June Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ High Summons by Eli Celata


High Summons by Eli Celata
Publisher: Clean Reads
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (180 pages)
Age Recommendation:16+
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

BoM LASR YA copy

Jon Blythe is sick of waiting for his Yoda. After years of hiding his magic, he’s ready to retire from his mortal life, drop out of college, and jump into the world of demon hunters. He just didn’t really expect a bleach blond bookstore clerk with light up toys for weapons. Unfortunately, Jordan is Jon’s only hope. When rogue magic users come to Rochester with a malicious plan, the odd couple strikes out to save the day. Jordan might not be what Jon expected, but between demons and Econ homework, the demons win every time. Wild nights drag Jon further from normal into the world where his father vanished. Maybe he’s becoming an addict. Maybe magic just comes with a price. Either way, he’s hooked.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!!!

If You Were Me and Lived in Germany by Carole P. Roman

If You Were Me and Lived in Germany by Carole P. Roman
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Children’s Reader
Length: Short (30 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 6+
Rating: 4 Stars
Review by: Stephanotis

Join Carole P. Roman when she visits the beautiful land of Germany in the newest book of her informative series. Learn about the varied customs and cultures. Travel to the central Europe to discover what you would eat and do for fun. See the land through the eyes of a youngster like you and understand what life is like in this exciting place. Don’t forget to look at the other books in the series so that you can be an armchair world traveler.

I always enjoy the If You Were Me books by Carole Roman and this is the first one about a country I’ve actually visited.

All the books in this series are very entertaining (yes, even for adults). I learn something new from each one I read, so I think they’re an ideal resource for teaching children about different cultures and countries.

This one focused on where Germany is located, its capital, what your name would be, and then described what you would eat, places to see, and even Oktoberfest. A couple of interesting facts I learned after reading this book were that the oldest sun observatory was built 7,000 years ago in Germany. And that Germany is, in fact, home to the oldest savings bank.

Once again another fun read and I recommend them to you especially if you have a child working on a school project or even if you homeschool your children.

If You Were Me and Lived in The Ancient Mali Empire by Carole P. Roman

If You Were Me and Lived in The Ancient Mali Empire by Carole P. Roman
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Children’s Reader
Length: Short (68 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 6+
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Review by: Stephanotis

Join Carole P. Roman as she travels back in time to visit the exciting Ancient Empire of Mali in Africa during the 1300s. Learn about the varied customs and cultures. Travel to the past to discover what you would eat and do for fun. See the land and its rich history through the eyes of a youngster like you. Don’t forget to look at the other books in the series so that you can be an armchair time traveler.

The blurb on the back of this title says that you should check out this series so you can be an armchair traveler, and that’s exactly how I feel each time I read books in this series.  In this case, not just a geographic traveler but a time traveler too. This one focused on the Mali Empire. I hadn’t read anything about it prior to reading this title so let’s just say I learned a lot. Ms. Roman manages to pack a ton of information into these short reads and they’re always nicely illustrated too (this time by Mateya Arkova).

This book not only described what life would have been like but also tells you about how the empire shaped modern day Sudan.

The area was an important part of the trading route for both China and Europe and one thing I learned was it was rich in salt and gold…both of which were important commodities. Both government and religion played vital roles in society and shaped the future of this region.

Once again a fascinating read for both adults and children. If you homeschool children I think these books would make a good resource for your at home library.

Soul Awakening by Paul Lonardo

Soul Awakening by Paul Lonardo
Publisher: Inkspell Publshing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short (53 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review by Orchid

Something otherworldly is happening in a small Texas town.

As a small Texas town mourns the tragic death of its high school football star, Alecia is struggling to adjust to life without the boy she has dated since sixth grade and thought she would be with forever.

When Braden comes to her as an apparition, she finds herself falling for Riley, Braden’s best friend and teammate. Has Braden returned to spy on her, or for some other reason?

Alecia’s not sure, but she soon realizes she must find a way to accept Braden’s death and welcome love back into her life, or risk losing everything.

The Power of Secret Love changes everything…

Tragedy hits Alecia when her boyfriend dies in an accident. Her mother seems to think she should put the tragedy behind her, while her schoolfriends seem determined to avoid her. Braden was the leader of the football team and because of their loss the team members decide not to play the next important match. Braden’s apparition visits Alecia to ask her to intervene and get the match played, and she begins to wonder about her own sanity.

Although a short novel, this is well rounded and ticks all the boxes needed to make a good story. The author got inside Alecia’s head and showed her thoughts and decisions extremely well. It shows how the tragedy affected her, her fear at going forward from the moment of despair and her acceptance of her loss.

I did feel her mother was a bit harsh and unfeeling, but I believe the author wanted her to appear in this way. Good book.

If You Were Me and Lived in The Mayan Empire by Carole P. Roman


If You Were Me and Lived in The Mayan Empire by Carole P. Roman
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Middle Grade Reader
Length: Short (54 Pgs)
Age Recommendation: 6+
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Review by: Stephanotis

Join Carole P. Roman and travel through time to visit the most interesting civilizations throughout history in the first four books of her new series. Learn what kind of food you might eat in Ancient Greece, the clothes you wore in 15th century Renaissance Italy, what your name could be in Viking Europe, and what children who lived during the Han Dynasty did for fun. If You Were Me and Lived in…does for history what her other award-winning series did for culture. So get on-board this time-travel machine and discover the world through the eyes of a young person just like you.

I think this might be one of my favorite of the If You Were Me books by Carole Roman. I’ve enjoyed all of them but I thought this was full of facts that I never knew and I think children will find it a fascinating read that will encourage them to find out more about the civilization.

This book not only described what life would be like if you’d lived as a Mayan but the author touched upon Mayan practices that I’d never read before like parents binding their baby’s heads in order to get the sloped forehead that the Mayans found attractive.

I especially liked the last section that grouped together all the Mayan achievements and contributions to society including them preparing the most accurate calendar, and also performing brain surgery.

Two other interesting facts I found out from reading this book were that the most important contribution they made to mathematics was the concept of zero and that they mapped the night skies without using a telescope.

This is a book I highly recommend for not only your only enjoyment but I think it would make an ideal gift for your children or grandchildren too.

May Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Or the Girl Dies by Rachel Rust


Or the Girl Dies by Rachel Rust
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Young Adult
Length: Full (168 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 4 stars
Review by: Stargazer

One school project. One kidnapping. One night they won’t forget. Natalie is an honors student with perfect grades. Victor is a drug dealer with a cryptic past. When a school assignment forces them to work together, things quickly spiral out of control. Victor fails to complete his part of their project, so Natalie hunts him down the night before it’s due. But Victor’s kingpin boss interrupts their study date and drags Natalie down into a seedy underworld where anything can be bought and sold—including her. Over the course of one night—while dodging bad guys and trying not to inhale—Natalie discovers shocking truths about Victor. And she’ll need to choose between preserving her perfect academic future and helping him escape his troubled past. Except one final revelation about Victor may be too much for Natalie to survive.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

If You Were Me and Lived On Mars by Carole P. Roman


If You Were Me and Lived On Mars by Carole P. Roman
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Children’s Fiction, Sci-Fi
Length: Short Story (42 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 6+
Rating: 4 Stars
Review by: Stephanotis

Join Carole P. Roman when she blasts off to colonize the planet Mars, in the newest book of her informative series. Learn about how life would be living on the Red Planet. Travel to Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the solar system. Look into the sky and watch Phobos and Deimos, Mars’ two moons. Discover what you would wear, and how the seasons change. See Mars through the eyes of an adventurous youngster like you and understand what life is like in a trip of a lifetime. Don’t forget to look at the other books in the series so that you can be an armchair traveler.

I’ve lost count how many of the If You Were Me And Lived… books I’ve read and reviewed and I’ve yet to find one that I didn’t find entertaining.

This is the first one that didn’t focus on a country and instead the author chose an outer space theme.

It’s fun to read and nicely illustrated by Marteya Arkova. I learned a lot from just these few pages. Things like how long it would take to get to Mars and that you’d have to stay there at least two years until Earth and Mars are once again at their shortest distance from each other.

As with the other books, the authors uses the scenario that you live with you parents and describes what live would be like. In this book, you go to Mars with your parents where your father is a scientist who is helping farm the red planet, and your mother is a doctor.

This is another fun and educational book that is ideal to read with your children or grandchildren.

Cutting to the Chase by Rose Phillips

Cutting to the Chase by Rose Phillips
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (146 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: Five Stars
Review by: Stargazer

How do you fix something you didn’t break? Lizzy certainly doesn’t have the answer. All she knows is that she needs to survive senior year, then get as far away from her dysfunctional family as possible. In the meantime, when she can’t take the pressure, she eases it with the sharp edge of a razor blade. But, she’s been cutting deeper and her thoughts are growing darker. Until she meets Michael. With him she finds relief. Now, maybe—just maybe—she can make it.

There are some stories that resonate with you and cause you to look at your own life in a different light, this is one of those stories.

Lizzy is just short of graduation and is trying to keep it together in her senior year. Life at home keeps falling apart more each day and to ease the pain and pent up emotions, she has taken to cutting to let out the emotions. In unmistakable ways, it seems like life might just give her a break when she meets Michael. When things suddenly start to fall into place and she has her cutting under control, Lizzy’s life suddenly spirals out of control into complete chaos.

The story is told from the first-person perspective of Lizzy. The author, Rose Phillips, has an astonishing knack for showing the inner emotions of Lizzy and when Lizzy is being defiant, the reader can understand and empathize with everything going on in the character’s life. The reader expressly experiences the highs and lows along with Lizzy-from the romantic date with Michael to the partying friends and the bad choices.

When several events occur that turn Lizzy’s world upside down, the reader is able to relate and experience the same emotional upheaval. With each cut comes the release of emotion and the reader is taken on a journey to understand the inner dynamics of Lizzy’s mind and how it relates to the chaotic and ever changing world around her. The dialogue is crisp and the setting will be familiar to many readers. The reader is able to be drawn in and enveloped by the life and times of the characters and as such, because to understand the deep back stories of each supporting character. From Mags, the always happy old friend that is always there, to Becky the friend with an insatiable party appetite but has experiences more than her own share of worldly burdens.

Cutting to the Chase is a deep story that is sure to reel you and in and cause you to look at your own life as well as the lives of those around you in a very different way!

Not Her Baby by Cassandra Jamison


Not Her Baby by Cassandra Jamison
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full (232 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 5 stars
Review by Orchid

When eighteen-year-old Aubrey Dale’s cousin is diagnosed with leukemia, Aubrey volunteers to in-vitro fertilization in order to become a vessel for the donor that will save her life. Now this clean-cut high school student must learn to adapt to life as a pregnant teenager, despite still being a virgin. Things only get more complicated when she falls in love with her best friend, Eli Calhoun, who has just returned from the penitentiary. Rumors soon spread that the insemination story is only a cover up. That’s when the anonymous threats begin. Someone in her small town disapproves of this so-called abomination. The psychological games soon take a twisted turn, putting Aubrey and her unborn child’s lives in danger. Aubrey and Eli race to uncover the horrible truth before it destroys everything.

Aubrey lives with her father and sister. Her mainstay in life is Kailee, her cousin, who has been there for her in all the years since her mother left. This summer a lot happens to Aubrey. Eli, a friend who has been in prison for several years, returns to the town and the friendship threatens to become a deeper relationship . Kailee arrives for the summer, and Brey finds out her cousin has leukemia. Brey offers to be a bone marrow transplant donor but unfortunately she isn’t a perfect fit. She takes the next best option and agrees to have a child with a donor to provide the stem cells needed for Kailee’s recovery.

At first I thought this eighteen year old was being brave in her wish to help her cousin. As the story progresses it becomes apparent she hasn’t really thought things through. One major result will be what to do with the baby when it’s born. At least one lady at her church has definite, but unwelcome, ideas about what will happen to the child.

The attitude of her fellow students at high school make her life more insulated. New students at the school, demean her for their own pleasure, and danger and intrigue from an unexpected source make her life scary and hazardous.

There are several sub-plots to this story which make it all the more intriguing and fascinating. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

April Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Elphie and Dad Go on an Epic Adventure by Hagit R. Oron and Or Oron


Elphie and Dad Go on an Epic Adventure by Hagit R. Oron and Or Oron

Publisher: Self-Published
enre: Children’s Fiction, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (25 pages)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 5 stars
Review by: Astilbe

BoM LASR YA copy

For Elphie, everything is an adventure.

But dad is cautious.

Is dad going to join Elphie on his quest or is the trip to the shop going to be dull and boring?

Join Elphie and dad to find out!

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!