Friday, November 9, 2012

Spooked - A Quick and Creepy YA

SpookedSpooked by Tracy Sharp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Spooked was a very interesting novel. Part mystery, part paranormal, part horror, it was original enough that I didn't feel like I was reading another clone of something with a popular YA theme. The writing style was a little atypical as well, and after the first few pages I was used to it. That style also helped set it apart. Over all, I would rate the novel between a three and a four. The characters were enjoyable and the story was good. Ultimately, I settled on rounding up and giving it a four because I really did want to finish the story and find out what happened to the characters.

The story synopsis is fairly accurate so I don't feel a recap is necessary. However, I do think some things about the book need to be mentioned. The first half of the novel really had me hooked. The characters and their relationships were being developed and the mystery of the missing girls was progressing nicely. However, about halfway through, the story changed significantly. It became darker and much of the plot and character relationships were just kind of dropped. Newer (and I think not as well done) relationships and plot line picked up, and there was more of a focus on some of the hidden 'secrets' the main character is removing from people. The secrets were, as expected, disturbing. And because of the content of some of those secrets, I think the recommended age for readers should probably be older YA (the over fourteens - a change from the first half of the novel). Although the secrets were an important part of the story,I think they were a bit more of a distraction and either needed to fit into the story more or have less focus entirely. (The novel is on the short and fairly fast paced side, so I really felt it was a distraction).

There were a couple of other things as well - at times Lorelei seemed a little out of character with her reactions to things and the newer characters needed more detail and attention. The relationships that just kind of popped up seemed unlikely and just needed ... more.

In spite of the issues I had with the second half of the novel, I did enjoy the story and am glad I had the opportunity to review it. And though I did receive a copy in exchange for an honest review, if I had paid the cover price, I would not have been upset about it. It was a good read.

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Monday, October 29, 2012

New Discount Online Bookstore

Looks like there's another option for indie authors to get some exposure and a chance for readers to pick up some interesting reads at discount prices. There's a new online book store that will be set up to sell ebooks at discount prices for a short amount of time. Rather than sell an ebook amid hundreds or thousands of others, this bookstore will only sell a limited number of books for a limited time. It seems like a really good idea, particularly for authors and readers who might be overwhelmed by the vast number of ebooks popping up everywhere. The author will benefit by the limited number of books competing for readers' attention, and the readers will benefit from discount prices being available for a couple of weeks instead of a couple of days. I do know there are a few of these stores out there already -the 99 Cent Network springs to mind and it's one that has has been a round for a couple of years now I think. As far as I know, it's a fairly successful outlet for selling books.

The new bookstore is set to launch in November and here is where you can find out more about it:

The Bookplex

Monday, October 22, 2012

Path of Needles by Hannah Kollef

Path of NeedlesPath of Needles by Hannah Kollef
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Path of Needles made me think that this is exactly what you would get if you mixed pre-sanitized fairytale folklore with YA urban fiction. And it's the mix that makes this such an engrossing read. It's a bit of an understatement I think to just label the novel's genre 'fantasy.' The author has done a remarkable job of weaving the darker (but likely more realistic) elements of folklore - the ones that warn of more dangers than those found by just going into the woods alone - into a modern urban setting with realistic characters. I think the author has done a wonderful job by adding subtle hints of fairy tale in with the obvious story line and character parallels. Overall, I was impressed.

The author's style is easy to read and fills you with so many unanswered questions that you have no choice but to keep turning the pages. However, I think the one area where the author's writing really shines is that of creating those gritty visual images of New York city - the people, the park and just about every other setting in it. And while I wasn't particularly fond of any of the characters, I think they are probably fairly realistic as well (the teens I mean - because no, I don't think transforming fairytale-like creatures are particularly realistic).

Given some of the subject matter, this is definitely for an older YA audience. And if you're intrigued by the folklore enough to look it up, as I was, you'll probably know more about the different interpretations of the path of needles and also conclude that the story is geared toward an older YA reader. It might not be to everyone's taste either. It is gritty and urban. But if you enjoy novels by authors like Cassandra Clare or Libba Bray you'll probably enjoy this.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Opening the Ball (Academy, #1)Opening the Ball by Nathaniel Simpson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I read the the first few chapters I was hooked. I loved the concept and thoroughly enjoyed the US Civil War time period as the setting for the time travel sequences. It's not a historical period I'm familiar with so I looked forward to the detailing the author spent when the story took the characters there. The writing was solid and particularly well done at the beginning of the novel.

The story follows Jonathan Chambers, a large for his age teenager placed in a foster home that is anything but a comforting family environment. Jonathan is doing his best to cope in his situation but when his alcoholic foster father passes away, Jonathan's foster mother makes it clear that Jonathan is no longer welcome in the home. The boy is suddenly faced with having nowhere to go. Lucky for Jonathan, he is handpicked by a mysterious organization for enrollment in a special military school. Without any other real options, Jonathan looks forward to being taken in by the school and subjected to years of rigorous training for a premium, but almost fantastical opportunity.

The adventure that Jonathan and his two companions face is a thrilling one and I think well worth a read. It would probably appeal more to boy readers than to girls because of the time the author spends on the military school training. Although that is really a matter of person reading preferences. For me, the military school training section was a little too long and I drifted, but the adventure picks up again toward the end. Still, it's a great story and I think many YA readers who enjoy stories with survival adventures and a fair bit of military background would love it. Nathaniel Simpson is definitely and author to watch.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

News and Upcoming Books

Spectacular is the only word I can find to describe this past summer. Consequently, the posts here have been few and far between. But all that fantastical weather and vacationisma has to come to an end sometime. So today it's time to get back to the blog and sharing some news for upcoming things.

First up - I've just finished a indie title that will definitely be worth a look. It's called Opening the Ball by Nathaniel Simpson. I recently received a copy from the author and once the book is fully published with all its links available, I'll be posting the review here. It's a solid YA read that I think will appeal to readers interested in American Civil War historical fiction, military skills ad training. I would suggest it for a few teen guys I know who are known to read every now and then.

Here's the blurb from Goodreads:

Jonathan Chambers isn’t a vampire. He isn’t a wizard. He doesn’t have a girlfriend. His teenage life was relatively normal until a mysterious stranger recruited him to an even more mysterious paramilitary academy for gifted boys.

After years of rigorous training, he and two others are selected for an elite program that will test their mettle and their friendship by sending them back in time to alter the present. On one of the bloodiest days of battle of the Civil War, they will learn a life-altering lesson – that not everything is always as it seems.

Next post will be my review - probably the end of this week.

The second piece of news is that I'll be adding another page to this blog. It's a page to showcase an indie experiment that is just about ready for launch. So what is it you ask? It's a Facebook book. Yes, it's a YA thriller that will be composed online. Starting next week, a small group a indie newbies and teen authors are getting together to start their own chaotic thriller novel. It will unfold over ten weeks, created in one hour spur of the moment sessions. It will be entirely written on a Facebook page and re-posted here - flipped around and made easy to read. We're excited to see how it will all turn out. Look for a post here in the next week to find out when our first session will take place. The Facebook link is here:

Once the book is finished, we'll publish in various formats. It will be free (as an e-book) for a while but once it picks up a following, we'll add a price and ensure all proceeds go to a designated charity (Cancer research is most likely). All authors, editors and illustrators will get credit, and there will be room to add a few newbies to the mix as we get going. So watch for updates here and on the Facebook page. If you think you might be interested in dropping in as a visiting character, let us know. We'll be posting the Prologue next week so you can get an idea about how it works.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

YA Fairytale with a Twist

Crimson in the Very Wrong Fairy TaleCrimson in the Very Wrong Fairy Tale by Liz Jasper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Crimson in the Very Wrong Fairytale is an entertaining young adult read. It's also a quick read that I think would appeal to teens who are interested in a good vs evil fairytale with a twist.

The main character, Crimson, is a little socially awkward but essentially good. She has a couple of close friends but secretly hopes to become more popular with her sixteenth birthday party. Unfortunately for Crimson, her wish comes true - sort of.

The idea behind the story is appealing and I found it refreshing that it's almost the opposite of a fairytale. Instead of just being swept up by a handsome prince and given every reward imaginable for being a 'good' girl, Crimson is kidnapped by an evil king (her father) and forced to become the very opposite of good. At least it looks that way. Like any good tale, it's never really as obvious as it seems.

This story has the potential to be the first in a series and I think it could be fairly popular as a series if it does go that way. The friendship between Tod and Crimson is well done and could develop into something more romantic if the story continues. I for one would like to find out.

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Edge of Extinction by Kristen Stone - A Unique and Captivating Thriller

Edge of Extinction 

5 Stars
Edge of Extinction by Kristen Stone

Original, unexpected and a completely welcome surprise. Edge of Extinction is one of those thrillers you don't know what to make of when you first pick it up. Once you do pick it up and find yourself a little ways in, it's hard to put down. Captivating and original, I think that of all the books I've read so far this year - both independently and traditionally published - this one is my favorite.

Told from the first person perspective, it is the story of an intelligent stone age man facing an extraorinary situation: a situation that no ordinary man could resolve. But Kianda Mala is no ordinary man. Born with a tail and otherwise unusual physical characteristics for his people, Kianda demonstrates strength and wisdom that quickly elevate him to a position of leadership within his community. He is even viewed as a god. However, his god-like status and leadership qualities are put to the test when the people of his village become ill and many start dying. Even Kianda is not spared from the illness.

Together with two fellow hunters, Kianda must set out from his tiny community hidden deep in the rainforest to find the source of the illness. When the group comes across a mine at the scarred edge of the jungle they see the workings of the mine, the enormous tailings slope and the severe contamination of the river caused by effluent. Without knowing anything of what they're up against, the three men enter the mine through a ventilation tunnel and the real story of survival begins. It's not just a story of Kianda's survival; it's that of his people and others who are pulled into Kianda's story while trying to prevent the extinction of an undiscovered group of indigenous people.

As a thriller, this story wasn't particularly fast paced. Nor was it slow. It was interesting and the story pulls the reader along at just the right speed. All of the characters are relateable on some level, but it's the main character's voice, so clear and engaging throughout that really keeps the reader drawn in. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a novel this much and I recommend it without hesitation - particularly to those who are looking for something a little different. Five stars.

Where to buy online:

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Souled by Diana Murdock - A YA Romance Thriller

SouledSouled by Diana Murdock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I read the book synopsis, I was interested. The idea behind the book was appealing because it didn't seem like an overdone rehashed story - something that I've been encountering a little more lately with some of the books I've been reading. So I was pleasantly surprised when I picked this one up. The story was genuinely what it appeared to be and the book synopsis really is an accurate description of it. So another summary here isn't necessary. After all, how many ways can you say... Boy buys soul. Boy discovers soul is not what he thinks it is. Trouble and danger ensue...?

Although the idea is simple and straight forward, there is more to the story than that. It is very much about the characters and their relationships. In fact, the characters are the real focus of the story - the plot, not so much.

The one thing I wasn't immediately crazy about when I started to read was the writing style - a little more common in the YA genre these days is the first person perspective. However, the author shakes that up when she starts changing whom the perspective belongs to. It worked well here, particularly with building the characters. For the most part it was a good thing, but I did find it a little annoying when some of the characters were repetitive in their thinking. And it did bother me that the main character Seth was so slow to figure out what was going on. With regard to his character, it was a little too stereotypical dumb jock I thought. But each reader will have their own opinion on that.

Overall, I think it was an enjoyable read that would appeal to many YA readers - particularly those craving an angsty, burdened with danger romance. Four stars.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Historical Fiction Thriller

The fourth book in a series of historical thrillers, A City of Broken Glass by Rebecca Cantrell is a blend of the mystery/intrigue and noir genres. It is a well written story that takes place in what many (myself included) consider the darkest period in the modern western world.

Set in Nazi Germany in 1938, the story follows Hannah Vogel, a journalist sent by the Swiss newspaper she works for to cover a fluff piece about pastries during a festival in Poland. But soon after she and her son Anton arrive in Poland, Hannah discovers a real story to cover: the deportation of Jews from Germany. The Jewish refugees Hannah finds are housed in a stable under deplorable conditions and guarded by Polish soldiers as if they are prisoners. When Hannah recognizes one of the refugees as the wife of a former lover, Hannah goes to her and sees that the woman is about to give birth. The woman begs Hannah to ensure the safety of her two year old daughter who has been hidden in a cupboard in the woman's home in Berlin. As Hannah agrees to help, she faces not just the mystery of why the toddler was left alone or where she is but also Hannah's very own  mystery - how she herself becomes trapped in Berlin with her son and how it all ties together with her past. The suspense is built carefully through both the fictional events created and the actual historical events leading to the Holocaust and World War II.

The story is told in first person from Hannah's point of view and in that respect it's very well done. The writing is a little on the colder side but almost exactly what the reader would imagine to be written by a journalist. It also fits well with the bleakness of the time period. Although there is a lot of internal dialogue and self criticism (for not doing enough to fight the Nazis) within Hannah and surrounding the other characters, the characters themselves still struck me as a little cold. Most of the emotion I felt arose from the events rather than the characters - even though the author does a good job of making the main characters a little more likeable towards the end (and they are probably realistic for the time).

As I mentioned earlier, this is the fourth book in the Hannah Vogel mystery series but it can easily be read as a stand alone thriller. There is a lot of historical information behind it and the author even provides additional information from her research at the end.

For a suspense thriller, it's a very good story. It also has an interesting but very disturbing setting. So it's probably just me, but I did feel a little discomfort when I read the novel. Yes, I know there were German citizens who did stand up against the Nazi Regime and their inhuman laws. The author even points this out at the end with real examples. However, as history tells us there were so many who didn't. It gives the reader a lot to think about. I think if the storyline was in a different setting and the characters just a little different, it would have been an easier novel to like.

More about the author:
Find Rebecca Cantrell books here:

On Amazon
City of Broken Glass

Friday, June 22, 2012

I really never imagined I'd be writing this in a review: It's the werewolf apocalypse!

City Under the Moon by Hugh Sterbakov is a very unique thriller that returns the werewolf firmly to the role of monster. For me, this was a welcome change from the recent trend in popular fiction where the werewolf is cast as more of a tortured romantic hero, doomed or otherwise. I also enjoyed the shake up from the hordes of undead leading us to our peril thing - although humanity meeting its end at the shredding hands (claws) of a hairy wolf-like human might not be much of a step up.

From start to finish, the werewolf infection in this story is terrifying. The creatures are nothing but driven killers, cannibals really, controlled by a single leader. They live to eat, kill and spread the infection. To become a werewolf is a fate worse than death.

And of course, that is the fate facing New York city.

As the potential doom of mankind - the werewolf plague - descends on the city; it soon becomes clear that options are limited.The madman behind the plague is demanding a cure from the U.S. government. But is a cure even possible? Will the  government attempt to find a cure or will it take far more drastic measures? The author does a remarkable job of creating suspense throughout the novel, particularly at the end. There are a number of possible  outcomes for the reader to guess at that pop up along the way.

For many thriller fans, this will be a great read. There are plenty of heart racing action sequences to keep the reader glued to the pages. There is a variety of character types - from a geeky young werewolf expert to an atypical FBI anti-terrorism specialist that is something of a science experiment herself. The novel even takes on different sub genres: at times it can be anything from medical  to political thriller, science fiction and horror suspense to historical fiction.

I think this thriller will be a five star book for many action horror fans. For me however, there were some very significant things holding me back.  I did find myself having to go over a couple of passages to re-read some of the action, and I did get a little lost in the middle. It could just be me and other readers might not experience this. My other, more subjective stumbling block was the writing style. Course language can be used effectively and in the case of this novel it's used well with humor. But for me, less is often more and it did take away from my overall enjoyment of the book. Although, I think it would work well as a movie.

Available for purchase on Amazon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

TraffickedTrafficked by Kim Purcell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's difficult to rate this well told story about such an important subject when the ratings are based on how much a reader enjoys the book. Human trafficking isn't a subject anyone can enjoy. However, this book does a very good job of exposing human trafficking in one of the least expected places: an average American neighbourhood. The author has also done an amazing job of bringing this problem to light for the YA audience. While the story is horrifying and there is content that might be more suited for a mature teen audience, the author has done an excellent job of presenting it.

Trafficked is the story of seventeen year old Hannah who is given the opportunity to go to America and work as a nanny for a Russian family. From the very beginning (i.e. her meeting with the 'bad' agent) Hannah has a terrible experience but remains hopeful when she finally arrives in America. In only a matter of weeks she realizes her dream of making a new life is shattered. Beyond the endless hard work she does for the family, she has no freedom and faces regular mental/emotional abuse from the mother in the family. After several months her situation escalates to the point where she may not just lose all hope of a life in America, she may in fact lose her life.

The story has a measured pace and I think, very well developed characters. Hannah is naive and realizes it, but she has hidden strength. Oddly, the adult family members (Lillian, Sergey)and even their friends/associates (Paavo, Rena)seem realistic (for villains). They're all monsters, yet don't view themselves that way. It's easy to get emotionally involved when reading.

I do recommend this book. I think it is unique as a YA read and very worthwhile. Luckily, the book arrived on my doorstep on my day off so I had the opportunity to sit down and read it. It only took me a few hours and I didn't put it down. This is a book for more serious reading and I imagine the reality is far worse than Hannah's story. It's definitely worth picking up. I'm undecided on an actual star rating - I give it five for the author's skill in turning this subject into a young adult read and bringing much needed attention to it.

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On Amazon

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Undead: Organ Harvesting, the Ice-Water Test, Beating Heart Cadavers--How Medicine Is Blurring the Line Between Life and DeathThe Undead: Organ Harvesting, the Ice-Water Test, Beating Heart Cadavers--How Medicine Is Blurring the Line Between Life and Death by Dick Teresi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fascinating and chilling. Every bit as engrossing as a best selling thriller, the author has done a superb job with his research, life experiences and skill as a journalist. I won't say this is an entirely unbiased account of organ harvesting and life cessation, but it does offer a good deal of information rarely covered or reported in the media. The Undead is terrifying and in that respect the author has done a phenomenal job.

It strikes me that journalists and reporters - including the author - often claim that they are 'just reporting the facts' when they present their story. That may be true; however, that doesn't mean they have to report all of the facts. It also doesn't lay claim to how those facts are reported. Good journalism isn't dry. It fires the reader up. It creates a strong emotional response. It's controversial.

This book does all of that and more. It's witty. It's snarky. The writing is effective. All around, it's a very entertaining read. None of that should minimize it's worth. The book provides a balance to the constant pressure being applied to the general populace of how valuable organ donation is and how it saves lives. It's a highly contentious balance.

Strong proponents of organ donation may view much of what is said in this book as unfair, but I wouldn't agree. Many highly thought provoking points are brought up throughout. Here are a couple (these are over simplified examples from the book - not exactly quoted):

- The ICU has become a place to die (a study of two ICUs). In 1988 51% of ICU patients perished as a result of medical treatment being withheld (because those patients were written off). By 1993 that number rose to 90%.
- In the US the "standard for brain death" does not appear to be universal. It's up to the doctor. Where there are uniform policies in place that justify the withholding of life support, in practice it is "all over the map."

While I enjoyed this book immensely, I doubt it will change the views of most of the readers who pick this up. Organ donations do save lives (even in a best case scenario where it's only one out of two very sick people). Someone very close to me donated a kidney to save a life (live donation) and will forever be a hero in my books. I have helped neighbours with fundraising efforts to get someone onto the recipient list (and yes he is a middle aged man with a less than shiny health preservation history).

However, the people I know who aren't registered donors are also strong believers in organ donation. They simply doubt the effort that would go into saving them first. And unfortunately this book does little to allay their fears. (Although, I seriously doubt anything would. It's like believing a doctor when he or she asks for your medical history and claims there's 'no judgement.' Of course there is. Everybody judges.)

I don't live in the US, so I can rest comfortably in the blissful ignorance of what brain death and organ donation procedures are in place in my country. That doesn't mean the book didn't make me think about it. I do. But mostly, I think about what the author could do with a sequel. Perhaps he could dive more deeply into the lives of organ recipients and their perspectives on the matter? Or, if organ donation is already billion dollar industry in the US what is the incentive to researching and developing alternative life saving measures? I would love to see a follow up to Mr. Teresi's work. Hopefully the author will live long enough to do so.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good read, particularly those who might hate it.

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NOTE: This isn't an indie read. It's traditional. I just thought it was such an entertaining read I'd share it from my Goodreads account.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Widowmaker: A Thriller for Horror Buffs

Well, it's almost time for summer and to some of us here that just means... summer blockbuster horror flicks.

Yay. It's about time.

So if you're ready for a good scare but it's not quite hot enough where you live to seek out the cool dank atmosphere of a movie theatre, here's a great place to start: Widowmaker: A Thriller for Horror Buffs by Carolyn McCray and Elena Gray. This was a great fun read that starts with an idea that's been around before - a movie that can kill - but then twists itself into something altogether original and entertaining. Here's the story blurb from Amazon...

Terror in the Trees, the latest uber-low budget slasher flick is slaying people... literally. But is it all hype or is there an evil force behind the supposed deaths? Special Agent Bolder had best find out before the President attends the Hollywood premiere...

The blurb really doesn't do the story justice. There's just so much more to it. It has all the elements of a campy horror movie mixed with well developed believable characters, humour, nail biting suspense, conspiracy and a completely unpredictable ending. The story wasn't the only part of the novel with such a surprise ending either; the endings for several characters were highly creative (and of course, sometimes rather gory). But getting back to the ending - wow. I really couldn't have predicted that one.

When it comes to horror suspense novels, there's very little to complain about in this one. I recommend it. Particularly if you're a horror movie fan looking for something a little unexpected. The pace is fast. The characters are fun (Mitchell was my favorite). A lot of characters die, including some of the more appealing ones. But yes, I will admit that the Baxter brothers are kind of two dimensional as far as characters go - it just makes them fit the story better.

I first read this novel back in January and the copy I had was an earlier version that had formatting issues on my reader. In places it was difficult to read. I am happy to say that this updated linked version doesn't share those issues. It's a very good deal at its current price of $0.99 on Amazon, but I would pay more and feel it was money well spent. Five stars.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Summer Reading List - Add Your Favs

It's the last day of a long weekend up here and an incredibly beautiful day - a very rare animal. It's the kind of day that reassures you summer isn't just another long lost dream. (Yes, that really  can happen in this northern climate).

Time to plan some weekend getaways and memorable vacations. Here's one thing you don't want to forget as you get caught up in all those hectic preparations.

Reading material.

There's always down time on your getaway, possibly even while in transit, so don't forget to load up on some favorite reads. I'm putting together a quick list here of some of my favorites- e-books that were great reads and worth the cover price. I didn't feel ripped off when I bought them (or I wouldn't have for the ones I read for free). The first group of recommended reads are all from "indie" authors. The reason is simple: price. It's tough to find an e-book from traditional bestsellers that won't make me mad about the price. So here are the categories: Thrillers and Young Adult.

Recommended Thrillers (Good fast reads, Cheap up to $2.99)

(Row One legal, historical/techno, horror/serial killer, adventure)
(Row Two: zombie-ish horror romance series - 4 quick reads)

Recommended Young Adult Reads (Good and Cheap)

(Row One: Drama YA, Historical Adventure YA,Para/Historical YA all $0.99 to $1.99)

These are just a few of my favorites, so why not add yours to the list and help spread the recommendations? Leave a comment with a link to your favorite e-read and I'll post it here. And if you haven't already read some of these, it's great time to load up your Kindle, Nook, Kobo, i-device or other reader. Happy summer reading everyone!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Flight of the Griffin - A MG/YA Fantasy Adventure

The Flight of the GriffinThe Flight of the Griffin by C.M. Gray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm a little divided between giving this one a four or five star rating. So I've settled for four and one half. The Flight of the Griffin is a fun fantasy adventure perfect for the middle grade reader. It has likeable young characters, a dastardly villain with his hired hunter/henchman, the struggle between the powers of good and evil (the 'Source' and 'Chaos'), and plenty of magic. It was well paced and contained great little details like including images of the poetic magic book that sets the young heroes on their quest of 'challenges.'

The story follows four boys who fall into a quest that involves finding three very important items necessary to accomplish a spell that will restore the balance of power between the Source and Chaos. To begin their adventure, the boys are transformed into a fighter, a thief, a priest, and a magician. Accompanied by an unusual shape shifting girl, the boys encounter many obstacles and dangerous situations along the way.

I really liked the story and think it would probably appeal to readers who enjoyed Cornelia Funke's Inkheart series and maybe some of the early Robert Jordan Wheel of Time novels. I think it could have used a few more dire situations and little more suspense to keep the reader truly glued to the story, but I think it was very well done.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Seeing RedSeeing Red by Anne Louise Macdonald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really a very good read for teens who prefer more slice of life action than the trendier paranormal fantasy series we're seeing everywhere now. With great writing and believable characters, its well worth another look. The story is set in Antigonish, Nova Scotia and filled with enough local quirkiness to pull the reader in and make them feel almost like they've been there. The writing was what held me to the story, reminding me a little of some of the Neal Shusterman novels I've read. I'd recommend it as an early young adult novel, great for readers who enjoy something off the pop fiction beaten path.

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Whispering Hills - YA Chills

Whispering Hills (Whispering Hills, #1)Whispering Hills by Taryn Browning
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a good quick read with some very enjoyable characters. I'm giving it 4.5 stars but yes, over where you see them, the rating translates into five. I'm old school, so hey, it's rounding.

This story had an excellent start and hooked me early. Here's my synopsis:

Alexis is a high school senior who can hear the thoughts of others. Not just any thoughts mind you - she only hears the decisive ones. So when the thoughts of a killer are voiced in the girl's mind, Alexis panics. She's powerless to stop the murderer. With only her sister aware of her freakish thought hearing ability, who would believe her? Alexis doesn't know how to even find the victim, let alone the killer.

Enter Chance. He is a mysterious new student with an attraction to Alexis. He knows a lot more than he lets on and has his own dark secrets. Can Alexis trust him? Before she does, she enlists the help of another new -yet unwilling- friend, Summer. That's when Alexis discovers that she isn't the only one with freakish abilities. Strange qualities aside, the three new friends share more than just being unusual. They have a link to each others' past. And for two of them, it's a dangerous bond they share with the killer.

It was a good fast paced story, and of course, it doesn't really end. It's sure to be a series. What I think I liked the most about the novel was the set of other characters - Summer, Tiffany, and even Gabriel. They were far more entertaining than the main couple. Kudos to the author - she did a wonderful job of creating a very chilling dead villain. I found the romance to be a little too typical of the genre, but all in all I'd recommend it. It was a very good read.

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Whispering Hills (Whispering Hills, #1)">

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Another Chance for Free and Cheap E-books

Once again here's a chance at free - and cheap - E-books. First up - Free E-books this week:

If you miss it  - there's still a chance to pick up some great cheap reads: