Tag Archives: YA novels

The Trouble with Belonging by Magdalena Stanhoff Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Two young kids who meet one another in the city and grow up together as friends find their relationship changing, and the challenges of everyday life changing them as well, in author Magdalena Stanhoff’s “The Trouble With Belonging”. 

The Synopsis

New city, again. New language, new school, new people. Another place where he doesn’t belong. Chen Kehuan is a boy adrift: he has no friends and no family to speak of, and he doesn’t care much for anyone. Until he meets that little girl, and then everything changes.

Niki roams the streets, talking to strangers on a whim and making things out of nothing, and since she has no choice, she fends for herself well enough. But then that older boy starts looking after her, and everything changes.

Years later, teenage Niki still struggles with the fallout of her turbulent childhood. Thankfully, Kehuan is there to help solve each and every problem she may have. Until everything changes again, and he becomes the problem. Now what?

The Review

This was such an intriguing and thoughtful read. The author does a great job of exploring so much about the lives of our younger generations and how the way we raise our children can really have an impact on how they handle situations as they arise in their lives. The author does a great job of covering so many different issues that young people face on a daily basis all around the world through these characters, from racism and alienation from their peers to developing hormones and the impact adult decisions have on still developing teens. 

What was fascinating to read was the examination of different cultures within this YA Romance and Drama. The multi-cultural cast of characters found the perfect balance of highlighting the aspects of each character’s background and culture that makes them unique, and the similarities they all shared in the issues that came across their paths. One thing I noticed that the author highlighted so well was the impact absent parenting and tragedy can have on young children as they grow older, and how moving too fast in any relationship can lead to hardships and struggles as they each look to find their own footing in the world.

The Verdict

A thought-provoking, engaging, and emotional read, author Magdalena Stanhoff’s “The Trouble with Belonging” is a fantastic YA Romance/Drama to read this fall. The story can get quite adult in certain spots, but the emphasis on relationships of all kinds and the way real issues are worked into the narrative along with the main character’s growing relationship and their own development made this such an interesting character study overall in the narrative. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

I’ve always loved books, and I’ve always wanted to see the world.  But while I read compulsively in my childhood and teenage years, traveling used to be just an unrealistic dream. Many years had to pass before I could pack my bag and set off on my first journey abroad, but it happened in the end. Since then, I’ve visited many countries and met many amazing people of different nationalities and cultures. We worked, and learned, and played together, and I’ve gained some wonderful friends this way. My life would’ve been so much duller and paler without them.  Books and travels have made me who I am. And my family, of course, but that goes without saying.

As for my books, I write what I like to read: stories about people overcoming various difficulties, sometimes fighting their inner demons, sometimes struggling to fit in or starting anew from the scratch, and finding love and happiness with a little help from their friends and family. Throw in the motif of clashing cultures and world views, and the mess and growth that can come out of it. And since I’m an incurable dreamer, also the obligatory HEA. 

P.S. As you may have already guessed, Magdalena Stanhoff is a pen name. My real name wouldn’t fit on any book cover, and besides,  most of you wouldn’t be able to pronounce it anyway.

https://www.magdalenastanhoff.com/

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This is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lepore Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Two students from very different walks of life find themselves working together after they discover the body of a young teen girl floating off the coast of their small town, and discover students from both the local prep school and reform school all have secrets to hide in author Gabriella Lepore’s “This is Why We Lie”. 

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The Synopsis

Riverdale meets One of Us Is Lying in This Is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lepore, a standalone thriller following two teens who discover a body off the coast of their seaside town. As they search for the killer, they will learn the students of both the local prep school and the nearby reform school will do anything to protect their secrets.

Everyone in Gardiners Bay has a secret.

When Jenna Dallas and Adam Cole find Colleen O’Dell’s body floating off the shore of their coastal town, the community of Gardiners Bay is shaken. But even more shocking is the fact that her drowning was no accident.

Once Jenna’s best friend becomes a key suspect, Jenna starts to look for answers on her own. As she uncovers scandals inside Preston Prep School leading back to Rookwood reform school, she knows she needs Adam on her side.

As a student at Rookwood, Adam is used to getting judgmental looks, but now his friends are being investigated by the police. Adam will do whatever he can to keep them safe, even if that means trusting Jenna.

As lies unravel, the truth starts to blur. Only one thing is certain: somebody must take the fall.

The Review

A truly gripping and engaging thriller for YA and murder-mystery fans, author Gabriella Lepore has crafted a mind-bending tale of suspense and secrets that readers will not be able to help to fall into. The twists and turns that this novel takes both for the characters and the narrative itself are truly captivating, and the author does a fantastic job of setting up solid pacing to peel back the layers of this mystery one by one. 

The growth of the characters was what drew me into the narrative, to begin with. The emotional depth that both protagonists have gone through in their pasts, and how these two young people who have had to learn to trust only themselves and have experienced hard family lives make their way to one another in the midst of great tragedy was so enthralling and mesmerizing to see unfold and really tugged at the heartstrings as well. This in turn really balanced out the emotional beats with the suspense and drama of this murder mystery and small-town life. 

The Verdict

Pretty Little Liars meets Riverdale, author Gabriella Lepore’s “This Is Why We Lie” is a must-read YA Mystery of 2021! Perfectly crafted and shocking as the final reveal of the killer is shown, this novel delivers powerful characters that readers might be able to relate to, and a great exploration of both the contrast and similarities people from different walks of life can truly have. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of this incredible book today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Gabriella Lepore is a YA author from South Wales in the United Kingdom. She lives in the countryside with her husband James and daughter Sophia. When she isn’t reading or writing, she can usually be found exploring the coastline. She enjoys cups of tea, bookstore coffee shops, stormy beaches, and autumn days.

BUY LINKS:

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/this-is-why-we-lie/9781335418609 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/this-is-why-we-lie-gabriella-lepore/1138317761 

Powells: https://www.powells.com/book/this-is-why-we-lie-9781335418609 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/This-Why-Lie-Gabriella-Lepore/dp/1335418601

Target: https://www.target.com/p/this-is-why-we-lie-by-gabriella-lepore-hardcover/-/A-82007842 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Gabriella_Lepore_This_Is_Why_We_Lie?id=eqsJEAAAQBAJ

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/author/gabriella-lepore/id1153311848

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/this-is-why-we-lie 

SOCIAL LINKS: 

Twitter: @GabriellaBooks 

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4814169.Gabriella_Lepore 

Here is an Excerpt from “This Is Why We Lie”

JENNA

Gardiners Bay at dawn is my secret. There’s a moment, right before the day starts, when the ocean is bathed in amber light. That first golden breath of morning. Everything is still, apart from the pelicans gathering near the water, their plump bodies shuffling along the shoreline. Sometimes I sit on the promenade for hours with my legs suspended over the pebble beach below, just watching the night turn to day. Watching the darkness turn to light.

It’s often like this, just me and the birds. The only other people I tend to cross paths with at this hour are fishermen wearing heavy-duty gear and hugging their thermoses. They sit on the benches and swig their hot drinks while skimming the daily newspaper. Then they leave. A little while later, their boats drift out onto the water.

Today, though, I’m the only one here.

I raise my camera and adjust the focus, capturing the new light as it spills over the ocean. In the muted daylight, the silver tide is a murky, dull gray and frothing as it slaps against the shore.

“Help! I need help!”

My eyes dart across the shoreline. There’s a boy on the stretch of beach at the foot of Rookwood Cliff. He’s kneedeep in the water, fully dressed.

He shouts again.

I spring to my feet and run along the promenade. Ducking beneath the boardwalk railings, I jump down to the pebbled cove.

The soles of my feet sting at the impact of the stones beneath my Converse. I scramble toward him, my footing slipping on the damp pebbles.

It’s then that I recognize him.

Adam.

His jeans are soaked to the thigh. He’s wading through the shallows, his legs tangled in fishing net and seaweed. And a body lies limp in his arms. A girl. She’s swollen, her skin has turned purple, and one arm is swinging downward with the momentum of Adam’s labored movements.

I press my hand to my mouth.

“Call an ambulance,” he shouts.

But all I can do is stand there, paralyzed by the sight. He lowers the girl onto the sand and begins CPR, breathing into her mouth.

It’s too late, I want to tell him.

She’s already dead.

Excerpted from This is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lepore, Copyright © 2021 by Gabriella Lepore. Published by Inkyard Press. 

Cold Hearted (Villains #8) by Serena Valentino Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

The true origin of one of the most notorious evil stepmothers is revealed in author Serena Valentino’s “Cold Hearted”, the eight book in the VILLAINS series.

The Synopsis

It’s a familiar tale: A kind and beautiful young girl, reeling from loss. A doting father, frantic to bring a mother’s love back into his daughter’s life. And the selfish, cruel woman who insinuates herself into that family―a woman so unfeeling, so cold hearted, that when her new husband dies, she makes the girl a servant in her own home.

But who is that evil stepmother, that icy lady of the house? How did she become so closed off that, in the face of a child’s grief, she thought only to seek wealth and power for herself and her abhorrent daughters? Before that fateful ball, before the glass slipper and the prince, there was another story―a story of love and grief, of hope and of dreams dashed. It is the story of Lady Tremaine.

Even the coldest of villains are sometimes wives and mothers, women who loved and lost and hoped for

something grander for their lives . . . once upon a dream.

The latest novel in Serena Valentino’s deliciously devious Villains series introduces the most famed and hated wicked stepmother of them all―but turns everything you know about her on its head.

The Review

A truly haunting and engaging story, the author has masterfully brought to life the story of Cinderella in a whole new light. Seeing the story through Lady Tremaine’s eyes was amazing, not only showcasing who she was before her marriage to Cinderella’s father, but showcasing how all the girls of the household became victims of his cruel nature. Even Cinderella, beloved by her father, found herself a pawn in his game of control. The pacing of the novel really helped draw readers in, while the setting changes from London to the Many Kingdoms highlighted the change in magic and it’s effect on those not of that world.

The character growth was definitely the highlight of the narrative. The story helped balance the original characters and gave them more dimension. From Cinderella inadvertently giving her father the means to push Lady Tremaine over the edge to the inclusion of the Fairies and their dark counterparts, The Odd Sisters, and even the tumultuous path that put the step sisters in the path of villainy, readers won’t be able to help feeling sympathetic towards the women.

The Verdict

A brilliant, entertaining, and chilling take on a classic fairy tale, author Serena Valentino’s “Cold Hearted” is a must read YA novel of the summer. Capturing the essence of classic fairy tales and elevating the narrative to include much more well rounded characters, the book is one readers won’t be able to put down. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Serena Valentino has been weaving tales that combine mythos and guile for the past decade. She has earned critical acclaim in both the comic and horror domains, where she is known for her unique style of storytelling, bringing her readers into exquisitely frightening worlds filled with terror, beauty, and extraordinary protagonists. The books in her best-selling Villains series are best enjoyed when read in the following order: Fairest of All, The Beast Within, Poor Unfortunate Soul, Mistress of All Evil, Mother Knows Best, Odd Sisters, Evil Thing, and Cold Hearted.

https://www.serenavalentino.com/

https://www.twitter.com/SerenaValentino

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A Woman’s World by Lynne Hill-Clark Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman destined to become the next leader of her people finds herself fighting to become her own person and facing a dangerous new world in author Lynne Hill-Clark’s YA Fantasy novel, “A Woman’s World”.

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The Synopsis

Baya is not sure she wants the life her mother has planned for her.

She has been prepared her entire life for three trials.

That’s all … only three ancient tests in three days.

A lifetime worth of work over in a matter of days. Easy right?

Then she will officially be a woman and in line to become the ruler of the world … or she’ll be dead.

But what if she doesn’t want either of those options?

If she can survive the trials, that’s when the real challenges will begin.

This is a story of survival, love and loss.

The Review

A truly marvelous and engaging YA Fantasy novel that perfectly introduces readers to a brand new series, this story does an excellent job of crafting both a narrative and cast of characters that complement one another. The incredible new mythos that this author has brought to life will feel both familiar and original all at once. So many elements of this story feel like a tribute to the tales of the Ancient Amazons in Greek mythology, both the original and the DC Comics version. Yet the author elevates those elements to new heights, creating a world in which men serve the women of the island, and women born to become leaders are gifted with powerful abilities that few could ever imagine. 

Yet it is Baya and her journey that truly make this story engaging. Her impact on allies and enemies alike and how it influences their own stories to her shocking decision and the ramifications it has on her as she faces a dangerous new world make her character arc full and richly developed. Readers will instantly connect with the protagonist while at other times shaking their heads at things we all wish Baya would realize herself, making her such a well-rounded heroine for this new YA adventure.

The Verdict

A mesmerizing, addictive, and long yet engaging read, author Lynne Hill-Clark’s “A Woman’s World” is the perfect first entry into a whirlwind YA Fantasy series. The novel holds a steady yet entertaining pace as the author introduces more and more elements to the world’s mythology, and the shocking cliffhanger final chapter will leave readers breathless for the next entry in the series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab or preorder your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

I hate books, especially fantasy books, and I hate writing.

Just checking to see if you’re paying attention. 🙂

All I want to do is write and read. Actually, I listen to audiobooks. I listen to at least one a month and review it. Mostly fantasy books. I listen while I exercise. This has two benefits. 1) I don’t feel guilty for taking time to sit down and read a book but I still get to hear a great story. It is the most time saving way to keep up with the latest books in my genre. 2) It makes my workout go by quicker. Win – win!

My best days are the ones I get to spend writing. Then the best of the best days are when a creative twist for my stories hits me, sometimes it feels like an actual slap to the face. My heart races and I know at once that it is the perfect fit for my story. Super fun and what makes writing worthwhile.

Much to my surprise, learning about marketing has been fun, challenging, yet fun. I am so glad to be self-published as this gives me many more options for reaching my readers.

I was born in Colorado and raised in a small town of eight hundred people. I received a masters of science from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Living in the southeast was an eye-opening experience.

I graduated with my Doctorate of Psychology from the University of the Rockies. I specialized in criminology and justice studies. Never a dull moment and VERY interesting to learn about the criminal psyche.

I’m often asked if my degrees influenced my writing and they certainly did. In my masters program I studied under Dr. Hood. He was a leader in the psychology of religion. Studying early Christian history greatly influenced my 3rd novel, Of Gods and Goddess.

Restorative Justice (RJ) influenced my writing as well. For example, it is how Vallachia chooses to lead her people and deal with her “enemies”. Some might say that there is no such thing as an enemy, they only exist in fiction stories or in our own minds. I hope to incorporate even more RJ into future books.

My extensive travels and at times living overseas has greatly added to my writing material. Being an American Peace Corps Volunteer in Jordan helped me to create the world that I’m currently writing about, A Woman’s World. My time studying in China and visiting family in Norway (just to name a few of my travels) have all helped expand my world view, which of course helps my creativity. I am very blessed, my life experiences have given me rich material to write about.

Something else that you may find interesting is that I’m dyslexic. I was diagnosed in 2nd grade, as I could not read. My parents were told that I was “slow” and “not intelligent”. They said that I would not be able to graduate from high school. Sometimes it pays NOT to listen to the “experts”. My education also helped give me the confidence and practice that I needed to be able to write for a living.

Don’t believe limits that others set for you (or ones you set for yourself)!

The sky is the not even a limit anymore!!

Author site: http://lynnehillclark.com 

 Interview with Lynne Hill-Clark: Publishing, Literary Themes & Her Newest Works – YouTube

https://www.facebook.com/writerlynnehillclark/

https://www.facebook.com/futureclassicspublishing/

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https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15396705.Lynne_Hill_Clark

Eden Rising (Eden Rising #1) by Andrew Cunningham Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Two young teens find themselves in a fight for survival as they become one of the few survivors of a planet-ending event, and must discover how far they are willing to go in order to live in author Andrew Cunningham’s “Eden Rising”. 

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The Synopsis

“The Earth died in less than a minute. Maybe that’s an exaggeration. It’s not like the planet ceased to exist altogether. It just seemed like it. Cities were reduced to rubble. Millions of people died that day. I’ve since been told that 95% of the Earth’s human population was wiped out. I don’t know if that’s true—I mean, who can know that for sure? It’s not like we still have any of the technology that we once used to determine such things. But I do know that it was almost empty of people—live ones, that is…”

Thus begins the journey of Ben and Lila, two ordinary teenagers forced to rise to extraordinary heights when faced with a world that has suddenly and inexplicably died. Dealing with the sorrow of all they have lost, but the love they have found in each other, they set off on an odyssey that will bring them to the limits of human endurance and face to face with the frailty of their very existence. From the extreme violence of many of the surviving humans toward one another, to a world physically falling apart at the seams, Ben and Lila are determined to make it through the devastation in their quest for a place to quietly share their life together. In the process, they have to become as violent as the world around them in order to survive, while struggling to hold onto the humanity that will keep them sane. Eden Rising is a survival tale and a love story, but it is also a book that delves deeply into the human psyche to discover just how far we would go to survive, and how much inner strength can be found when things are at their absolute worst.

The Review

This audiobook was not only well read, but incredibly well-written. The action kicks up immediately, as the two protagonists find themselves going from awkward teen romance hanging in the air to waking up and finding the people of the world dead. 

The author does an amazing job of leaning hard into the dystopian YA sci-fi genre, while also bringing a maturity to the narrative by examining the psychological affect an apocalyptic event like this would have on any survivors, let alone two young teens forced to grow up very quickly. The pain of the loss brings to them a bond that highlights a growing romance, while the horrors they endure in the narrative and the lines they must contend with crossing showcase complex and deep character developments, a key to this novel’s pacing and delivery overall.

The Verdict

A must-read, heart-pounding audiobook and novel, author Andrew Cunningham’s “Eden Rising”, the first in the Eden Rising series, is an edge of your seat dystopian YA novel that is not to be missed. Memorable characters, romance and deep psychological character studies all define this amazing novel, and readers will not be able to get enough of this wonderful work. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author 

Andrew Cunningham is the author ten novels, including the award-winning Amazon bestselling thriller Wisdom Spring; the “Lies” Mystery Series (All Lies, Fatal Lies, Vegas Lies, Secrets & Lies, and Blood Lies); the Cape Cod terrorist/disaster thriller Deadly Shore; and the post-apocalyptic Eden Rising Series (Eden Rising, Eden Lost, and Eden’s Legacy). As A.R. Cunningham, he has written a series of 5 humorous children’s mysteries in the Arthur MacArthur series for middle-readers. Formerly an interpreter for the deaf and a long-time independent bookseller, Andrew has been a full-time freelance writer and copy editor for the last 18 years. A 4th-degree Master Blackbelt in Tang Soo Do, Andrew finally gave up active training when his body said, “Enough already!” Andrew was a long-time resident of Cape Cod, and he and his wife now live in Florida. He can be contacted at info@arcnovels.com. Visit his website at www.arcnovels.com. He can also be found on Facebook (Author Andrew Cunningham), and Twitter (@arcnovels).

Blood and Silver by Vali Benson Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young girl must find a way to save her mother from a nefarious Madame in the town of Tombstone in author Vali Benson’s “Blood and Silver”. 

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The Synopsis

What is a twelve year old girl to do when she finds herself in the silver boom town of Tombstone, Arizona, in 1880, and her only home is a brothel and her only parent is a drug-addicted mother? If she is Carissa Beaumont, she outsmarts the evil madam and figures a way out.

After tricking the madam, Miss Lucille, into summoning a doctor for her mother, Lisette, she discovers that Miss Lucille has been drugging her. She and the kind doctor make a plan to try to save Lisette by dosing her down on the drug.

Doctor Henderson tells Carissa that the only source for the drug is a Chinese immigrant named China Mary, who lives in Hoptown, at the other end of Tombstone. Carissa has no choice but to go to the powerful woman for help. Many say that China Mary is the one who really controls Tombstone.

China Mary admires Carissa’s brave spirit, and uses her influence to get her a job at the new Grand Hotel, which will free Carissa from her many duties at Miss Lucille’s. She will work along with Mary’s twelve year old niece, Mai-Lin. The two girls become fast friends.

Then, disaster strikes, and the two girls must work together to stay alive.

With a host of colorful characters and meticulous attention to period detail, Blood and Silver is a story of the best and worst of human nature, the passion for survival and the beauty of true friendship.

The Review

This was a fast-paced, intricate character study and intense YA historical read. The author does a great job of focusing on character development within the narrative, and the historical nature of the novel was very well researched and integrated naturally into the book as well. 

The story takes off immediately from the very first pages, with a murder leading to Carissa’s discovery of her mother’s condition and the lengths Miss Lucille will go to secure her business. The young woman risks it all to save those closest to her, and historical fiction and YA fans will love the intricate way the setting plays into the character’s arc and the narrative overall. 

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The Verdict

A must-read novel, author Vali Benson’s “Blood and Silver” is a truly one-of-a-kind read. The historical fiction YA adventure is filled with a gritty Western theme and does a great job of giving a voice to people who are usually relegated to background characters in the typical Western novel, making this a wonderful read. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Vali grew up in the Midwest. She now lives in Tucson with her husband, two sons and grandchildren.

After graduating from the University of Illinois, Vali started and sold two successful businesses before she decided to pursue her real passion of writing. She published several articles in a variety of periodicals, including History Magazine before she decided to try her hand at fiction.

In April of 2020, Vali published her first novel, “Blood and Silver”. That same month, she was also made a member of the Western Writers of America.

Website:

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Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53167218-blood-and-silver

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Warriors of Potentia (The Shadows) by J.J. Angelus Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A group of young people are all that stands between Earth and an unimaginable threat in author J.J. Angelus’s “Warriors of Potentia (The Shadows)”. 

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The Synopsis

The souls of mankind have always had a fascination with the unknown. Humanity desires nothing more than to unravel the secrets of the Universe in hopes of gaining enlightenment and uncovering the truth. But what if they uncovered something which darkened their perceptions? Something that could wipe out their existence if it was given the opportunity?A supernatural entity descends upon an unsuspecting community carrying a hostile attitude and voracious appetite. The only offset for this cosmic menace is a few young adults who gain mystical abilities from unknown origins. Inexperienced and unaware, the odds are clearly against them as they face a merciless and ever-evolving enemy. An enemy who not only threatens their young adult lives, but also the entire Earth. As the mystery unfolds, your deepest and darkest fears will become reality, and the shadows surrounding your conscience shall come to life. A reality which fuels your imagination and reshapes your mind towards understanding the inner workings of the Cosmos just a little bit better.

The Review

The book hits the ground running, setting the stage for a powerful sci-fi epic YA series that is both emotional and action-fueled. After a deadly accident on a space station launches a lone astronaut back to Earth carrying a dangerous alien threat, the world becomes a target and a few teens find their lives changed forever.

The author does a great job of creating unique mythology that blends sci-fi and fantasy seamlessly. The cast of characters is strong and does well to elevate the story naturally, and readers become invested as the story progresses. The only thing of note would be that sometimes perspective changes between characters occur suddenly without warning, so perhaps in the future, these character perspective changes could occur with some separators between each passage within a chapter. 

The Verdict

A gripping sci-fi tale like no other, author J.J. Angelus has set the stage for a fantastic YA series. Engaging, heartfelt, and incredibly detailed in its mythological approach, Warriors of Potentia is a must-read novel of the summer. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 8/10

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Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B089XDNMK2

Facebook: https://facebook.com/warriorsofpotentia

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53936297-warriors-of-potentia

Author Bio: 

In 2016, J.J. Angel was a part of an anthology called Voices from the Bayou, he loaned his words on several troubling events that year in Louisiana. Specifically, The Great Flood of 2016, the shooting of Alton Sterling, and the deaths of three police officers. His written portion titled, “Still Water Runs Deep” is about an outward conflict clashing with his own inner conflict, both as a flood victim and a misguided African American male.  

 Several years later, he decided to differentiate himself from the book with a new pseudonym, but since he loved his original pen name so much, he simply turned Angel into Angelus which is Latin for angel. The Angel portion of his original pseudonym is a shortened form of his mother’s name Angela.

JJ prefers to write stories focusing on the supernatural, with spiritual awareness intertwined somewhere in the plot. He enjoys educational science books as well.  

Warriors of Potentia is his most developed production, with one completed book and several sequels on the way. The idea of the story originated twenty-five years ago as a way to combat the ongoing verbal and physical torment from peers. Beginning as simple stick-figure drawings, these characters developed, as he developed, and became a greater manifestation of his creativity into what they are today.  

JJ is also working on a few other titles that are not a part of the Potentia franchise. These works will be released sometime in the near future as well.

When he’s not writing, JJ’s outside moving around the downtown capitol; enjoying the great Louisiana cuisine and entertainment, visiting parks and zoos to become closer with the elements of nature, and trying to control his ongoing obsession with Star Trek Deep Space Nine. 

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Dream Chasers (Screamcatcher #2) by Christy J. Breedlove Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman uses her new experience gained from the first book in a powerful mythological series and delves further into the realm of dream catchers and Native American lore in author Christy J. Breedlove’s “Dream Chasers (Screamcatcher #2)”. 

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The Synopsis

Seventeen year-old Jory Pike knows a thing or two about Indian lore from her half-blood Chippewa ancestry. She can trap, hunt and fish with the best of them. She has a team of three other teens friends called The Badlands Paranormal Society. Instead of bagging groceries or playing on I-pods, they think they can excel at banishing evil spirits. They hope to cleanse houses and earn fat paychecks for their services.

Dream catchers aren’t just the chic hoops tourists buy at novelty shops–they work. And sometimes they clog up with nightmares until they collapse under their own evil weight, imploding and sending the dreamer into an alternate world. Jory uses her worst nightmare to enter the dream catcher world. She’s pulled her teammates in deliberately. Everything goes right on schedule but they’ve bitten off more than they can chew. Now Jory and her friends are there, trapped between the people who have confessed their sins to the Great Spirit and are seeking a way out, and the monsters and evil spirits, which are happy to keep them trapped in the web world forever.

They were once considered Seekers in the dream world. Now they’ve become vigilantes and call themselves Pathfinders. Is it spiritual enlightenment they after? Or have they now become fatally reckless?

The Review

An action-packed and deeply mythological sequel, author Christy J. Breedlove has done a fantastic job of connecting to the larger mythology established in the first book and bringing forth a new twist in the evolving story of these characters. The thing that really jumps out is that for returning readers, the story sees a much more educated and experienced protagonist in Jory and her team of investigators, but newcomers will still be able to jump into the series even if they haven’t read the first book yet. 

The speed in which the group of characters is thrust into the world of this possessed dreamcatcher keeps the reader’s hearts pounding in their chests. Unspeakable creatures and beautiful imagery give the reader a deeper connection to the character’s during their journey into this other realm, while the ever-evolving story do a great job of delving into the complex and treasured history and mythology of the Native American people amongst the varying tribes and people. 

The Verdict

A must-read YA fantasy and mythology series, “Dream Chasers” is a brilliant sequel for Christy J. Breedlove’s “Screamcatchers” series. Filled with intense action, deep character growth and an overall sense of adventure, this is a unique read in the YA genre that delves into a mythology that deserves far more storytelling than it typically gets, so be sure to grab your copy of this amazing book today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

I became a story teller. I’m a diehard frantic creator of Young Adult fiction, whether it’s paranormal, science fiction, suspense or fantasy. I believe in pure escapism with unceasing action adventure and discovery. If you want a moral message or cultural statement, you’re apt to get a small one. But let me tell you something, reader, I want to make you laugh until you gag, cry until you’re dry and tear out tufts of your hair. Today, young adult lit needs a resurrection. How soon we’ve forgotten about Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Divergent and Twilight. Oh, the mania! Where has it gone? Are we losing our young readers? We need something really fresh and new. I and several writers are going to pour everything we have into that end. You are the kindly judge–help us get there and we will deliver!

Amazon Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Chris-Harold-Stevenson/e/B001K8UUBK

Christy’s Website:  https://christysyoungadultfabuliers.com/

Blog:  http://guerrillawarfareforwriters.blogspot.com/

The Goodbye Family and The Great Mountain by Lorin Morgan-Richards Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A family of undertakers from the Weird West must traverse the underworld after long and recently passed neighbors begin rising from the grave, upsetting the balance and their business, in author Lorin Morgan-Richards’ “The Goodbye Family and The Great Mountain”. 

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The Synopsis

The Goodbye Family and the Great Mountain follows the lives of Weird West undertakers Otis, Pyridine, and their daughter Orphie. Pyridine is a witch and matriarch mortician, Otis is a brainless but bold hearse driver, and Orphie is appointed grave digger for her strength of twenty men. Through bumbling, Otis discovers his neighbors are turning into zombies, a mystery that is directly affecting their burial business. In their backyard cemetery, they travel to the underworld for answers and uncover a plot to surface the evil entities that would otherwise burn in the Lake of Fire, have risen again through oil pumps that are bottled up as a tonic medicine for the ground above. The tonic goes fast, and the host takes over the body when the body perishes. Can the Goodbyes hilarious gaffes and revelations plug up the works? Find out in this fast-paced carriage ride through the underworld. The story includes an exclusive foreword by entertainer and medium Richard-Lael Lillard.

The Review

This is a fun and unique read for YA audiences everywhere. An entertaining blend of the Wild West meets sci-fi and Victorian Goth horror, The Goodbye Family and the Great Mountain is a fast-paced read that creates an imaginative and magical world filled with zombies, the underworld and literal magic. 

The author’s ability to fuse this wild and creative mythology within the novel’s world with the humor of the cast of characters, particularly the odd yet fun protagonists the Goodbye Family, make for a unique literary journey. Otis, in particular, will delight audiences as his strange comments will showcase the surrounding character’s bemused and dumbfounded looks in the reader’s minds. 

The Verdict

An entertaining, evenly paced and magical read, author Lorin Morgan-Richards’ novel “The Goodbye Family and The Great Mountain” is a must-read for 2020. Action-packed, whimsical yet haunting in its an approach, readers can easily picture the novel adapted into a Tim Burton-like claymation animated film. It’s a delightful read that I highly recommend, so be sure to grab your copies today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Lorin Morgan-Richards is an author and illustrator, known mostly for his YA fiction. A fan favorite is his daily comic series The Goodbye Family about a family of eccentric undertakers living in the Old Weird West with their daughter Orphie who oversees the town of Nicklesworth as their sheriff. Richards writing career started in 2009, with his latest novel The Goodbye Family and the Great Mountain (2020) being his thirteenth release. In addition to writing and illustrating, Richards colorizes Old West and Victorian-era photography.

Official site: https://www.lorinrichards.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lorin_morgan_richards/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lorinmorganrichards/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lorin-Morgan-Richards/e/B002LTN6KO

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2943244.Lorin_Morgan_Richards