Tag Archives: YA fiction

A Different Me- Review


I was asked to read this for a review. It is far outside my normal genres, (But I never deny a request!) Having said that, it’s not the first time I have read this far outside my norm by request, but this has by far been my most impressive readI was surprised by this book, and think it’s deserving of 5 stars. This book will come highly recommended from me to its intended audience (Girls 13-18.)

I think the meaning behind the song “Demons” by Imagine Dragons and A Different Me are very similar. It is a strange comparison, but you’ll understand that correlation after reading it. Both sum up a concept of there is way more going on under the surface than you can possibly figure out from appearances.

I have never read anything from Deborah Blumenthal, but I could tell this was not her first book. The writing was on point, exceptionally so. Blumenthal managed to create not one or two, but an entire cast of characters that felt real and deep on a level that hard to attain. I was further surprised at the character development, specifically the main character Allie, as well as David and Amber. Being able to add such multi-level depth and development to multiple characters is no small feat. Allie begins as a typical high school girl, and her problems and value set are those of a high school. I felt like I was watching a person, not reading a character. Then through a set of outside influences, Blumenthal transforms Allie in a way that feels so natural that it is hard to believe the girl at the end was the same as the one in the beginning.

This book has the ability to leave a lasting effect on certain readers. The story is clearly meant for girls 13-18 and I think it will hit its intended audience right on the mark. All the characters signify many stereotypical personas encountered in high-school, then open up to levels of insecurities and deeper issues that many individuals deal with at some point in their lives.

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Magic Ain’t So Bad

The Quick Review:
Bad magic is a fun book to read. A blend of magic, mystery, adventure, and a little comedy give the reader plenty of reasons not to put the story down. The writing is up tempo and quirky and is a very nice change in storytelling from a typical third person.
This is the first book in a new series by Pseudonyms Bosch, as well as the first book I have read of this particular author. This series ties into his previous one, which I plan to read after reading Bad Magic.

Story Summary:

(Taken from Goodreads)

As in fake. Cheesy. Unreal. At least, that’s what Clay, who has seen one magic show too many, thinks.

When words from his journal appear mysteriously on his school wall as graffiti, he never imagines that magic might be to blame. And when the same graffiti lands him at Earth Ranch, a camp for “troubled” kids on a remote volcanic island, magic is the last thing he expects to find there.

But at Earth Ranch, there is one strange surprise after another, until Clay no longer knows what to expect. Is he really talking to a llama? Did he really see a ghost? What is the scary secret hidden in the abandoned library? The only thing he knows for sure is that behind the clouds of vog (volcanic smog), nothing is as it seems. Can he solve the riddle of Earth Ranch before trouble erupts?

Elusive author Pseudonymous Bosch introduces an extraordinary new series that will have you believing in the unbelievable.

The Longer Review:
I think this story is a more exciting read if it is the first Book you have read from the author. Not having the familiarity with the author’s previous works makes it hard to peg where the story is going, and this adds to the excitement of the story. I Thought I had the story figured out, but the plot line moved back and forth making it hard to figure out how the book would end.

The narration is third person. The stories read as if someone is telling you the story. The narrator adds plenty of anecdotes to the story as he goes, sometimes adding his own personal opinions. I liked it; it is a different style and keeps the story fun and active.

Clay is a nice main character. He basically comes off as a C student Skateboarder with a knack for magic tricks, even though he hates magic. He isn’t an exemplary kid, but not a bad one either. His nerdy Big-Bang-Theory parents who take a hands off approach to parenting attribute to much of his misguided-ness as well as dealing with the disappearance of his brother. His parents are unique as far as support characters I’ve read, nice to see them break the parent molds we commonly see.

Conclusion:

Definitely a good read. A magic-mystery Survivor feel to it. Easy to start on this series and not Bosch’s original series. The original stories are in the same story arc as these. I want to read Bosch’s previous series now that I have read this one.

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Cover Reveal- Hunter by Renee Donne

Hunter cover reveal banner

Anaiah Press is proud to present the cover reveal for YA novel HUNTER by Renee Donne.

Moving across the country isn’t Hunter’s ideal start to her Junior year of high school. She has no friends to hang out with, no beaches to lounge on, and she’s living just a few miles from the secluded hiking trail where her father died when she was a baby.

Living in Wyoming isn’t all bad, though, thanks to Logan, the handsome veterinary assistant at the animal clinic where she lands an after school job. And he seems just as interested in her as she is in him.

As Hunter begins to settle into her new home, she learns more about the circumstances surrounding her father’s tragic death, and it may not have been the accident everyone believes. Something dangerous lurks in the woods, and Hunter might be the next victim.

Release Date: November 4, 2014

And now for the cover…

Hunter cover

Add HUNTER to Goodreads!

Renee DonneAbout the Author

Renee Donne is a native Floridian with a penchant for writing books with a western theme. In her head she’s a world traveler and an amateur chef. In real life, she’s a hometown girl with an affinity for fine wine and good friends. Her favorite place to write is sitting on her veranda, overlooking the beach.

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The Map to Everywhere

 

 

The Quick Review:
This is the best read of the year. I loved it so much I will buy the hardcover when it comes out, even though I got the E-book for free. This book series will fit well into a shelf filled with Brandon Mull and Rick Riordan. The cover is one of those covers that make you want to buy the book (because everyone does judge books by their covers) and the story doesn’t let you down. Everything about this story feels different, original, and all blends together perfectly.

Story Summary:

(Taken from Goodreads) To Master Thief Fin, an orphan from the murky pirate world of the Khaznot Quay, the Map is the key to finding his mother. To suburban schoolgirl Marrill, it’s her only way home after getting stranded on the Pirate Stream, the magical waterway which connects every world in creation (Apparently she shouldn’t have climbed aboard the mysterious pirate ship that sailed out of nowhere and into a dry Arizona parking lot. How was she to know?).

With the help of a bumbling wizard and his crew, they must scour the many worlds of the Pirate Stream to gather the pieces of the Map to Everywhere, but they aren’t the only ones looking. A dark and sinister figure is hot on their tail, and if they can’t beat his ghostly ship to find the Map, it could mean the destruction of everything they hold dear-not least of all themselves!

In Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis’ first installment of a fantastical new series, adventure, magic, and hilarity collide in the treacherous skies and dangerous waters of the Pirate Stream. Heart-pounding escapades and a colorful cast of characters will have readers setting sail through this wholly original and unforgettable tale.

The Longer Review:

This book had a lot of “Why hasn’t anyone thought of that before” moments. It felt very original. Fin, one of the two main characters is fresh and completely out of the box. Many of the characters just struck me as different I didn’t find myself thinking about stereotypical characters types at all. There is no info dump and all the characters still have some mystery about them by the end of the book.

The scenery and locations in this book are fantastic. There all unexpected and it is hard to guess ahead to what’s in store as Fin and Marill travel down the pirate stream. They, along with the corky wizard Ardent and stern Captain Coll, hope from realm to realm on a magic induced goose chase that is hard to foreshadow. The story is very well thought out, the authors must have layered and re-layered the plot along the way. Every little detail in every chapter is related to the ending. Things I read over as such minor details became important at the end. There was no fluff or unnecessary chapters.

I disagree with the reviewers who say this book is too confusing. Middle school readers will have a fine time following along with this book. If the intended reader can keep up with a Fable haven book, then they will be fine reading through The Map to Everywhere.

There are a bunch of visuals that are going to be added to the final version that were left out of the advanced read copy. I want to know what they are! The book doesn’t need pictures, the writing is great, but the inner child in me wants to see the pictures. I want to see the movie as well. Can we get started on making that? There’s going to be a lot of cgi involved, so they need to get started now.

Conclusion:
Again, my read of the year. And that’s after reading Some Riordan earlier in the year (one of my favorites.) This book has the potential to be huge. I really hope it is. I want this to become a long series.

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Empress Fallen by Bethan-Ann Scott – Review

4/5 Stars

The Quick Review:

Space-Adventure fans- get ready for you new favorite series!

Empress Fallen is a strong first novel from new author Bethan-Ann Scott.  A dark, high-octane novel that is surprisingly profound. All the action scenes are intensely exciting. This book is filled with an array of exciting ship battles and firefights to rival scenes from Star Wars and Star Trek.

The Longer Review:

Empress fallen takes place far in the future (7000’s AD) long after the destruction of earth.  Spaceships reminiscent of those of Star Trek and a galaxy run by an Empire that feels more oppressive than that of Star Wars.  It has all the excitement of a good Sci-Fi series, yet is darker and exaggerates moral issues present in today’s society. The action scenes are intense and stimulating and very well written.

The first part of the book was mainly set up and back-story.  Scott’s galaxy is very complex, and takes a large amount of set up to understand. A great fantasy world is one that is thorough; one that exists more off the page than on. Scott has created a fantastic realm, and I am excited to read more in it.

This book is most definitely a Space opera. Many of the characters and ideas build around exaggerated feeling and concepts; amplifying emotions and moralities present in today’s culture and politics. This is my first drama (and space drama) read; at times the character personalities felt too over the top for me, but I cannot compare to anything else.

The Story:

A tyrannical empire filled with corruption, a danger that could destroy the entire human race.  Miriam and Aliya find their destinies inexplicably intertwined as they fight to save an empire that they have been brought up to hate. Will they be able to save humanity and destroy the oppressive rule of the empress and still make it out alive? (Well you have to read to find out ;P ) A story filled with war, rebellion, intense ship battles, love, and secrecy. I thoroughly enjoyed this story from start to finish!

The Writing: 

Bethan-Ann Scott writes amazing action and fight scenes. She adds enough visual for your imagination to create the imagery, but does not bog the story down with descriptiveness.

The first half of the story felt more like the intended Space-Opera genre; the second half of the book read more like Space-Adventure. Personally, I though the Space-Adventure portions were more exciting to read and felt more naturally written.  Scott has a natural ability for action and fight scenes; her writing portrays this and is an obvious strength.

Scott writer consists of many short sentences. A good amount of them were one word; either a name or re-emphasized thought. (This maybe a norm in the drama/opera genre, but was not something I was accustomed to.)  This made the beginning chapters and certain scenes feel a little choppy. Once the action kicked in to full throttle (around page 80) it felt like the sentencing smoothed out and the story flowed very naturally.

 

The Characters:

The character cast is very large and they all have uncommon names.  One of the few critiques I have is that a character/place list and maybe a key term list be added to the beginning or end of the book.  I frequently confused support characters with each other through the first half of the book; about halfway through I sorted them all out in my head.

The POV of the story follows 2 main characters; Miriam a ship captain/pilot; and Aliya, a rebellious slave girl. Miriam and Aliya begin as very similar characters; strong females, have lost parents, are from high rank families, and became fugitives. Overall, they are both pessimistic and anger is their dominant emotion. They both have love interests that are more even tempered then they are. They have leadership qualities, are hot-tempered, zone out in thought occasionally, and have major insecurities they do not like to share.

Their characters become more unique, develop well and gain more depth as the story progresses.  I liked Miriam’s development and the well rounded character she became for the second half of the novel.

Aliya consistently made irrational, brash decisions from start to finish. She is very headstrong and emotionally in the moment.  It seems like every decision she makes has the large possibility to kill everyone; and she would be dead in moments if it weren’t for those around her. She walks a fine line between peoples’ champion and death. Although frustrating, creates excitement and action chapter to chapter. She does not fit a stereotypical “main character” role. I am interested to see how she develops moving forward in the second book.

Conclusion:

Empress Fallen is definitely worth the read, especially for Sci-Fi fans.  It might not  appeal to you, depending on the level of drama you are accustomed to, but try it out. Bethan-Ann Scott is a very young and talented writer, so give Empress fallen a read and jump on her “fan” bandwagon early!

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Gift of the Phoenix by Donna Cook – Review

Gift of the Phoenix

5/5 Stars

Check out my Interview with Author Donna Cook

The short:

This book belongs in the “epic” genre. Gift of the Phoenix is an exhilarating read. Fans of Eragon and The Lord of the Rings will want to add Gift of the Phoenix to their bookshelves.  Donna Cook writes an epic fantasy with an extensively layered story line.

I was amazed at the intricacy on the intertwined plots. It was very hard to predict the course of events from start to finish. Gift of the Phoenix surprised me at every turn and kept me on the edge of my seat.

The Long:

Gift of the Phoenix reminds me of a mix of Paolin’s Eragon and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, but stands on its own as a unique fantasy-adventure. Cook creates a magic system that is intricate and unique, which can be hard to do in a genre littered with magic.

The story is as much a mystery as it is an adventure. The story is very complex, and yet very easy to follow.  I am truly amazed at the seamless-ness of the novel, no stone was left unturned in this storyline. The story is layers upon layers of intertwined plots that all culminate to a fantastic ending.  It could well be a stand alone novel, yet at the end cook tells us there is a sequel coming!

Cook’s characters all have great depth and uniqueness. They have their own feelings and ideologies and are expressed naturally throughout the course of the novel. All of the characters are well rounded and none of them feel over the top or unbelievable. I felt like I could really describe each of the characters as a person, rather than a fictional character.

I love the magical structure Cook created for this realm. The magical inhabitants of the real have have great knowledge of what magic exists, but as a whole much of magic is still a big mystery. There is an order set up by the wizards, but at the same time there are those not in the order as well.  The magical structure and laws set in this realm is creative and original, but has familiarity to what a fiction reader would perceive as in the realm of possibility.

Pros:

Epic new Series

Intricate, complex, yet easy to follow storyline.

Characters have great depth and individuality.

Cons:

The length might be a little daunting for young readers.

The Story:

( won’t give much story away here other then the very base idea, no spoilers!)

Gift of the Phoenix is a very large, 3 part book. Part one is long enough to be it’s own story, and parts two and three could have been made into a sequel to part one.  The fact that this much story was fit into one novel makes me very excited for the sequel to Gift of the Phoenix.

Part I: The Gathering, takes up nearly half of this 575 page novel. We are introduced to Corren, Nicolai, and Marcellus; three men from different walks of life who find themselves linked by 3 stones given to them by a very old wizard. This starts their journey together to stop “The Cunning One” from essentially stealing all the magic in the real.

Part II felt like sitting in a roller coaster going up the chains to the first drop; your excitement builds as you prepare for an exciting plunge. You don’t know how fast or how long the drop will be, but you know it is coming. The reader will see more and more of the story lines tie together, but still not be able to see how the story will end.

Par III is that plunge down the first drop of the roller coaster. I really felt as if I was falling while reading. After that you just hold on as best you can and try not to get woozy as the story excitingly whips you left and right. Part III is pure action and adventure as all the characters come together for the final magical clash to save or end their realm.

The Writing: 

(As I have already said a few times…) Cook layers her story like a seasoned pro. The mystery of the cunning one kept me guessing through the entirety of Part I. Cook wrote so many open ended characters and story lines that I could not begin to guess the direction her writing was going in. Other than the three main characters, it could have been any number of people or groups that could be “the cunning one.” Every characters relationships and sub plots are engaging and add depth and value to the main plot.

 It was exciting to see the plot lines come together in Part II, and reach the final climax in Part III. Every time I expected something to happen-it didn’t; making this story unpredictable and exciting.

Cook writes tense conversations really well. There were a couple of argument/discussions between two or more characters where I felt like I was hearing them rather than reading them. This type of skill in writing excites me as a reader.

The Characters:

Corren- A wizard who is given a red stone by Nashua. He is part of the Wysard branch of the Order of Ceinoth.He is curious and somewhat of a wizard prodigy.  He is very intelligent, curious, and has slight desire for power.

Nicolai- A farmer from Knobby Tree who has a yellow stone like Corren’s red stone. It was given to him by Nashua. He is very level headed and calm, and stays strong to his humble roots as a farmer.

Prince Marcellus- Prince of Caedmonia; Called Marcellus the Protector. He is a Brave, strong, and well loved son of King Clement. He has a blue stone given to him by Nasua. He is a very respected warrior and often called upon to govern the kingdom. He is confident in his abilities, but not arrogant.

King Clement- King of Caedmonia; Called Clement the Beloved. He is a weary king who loves and takes care of his people.

Princes Praea- Princess of Sakkara. She comes to Caedmonia to ask for aid in fighting Norrland, who she believes assassinated her brother. She seeks vengeance, and wants a full war with Norrland. She is intertwined in the destiny of the Corren, Nicolai, And Marcellus.

Conclusion:

This is a book that I will want in Hardcover on a prominent shelf. The Gift of the Phoenix is an epic story with an impending sequel. I would recommend this book to anyone of any age. If you enjoy C.S. Lewis, Rowling, Tolkien, Paolini (or all of them) then do not miss out on reading Donna Cook.

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The Dragon’s tooth (Ashtown Burials: Book1) – Review

The Dragon’s tooth (Ashtown Burials #1)

N.D. Wilson

 

The short:

A very strong beginning to another great trilogy. N.D. Wilson creates a secret society on earth that is original and believable.  Rowling and Riordan fans cannot go wrong with this book!  Ashtown feels magical and historic. I wish I could go there myself.

 This novel is entertaining for all ages. It is packed with adventure from start to finish and at no point loses pace.  This book is very suspenseful. Readers will enjoy the amount of suspense as Cyrus and Antigone figure out what the heck has just happened to them.

The Long:

This series reads very differently than what I expected. The dragon’s tooth felt like a suspense-adventure. Wilson 100 cupboard series started similarly, with mysterious happening mixed with new adventures.  This new series has more action in the first installment than the 100 cupboards.  I felt like I was Cyrus and experiencing the same question that he had throughout the entire story.

Wilson does an amazing job painting a scene with words. His characters experience a number of events and witness so much in Ashtown.  Every item, character, and event feels very original and unique if you are trying to compare them to other series.

Wilson’s characters are creative and feel very natural. They are a blend of real and crazy that does not push them to the extreme. The society is a great mix of the past with the future; giving Ashtown the feel of a walk through live action role play history book, while walking through a museum (kind of like night at the museum.) I wish I could find this place and fight others in hot air balloons games and ride a shark and use quick water.

Pros:

Spectacular Imagery

Nonstop suspense and action

Very original concept

Cons:

The second book wasn’t out right after I read the first.

The Story:

(Taken from Goodreads)

For two years, Cyrus and Antigone Smith have run a sagging roadside motel with their older brother, Daniel. Nothing ever seems to happen. Then a strange old man with bone tattoos arrives, demanding a specific room.

Less than 24 hours later, the old man is dead. The motel has burned, and Daniel is missing. And Cyrus and Antigone are kneeling in a crowded hall, swearing an oath to an order of explorers who have long served as caretakers of the world’s secrets, keepers of powerful relics from lost civilizations, and jailers to unkillable criminals who have terrorized the world for millennia.

The Writing: 

N.D. Wilson writes this story mostly from the point of Cyrus. He does very little background of what going on to Cyrus as you is read through the story. Some readers found this to be a negative; I found it to be a strong aspect of the writing and tone of this book.  Wilson wrote this novel in third person POV, but I felt like I was reading a first person point of view. I was confused about what was going on because Cyrus was confused about what was going on. When in life to you enter a new situation, and somebody standing behind you is telling you what’s happening and why; never, that’s when. Cyrus is plunged into a mysterious society and life very quickly. He had to figure out what was going on as it happened, just like the reader had to. I loved this style of reading.

The Characters:

I will leave most of the characters out for this review so you can be introduced to them like I was. Wilson’s characters are fresh and original and often surprising as the book unfolds.  Every character involved with the society is quirky, has unique skills, and the right amount of back-story for you to really understand all of them.

Cyrus Smith- Cyrus is an impatient youth. His life has come onto some hardships. His father is dead, his mother in a coma, and he lives in a rundown motel now owned by his older brother.  He seems a little fed up with most of the world, and going to a secret society filled with pretentious people doesn’t make him any happier. He rises to the challenge set forth in a way I would expect a boy his age too. He was challenged and no one thought he could do it; that got his competitive edge going to prove them wrong.

Antigone Smith- The strong willed sister of Cyrus. She is the brains to Cy’s athleticism.  She and Cy both enter the secret society and become members together. She is a strong female character and an extra POV that rounds out the POV of Cyrus very well.

Conclusion:

Definitely read this one. This series will be one for the bookshelf. Wilson really improved from his last series, The 100 cupboards, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  If you are a fan of N.D. Wilson, you will love it. If you were disappointed with the 100 Cupboards series, this one makes N.D. Wilson’s writing worth another try.

I loved this book and can’t wait to read the second in the series. If you are a fan of Hogwarts or Camp Half-Blood; you must read this book and become a fan of Ashtown!

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