Tag Archives: YA

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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Dragon’s Future by Kandi J Wyatt – 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 Dragon’s Future by Kandi J Wyatt to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

Dragon's Future by Kandi J Wyatt

Here is the book blurb.

Trapped in a boring life, Carryl longs for something different. With the death of a dragon rider, she realizes her dream of becoming a rider herself. But first she must save the despondent dragon’s life.

Ruskya has settled into his new role as a dragon rider. A sinister rider has attacked the colony. The fate of all that Ruskya holds dear lies in his hands.

Ruskya and Carryl step into leadership roles to defend the colony and their village. Now they battle dragons and their own insecurities. They’ll need the courage of a dragon to defeat their enemies or die trying.

Dragon’s Future is the fabulous first book in the coming of age fantasy series Dragon Courage. If you like enticing worlds, captivating stories, and a new twist on dragon lore, you’ll love Kandi J Wyatt’s fantastic series.

This is the first title in the Dragon Courage series.

The story begins with a prologue set 15 years earlier when twins Duskya and Ruskya, then aged 10 were both selected at the annual procession by the dragons Wryn and Wyeth to become their respective riders. They leave their mother Meredyth and village home to go live at the Three Spans Canyon dragon colony where Glendyn will train them as riders.

Now it is Ruskya’s turn to train Kyn, the latest youngling to join. At the same time he is also developing his mental control, mind reading and communication powers, plus learning what his father’s role with the dragons was.

Meanwhile riders from another colony attack both them and the village. Why are they under attack? One of their group is killed. Can Carryl, a healer save the grieving dragon? More deaths of villagers follow. As they try to defend, one of them is kidnapped along with a dragon. How will this all end?

A good story, but I did find it difficult to remember whose dragon was who’s as all the dragon names are fairly similar. And I did feel that the way the riders continually addressed each other was just superfluous padding to the book, eg “Honoured Rider, may your dragon fly straight and true”.

Dragon’s Future is available on Amazon free in Kindle format, or alternatively may be purchased in paperback or audiobook. A fantastical adventure read for older children and teens.

I’ve also previously read the Myth Coast Adventures trilogy by this author and here are the links to my reviews of those titles.
An Unexpected Adventure
An Unexpected Escapade
An Unexpected Exploit

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My Three Warlocks by Robert H Cherny – 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 My Three Warlocks by Robert H Cherny to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

My Three Warlocks by Robert H Cherny

Here is the book blurb.

Three Warlocks, brothers, triplets, run a ranch where they train horses for cowboys and cattle ranchers. They use their special powers to keep their ranch solvent and, despite the recent death of their adoptive mother, are content with their lives. All that changes when a pre-teen equestrian shows up with her father to buy a horse. On the same day, triplet witches and their mother are directed to the ranch by a mysterious stranger.

The witch’s mother and the girl’s father have a history, and only he knows that none of this is a coincidence. Within two days, the warlocks, the witches, their mother, the girl, her father, and some friends and family use their powers to fight a forest fire. They are then recruited by the mysterious stranger, an ancient wizard, to protect a rape victim. The woman was raped by a magical being who intends to steal the baby and kill her. This wholesale rape of indigenous populations has been going on for a long time, and the wizard believes he finally has the team to stop it. The wizard quickly loses control of the team, and it completes the mission without him.

The team takes on missions without the wizard, relegating him to advisor status. After several missions on their own, the team emerges far more powerful than anything the wizard could have imagined. Even though he created the team, he does not control them, and, in some ways, the “battle group” he created controls him.

I read all of this story but I really struggled with it. Set in modern day American ranching / rodeo with plenty of fantasy elements thrown in, it just did nothing for me. I liked the characters and a few bits of the storyline, but certainly not enough overall to draw me in. Even the cover is off-putting.

It also mentioned a legend of Paul Bunyan with a blue ox who I had never heard of, so I looked him up on Wikipedia. Apparently he is a giant lumberjack who features in American and Canadian folklore.

My Three Warlocks is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format. An unusual fantasy read, targeted at young adult readers. Not a book for me, but maybe others will enjoy more.

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The Power of the Pearl by William Edmonds – 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 Power of the Pearl by William Edmonds to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

The Power of the Pearl by William Edmonds

Here is the book blurb.

Thirteen-year-old Alaric Swift lives a tough, lonely life. He’s never known his parents, nor had any friends.
However, everything changes after his adoptive parents attempt to eat him, and he’s taken to live on the magical island of Harramore. The reason? Alaric is the son of the most powerful being to have ever existed—the King Guardian, Rei.
So begins a magical adventure as Alaric learns to master hidden extraordinary powers, meets creatures beyond his imagination, and gets caught up in a plot to steal the world’s most dangerous object, the Golden Pearl.
The Power of the Pearl is a captivating opening to the Miracle Prince series and a page-turning debut..

This debut novel by William Edmonds is the first title in The Miracle Prince series.

The story starts with Mr Solomon taking 13 year old Alaric to John and Sue, another set of foster parents in a long line. Alaric always seems to end up doing something which makes things go wrong with each foster family, but this time it is the other way round. John and Sue transform and try to eat him. Alaric is rescued in the nick of time by Mr Solomon and magically transported to Harramore, Land of the Nephilim.

Turns out Alaric is one of the Nephilim, in fact he is the Miracle Prince, son of assassinated King Guardian Rei. He fits in much better with his next foster family, the Trolleys and soon is on the Rei basketball team at school, which in Harramore is a totally different experience to what Alaric and you and I are used to.

Lots of magical mythical adventures then follow for Alaric, along with his friends Laurence and Lucy.

The Power of the Pearl is available on Amazon, in paperback and Kindle formats. A great adventure which will certainly appeal to fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. Suitable for older children and teens.

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An Unexpected Exploit by Kandi J Wyatt – 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 An Unexpected Exploit by Kandi J Wyatt to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

An Unexpected Exploit by Kandi J Wyatt

Here is the book blurb.

Protect a mythical realm or his family? Sixteen-year-old Franklin follows a Sasquatch through a portal to the realm of Shinwano and discovers a world full of mythical creatures he never expected to actually exist. Upon returning to Myrtle Beach, Oregon, he vows to protect the land, not realizing how difficult it will be to keep his promise, especially when a poacher, a NSA agent, and his friends are interested in the portal—and all for different reasons. When the poacher threatens his family, Franklin must reconsider his vow to protect this new world to keep his family safe. The consequences of his decision reach further than just a rift in the space-time continuum. Can Franklin live up to the trust placed on him and save this new world from an even greater danger?

This is the third title in the Myth Coast Adventures trilogy, set in the small town of Myrtle Beach in Oregon. They can be read as stand alone reads, but I found them better to read in sequence as they do refer to happenings in earlier books. However the main protagonist Franklin is a new character.

Here are the links to my reviews of the first two titles.
An Unexpected Adventure
An Unexpected Escapade

The story starts with Franklin out hunting in the forest when he spots a creature larger than a bear but with a human-like face, which almost immediately disappears. Could it be a sasquatch, bigfoot or yeti? Franklin investigates and discovers a portal. Throwing caution to the wind, he steps through but Ladaku is waiting and knocks him out. When he awakes he finds he is in an alternate world Shinwano full of mythological creatures.

Whilst the dhoka (portal) is closed, Franklin agrees to train as a keta-manisa to protect the dhoka from other humans. Meanwhile back in our world he has been declared missing and teams including Will, Ana, Harley, Cherise and Winston from earlier books, are out searching for him, worried because bad guy poacher Jack Collins is hanging round town again.

When the dhoka finally reopens, Franklin reluctantly leaves his new friends to come back home. But soon he faces a difficult situation when he discovers Jack Collins has tied up his mum and brother Jeremy and is giving them electric shocks.

How will Franklin react and what will ensue? Certainly a page turner and my only small complaint is that the series titles are too similar.

The book also contains a glossary of Shinwano words.

An Unexpected Exploit is available on Amazon in Kindle format or paperback. A great adventure fantasy read for older children and teens.

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Screamcatcher: Web World by Christy 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: Web World by Christy J Breedlove to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

Screamcatcher Web World by Christy J Breedlove

Here is the book blurb.

When seventeen-year-old Jory Pike cannot shake the hellish nightmares of her parent’s deaths, she turns to an old family heirloom, a dream catcher. Even though she’s half blood Chippewa, Jory thinks old Indian lore is so yesterday, but she’s willing to give it a try. However, the dream catcher has had its fill of nightmares from an ancient and violent past. After a sleepover party, and during one of Jory’s most horrific dream episodes, the dream catcher implodes, sucking Jory and her three friends into its own world of trapped nightmares. They’re in an alternate universe-locked inside of an insane web world. How can they find the center of the web, where all good things are allowed to pass?

I’m doing things in reverse here, as last year I read and reviewed book 2 in the Screamcatcher YA series. Having enjoyed that, I’ve now gone back to read the first title.

The story starts in the normal everyday world where we are introduced to four teenage friends Jory, Choice, Lander and Darcy, all aged 16-18, along with Jory’s Chippewa grandfather Albert. Choice has purchased the most ancient dreamcatcher from Albert’s shop as a gift for Jory. This is believed to have been passed down the generations since the dawn of time filtering good dreams from nightmares which get caught in it.

Jory’s parents had died a few months earlier in a car crash and her friends are staying for a sleepover so she is not alone overnight, but her inevitable nightmare of the car falling into the canyon causes the dreamcatcher to implode and the four teens are dragged into the web world which is full of trapped nightmares that they have to navigate.

Are they able to work as a team to reach the centre to escape? Can Jory draw on her Chippewa folklore to help? Will they all make it? Many challenges, scary creatures and a riddle.

A gripping read indeed, which you never know may include your own worst nightmare too.

Screamcatcher: Web World is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format. A good dystopian fantasy read, targeted at young adult readers. Highly recommended.

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A Sitting in St. James by Rita Williams-Garcia – ARC book review

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

I have received a free advance copy of the book A Sitting in St. James by Rita Williams-Garcia to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

A Sitting in St James by Rita Williams-Garcia

Here is the book blurb.

A tour-de-force from three-time National Book Award finalist Rita Williams-Garcia, this story of an antebellum plantation—and the enduring legacies of slavery upon every person who lives there—is essential reading for both teens and adults grappling with the long history of American racism.

1860, Louisiana. After serving as mistress of Le Petit Cottage for more than six decades, Madame Sylvie Guilbert has decided, in spite of her family’s objections, to sit for a portrait.

While Madame plots her last hurrah, stories that span generations—from the big house to out in the fields—of routine horrors, secrets buried as deep as the family fortune, and the tangled bonds of descendants and enslaved.

This astonishing novel from award-winning author Rita Williams-Garcia about the interwoven lives of those bound to a plantation in antebellum America is an epic masterwork—empathetic, brutal, and entirely human.

The story is set in 1860 Louisiana on a sugarcane plantation shortly before the American Civil War.

This diverse read packs in a lot of topics including LGBTQ+ but the main focus is slavery, racism and white privilege.

The way that the mistress, 80 year old Madame Sylvie Guilbert and her son Lucien treat their black slaves is truly horrific and appalling, but to them, they view it as their entitlement and right. I would describe them both as brutal, cruel and as for Lucien, even evil.

Meanwhile the story also revolves around 6 young people. Firstly 16 year old Thisbe, a slave who has been Madame’s personal servant since she was 6 years old. She has to do everything for Madame including wiping her bum, whilst maintaining a silent invisible presence.

Then there is 17 year old Rosalie, Lucien’s daughter of slave Camille, who has just returned from 6 years boarding at the Sisters of Mercy school. Madame will not even acknowledge her due to her quarter Black blood. And Lucien of course has plans for Rosalie for his own gain.

And on the privileged side there is Lucien’s son and heir Byron, a West Point cadet, his fiancée Eugenie and his secret lover, fellow cadet Robinson Pearce.

Finally there is Jane, abandoned white daughter from a neighbouring plantation, who defies social convention entirely. She just wants to be herself.

A Sitting in St. James is available for pre-order on Amazon in Kindle format, audiobook or hardback. A powerful compelling read, which I would recommend adding to Black Lives Matter booklists. However I would suggest suitable for age 16+ due to some of the subject matter.

Note does include rape, abuse and child murder.

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An Unexpected Escapade by Kandi J Wyatt – 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 An Unexpected Escapade by Kandi J Wyatt to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

An Unexpected Escapade by Kandi J Wyatt

Here is the book blurb.

A greedy poacher threatens a unicorn Daisy finds hiding among her horses. Daisy will do anything to protect the magical creature, even if it means losing her best friend.

The only ones who understand Daisy’s struggles at school are her horses and Kajri, the unicorn that appeared out of nowhere. Kajri wants to go home, but Daisy doesn’t know how to help.

Ana wants to help Daisy, but her parents are sick. The unicorn horn could be the key to saving them. Yet her actions could be the death of both the unicorn and her friendship with Daisy.

An Unexpected Escapade is a refreshing middle grade fantasy in the Myth Coast Adventures trilogy. If you like fun kid fantasy, amazing characters and realistic endings, you’ll love Kandi J Wyatt’s stunning continuation of the Myth Coast Adventures. Explore An Unexpected Escapade to allow your dreams to fly!

This is the second title in the Myth Coast Adventures trilogy, set in the small town of Myrtle Beach in Oregon. You may wish to read my review of the first book An Unexpected Adventure before this.

The prologue introduces us to Kajri the unicorn who mysteriously passes from her world to ours. She wants to go back home.

8th grader (Yr9) Daisy, who lives with her mum and two horses Ginger and Root, is the first to see Kajri. She tells her best friend Ana and the next time they see her together in the forest. Ana then tells Will who helps her Dad out on the boats. Will (from book 1) warns Ana to keep it secret, especially from Professor Raleigh.

Meanwhile NSA agent Winston Raleigh whose sensors have detected a rift, traces a signal from beyond Daisy’s home. Will he be able to capture the mythical creature to take to the sanctuary?

But Winston is not the only one tracking the unicorn. Nasty cruel poacher Jack Collins wants the unicorn’s horn and tears.

What will happen? Plenty more events to unfold in this story. Who should the girls turn to for help?

An Unexpected Escapade is available on Amazon in Kindle format or paperback. A great book for older children and teens with lots to engage with.

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Jimmy Coates: Killer by Joe Craig – book review

My latest personal choice of read, rather than a requested book review is Jimmy Coates: Killer by Joe Craig. To find out more about the author you may visit his website.

Jimmy Coates Killer by Joe Craig

Here is the book blurb.

An eleven-year-old boy discovers he has strange powers, and a future that holds mystery, adventure – and death!

Bending his knees, Jimmy let go of the windowsill and slowly tipped backwards. Surely this is impossible, he thought, even as he could feel himself doing it. He pushed out with his legs and the thrust sent him flying backwards into the air… Then his fingers locked on to the cold wire of the fence, poised in a perfect handstand on the top.

Who are the mysterious men chasing Jimmy across the city?
Why are they after him?
What are Jimmy’s parents keeping from him and who can he trust?
And how come he can suddenly do all this really cool stuff…?

This is the first book in the Jimmy Coates series and was published back in 2005.

The story begins with Jimmy discovering he can jump through the upstairs closed window and fall onto the concrete feeling no pain, when trying to evade the strangers who have mysteriously arrived at his home to take him away from his family. He hides under the car, as they lead his parents away but his older sister Georgie manages to run off.

He eventually makes his way to the police station, but they seem just as suspicious as the others, so he legs it out of there.

Why is everyone after him?
Who can he trust?
How has he suddenly got these mysterious super powers?
Where have his parents been taken?
Where is Georgie?

Gradually things become clearer to Jimmy but it doesn’t make his decisions any easier. Plenty of twists and turns to come in this story set in the Neo-Democratic State of Great Britain.

Jimmy Coates: Killer is an excellent book, targeted at readers from about age 10-14. A great read that had me immediately adding books 2-7 to my TBR list.

Spoiler Alert. The only disappointing thing is when you reach the back of the book and it mentions the website www.jimmycoates.co.uk with lots of fun activities, secret files, etc, but when I visited, all I found was a Google map to explore Jimmy’s World. However the map features locations from all books in the series.

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