Beginning January 1, 2013

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Saturday, June 30, 2012

June Book of the Month Poll Winner - Spell Check by Ariella Moon

Spell Check by Ariella Moon
Publisher: Astraea Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (165 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Lotus

Ever since Evie’s photojournalist dad died, paralyzing fear prevents her from picking up a camera. If Evie can’t pull it together, she’ll lose her position as Yearbook Photo Editor and suffer academic failure. Even worse, Evie risks losing Jordan, her secret crush. Despite a falling out, Evie never forgot Jordan. Now they are lab partners and the chemistry definitely sparks between them. But Evie’s supposed friend, Parvani, wants Jordan for herself. Parvani possesses a brimstone-hissing spell book. Soon the moon will be in the optimum phase for a binding love spell. To save Jordan, Evie must join forces with Salem, the school Goth. The clock is ticking. Can Evie get her mojo back in time to check this spell?

Read the full review here!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thorn by Intisar Khanani

Thorn by Intisar Khanani
Publisher: Smashwords
Genre: SciFi-Fantasy
Length: Full Length (197 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Dianthus

Princess Alyrra’s strength lies in silence. Scorned by her family, she avoids the court, spending her time with servants. When her marriage is unexpectedly arranged with the prince of a powerful neighboring kingdom, Alyrra feels trapped. As the court celebrates her match, dark rumors spread about the unexplained deaths of the women of her new family. Alyrra begins her journey with mounting trepidation. Betrayed while traveling, she seizes an opportunity to start a life away from court.

Walking away from a prince whom she doesn’t know should have been easy. But from the moment she sets eyes on him, Alyrra realizes that her freedom could cost him his life. Without any magical defense of her own, she is plunged into a lethal game of sorcery and deceit. Now Alyrra must decide whom she can trust and what she’s willing to fight for—before her silence proves fatal.

For Alyrra, the idea of an arranged marriage was a dream that couldn't be anything worse than the life that she was already living. In a home where she feared her family and was disrespected at every turn, an unknown husband couldn't be any worse in her eyes. But when the King of Menaiya comes to her kingdom to bid for her hand in marriage in lieu of his son, things just don't add up for her. The king is almost too kind and wants to know her as more than just someone to be bargained and traded for. Can Alyrra trust this mystery man or will he just turn out to be like everyone else in her life? When she escapes the prying eyes of everyone around to talk to the Wind, her troubles seem lighter knowing that her wind will follow her to this distant land. But tragedy strikes and Alyrra is lost in the body of someone else after a witch tricks her and her riding mate as a way to get back at the King. Will this cruel trick be a way out of everything for Alyrra or will she have to fight for everything that she wants to make the witch break the curse?

Kestrin, Prince of Menaiya, has dreamed of Alyrra since he first caught a glimpse of her from far away. Bidding for her hand when it came time for him to marry seemed like the best thing. But the woman that comes to him does not seem like the Alyrra he knew. Will Kestrin be able to figure out the mystery or has he been duped into a marriage of inconvenience? Witch craft could be the only thing that can aid Kestrin in finding the real Alyrra, and it's up to him to decide just how hard he's willing to fight for the girl from his memories. With the help of the King, his guards, and some amazing hostlers, Kestrin may just be able to get the girl of his dreams while defeating a wicked witch all at the same time.

While this story was a completely different genre than what I'm used to reading, and at times seemed a bit cumbersome in the otherwordliness, in the end I really enjoyed it. The growth of Alyrra was something many can relate to, but most specifically the younger generation looking for a character of substance and strength. I recommend this book to older teens due to some adult topics, i.e. murder, hangings, rape etc.  However, this books isn't only something I'd recommend for teens; this book would be good for anyone of any age looking to get into the fantasy world of reading or simply wanting something unique and well written to read.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Haunted by Heather Beck

Haunted by Heather Beck
Publisher: Treasure Cove Books
Genre: Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary
Age Recommendation: 10+
Length: Short Story (125 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

When darkness falls and the air turns cold, ghosts come out to play. Heather Beck presents Haunted, an anthology of ghostly encounters and paranormal events. *Haunted contains The Horror Diaries Volumes 1-5.

Ghost Park

After discovering a mysterious playground in the woods, Chase is stalked by angry ghost children.

A Haunting Past

Truce’s class trip to an old native reserve turns deadly when Bear, an infamous chief who died two hundred years ago, blames him for the tribe’s extinction.

The Manor On The Rocks

Grey, damp and surrounded by jagged rocks, Calla Lily’s new home isn’t only unpleasant, it’s also haunted by the world’s most evil boy.

A Medieval Nightmare

When Ellie and Brandon get trapped in a medieval museum that’s a bit too real, they fall under a spell and become pivotal players in a ghostly regime.

A Watery Grave

A camping trip becomes a heart-pounding race for survival when Justine meets a ghost who’s determined to change her fate by trading bodies with a living entity.

Are you afraid of the dark? This book will give you five great reasons to pull the covers over your head if you’re not doing so already.

“A Haunting Past” starts out a little slow but it quickly builds up steam. The twist at the end wasn’t something I had anticipated and more than makes up for the rocky beginning. I was also surprised to see Truce getting help in his battle against Bear from an unexpected source. The relationship between Bear and this source was something I figured out early on in the story but it did provide a solid explanation for Bear’s motives.

The ghost in “The Manor on the Rock” is far more menacing than the ones in the rest of this collection. As the plot thickened I read it with a pounding heart honestly not knowing what would happen next. This was the only story in the collection that is not appropriate for younger or sensitive audiences. It was by far the best one in the collection, though, and is something I highly recommend for adult and young adult readers alike.

“A Medieval Nightmare” blends humor and horror effortlessly. It’s a solid, well-told tale that answered just enough questions to resolve most plot points without bogging the reader down with unnecessary details. I really liked the quick thinking of Ellie and Brandon as well as the fact that neither one could be said to be the exclusive hero of the story.

What would you do if a ghost wanted to trade bodies with you? A Watery Grave explores this question thoroughly. I figured out how it would end early on but still found the final paragraph to be deliciously chilling. This story could easily be expanded into a full length novel or followed up by a sequel. I don’t know if Ms. Beck is planning to follow up with Justine and the other characters in the future but I’d be thrilled to hear from them again.

Unfortunately “Ghost Park” was bogged down with a slow beginning and uneven pacing. While the ghosts were truly frightening I would have liked to see a more thorough explanation of their back-stories. The bits and pieces we were given were intriguing but they never quite snapped together to explain how the children died or why they were trapped in this plane. This was the weakest story in the collection and the only one I didn’t particularly enjoy despite rooting for the plucky main character, Chase. This is actually the first story in the anthology but I chose to review it last so my review, though pointed, wouldn't prevent anyone from choosing to read this clever group of short stories.

While all of the protagonists are teenagers in this collection the writing will be more appealing to students in late elementary or early middle school. The Manor on the Rock is fairly intense and more appropriate for older readers who aren’t easily spooked but the rest of these stories could be enjoyed by kids as young as eight.

I recommend Haunted for anyone who is in the mood for something frightening. These creepy stories will stick with you long after you’ve put down the book.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Monster Burrufu by Alberto Corral

My Monster Burrufu by Alberto Corral
Publisher: Petite Grande Idee
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (83 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 8+
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Seven-year-old Olivia has just moved to a new house—the same house where a lonely monster named Burrufu lives hidden in a secret attic. One night, unable to resist the smell of delicious cookies, Burrufu sneaks out and is discovered by Olivia. The two soon learn that you can find friendship in the most unexpected places.

'My Monster Burrufu' is a story of fear overcome, a curse, and a most unusual monster who learns from a little girl how to trust his heart.

Olivia and her father are moving to the country so he'll have a quiet place to write. Olivia wasn’t sure if she wanted to live in the country, but then she saw the house. It was a big old Victorian type with lots of rooms to snoop in and all kinds of things to discover. She just didn’t expect to discover a monster…

This author does a very nice job of creating a young girl character who never knew her mother, has a busy father, and is a lot braver than I was at her age! He’s made her easy to love because she’s gracious and kind (and makes good cookies) and she wants to do the right thing. The other characters are her father, his agent, and the monster. Mr. Corral’s monster is not all that scary, but he has one talent that creates panic: he magically grows when people are fearful of him.

I like the way he teaches us a little lesson about people who are different from us. Don’t be judgmental. Don’t be fearful until someone gives you a reason to be. He makes his story interesting by creating a monster who writes stories and likes cookies. It’s a charming story that younger middle grade readers should really enjoy reading.

Alessandra Sorrentino is the illustrator and her graphics made reading the story even more fun. The monster has long claws and wears a scarf; Olivia looks like a doll walking next to him. Young readers should enjoy looking at the illustrations and imagining themselves in the same situation.

Mr. Corral and Ms. Sorrentino’s collaboration on this book has produced a wonderful fantasy for children to read and smile over. The ending was a surprise, but it’s most appropriate. I’d just start keeping an eye out if your child suddenly starts baking a lot of cookies. Who knows who you might find?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hatter’s Creek Rescue by Alan Cupp

Hatter’s Creek Rescue by Alan Cupp
Publisher: Wild Child Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Action/Adventure
Age Recommendation: 8+
Length: Short Story (36 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

When eleven-year-old JT set out on his bike one morning toward Mill House Road, all he anticipated was a thrilling ride down the steepest and longest piece of road in the county. The experience ranked high on JT's list of favorite summer time activities. His only worry was keeping Mom from finding out about his trip down the seldom-traveled hill, miles from any populated area. However, things don't always go as anticipated. After a disappointing and painful encounter with a pothole, JT finds himself alone, battered, and miles from home with a broken bicycle. On his way home, JT stops at Hatter's Creek Bridge to wash off some of the blood and dirt, hoping to mask the truth of his ill-fated journey. When he witnesses a car accident at the opposite end of the bridge, JT is plunged into the role of rescuer. To save the car's occupants, JT must face the dangerous current of Hatter's Creek, fatigue, hunger, an ill-tempered dog, and his worst fear: a dirty diaper.

How would you react in an emergency? Many of us - kids and adults alike - instinctively freeze. JT Hawn springs to action to help in any way he can despite the risk to his own well-being.

Writing a well-rounded description of any character in a short story isn’t easy. This can be an even more difficult thing to accomplish when the main character is an eleven year old boy reacting to a crisis, but Mr. Cupp does a fantastic job of capturing JT’s curiosity, courage and just a hint of disobedience in a short time frame.

The diaper changing incident injected some much-needed humor into the story. JT’s inexperience with babies and his disgust at changing diapers rang true to everything else the reader learns about JT’s personality.

The medical status of one of the characters was a little confusing. At one point this individual speaks but a short while later this person is described as being unconscious. I actually went back to reread the previous section to see if the injured party had begun to recover. The text didn’t specify how much time had passed and I finished the story still not knowing if Mr. Cupp meant that this person was passing in and out of consciousness or if more time had passed than I’d originally assumed.

This is not a serious flaw, though, and other than puzzling over the timeline it did not affect my enjoyment of the story.

If you’re looking for a warm-hearted, funny adventure I highly recommend Hatter’s Creek Rescue.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Spell Check by Ariella Moon

Spell Check by Ariella Moon
Publisher: Astraea Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (165 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Lotus

Ever since Evie’s photojournalist dad died, paralyzing fear prevents her from picking up a camera. If Evie can’t pull it together, she’ll lose her position as Yearbook Photo Editor and suffer academic failure. Even worse, Evie risks losing Jordan, her secret crush. Despite a falling out, Evie never forgot Jordan. Now they are lab partners and the chemistry definitely sparks between them. But Evie’s supposed friend, Parvani, wants Jordan for herself. Parvani possesses a brimstone-hissing spell book. Soon the moon will be in the optimum phase for a binding love spell. To save Jordan, Evie must join forces with Salem, the school Goth. The clock is ticking. Can Evie get her mojo back in time to check this spell?

Wouldn’t it be great if it were possible to put a love spell on someone to make them fall for you? What if your best friend wants to put a love spell on the guy you have fallen for because she has a crush on him?

Evie O’Reilly has a big problem – her best friend Parvani Hyde-Smith wants Evie to help her cast a spell on Jordan Kent because Parvani has a huge crush on him. She's totally unaware that Evie is beginning to have feelings for Jordan. Evie actually doesn’t realize it either, until things start to go wrong and it might be too late for her to make those feelings known.

Evie is a freshman at Jefferson High. Her father, Dash O’Reilly, was a famous photographer killed in action almost two years ago. Her mother makes greeting cards to pay the bills. Evie takes after her father, photographing events for the school yearbook where she's the photo editor. She's been friends with Jordan Kent since preschool. They even went to Disneyland together when they were little. Jordan is athletic, plays football, and is very smart. He's in Honors Geometry with Parvani and Zhù Wong. Something changed as Evie and Jordan grew up, ending their closeness so that they stopped hanging out together. Then, when the Smash Heads (aka Jordan’s teammates Evan and Tommy) start bothering Evie, Jordan comes to her rescue. Unfortunately, misunderstandings and a jealous friend jeopardizes their growing relationship and Jordan comes down with a mysterious illness.

The supporting characters of Parvani, Zhù, Sarah (aka Salem), and Miss Ravenwood add interesting parts to the story. Parvani casts a spell even though she's not fully aware of the inherent dangers. Zhù has a secret that Evie has to keep even though she's not privy to all of it. Miss Ravenwood has links to Evie that Evie and Parvani stumble upon, changing Evie’s view of her past. The world seems to go out of control and Evie feels helpless to right all the wrongs.

Ms. Moon tells a wonderful, entrancing story that was a bit slow getting to the action, but that was necessary to show the effects of Dash O’Reilly’s death on his daughter. She was in shock at first and took a while to get back into her own life. It was worth the wait because then we were in for a rollercoaster of emotions with all that happens to Evie and her friends. The descriptions of Evie and her friends made me laugh because their actions and speech were so similar to teenagers who I know (and love). Then the feelings that Evie had for Jordan reminded me of how first love feels, giddy and sweet.

Spell Check is a great story for the young adult or the young at heart. I enjoyed the vicarious experience of falling in love, dealing with secrets, and working out best friend issues. Evie’s father dying young does punctuate the need for Evie to live life to the fullest and go after what she wants once she wakes up from her sorrow. It’s food for thought for the rest of us as we enjoy Evie’s spell binding adventure.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Year Of The Gadfly by Jennifer Miller

The Year Of The Gadfly by Jennifer Miller
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Contemporary, suspense/mystery
Length: Full length (371 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Sunflower

“Do you know what it took for Socrates’ enemies to make him stop pursuing the truth?”


Storied, fiercely competitive Mariana Academy was founded with a serious honor code; its reputation has been unsullied for decades. Now a long-dormant secret society, Prisom's Party, threatens its placid halls with vigilante justice, exposing students and teachers alike for even the most minor infraction.

Iris Dupont, a budding journalist whose only confidant is the chain-smoking specter of Edward R. Murrow, feels sure she can break into the ranks of The Devil’s Advocate, the Party’s underground newspaper, and there uncover the source of its blackmail schemes and vilifying rumors. Some involve the school’s new science teacher, who also seems to be investigating the Party. Others point to an albino student who left school abruptly ten years before, never to return. And everything connects to a rare book called Marvelous Species. But the truth comes with its own dangers, and Iris is torn between her allegiances, her reporter's instinct, and her own troubled past.

The Year of the Gadfly is an exhilarating journey of double-crosses, deeply buried secrets, and the lifelong reverberations of losing someone you love. Following in the tradition of classic school novels such as A Separate Peace, Prep, and The Secret History, it reminds us how these years haunt our lives forever.

Darkness seems to follow Iris everywhere she goes. With a haunted past, starting over seems like the obvious answer. It's not easy being a socially awkward teenager when you're talking to a friend that really isn't there.

Iris is a complicated fourteen year old. She's got a stubborn streak a mile wide--what teenager doesn't? She's an aspiring journalist, which adds to her budding curiosity to find the truth about everything. She's definitely got her flaws, but it makes her all the more interesting. And the newest venture at her strange high school creates a moving and fast paced trip into a world of secrets. Iris won't leave a stone unturned. If you've got secrets, my friend, this girl will find them. And exploit them. Beware, readers, beware.

Though Iris is a fourteen year-old leading character, the book isn't very well suited for that age group. There's some cursing that doesn't seem right for a younger age. Ms. Miller pulls off quite an interesting story, not only from Iris's point of view, but from two other characters as well, one dating back to the year 2000. The story weaves the past and present together through these three different characters, two of which are written in the first person point of view, and the other is in third. The atmosphere created in the book is full of suspense and oddness. I came away from this story with a sigh of relief, as the tension was skillfully amped up until the last page was read.

The Year of the Gadfly can be read by older teens, and adults. It's a strange tale, but one that I enjoyed reading. If you enjoy a quirky heroine as narrator, tons of secrets within the wall of a high school, and wonderfully crafted narrative pique your interest, then the Year of the Gadfly awaits you.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Minna & The Valentine by S.G. Rogers

Minna & The Valentine by S.G. Rogers
Publisher: Astraea Press
Genre:  Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (63 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Lotus

Minna has a secret. Her father, ex-dragon jockey Wynn Westerfield, will forever hold a grudge against wizards. Because it was a wizard who caused his career-ending accident, Minna struggles to hide her incredible magical powers from him...and from the world.

Evan Valentine has attended a prestigious magical academy on scholarship, although he's managed to conceal that fact from everyone. He's on the fast track to success with his apprenticeship to wizard Thaddeus Bartholomew, and Evan's carefully constructed life doesn't include a certain beautiful girl whose powers rival his own.

Although Minna and Evan don't realize it yet, their destinies have been intertwined for years. When a threat arises, Minna and Evan must travel to another reality to retrieve a dangerous magical artifact. Can Minna and Evan learn to work together, despite their mutual mistrust? Or will their explosive romantic attraction lead to disaster?

Along comes a handsome stranger on a dark and stormy night, carrying a cute little bundle of joy. What girl could resist this twosome?

Minna Westerfield was puzzled by the constant thunder and lightning storms that have been taking place all around her. Evan Valentine shows up with a wet coat wrapped around a cute little puppy, trying to find shelter after he rescued the critter. Minna tries to take care of both of them and feels sparks striking up between her and Evan. She soon finds out that he's a wizard’s apprentice, but she hides her own secret from him (she's also a wizard). She's the daughter of a famous dragon racing jockey and a mom who recently passed away. Also, Minna’s parents turned down a scholarship for her that would have allowed her to attend the prestigious Aldesbury School of Magic. Little does she know that Evan, the wizard Thaddeus Bartholomew, and even her own mother have secrets that will soon be revealed.

Minna misses her mother and is living with her father who's permanently retired from dragon racing due to injuries. She longs for a happy family life that never will be again. Evan grew up poor, but fortuitously landed a scholarship to attend Aldesbury School of Magic. Evan is working hard to master all the skills of being a wizard from Thaddeus who's a kind, but firm teacher. The reason for the thunder and lightning storms causes Minna to join forces with Evan and Thaddeus in a parallel universe to save the world.

This story is a wonderful concoction of fantasy and romance! I could very well imagine this story as a movie. It has all the elements that I enjoy reading about and also watching. The plot was engaging right from the beginning, with narrative that was interesting and descriptively painted a picture for me of all that was happening to Minna, Evan, and Thaddeus. I loved the creative, magical world that Ms. Rogers put her characters in and I would like to see all of that on the big screen. I would have enjoyed finding out more about Evan’s life before he met Minna, in addition to Minna’s life. This was a wonderful young adult fantasy adventure I had a hard time putting down once I started reading it.

For a grand, magical adventure with a sweet romance, be sure to get your copy of Minna & The Valentine! I hope S.G. Rogers writes more wonderful stories, because I will be looking for them.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Legend of the Pumpkin Thief by Charles Day

The Legend of the Pumpkin Thief by Charles Day
Publisher: Noble Romance Publishing
Genre: contemporary, holiday
Age recommendation: 12+
Rated: 4 stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

As the townsfolk sleep, something creeps into the neighborhood. Hidden in shadows, its presence is as old as time itself, its intent not born of goodness.

Nick, a teenager who fancies himself a detective, wakes to find his carved masterpiece missing. Now a mystery is afoot, and Nick has his first assignment, to find out who or what is snatching up the town’s pumpkins and why.

Unfortunately, as with all great detectives, obstacles stand in Nick’s way—the neighborhood bully and his cronies, and the strange old lady and her dog who share the run-down house at the end of Nick’s block. As Nick investigates, an urban legend unravels . . . .

The Legend of The Pumpkin Thief.

Nick fears the legend as he embarks on the most dangerous adventure of his young life. Collecting clues, getting ever closer to the true nature of evil, he learns that curiosity comes with a high price.

Take two parts scary, one part mystery, and add a dash of delight, and there you have ‘The Legend of the Pumkin Thief.  This YA novel is an unexpectedly fresh take on Halloween, and is sure to both intrigue and thrill readers (and although it says Young Adult, teens on up will find this a good read.)

That Nick, the main character, is himself a dedicated reader immediately helps the reader identify with him. He likes mysteries and when a minor one falls in his lap (who took the family’s carved-out pumpkin?) I was delighted that his immediate inclination was to solve it, just like a mystery in a novel. His suspicions quickly connect the old legend of the town’s pumpkin thief to their own missing pumpkin. And why would anyone steal pumpkins? Well, it turns out they provide an important, if almost unknown service…and everyone’s safety is involved.

The approaching Halloween and familiar activities like costume parties contrast with an actual danger. The horror, unleashed in an orange mist, is something teenage Nick must somehow stop… and mystery fans especially will love that what started as a light-hearted investigation proves both important and dangerous!

Throughout, characters are strong and believable: Nick’s interaction with his family (bratty sister, “unfair” parents) are things we can all identify with, as well. Who doesn’t remember impatience, feeling frustrated or unfairly treated? Who didn’t want to keep reading, rather than show up at the dinner table? Other characters, like the teacher who ran homeroom in military-discipline style, were equally interesting and believable. Unfortunately, brief point of view changes interrupted the flow of the story (conversations among students Lou, Norm, Trevor and Ralph prove revealing to the reader, but sort of plop into the story.) Shifts to Samantha go more smoothly, but this reader couldn’t help feeling the story would have been more cohesive without those changes.

Mr. Day’s style is that of a nice comfortable storyteller. He engages the reader even through backstory. The pace of the novel moves from fast-forward to reflection and back, with ease. This is a super Halloween read.

Friday, June 1, 2012

May Book of the Month Poll Winner: 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.

Read the full review here!

Shattered Identity by K. Dawn Byrd

Shattered Identity by K. Dawn Byrd
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Age Recommendation: 16+
Length: Short Story (96 pgs)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed By Dianthus

Lexi Branson thinks she's found the guy of her dreams. So what if he's older? Her new motto is, "Love knows no boundaries or age limits." Zack Bane loves her and treats her like a princess and that's all that matters.

Lexi soons discovers that she doesn't know Zack as well as she thought. He has secrets, the kind that shatter the lives of those who love him. When faced with the truth, Lexi tries to hang onto him because she has a secret of her own.

When Lexi ends up in danger, she discovers she has no one to turn to except her ex-boyfriend, Jeremy. Can Jeremey, who is still in love with her, keep her safe from Zack? When faced with a choice will Lexi choose to stay with the guy who has become a stranger or will she choose Jeremy, the guy who loves her with all his heart?

Lexi's just looking to have a great summer with her hot new boyfriend and to make her friends jealous of what a great life she's faking. With a broken home, a drunken mother, and a sordid past or her own, Lexi's looking to have a good time with Zach, her older boyfriend, until things start to spiral out of control. The only constants she has are her friends Jeremy and Eden. How many times can Lexi be told all of the bad things about Zach before he takes things too far? For Lexi, she's playing for keeps, if only she can figure out who she wants to keep and for how long.  Life is short and happiness can make the shortness not feel so bad.

Zach is crazy for Lexi, if only she would do what he says without questioning every friggin’ move he makes. His possessive streak got him in trouble with his last girlfriend so he has to tread carefully. Lexi's one of a kind, and if Zach can’t have her then no one can. When bumps come up in his business and Lexi gets itchy for answers, escaping into drugs seems to be the only answer for Zach. But will the drugs drive her further away and will he be too lost to care at that point?

Jeremy knew there was something off about Zach the first time he was accosted by him just for talking to Lexi. After his accident, God has become a big part of Jeremy’s life.  Watching Lexi go through all that she has only made Jeremy want her more each day. When she calls him for help to get away from Zach, running to her side is the only option. Can Jeremy keep her safe when she willingly goes back to Zach each time? How long will Jeremy stand back before he takes action to protect the woman he loves? Life got in the way the first time for Jeremy and Lexi, and this time Jeremy will do whatever it takes to ensure Lexi lives to come back to him.

For a YA story, this was a great read with a wonderful message at the end. Not only was it a positive story, the plot and characters worked so well together that it felt as if I were in the book watching everything unfold from page one. The relationship between Zach and Lexi is a train wreck; I didn't want to be there, but I couldn't look away. The added element of Jeremy made the story that much more enjoyable to read. K. Dawn Byrd is a new to me author and I can honestly say if this is the caliber of her other works then I'll be a fan for life. If you or another young reader are looking for a good love story with a great morale at the end then this is the story for you.