Tag Archives: YA

Screamcatcher: Sa’be Most Monstrous by Christy J Breedlove – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book Screamcatcher: Sa’be Most Monstrous by Christy J Breedlove to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

Screamcatcher: Sa'be Most Monstrous by Christy J Breedlove

Here is the book blurb.

Jory Pike and the Badlands Paranormal Society get a strange and frantic call from a woman who claims her property has been invaded by unknown trespassers who have terrorized her and her husband and killed their two dogs. She says her husband has gone hunting for the culprits and disappeared. The Sherriff’s office performed a routine investigation and mysteriously quit. The woman also called a first nations tribe tracker to help her, but after a short investigation, he claimed she had something more dangerous than a bear and wanted nothing to do with it.

This is the fourth title in the Screamcatcher series, but works perfectly as a stand-alone read. In fact, I haven’t been reading them in sequence. I’ve read them in the order 2, 1 and now 4. All the books feature teenage friends Jory, Choice, Lander and Darcy who are collectively known as the Badlands Paranormal Society.

This story begins with Jory receiving a desperate phone call from Tonya who wants the team to investigate mysterious intruders who have been creating havoc for 4 months and have now killed her dogs. Her husband Kyle tried to hunt for them 3 days ago and hasn’t returned. The police and a tracker have found nothing bar a few prints.

Jory’s 91 year old grandfather Albert has been listening to the call and has identified the intruders as Sa’be Most Monstrous, also known as Sasquatch or Bigfoot. He considers it a very dangerous situation and insists on coming on the mission.

2 solid days of driving 1,500 miles across the States from South Dakota to California, more details from Tonya on arrival and then woken in the middle of the night by rocks being thrown at the barn walls. Sa’be is obviously aware of their arrival.

Albert is insistent that they carry no visible weapons, but dress as tourists and wear cameras as they trek into the forest for clues.

How many Sa’be are there? Where is Kyle? What danger may they face? Will the trek be too arduous for Albert?

I think this is my favourite tale in the series so far, but it could be Sa’be who has biassed me. Certainly a popular choice for a story theme. I’ve now reviewed quite a few books prominently featuring Bigfoot or Sasquatch.

Screamcatcher: Sa’be Most Monstrous is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format. A great fantasy read, targeted at young adult readers. Highly recommended.

You may see my reviews of the first two books here.
Screamcatcher: Web World
Screamcatcher: Dream Chasers

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Desperate Tides Desperate Measures by Brett Salter – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book Desperate Tides Desperate Measures by Brett Salter to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

Desperate Tides, Desperate Measures by Brett Salter

Here is the book blurb.

Looks like our heroes can finally put an end to the nightmare that was Scarabadon, The Juggernaut. And it seems everyone’s favorite Synergist Knight and Master Dragon have fixed their Talisman issue too. Having thwarted every attack The Tyrant King has thrown at them to this point, The Alliance believes that they can endure any challenge as long as they remain together. Now, having the upper hand seems like the perfect opportunity to seek out more allies and even more of the realm’s mystical Talismans. Could this be a “happily ever after” for our ensemble of motley heroes? Or is this peace just a fool’s hope and just as temporary as the changing tides?

Regular followers of my blog may recognise this cover from when I did the cover reveal for this book earlier this year. I had only read the first title in the series at that point, but I’ve been gradually working my way through these great tales. So now here I am with my review of the fifth book in the Talisman series.

Once again it works perfectly as a stand-alone read but I am definitely more invested in it as an ongoing series. I certainly wouldn’t recommend reading them out of order as they are scattered with spoilers to earlier titles, the prologue being one such, as it is a recap mainly of the events in volume 4.

So trying to navigate through what I can tell you without dropping any spoilers, Rome, Julian and all the team are back fighting more Darkbrand monsters and Nocturns, meeting more allies and maybe locating another Talisman. However I love how the author manages to throw a new dimension into each book. This time it is Elementals. I just going to leave that there as a hook for you, as I can’t possibly say what or who Elementals might be. And this time Julian’s Dad, Mr Rider has more of a role in the story.

I also love how the Minotaur monsters have been categorised into types. So this time our heroes encounter Hydrotaurs and Glaciataurs. Yes think water and ice for these two. And we have previously also met Florotaurs, Pyrotaurs and Terrataurs.

Desperate Tides, Desperate Measures is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format, targeted at young adult readers. Another fabulous fantastical installment in this series and now that I’ve caught up, I’ll have to wait patiently along with everyone else for volume 6 to be released. Suitable from age 11 upwards in my opinion.

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The Battle for Verdana by Brett Salter – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Battle for Verdana by Brett Salter to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

The Battle for Verdana by Brett Salter

Here is the book blurb.

What’s REALLY hiding in the forests of the Pacific Northwest? Could it be The Tyrant King’s army of Darkbrands? Could it be more of Mr. Jones’s liaisons? Or could it be the solution to the problem vexing our favorite heroes? Whatever mystery it is, you can guarantee the boys from Georgia are sure to find themselves deep in the thick of it.

This is the fourth book in the Talisman series but works perfectly as a stand-alone read. However I definitely think they are more enjoyable read sequentially, particularly as you would get spoilers, if you were then to subsequently go back and read earlier titles. Also I note that the blurb really seems aimed at existing fans, with its references to “our favourite heroes” or the boys without naming Rome and Julian. I feel the synopsis could do with some attention to better invite new readers to the series.

My review is a bit more sketchy than for previous titles as I wish to circumvent around those potential spoiler scenes. So after a short prologue, Rome, Julian and the latest recruits are on their way to return to Beacon, who also featured previously. But in chapter 2, before they even rendezvous, they already encounter a hideous Garm. Then using Beacon technology they start to plan their next trip to a remote area in the Pacific Northwest, which appears to be a hotspot of Darkbrand activity. They are hoping to find another Talisman there. But whilst planning they are interrupted by another Garm and a Minotaur followed by a curse bearing Nocturn.

But things don’t quite go to plan when they reach the remote forest in the Pacific Northwest. What happens next? Who do they encounter here in the Den of Verdana? So near and yet so far? Can they make a deal? Where and what next? Do they find any Talismans?

I’m still not sold on the covers. They really don’t say grab this book to me, which is a shame as it is a great read.

The Battle for Verdana is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format, targeted at young adult readers. Once again a good fantasy tale. Suitable from age 11 upwards in my opinion.

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My Gypsy War Diary by Shawn D Brink – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an ebook I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book My Gypsy War Diary by Shawn D Brink to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

My Gypsy War Diary by Shawn D Brink

Here is the book blurb.

Where is Milo’s Bible, the intruders demanded. They came under cover of darkness, their guns pointed at my elderly neighbor and only friend. And with the break in, an old story came out–young love, betrayal, blackmail, a treasure stolen and stolen again, a tale of vengeance and a life lived in secret. I was just a kid in the 70s, unable to sit still in school, living in my imaginary world of TV and movies. And now this betrayal from half a century ago threatened my life, as I found myself caught between hidden treasure and a band of gypsies who would stop at nothing to get it.

This story set in Norfolk, Nebraska is written in the format of a diary of memories and begins with a very exciting adventure as our hero retrieves an old book from a remote attic but almost gets caught by two people who are after the same book. At the end of chapter 1, you realise this is a flash forward to an event later in the book.

In Chapter 2 we head back to 1978 when our hero aged 7 had just moved to Norfolk and makes best friends with the elderly lady next door, Mrs Scholes. I feel the author made a wise move giving the reader an exciting opening to the book, as the next few chapters are slow mainly describing how he likes to help Mrs Scholes and continually trying to persuade her to attend church, with occasional tantalising mentions of either gypsies or unexplained happenings. Mrs Scholes marks these down to a mysterious guardian angel.

About a third of the way through the book, the story starts to hot up. It is now 1986 and our hero wakes up in the middle of the night to hear two gypsies have broken in next door and are threatening Mrs Scholes with a gun. He thwarts their attempt and the next day hears a jaw-dropping tale from Mrs Scholes, which sets him on the path to what happened in chapter 1. From this point on, the story continues apace with plenty of twists and turns.

I liked how it portrayed a friendship across the generations. And it was inclusive from the point of view as describing ADHD symptoms for the young protagonist. Plus an old tale retold incorporated a history of the Great Depression.

However I did think it strange that the hero was never given a name. I also found the repetition of him trying to persuade Mrs Scholes to attend church rather tiresome, as it seems as if the author is attempting to convey the same message to the reader.

And although the story did incorporate a couple of good gypsies, I was uncomfortable with how on the whole, they were portrayed in aggregate as bad. It did feel as verging towards an ethnic racial sterotype bias.

My Gypsy War Diary is available on Amazon in paperback and kindle formats. A good mystery targetted at YA, but suitable from age 10 up in my opinion..

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Windy City Ruins by Brett Salter – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book Windy City Ruins by Brett Salter to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

Windy City Ruins by Brett SalterHere is the book blurb.

It’s just a simple trip to New York. What could possibly happen to our loveable heroes THIS time? Faster-than-sound reptiles? Exploding Minotaurs? Generational secrets coming back to haunt them? Expect the unexpected in this third installment of The Talisman Series, “Windy City Ruins”. The war for Earth is creeping steadily closer, and Rome’s team is in a mad dash to figure out the Talismans before it’s too late. Can they amass enough talent to help them defend the realm? Or will The Tyrant King’s heinous minions sweep them off course and leave Earth ready for the taking? Windy City Ruins is the third installment of the Talisman Series.

This is the third title in the Talisman series. It works fine as a stand-alone read but is better in my opinion to read all the books in order. Previously Julian and Rome have bonded as knight and fire dragon to defend Earth against the darkbrands, sealing portals from the void.

The story begins with a recap of who all the main characters are and the skills they possess from their Talismans, as the boys Julian and Rome fly from England to New York, accompanied by Mrs Case. The other three, Camela, Krysta and Mr Jones initially remain in Somerset, rejoining the team later in this book.

The plan is to make contact there with Beacon, a possible source of information on the darkbrands, whom Mr Jones has identified via email. But there is always the possibility that Beacon may not be an ally, so could they be heading into a trap?

And then Beacon’s email reply of where to meet is in code. Can they decipher it?

They are very suprised to discover that Beacon is not at all who they envisaged and faster than the speed of sound, they find themselves transported to a nerve centre in Chicago. But a Minotaur is hot on their heels!

More surprises abound, both good and bad. Who else might they encounter?

Mythology and knowledge of the elements play a part in this series and it is fascinating how this is wound into the story, in particular explaining how many Talismans there may be in total.

I’ve mentioned this before but the covers don’t do justice to the quality of the stories.

Windy City Ruins is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format, targeted at young adult readers. Another great fantasy instalment to this series. Suitable from age 11 upwards in my opinion.

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Riders of Fire and Ice by Brett Salter – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book Riders of Fire and Ice by Brett Salter to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

Riders of Fire and Ice by Brett Salter

Here is the book blurb.

They’re back! Julian and Rome are taking their show on the road. This time to lovely, old England in search of Camelot. While there, the Knight and Dragon will be trying to solve the mystery of the Talismans, the mystery of their shadowy stalker, and the mystery of sibling rivalry. Prepare to meet some new faces and, of course, some new Darkbrands as the two further their adventures across the pond.

This is the second title in the Talisman series. It works okay as a stand-alone read due to the initial recap, but it is better in my opinion if you have read the first title The Search For Synergy in advance, as then you will have better knowledge of Julian and Rome bonding as knight and fire dragon to defend Earth.

The story begins with boys Julian and Rome flying to England on a school trip to Bridgewater in Somerset. However their main reason for going is to try to find clues about Camelot, to see if they can find a link to the dark monsters who are trying to take over the world. Coincidentally Julian’s hated younger sister Camela is at the same boarding school where they will be staying.

Also why does principal Mrs Case seem to be staring at them so much? Does she know something about their secret? Could she be an ally or an enemy?

The author has chosen to assume that Bridgewater is the location of mythical Camelot. I’ve heard of a few possible sites for Camelot previously, but first time I’ve come across the idea of it being Bridgewater. He also describes the town centre as covering 15 square miles, but it is only a small market town really!

So the boys go to meet Camela and her best friend Krysta in the school library and then start their research for clues. Rome is surprised to see how anti-dragon Camela is. She and Julian are like chalk and cheese. Camela talks in Olde English, with phrases like methinks and silly knave.

They get a shock when they try to phone their elderly mentor Mr Jones. He hangs up on them and transports himself there to hear about the clues. Will the boys get to try that trick?

And who is the shadowy figure stalking them? Not everyone is quite as they seem?

Once again lots of magic, talismans, monsters and portals. Throw in some sibling rivaltry plus a nutcase and plenty of mystery and danger. Can they prevail?

Riders of Fire and Ice is available on Amazon in paperback, hardback and Kindle format, targeted at young adult readers. A great follow-up read to The Search for Synergy. Suitable from age 11 upwards in my opinion.

However I did feel the author could have done more research on Somerset. He had made it sound very American.

And am I reading too much into how similar Camela’s name is to Camelot? Possibly since Julian’s middle name is Pellinore, another character from Arthurian legend.

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Cover Reveal – Talisman Series volume 5 by Brett Salter

I’ve posted over 400 book reviews on my blog, but this is the first time I’ve done a cover reveal. Author Brett Salter is gearing up to publication of his fifth title in the Talisman series. You may find out more about the author on his website.

So far, I’ve only read the first book, The Search for Synergy, and you may see my review of that title here. An entertaining fantasy read, targeted at young adult readers. Suitable from age 11 upwards in my opinion.

The fifth book in the series will be called Desperate Tides, Desperate Measures and here is the book blurb.

After a few minutes, Julian and his friends walked to the portal. In the middle of a large standing pond, there was an area of overgrown swamp plants and a few strewn rock piles. Immediately, the group saw the oval-shaped portal, which had been activated by the returning Nocturn, however, no dark energy seeped out of it. Rome, the fire dragon from Volcana stood atop Scarabadon peering down. His giant claws pinned the fragile Nocturn to the soggy ground. A deathblow imminent.

Looks like our heroes can finally put an end to the nightmare that was Scarabadon, The Juggernaut. And it seems everyone’s favorite Synergist Knight and Master Dragon have fixed their Talisman issue too. Having thwarted every attack The Tyrant King has thrown at them to this point, The Alliance believes that they can endure any challenge as long as they remain together. Now, having the upper hand seems like the perfect opportunity to seek out more allies and even more of the realm’s mystical Talismans. Could this be a “happily ever after” for our ensemble of motley heroes? Or is this peace just a fool’s hope and just as temporary as the changing tides?

The Talisman series will reveal the clandestine workings of the dragons and their knights who embrace the role of protecting our world from The Tyrant King and his evil minions. Whichever side controls the Talismans and their magic will determine the destiny of the world. The question is, what are these Talismans, and how can they be used for the good of humanity and the dragon dens?

Without further ado, here is the cover.

Desperate Tides, Desperate Measures by Brett Salter

This image conveys a sense of fantasy and mystery to me. Do you like it? Would you pick it from the shelf to read?

You can find Brett Salter on social media as follows:-
Facebook | Instagram

Plus you may find out more about the series and characters on the The Talisman Series Wiki Fandom website.

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Beyond Invisible by Marjorie Jackson – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I downloaded for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book Beyond Invisible by Marjorie Jackson to review.

Beyond Invisible by Marjorie Jackson

Here is the book blurb.

After tragedy and illness brought Amber and Missy together in Being is Better, the girls, now in high school, continue their journey to unravel the mystery behind Missy’s brother Frankie’s Army enlistment and the cause of his death.

Meanwhile, both girls experience first love, and Amber supports Missy, who continues to resent her father and struggles to accept his new girlfriend.

Will they be able to discover the reason for Frankie’s sudden enlistment, and when misunderstandings loom, will their still-new friendship survive?

This is the second and final title in the Better Together series. I was really looking forward to reading this as I thoroughly enjoyed the first book Being is Better.

Once again the format follows alternating chapters between Amber and Missy, who having ony met in book 1 are now firmly best friends. The book works as a stand-alone read but best read as a series in my opinion. For those who haven’t read the first title, the background is that Amber suffers from epilepsy and Missy has struggled to come to terms with her brother dieing in Afganistan.

The girls have now just started high school. The story begins with Missy’s hated father asking her to fly for a visit this weekend. She only agrees if Amber can go too. However there is a but – the purpose of the visit was to meet her father’s girlfriend Mona. This really winds Missy up, but meanwhile Amber spots a cute guy Dev working in a cafe.

The girls initially start to bond with Mona but on their next trip some big bomb-shells are discovered. How will they deal with these?

Beyond Invisble is available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle format. A fantastic sequel as the girls deal with emotional situations. Sadly there won’t be any more books in this series as the author succumbed to her battle with cancer last year.

About the Author
Somewhat of a late blooming author, Marjorie “Marji” Jackson wrote her Better Together Duology in her fifties. In addition to being a devoted wife and mother, she was a passionate crafter and volunteer.

She lived with her family in beautiful, rural Colorado amongst the deer and the antelope, before succumbing to a rare breast cancer in January 2021, which she had fought for two years with grace.

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Being Is Better by Marjorie Jackson – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I downloaded for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book Being Is Better by Marjorie Jackson to review.

Being Is Better by Marjorie Jackson

Here is the book blurb.

Fourteen-year-old Amber has battled medical challenges – specifically epilepsy – her whole life. Due to her physical limitations, she has no friends, but does her best to trudge through each day with a smile.

Fellow “middle-school senior” Missy has struggles of her own. Following her brother’s death in Afghanistan, her father uprooted them from everything familiar, only to divorce Missy’s mother and move away, leaving Missy friendless and angry, forced to care for her deeply depressed mother.

Two girls with different pasts, both fighting loneliness.

Can they learn to overcome life’s struggles and tragedies? Can they find each other and battle teen awkwardness together?

This is the first title in the Better Together series. In the introduction, we hear how this book was inspired by the author’s daughter who has epilepsy.

The story begins by introducing us to Amber, a teenager who suffers with epilepsy. She lives with her parents and elder brother Mase. Life is a struggle as the seizures exhaust her. Can the new doctor help her? Why has he given her a rock?

Then in chapter 2 we meet Missy who is going through a really bad time. She hates her absent father who she blames for her brother Frankie’s death. She has a lot on her shoulders for someone so young having to shop and cook, as her mother is too depressed to even communicate with Missy.

The chapters alternate between Amber and Missy, sensitively written drawing you into their lonely worlds. Hospital for Amber, counselling for Missy.

What will happen when their lives collide?

Being is Better is available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle format. An amazing emotional story of true friendship.

About the Author
Somewhat of a late blooming author, Marjorie “Marji” Jackson wrote her Better Together Duology in her fifties. In addition to being a devoted wife and mother, she was a passionate crafter and volunteer.

She lived with her family in beautiful, rural Colorado amongst the deer and the antelope, before succumbing to a rare breast cancer in January 2021, which she had fought for two years with grace.

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The Search for Synergy by Brett Salter – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Search for Synergy by Brett Salter to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

The Search for Synergy by Brett Salter

Here is the book blurb.

“The Search for Synergy” is the story of two young men who are brought together by design to help save the world from the evil that lurks in The Void. Rome and Julian will have to join their fledgling powers and become a fighting duo of knight and dragon, working to fulfill a primordial destiny. This will be especially hard for Rome who, up until now, thought he was merely human.

This is the first title in the Talisman series, but works perfectly well as a stand-alone read, although you can tell towards the end that it is setting the scene for a follow-up to be set in England.

The story starts by introducing us to 13 year old Rome, who whilst messing around, accidentally sets a tree on fire, just looking at it. Meanwhile another boy Julian has seen this and recognising Rome’s abilities, takes him to meet elderly Mr Jones.

The pair try to convince Rome that he is not a human, but a dragon, explaining that Julian is a knight and that the two boys need to train for the Great Synergy to combine their powers. But Rome initially doesn’t believe them.

Weaving in myths from King Arthur’s time, there is a destiny to fulfil.

Portals, monsters, magic all abound in this tale. The roll of the die is crucial.

However I did  have to look up Hackey sack which I discovered to be rather like playing football but using a bean bag instead of a ball. Sounds a fun game that Rome and friends enjoyed.

The Search for Synergy is available on Amazon in paperback, hardback and Kindle format. An entertaining fantasy read, targeted at young adult readers. Suitable from age 11 upwards in my opinion.

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