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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Secrets of the Time Society by Alexandra Monir

Secrets of the Time Society by Alexandra Monir
Publisher: Delacorte Press for Young Readers/Random House
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (26 pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

There exists a secret society where one's ability to travel through time is "gifted" to members only by blood. Those who try to enter the society quickly come to realize that time is a force not to be reckoned with. Alexandra Monir's short story exclusive ebook, Secrets of the Time Society, sheds light upon the world created in her novel Timeless and forecasts the fate that lies ahead for its protagonist, Michele Windsor. Now that Michele is gifted, there are some who will do anything to take that power away.

What could such a scary and strange dream mean? Sixteen-year-old Michele wakes up startled in her grandparents’ mansion.

Secrets of the Time Society is a bridge, a short story, interesting on its own. It adds information and tension to the novel Timeless, answering some of the questions presented there. It also prepares readers for the next novel in the series expected to be published later this year.

This tale introduces a villain, Rebecca, an antagonist to match Michele. Readers now worry a bit more for the heroine. Rebecca is devious and selfish. She's smart and could seriously hurt Michele’s chances of happiness. Her character is clearly drawn, making it easy to visualize her and her nature.

The fantasy setting of the Time Society’s headquarters is done well. It’s remarkable and descriptive. We meet other time travelers. What’s also attention grabbing for those who have read Timeless is the revisitation to a scene from that book, but from the perspective of the new antagonist.

It’s a good little story, and the new developments set things up for the next book in the series. While I would have liked to have had a chance to see a bit more of Michele and Philip, this story was obviously meant to introduce Rebecca. Readers will just have to wait to see if they find each other across time again. Having read the first book, the second novel is greatly anticipated.

For a ten-minute or so read filled with twists, check out Secrets of the Time Society. But I recommended you first read the wonderful novel that comes before it, Timelesss, to get a full appreciation of how this all came about and where it might be going.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Timeless by Alexandra Monir


Timeless by Alexandra Monir
Publisher: Ember, an imprint of Random House Children’s books
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (280 pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Lavender

When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.

Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.

What would you do if your true love were born a hundred years before you? Sixteen-year-old Michele Windsor finds out. When her mother dies, she moves across the country to live with her wealthy grandparents in New York. There, she's surrounded with opulence, a first for her.

Michele is grieving, of course, but then something very strange happens. She gets transported back in time to the fascinating Gilded Age—1910. At a fancy ball, she makes eye contact with the young man who has haunted her dreams for years, and it’s a magical moment. Philip pulls her aside, equally entranced. They develop a friendship and more. She gets yanked back to her present but finds her way back to him periodically. These are two completely endearing characters. Philip is so respectful and romantic he sets a new standard. Michele is his equal, deserving of this great guy, and the chemistry between them is amazing. When they get separated, it’s heart wrenching.

The descriptions of the era, as well as those of the twenties and forties enrich the story and make the world of the characters realistic. Michele’s adventures in the past are interesting. The subplot adds intrigue with its family mystery. Supporting characters are just right.

This is a fast-paced book, hard to put down, and so well written. It’s moving emotionally and lovely in presentation. The author is a singer/songwriter, and the original songs mentioned in the book can be found online. I look forward to reading the sequel to this great story and highly recommend this book.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gnit-Wit Gnipper and the Perilous Plague by T J Lanz

Gnit-Wit Gnipper and the Perilous Plague by T J Lanz
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Age Recommendation: 12+
Length: Short Story (13 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

No matter how hard she tries life never seems to go quite right for Gnipper Tallhat, an eight-year-old Gnome determined to receive the recognition her intelligence deserves. This time, however, she's got it all figured out. Finally, her father will have to be proud of her accomplishments...provided he manages to live through them.

All Gnipper wants to do is get her hat. You have to do something that brings you honor to do that, and somehow all her experiments and projects have just turned to disaster…

This author has created a “punny” little story that is both funny and cute at the same time. It is a novella, but she’s managed to create a full bodied story about gnomes that you won’t want to miss. She grabs your heart and makes you feel sorry for Gnipper; she tries so hard. If she doesn’t succeed soon, she’s going to be declared a Gnit-Wit.

Ms. Lanz creates a real conflict for Gnipper by having her father be a super achiever of honors. How can she hope to measure up? After all, greatness for a gnome is having the biggest (don’t go there, this is young adult’s book) hat! Action picks up very fast when Gnipper spikes her father’s tea and his health begins to sink. It seems the experiment she's doing this time is infecting people with the plague.

Between gnomes, unicorns, and other unusual creatures, you learn about gnome culture and become very attached to Gnipper. Will she succeed in her quest?

The story flows well, makes you laugh, and will keep your young ones reading. I bet they’ll be able to come up with some ideas for hats, too, after they’ve read this story. After all, it’s good clean fun and enjoyable overall. Why not get a copy of this for any young fantasy reader or someone with a good sense of humor? The ending is my favorite part of the story.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Christmas Gift by Diane Craver

A Christmas Gift by Diane Craver
Publisher: Whimsical Publications
Genre: YA, Historical, Holiday
Age Recommendation: 12+
Length: Short Story (70 pgs)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Justin Reeves is a man who has it all: a good job, a loving wife and children who are the center of his universe. Justin also has a secret he's hidden from everyone his entire life—or so he thought. Quite innocently his small daughter, Debby, stumbles upon his secret and is shocked by what she finds. She confronts her father with the awful truth, and together they embark upon a journey which takes her father from the darkness of shame into the light of victory.

Enjoy Christmas all year long! Ms. Craver’s A Christmas Gift is a delightful short story. The first person point of view, the exacting descriptions and realistic conversation make this immediate and personal.

Debra sneaks downstairs very very quietly late at night to use the bathroom and discovers, quite accidentally, that her father is busy studying her school book. Why would he be doing that? She wants to ask someone about his studious activity, yet, one problem or another keeps her from asking each person she thinks of. Still, she's curious and perseveres, until she finally realizes that he's trying to cope with a particular problem. Then, this precocious girl tries to come up with people who would be able to help him.

The highlight here might be the human interaction: the family and friends who are supportive, the neighborhood that can be relied on as a community. However, elements of the setting are simply enchanting. This novella put me in mind of a time of 4-H meetings, church groups, picnic outings and the importance of family life. Delightful.

‘A Christmas Gift’ is anything but a fast read, with its great attention to details and descriptions. This more than fits the story’s tone and overall pace, so no complaint: however, contemporary readers may find this quite different from their usual selections. A short sample:

… a woman of medium height and probably overweight by sixty pounds, wore a green dress in a fine material. A pretty lacy hankie was stuck in a front pocket, and around her neck was a small pearl choker. ….

Although this book is listed as YA, I think its true audience will be with older readers – some will be charmed to recall the conventions, customs, and perhaps, more importantly, the challenges of life in the 50s. The prologue is a nice, almost confidential-feeling conversation with the author. It's a charming introduction to A Christmas Gift. It’s also a little window to the past… a special thank you for sharing, to author Diane Craver.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Trouble The Cat by P.M Griffin

Trouble The Cat by P.M Griffin
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (46 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Stephantois

Can a fugitive budding sorceress and her brilliant cat escape the enraged mob pursuing them?

An outburst of her newly awakened, uncontrolled sorcery talent made twelve-year-old Dory a fugitive. Trouble, her indomitable cat, led her into a walled garden minutes ahead of the mob pursuing her. There they encountered the owner, Martin, a powerful sorcerer. He listened to their story in growing excitement and offered to teach and conceal his guest – but the price would be high.

This book has a little bit of everything:  a mystery, a young girl running from a bad crowd and paranormal elements. And let's not forget a clever cat. For anyone who knows these animals well, the author did a top notch job incorporating everything feline into the character and story. Despite being seemingly targeted toward a young adult audience, I think all ages will enjoy this story.

Trouble The Cat has two parts and I won’t spoil it by telling you about the second half but let’s just say it had me reading on to find out what happened to Dory and Trouble. The pacing is fast, the dialogue very natural sounding and the second part of the story has lots of action that seems to quicken the pace even more.

I found Trouble The Cat intriguing even if it wasn’t intended for an adult audience. I liked both the human and animal characters and will definitely be looking out for more books featuring this duo. It’s one to put on your must read list if you like paranormal stories and adore cats.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Demon Side by Heaven Leigh Eldeen

The Demon Side by Heaven Liegh Eldeen
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (127 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Every kid has problems. Every kid has even more problems when they move to a new home. But when a kid with problems moves to a new home that has a Demon living inside it—look out!

Etta’s world is about to spin out of control when she encounters her new roommate—and Rahovart, that ancient trickster, is in for a few surprises too. So don’t mind all the crashing and rumbling; that’s just the normal noise Angels and Demons make when they’re fighting an epic war in the attic.

One thing’s for sure: Etta and Rahovart will have to go through Hell to Heaven and back again before that old Victorian home in Quantico Town finally quiets down…

Etta’s not had an easy life. So, why should it be surprising that when her father tries to give her a fresh start, they wind up moving into a house inhabited by a demon? But what about the demon? Has his un-life been any easier? And even more importantly, what happens when their worlds collide in one big bang? In a word: chaos.

Rahavort is both your typical demon and he’s not, not really. While he lives to torture, annoy, and frighten the living daylights out of the living, there’s more to him than that. And it takes a seventeen-year-old girl to make him realize it. I was intrigued by the idea of the story being told from his point of view. However, you can take all your preconceptions and throw them out the window, because Ra is going to surprise you paragraph after paragraph until he’s even surprising himself. Never have I read about a demon so compassionate and caring, even if only when it comes to Etta.

Etta is awesome. She’s damaged, she’s young, and yet she takes no prisoners. Despite the fact she’s literally been through hell and back, she never lets her circumstances get her down. I laughed out loud every time she stood up to Ra and told him to, basically ‘stuff it’. Her bravery and her fragility combine to make for an intriguing character.

At first, I had some trouble with the author’s style. It seemed a bit inconsistent but she happily pulls it together after the first couple chapters and settles into a style that flows in a better way. I’m very thankful for this as it turned out to be an enjoyable story with a shocker of an ending. Demon stories are a favorite of mine and I was excited to find this waiting for me. I was even more thrilled when I saw how the author so wonderfully turned everything we knew about demons on its head. A nice twist of events never hurt anyone, right? I absolutely hope that there is a sequel in the works.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Demon Whisperer by Tawny Stokes

Demon Whisperer by Tawny Stokes
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (233 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

During a year-long coma--literally spent in hell--seventeen-year-old Caden Butcher developed a special power. He can speak to demons in their own language. Awakening with this new ability, Caden takes over the family exorcism business and becomes known as the young whiz-kid exorcist to the stars, obtaining most of his work from Hollywood. But what others don't know is the exorcisms are all staged with the help of his best buddy, Dantalion, a demon he met in while he was in hell.

When an exorcism goes wrong, Caden discovers the demon inside a teen girl is not your normal malicious entity, but an adversary from down under who is hell-bent on Caden’s destruction because of what Caden did to him while in hell.

Now with the help of Dantalion and Caden’s girlfriend Aspen, a skilled necromancer, Caden must track down the rogue demon before he can expose Caden as a fraud and end his reign as the one and only Demon Whisperer.

This is Earth, but not the planet we know. Demons take every opportunity to leave their diabolical world and possess humans. Sometimes they don't even wait for an invitation.

Frank Butcher is seriously injured in a failed exorcism and his son Caden lays in a coma for a year. When Caden miraculously recovers he doesn't tell anyone he has spent the year surviving in hell with the help of a demon, Dan. Caden lies about his age so he can do the exorcisms. What he doesn't tell anyone is the bargain he has made with Dan. In exchange for a life in the real world, Dan possesses the humans and allows Caden to exorcise him.

Caden has it all, a steady job, a girlfriend he adores - who's also a necromancer - and a demon to assist him in life and business. Then things start to go wrong. Throw in a zombie or two, the International Order of Exorcists and an unknown demon who is out to destroy Caden and you get a really brilliant paranormal story.

Inside Caden is a normal seventeen year old. To the people around him he's a nineteen year old with an old head on young shoulders. He takes care of a father who has turned to drink, he spends every spare moment with his girlfriend and tries to sleep as little as possible. Why? Because he's haunted by his time in hell and finds it hard to cope with the nightmares.

Although the problem is serious, Ms Stokes has approached it in a lighthearted way making her paranormal world seem perfectly normal. Caden tells the reader of his time in the netherworld, but we are there with him when he performs exorcisms, meets the zombies, discusses his problems with his girlfriend and fights the demon who is out to get him. I know readers often say they can't put books down because they're enjoying them, but in this case it is true. I read this book in two sittings.

Demon Whisperer has a hint of darkness so I would recommend it for the fourteen plus age group, but the lighthearted approach to Caden's problems reached out and drew me right into the story. Definitely a must for teenage lovers of the paranormal.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lily by L.M. DeWalt

Lily - The Quest for Reason Book One by L.M. Dewalt
Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing
Genre: Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length Full Length (302 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 4 starts
Reviewed by Orchid

Lily is a tragic and lonely vampire, unwittingly brought into her existence by Ian, a selfish but beautiful maker who has captured her heart for decades, even though he left her with no compass on how to navigate her strange new world. When she meets a coven of vampires that takes her in and treats her like family, all she thought she knew is brought into question. Things are further complicated when she finally finds love - Christian, a human man. Just when she's finally found happiness, Ian reappears, threatening to destroy everything Lily holds dear. When he once again removes all her choices, Lily is thrown into a world where Ian's ongoing sins are unstoppable and her family and newfound love seem lost forever.

Lily is nineteen going on ninety. At the human age of nineteen her fiancé makes her into a vampire - and she didn't even know about his passion for drinking human blood.

Sixty years later Lily is lonely and bored and begins to travel. Luck is on her side as she finds a vampire family who want her to join them. Their warmth and caring envelop her giving her the love she didn't even know she lacked. Lily decides to take an archaeology course and meets Christian and falls instantly in love. Two problems here. Christian is human, and human/vampire relationships are frowned on. Another problem is the daughter of her family who brings home her new vampire boyfriend. This is none other than Ian, Lily's maker. Sparks begin to fly when Ian decides if he can't have Lily, no one will.

I found the beginning of this book to be very slow. Although the author had to give the background to Lily and introduce a few characters who reappeared later in the book, I felt as if I was being told what was happening rather than experiencing it. However when Lily left her home behind her and set out for new horizons the story began to increase its pace.

By the time she admitted to herself she loved Christian, I was hooked. Lily and Christian plus Lily's family entered my mind quite easily, I could see them, hear them and watch them act out their lives. Unfortunately Ian didn't come across the same way. A shame really, as one of his helpers really dazzled me.

For lovers of vampire stories this is a definite yes. It gives an insight into vampire lives, the way they earn their living and how they feed. The ethics of the latter are very interesting - yes vampires do have ethics when it comes to who they feed from. All you vampire lovers out there this is one you should read, and it's the first of a series so there's more to come.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

April Book of the Month Winner

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.

Read the full review here!