Ivy Introspective by Kellyn Roth


Ivy Introspective by Kellyn Roth
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Historical
Length: Full (197 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review by Stargazer

Trapped in a world where she doesn’t belong, twelve-year-old Ivy Knight struggles to keep her head above water as her simplicity is brought to light by her new position as a young lady growing up at Pearlbelle Park.

Worried about their daughter’s inability to fit in, Ivy’s parents decide to send her to McCale House, a boarding school in Scotland for boys and girls like her. However, alone and frightened without her beloved mother, sister, and nurse, Ivy can’t seem to focus.

Will Ivy ever learn what Dr. McCale is trying to teach her? Or will she remain lost in her own mind forever?

Imagine living in a world where you don’t feel you belong at all, very little makes sense and even your twin sister barely resembles you, both physically and mentally. This is Ivy’s life.

Ivy Introspective is a fascinating look inside the mind of a young lady that tries as hard as she can to fit in, but finds that she often just can’t make the connections to what is happening around her. Ivy feels that she is more of a bother and a frustration to those around her than she intends. Ivy Introspective is the second in the series of books by Kellyn Roth featuring Ivy and her sister, Alice, and I was glad that I was able to catch up to Ivy and her adventures. The Lady of the Vineyard is a novella featuring many of the same characters and timeframe in which Alice and Ivy live.

The writing style that Kellyn Roth utilizes is one that I enjoy, and I can see in Ivy Introspective how she has grown as an author. The focused dialogue and deep character history is very enveloping to the reader. The secondary plotline with the father-daughter relationship focused on Posy within Ivy Introspective offers another fascinating look into the world that Kellyn Roth brings to life. The deep research and great understanding of psychological growth of children within the historical period also shows the author’s understanding of how to incorporate the reader into the realism of past events. The editing is clean and the grammar usage is great since it incorporates both what the reader expects as well as the historical time period that the characters reside in.

I found the historical time period the Kellyn Roth wrote very inviting and perfect for the events that occur through the chronicles. I also enjoyed how the reader can begin to understand the views of the world the Kellyn Roth holds, especially from the perspective of both Posy and Ivy. I feel honored that I was able to review, Ivy Introspective since it brought to life many of the views of children and incorporates the deep values of faith and the psychological perspective that we need to work to reach out to those that are different from ourselves and from mainstream society.

I highly recommend that you take a journey with Alice and Ivy and make sure you don’t miss Ivy Introspective!

Jake and the Dragons of Asheville by Brian Kacica


Jake and the Dragons of Asheville by Brian Kacica
Publisher: Magic Penny Press
Genre:: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full (221 pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review by Orchid

BoM LASR YA copy

In a small, sleepy town in North Carolina, thirteen-year-old Jake Winston has discovered he carries a unique genetic trait; one that a covert government agency will stop at nothing to obtain. After the tragic death of his father, a local firefighting hero, Jake’s absent grandfather returns and sends him on a journey into the gated forest at the edge of town, bringing Jake face-to-face with a family of ancient dragons thought long extinct.

Determined to grasp the power of the blood flowing through Jake’s veins, the agent from the secret ONX facility begins killing every dragon in his path. This forces Jake in the middle of a battle between the government and the dragons of Asheville, where the true potential of his power is revealed.

Jake Winston adores his father so when the man dies, he is devastated. His grandfather tries to help, but he finds it difficult to explain things to Jake.

Deep in the forest the government is hiding a secret facility where they are capturing and experimenting on dragons. For some reason Jake becomes a person of interest to these experimentalists and he needs his grandfather’s help to escape their clutches.

A good book (of course if must be good if it has dragons as part of the story!), well written and has clues to what is hidden in Jake’s family’s past. I liked the way the story started off as a normal family holiday followed by tragedy. After this Jake is virtually on his own until his grandfather helps him.

A different way of looking at dragons and their interaction with humans. While not a book I couldn’t put down, it was definitely one I had to read to the end.

Warrior by Deidre Huesmann


Warrior by Deidre Huesmann
A Modern Greek Myth 3
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, YA
Length: Full (231 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review by: Poinsettia

While Azalee recovers from her stabbing, the High Priestess continues to lord over her. Azalee begins to feel her situation is hopeless once the Mother of Mykonos declares her mistrust of the Blistered child. With few allies, she makes desperate moves to gain some sense of control. In Athens, Joel and the others come to the dreaded realization that Joel is also a chosen mortal by a very unlikely and malicious god. Joel will have to sacrifice his beliefs to reach Azalee—and even that may not be enough. As their fates intertwine, trust is tenuous, promises are broken, and blood is spilled. Azalee and Joel can succumb to the gods’ twisted games…or challenge the fates.

Azalee no longer lives in the corrupt temple, but she is far from safe.

Azalee’s desperate attempt to contact Joel and her other friends left her defenseless, which resulted in her nearly fatal stabbing. More vulnerable than ever, Azalee is not only at the mercy of Theseus, but the High Priestess as well. Azalee still hasn’t completely figured out the source of the corruption at the temple, but she’s getting closer to unraveling the mystery. However, every move she makes puts her in danger. Will Azalee survive long enough to be reunited with Joel, or will the High Priestess silence Azalee forever? Warrior is the final book in this trilogy. Reader wishing to enjoy this book absolutely need to read Blistered and Priestess first.

I am constantly amazed by Azalee’s strength. She never once gives up fighting even when facing seemingly insurmountable odds. She always stands up for those who can’t protect themselves, and she fights to protect the other priestesses at the temple even though they never showed her the slightest hint of kindness. She roots out the truth of the corruption at the temple at a great personal cost because it is the right thing to do. Azalee is the kind of woman I’d be proud to call a friend.

Meanwhile, Joel is fighting just as fiercely to find Azalee. As Joel and his unlikely band of friends travel toward Azalee, they are constantly attacked by other Spinels. Joel’s pacifism is sorely tested, especially when a very violent god makes him a chosen mortal. Will this god’s presence be a blessing or a curse?

I enjoyed learning more about Deimos and his history. As I predicted, there is more to him than meets the eye. However, Joel’s memories of Deimos are skewed. I would have liked to see Joel and Deimos come to a clearer understanding of each other, but sadly, I’m not sure they will ever have that chance.

Of all the characters in this series, Niribelle has changed the most. I found her thoroughly unlikable in Blistered, but as the series has progressed, I must admit that she’s grown on me a bit. I’ve come to respect her. Niribelle continues to surprise me with her ability to make difficult decisions with ruthless determination. I hope she can live with the consequences of her actions.

Azalee and Joel’s reunion is bittersweet. I knew it was going to be difficult, and as I neared the conclusion, it was clear that a sacrifice of some sort would have to be made. However, I never imagined it would take the form it did. It simply never occurred to me that such a thing was possible, and yet when it was over, it made complete sense.

I’m delighted I had the opportunity to read this compelling trilogy, and I have relished the chance to watch Azalee, Joel, and the others grow and change as I followed them on their journey. I highly recommend this entire series.

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.

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.

The magic is in him if he knows where to look.

The world-building was phenomenal. It reminded me of the first time I read other classic fantasy series like Harry Potter. The ordinary world that Jon grew up in had nothing in common with the hidden, complicated, and sometimes downright perilous society that was his birthright. Watching him switch between attending class during the day and hunting down demons at night that only people with magical powers can see made it impossible for me to stop reading. The more I learned about the different types of magic users in this universe and what kinds of steep obstacles they faced when it came to fighting the supernatural, the more I wanted to know. I couldn’t imagine a more exciting start to a series, and I can’t wait to continue along with it.

Pay close attention to the descriptions of all of the various types of demons that Jon meets when his training begins. This is a very minor criticism of book that otherwise I couldn’t get enough of, but many of them were introduced at the same time so it took me a little while to memorize all of their names and how dangerous they were. It was an important thing to do, though, and once I figured that out it was smooth sailing for the rest of the plot.

Jon was a well-rounded and fascinating main character. Watching him change as a result of his experiences in this novel was riveting. He often acted like a bored and restless teenager in the beginning, but by the end he’d grown up in so many different ways. While this is a young adult book, it’s something I’d recommend just as strongly to adult readers because of how much time the author spent showing how people start to make that transition to adulthood.

High Summons is a must-read for anyone who loves urban fantasy. This is the best new series I’ve started so far in 2017!

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.

A Colorless Blue by M.W. Muse


A Colorless Blue by M.W. Muse
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (232 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

I have everything. Rich parents, popular friends, hot boyfriend. An expectation to be a colorless, snobby stereotype. I don’t like maintaining that image, but I get it. I know the drill. Until one day when I can’t stop bleeding, and that shell of a charmed life shatters in the wake of my new reality.

I have everything. Including leukemia.

As soon as I get rid of this cancer, things can be normal again. Denial. It‘s such a beautiful thing until that thin veil crashes down. But left standing in the debris is a boy who brings color into this dying girl, who is there at my lowest and teaches me what it really means to live. A boy who urges me to fight a losing battle because my death would tear him apart.

A boy who is not my boyfriend. And a death that will find me anyway.

Leukemia might steal all of her hair, but it will never take away Skye’s will to live.

Skye’s character development was handled well. She matured so much during the course of this novel. The best thing about her personal growth was that all of it happened for reasons the audience got to see first hand. Some of the changes in her personality were huge, so I was glad that the author spent so much time showing us why and how they happened. That made it easy to follow along as this character responded to everything in her life that was turned upside down by by her diagnosis.

There were a couple of times when I wondered how Skye was able to roam around the hospital so often while she was going through chemotherapy. She slipped through the nurses’ fingers on more than one occasion, and that struck me as a little odd even though I absolutely loved the storyline overall. This is a minor criticism, but it would have been nice to have some kind of explanation for how she was able to bend so many of the rules that patients have to follow when they’re hospitalized.

Skye and Fallon had wonderful chemistry. I especially enjoyed the fact that both of them had the same irreverent sense of humor. Not only did that make their conversations a lot of fun to read, it drew them closer to each other as Skye grew sicker. The romantic elements of the plot weren’t what first attracted me to this tale, but they turned out to be my favorite part of the whole thing. These scenes were beautifully written, and I really wanted these characters to end up together in the end.

I’d recommend A Colorless Blue to anyone who is in the mood for something romantic.

The Separation by Stormy Corrin Russell


The Separation by Stormy Corrin Russell
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full (206 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review by Orchid

In a world where men and women live on separate sides of a massive wall, seventeen-year-old misfit Eroyn Fairchild has always been too busy with her broken family to wonder why they live the way they do. When a man from the other side breaks through, Ero holds him hostage, hoping for a ransom large enough to pay for her Elder Grace’s treatment. Things get more complicated as the man is followed by two others who make Ero question everything she’s ever known about her life. As Ero searches for the truth, the lines between right and wrong blur, leaving her to choose between saving her city and saving herself.

After the war between the sexes, men and women live in separate conclaves. Ero works as security on the fence between the male and female compounds and one night discovers two men have broken through to the female side. One of these men is her brother and together they find out all they have been told is a lie.

It was interesting to read the author’s concept of this world with men and women living separately and babies being conceived by IVF although it appears records are kept of the fathers of each child. It’s amazing how different history to the truth can evolve when the descendants are not told the truth. This world is well built with rules, ceremonies and procedures which must be obeyed and apparently the only contact between the to halves of the compound are through special liaison people.

This is really Ero’s voyage of discovery finding out about her world, the men’s world and the true history of the past. There is a budding romance, but this has not developed by the end of the book. I liked how the original horror of males – instilled in her by her upbringing – is gradually replaced by acceptance that they are not the monsters she’s always believed. A good, different, book with a lot of tension throughout.

The Coterie Declaration by Richard C McClain II


The Coterie Declaration by Richard C McClain II
Publisher: Rogue Phoenix Press
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (161 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Arrested for hacking, socially awkward and speech-impaired sixteen-year-old Dakarai Holt is sentenced to two years at Sheffield Academy, an exclusive juvenile rehabilitation facility. Within the first two hours, Dak is subjected to mandatory brainwashing. The academy’s enforcers, the R.A.T. SQUADS, patrol Sheffield to ensure each student’s full compliance. Gacheru, Dak’s roommate, pressures him to drink a tonic that conspicuously counteracts Sheffield’s indoctrination. This places Dak in the middle of many adversarial and explosive situations. Additionally, Dak becomes knotted in a clandestine plot involving the Secretary of State and a mysterious group who goes by the name, The Coterie. While at Sheffield, Dak must find a way to survive the R.A.T. SQUADS’ terror, the annexation of a remote island, and battle his own inner demons.

Dak is the son of a wealthy man but this can’t help him with his anthropophobia which developed at the age of 5. In fact he hasn’t spoken since then. His world consists of hacking large amounts of money in a Robin Hood style of theft. He is eventually caught and sent to Sheffield, a weird place of detention which seems to be run by ex prisoners trained as guards. All the inmates wear headphones which are meant to brainwash them. Dak becomes aware that something is going on in the background, something illegal and possibly highly dangerous.

This is a science fiction book with a deep down mystery woven into the story. For a sixteen year old Dak is very computer savvy and it’s only when he’s set up by the FBI that he gets caught. Most of the book consists of Dak’s internal thoughts and how he interacts with the world and those around him. This sounds as if it would be boring, but it’s definitely not. The plots and sub-plots took me to many different scenarios and each time I thought I’d discovered what the end would be, another sub plot came along to drag me in another direction. I’m normally a fantasy addict but this science fiction book certainly intrigued me.