relationships between her families of characters and poor Ford. Ford is sixteen and what he’s going through resembles puberty but is much worse. You immediately empathize with him because he’s brought up loveless and has no idea how to help himself. The author adds evil dragons, and draconians who are slaves to the dragons and mixes Ford into the conflict between the two factions. The entire story held my attention and made me hungry to see what’s on the next page and how she would end the story. There's potential for a sequel here if the author chooses. I’d be happy to read more about Ford and how he puts his life back together.

This is an excellent read for a young person going through life changes who needs a distraction or for someone who enjoys fantasy or stories about dragons.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Stakeout by Bonnie J. Doerr

Stakeout by Bonnie J. Doerr
Publisher: Leap Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (310 Pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Jasmine

How could Kenzie have predicted that a surreal encounter with an ancient sea turtle at a New York aquarium would propel her into peril in the Florida Keys?

A haunting promise compels Kenzie to save sea turtles by capturing the criminals who are robbing the nests. Fearless, wheelchair-bound Ana and savvy, troubled Angelo assist Kenzie in an undercover sting that grows increasingly complicated and treacherous. As problems compound, Kenzie fears losing her first romance, her mother's trust, and her own life.

Stakeout includes notes on sea turtle conservation as well as on the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida.

We have found the modern day Scooby gang! Only instead of ghost stories, these teens are solving environmental crimes and changing the world. Or at least they're trying to change the world they live in.

Kenzie is a typical teenage girl who recently moved from New York City to the Florida Keys. She is becoming more independent and is learning how to push her boundaries. She's also dealing with the divorce of her parents, and her father's subsequent remarriage, as well as her mother's new boyfriend. The family issues in this story serve well as a backdrop to the other problems and are handled admirably.

Kenzie also has a crush on Angelo, who's portrayed so well, if I was that age, I probably would too. Her actions and reactions to events and circumstances throughout the story are very realistic for a girl of that age, from resenting mom's new boyfriend to making rash decisions without considering the consequences. Salty, the dog, is her ever present companion and partner in crime. He's the best friend every kid wants.

The secondary character of Ana is completely charming. I absolutely loved the way this girl is portrayed. She's strong and independent and won't allow anyone to do something for her that she can do herself. Ana is confined to a wheelchair, due to having spina bifida, but she doesn't let that stop her from doing anything the other kids do. Having grown up with a grandmother in a wheelchair and a family friend with spina bifida, and knowing firsthand how uncomfortable kids can be around people who are different, it's great to see this sort of thing included in the story.

As the mystery of who's stealing the turtle eggs progresses, we see the characters of the colorful island people emerge. The author does a fantastic job of painting a picture of the Florida Keys and what life there is like. It really made me want to visit the Keys, even though it's not an area I've ever previously had any interest in. I loved that the kids live in a place that makes them care about the environment and makes them want to make the adults care again, too.

The illustrations that are scattered throughout the book, along with the history added at the end about the art, add a lot to the story and serves to pull you deeper into the world of the Keys. It allows the kids to see what the different turtles being discussed look like as well as adding a fun element.

Part two in a series, Stakeout is a standalone read. It's a great story for kids who are interested in environmental issues or who love animals. It's also a great way to bring attention to these issues for others. A perfect summer read for any young teenager, boy or girl, this is a series that will get them hooked and keep them reading.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Drawn by Marie Lamba

Drawn by Marie Lamba
Publisher: Lamba Associates, Inc., Createspace
genre: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (296 pgs)
Age recommendation: 12+
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Water Lily

She's the artist that finds him in her drawings. He's the medieval ghost that conquers her heart. And their time is running out.

Michelle De Freccio moves to England seeking a normal life, but someone starts appearing in her sketches. Then he grabs her at the castle, his pale green eyes full of longing. She's immediately drawn to him, but is Christopher Newman real? She's either losing it, or channeling a hot ghost from the 1400's. History calls him a murderer. Her heart tells her other truths. Now Michelle faces endless dangers...and a timeless love.

I was drawn (pun intended) into this book from the first page and couldn’t put it down. I love Michelle. She’s both a typical teen and uniquely herself—talented and liked, but not popular. She’s pretty without being gorgeous. In a word, she’s real. Her worries about making friends and fitting in felt honest without being too angsty. She deals with the strange things that happen to her in a believable way.

When Michelle is drawn into the past it naturally makes her question her sanity. I liked how her mother’s wackiness and her brother’s disease add depth to her worries and to her father’s, making what someone else might pass off as vivid dreams into something truly disconcerting. The setting is wonderful and highlights the changes from past to present and back in an organic way that make the transitions seem effortless. This story is so deftly created that I was in each setting and could easily “see” Michelle’s art without illustrations.

I enjoyed how Ms. Lamba seamlessly inserts “Back to the Future” references. They compliment Roger’s character, fit the plot, and help explain how changing the past can change the present. They clarify things for Michelle and force her think about what she’s doing and realize by simply being in the past she changes the present. In the midst of her growing affection for Christopher, she has to weigh the risks and possible consequences of her actions to decide what action, if any, to take.

I loved how the book ended. It wasn't what I thought it would be and different than Michelle thought it would as well, but it felt right and was very satisfying. I recommend Drawn to tweens, teens and above. It has the perfect amount of romance, and enough action and suspense to keep the most distracted reader turning the pages.