Posts tagged ‘romance’

CROSSING THE SANDS OF TIME

Sons of the Sphinx

Written by Cheryl Carpinello

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I received a copy of this book from Double Decker books as part of a blog launch for the author in exchange for an honest review.

First off, I will openly admit that I am a historian with an avid interest in the field of ancient history. The author has done a marvelous job of negotiating the disputed points of this era and woven them into a seamless time travel historical adventure for middle grade, teen readers and adults. Her characters are well-developed and manage to appear authentic in both the ancient and modern time periods. Carpinello includes a glossary to assist the reader in understanding the historical figures and background.

Rosa is a fifteen year old tenth grader who has inherited a special gift from her grandmother. This teen is able to speak to people of the past, who appear to her at most inconvenient times like during a math test. At the outset of this adventure, King Tut himself not only speaks but appears to her in her room. He urges her to travel back in time with him to find the spirit of his love, Hesena. Rosa has never dated, but finds herself falling for Tut. She agrees to help him, if they can get back before her parents return from dinner and the movies. Tut assures her that the time wrap will allow them to do so.

Rosa will need to draw upon her inner spirit to connect with Hesena, fight off tomb robbers, traverse the hot sands of the Egyptian desert, and fend off the evil Pharaoh Horemheb in their attempt to complete their quest and right the wrongs that have been done. She will travel back more than 3000 years in time, but never have the opportunity to share her experience with her family and peers. Yet Rosa’s talent and spirit shine through and allow her to fight her fears and grow stronger.

This was a perfect read to curl up with on a cold, snowy afternoon. Highly recommended for all lovers of history, adventure, fantasy and fun for all ages ten and older.

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DISASTER IN THE DISTANCE

Sweetly The Dragon Dreams

Written by David Farland

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Novella is a a combination of sci-fi, fantasy, romance and technology rolled into one. The humans have lived for more than 100,000 years under the subjugation of a superior alien species. As the story opens, a young human girl named Tallori is gathering damselflies as an offering for the goddess known as the Holy Mistress. Humans must bring these offerings to the palace where the resplendent being resides with her skraals. When Tallori finds a dragon’s skull, she alerts her drunken father, Angar who gossips about his good fortune. Meantime Anduval who is gifted with four brains and favored by the holy maiden, is ordered to retrieve the dragon’s head. Angar has already split it with an axe; the magical lights from it arise, and Anduval catches and is blinded by one of them. The Holy Mistress realizes than an attack by the enemy is imminent and the entire kingdom is put to work to build a worldship on which to escape. The Holy Mistress urges Anduval to bring Tallori to the palace; he treats her as his sister, but Tallori falls in love with him. As the Holy Mistress prepares to give birth to her chrysalis, the kingdom struggles to put their escape plan into effect.

The plot is amazingly well developed considering the length of the tale; readers get a good taste of the characters. At the end of the story, I wanted still wanted more. Though this type of story is not my preferred genre, I felt compelled to read it cover to cover in one sitting. There are some veiled sexual references, but nothing objectionable for teen readers. Recommended for sci-fi, tech geeks, and even fans of romance.

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TIP OF THE ICEBERG

Face-Off

Written by Stacy Drumtra-Juba

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Fast moving young adult novella centering around the issues of sibling rivalry, family relationships, the sport of hockey, coming of age, and divorce. The McKendrick Family is undergoing a crisis. Parents are constantly fighting and are on the verge of divorce. A.J. McKendrick is an out of work architect struggling to make ends meet, placing additional strain on the marriage. High school juniors and fraternal twins, Brad and T.J., strive to shine in hockey, but T.J. has the better grades. Dad places unrealistic expectations on T.J. When finances force the parents to remove T.J. from private school, the brothers are faced with a new situation for rivalry; how to play together on the same hockey team. Their younger brother Chris gets into fights in school and attempts to run away. All this emotional stress plays havoc on the lives of the family, their school, and their friends. In addition, there are the coming of age issues related to romance and future career plans.

The short tale offers a lot to young teen readers. It is packed with action, emotional tension, details about the sport of hockey, and well-defined characters facing issues with which the reader may empathize. This book would be a good choice for a reluctant reader as the tone is conversational and smooth flowing. Juba immediately draws you in and holds your attention. Highly recommended for teens, particularly boys who love sports.

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THREE’S COMPANY

A Silent Yes: A Novella (A Quiet Life Book 1)

Written by Charlotte Thorpe

Asilentyes,picShort novella of approximately fifty pages that portrays the gentle tale of two orphaned brothers living in Kansas circa 1884. Matthias and his younger brother Justus live a quiet life on their farm. One day Silas Mitchell and his wife drive up in a wagon with a strange request. They have a sick cattle drive cook that they want to drop on their doorstep. They can’t keep her on the drive and have no one to care for her. These two brothers go in the house to discuss the situation when Silas takes off in a hurry. After a few days, the woman named Grace recovers. The brothers stay in the barn to avoid impropriety and treat her with respect. She asks to stay and volunteers her services as a cook, seamstress and housekeeper.

Matthias and Justus quickly acclimate to the new situation enjoying a lifestyle lost to them since their mother died twelve years before. Soon both the boys are attracted to Grace. They learn that Grace has no real family and no one to rely on for help. Will Grace find the courage to marry one of them or will she resign herself to disappear and go back to a life of poverty? Can the two brothers sort out their individual feelings toward their new resident? When the preacher arrives for a visit, they both know the time has come for a decision.

This is a sweet tale with no profanity or sex that alludes back to a simpler time. Kind of a cross between a piece of historical fiction and romance. The book is appropriate for readers age twelve and up. Characters are amazingly well-developed in the simple plot line. Nice well-written feel good kind of book for a lazy afternoon read.

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MAN’S BEST FRIEND

Dogboy: Danger on Liberty Pier (Dogboy Adventures Book 2)

Written by Bill Meeks

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This book follows the first in the series which saw thirteen year old orphan superhero Bronson Black saves Colto City from the clutches of a den of thieves. The second book is technically not a sequel and can be read as a stand alone story.

In this second adventure Bronson happens upon a murder being committed on Liberty Pier. He chases the perpetrator several blocks, but is unable to apprehend the killer. Bronson lives and works with a magician, Mr. Horum. In the course of the mystery, Bronson will use his Dogboy costume to go undercover. He will struggle to stay on good terms with his girlfriend reporter named Cindy and her computer savvy friends as well as his father’s old friend, Wylie Morgan. A murder, a suicide, a newspaper, a superhero, and a budding romance are elements of the plot. Bronson struggles with his ability to see into the future, his teen emotions, and his need to develop meaningful personal relationships.

There are plenty of twists and turns in the plot, and the action is pretty much non-stop in this novel of less than two hundred pages. Will Bronson find himself and solve the mystery? How will he go forward in future escapades protecting the city he loves?

Recommended for ages twelve and up, though some younger middle school students might enjoy the read. Equally appealing to both genders as there are strong male and female characters. This is not a classic superhero comic book story.

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A SENSE OF BELONGING?

The Borderlands Book One: Journey

Written by Aderyn Wood

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The Borderlands is the first book in a mystery/fantasy sci-fi series. It is a pleasant mixture of fantasy and magic combined with a coming of age story. The plot contains many twists and turns ending with what the reader would least expect.

Dale is a high school student who experiences many of the problems today’s teens face. She is a bit of a geek, bullied by the “in-crowd” at her private school whom she calls “the plastics.” Her single mother, Victoria, is always trying to impress her friends by making Dale into her own image. Dale is sensitive, and a talented artist who paints fairies, spirits, other-wordly creatures. She has also begun to experience auras. One day she meets a new boy named Rhys who has a magnetic affect on her which she is powerless to explain. Dale’s only friend is an elderly, homeless man named Gareth with whom she plans to spend the summer sailing.

Dale steals away in the sailboat; she endures one struggle after another in an effort to survive discovery and capture. A sorceress and friend of Gareth’s named Ness as well as a sprite named Esme and Gareth’s Cat will all be instrumental in her process of self-discovery and a journey to The Borderlands, which are worlds adjacent to Earth. A hierarchy of good and evil powers exists between and within these lands each alternately seeking wars or to maintain balance.

Will Dale succeed in her new role? Where and how will she find her happiness? I recommend this book series for fans of fantasy, sci-fi and mystery. Teen and young adult audiences will readily identify with the characters and their struggles.

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A SEA-SATION!

The Dragon Dreamer

Written and illustrated by J.S. Burke

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The author of this book is multi-talented. She is a marine biologist, teacher, chemist, artist and geologist. In this book targeted for middle grade students, she somehow manages to weave these disparate elements together in a well-written educational fantasy adventure.

The story shifts between two groups: the golden dragons who are in danger because their life-giving copper supplies are running low, and the octopuses who live on undersea reefs. The main protagonists, Arak, the dragon, and Scree, the octopus healer, will be thrown together by a chance accident. They will work together first as trading partners and later as loyal friends. Each of them will lead their people to safety as they face extinction. Though they speak different languages, they learn to communicate. Burke does a masterful job of character development by uniquely combining the elements of caring, cooperation, romance and diversity. She successfully weaves together an intricate plot that celebrates diversity and intertwines ancient myths and legends with the scientific facts of marine biology.

Readers are taken on an exciting page turning adventure in which you empathize with characters as they face each new obstacle. At the same time, almost without realizing it, you are learning about the food chain, volcanoes, sharks and giant squid. The glossary included at the end is a nice resource for the scientific background. Targeted for readers ages nine and older, the book has a wider appeal for young adult and even adult audiences. A book that entertains while providing an education is a welcome addition to any bookshelf. Highly recommended !

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BACK TO THE SOURCE

Creatus (They Exist):The Prequel (Creatus Series)

Written by Carmen DeSousa

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I grabbed this book as an introduction to the Creatus novel series that I had read about which mixes elements of mystery, romance, suspense and a touch of the supernatural. The action in this prequel takes place fourteen years before Book One and is intended to develop the characters and fill in some gaps in the story line.

While there is no overt sex or graphic violence, the protagonist named Kris witnesses her mother being stabbed to death, and experiments with drugs and sex in her quest to find herself. For this reason, I would not recommend the book for younger teens. Derrick Ashton, her hero, is a Creatus, one of a species almost wiped out by humans. He struggles to fulfill his destiny as an overseer, while feeling a tremendous pull to be a “watcher” protecting this young human girl even though it is forbidden by his kind. Derrick cannot explain why he feels compelled to be her Dark Angel though he knows his destiny and a mate has already been chosen for him. Here we have two main characters struggling to overcome their demons and find their niche in the world. Derrick cannot help himself and Kris cannot control her destructive behavior. Every time she is at the point of self-destruction, she feels the presence of her Dark Angel. Fans of other books in the series will want to read this novella to round out the Creatus experience.

The author draws the reader in with the skillfully developed plot and imbues the reader with the conflict and torment the characters are experiencing. There is a nice balance of story elements including the right combination of mystery, suspense, and paranormal presenting an interesting drama. Fans of all three genres will enjoy the novella. Older teens will identify with Kris and her struggles to find her way.

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VIKING DISCOVERIES

The Viking

Written by Marti Talbott

This book is the first in a long series of books about the MacGreagor Clan. Although they can be read independently, it is probably better to read this first book which sets the historic background and tone for all the others.

TheViking,picTalbott introduces the reader to fourteen year old Stefan Rosetti who is embarking on his first voyage as a Viking. His father Donor commands his ship Sja Vinna; which is headed for the shores of Scotland; but Stefan is unaware that his father has plans for both of them to remain in Scotland, the land of his mother’s birth. Unfortunately, they are attacked immediately after going ashore. Donor is killed; Stefan escapes and searches for a new beginning.

Stefan becomes the protector of a woman named Jirvel and her daughter, Kannak. Jirvel’s husband Eogan has deserted them, and their lands are in disrepair. Stefan rapidly gains their trust; he feigns to be their relative from the lands to the North. The women belong to the Macoran clan and are under the protection of their Laird. Jirvel and Kannak plead with him to allow them to remain single as many suitors seek to marry them. The Laird experiences struggles with his wife Agnes and two wayward twin sons who plot against him. I do not want to give away too much of the story, but there are lots of twists and turns in the plot for all the characters. Stefan will lose his freedom and eventually uncover his true identity.

The characters are well developed and the plot line moves swiftly. This is the kind of book you want to read in one sitting. The dialogue is authentic but not difficult to understand. Talbott combines history, romance and adventure in pleasing proportions. I recommend the book for ages fourteen and older. Let me give fair warning….. as soon as you finish reading, you will want to pick up the next in the series!

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CASTLES AND CANOES

Terror at White Otter Castle

Written by Bonnie Ferrante

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This short novella could probably be best categorized as a young adult horror story, but it certainly will grip a mature adult audience as well. The language is simple, and the author deftly manipulates the reader into total involvement within the first few pages.

Three high school seniors are taking a summer canoe trip through the Canadian wilderness as a final get together before splitting up for college. Lauren, Aster and Beth have been together since first grade and have formed a “Power Triangle” pledging to always be there for each other in times of need. The girls are unique in terms of their backgrounds, skills and personalities. When their guides decide to camp in the shadow of the castle of James Anderson McQuat, the reader learns the legend of how Jimmy built his magnificent castle for Jane, the girl he longed to marry. Then he refused to meet her parents and their marriage plans collapsed. No one seems to know what happened to Jimmy.

Upon awakening on the beach, Aster sees a figure wearing a floppy hat and a long raincoat. No one believes her story. She mysteriously disappears and the real adventure begins. After a series of mishaps involved in the search, it becomes apparent that Aster has been kidnapped. Communication is cut and sabotage is indicated. What other dangers will the group encounter? The girls have pledged to always be there for each other, but can they find each other again and escape successfully?

There are lots of twists and turns, surprises, and a bit of horror combined to make this less than one hundred page story keep you on the edge of your seat. Next time you are looking for a well-written quick, exciting read, take a look at this one.

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