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.

In the Company of Crazies by Nora Raleigh Baskin

In the Company of Crazies by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Publisher: Untreed Reads Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (84 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review by: Stargazer

Thirteen-year-old Mia Singer thought that she had it all under control. Sure, her grades were slipping a little bit (well, really, more than a little), and she couldn’t explain her occasional compulsion to shoplift, but things weren’t that bad. Then the sudden death of a classmate affects Mia in a way she can’t quite define—and she goes one step too far. At their wits’ end, Mia’s parents place her in an “alternative” boarding school. Away from her parents and surrounded by trees, space and students whose problems she can’t completely comprehend, Mia has no choice but to learn about herself.

With insight and sympathy, Nora Raleigh Baskin focuses on the universal feeling of being a misfit, showing that sometimes the path home is as unexpected as it is challenging.

Some books leave you re-evaluating your life and the lives of those around you, this is one of those books.

Mia Singer is in a downward spiral. Her grades stink, she is caught shoplifting and quite frankly, doesn’t care about what is going on in her life or her family. Mia isn’t a bad kid, Mia just is having a hard time with some life transition.

Mia is sent by her family to a special “school” to help with her attitude and outlook on life. Needless to say, this is one reform school or boarding school, whatever you want to call it, that is completely unlike what you would expect.

The reader sees the world through Mia’s eyes. Through flashbacks we get to see what happened and we start to understand the choices that Mia made. Mia is a girl who is trying to make her way through the world. The story tends to be a little darker in some aspects, but this is where I found the magic. We get to see the world through a different set of eyes, we see the darkness out there, and then appreciate how good life may be for us.

Mia’s experiences are very similar. She learns about “cheating life” and she sees others who have a life so very different from her own. Mia begins to understand a little more about the other students who at first seemed so weird and “alien” to her. As a reader we begin to understand that those who walk life’s journey with us are not all that different from us, but they may just show it in a different way.

I am honestly glad that I had the opportunity to read In the Company of Crazies, the author does a great job of causing the reader to re-evaluate the world. I hope that you will consider taking a strange journey with Mia and also walk In the Company of Crazies! I am grateful that I did.

Boss of the Whole Sixth Grade by Ann Herrick

Boss of the Whole Sixth Grade by Ann Herrick
Publisher: Chaucer Publishing
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (106 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 8+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review by Stargazer

Greta can’t wait to be at the top of the grade-school heap–especially since she’s dealing with loss at home. Her father’s away in Antarctica, her mother’s still angry with Greta’s Dad for leaving, and Grampa’s losing his memory. But even sixth grade starts to feel like “life stinks.”

Greta discovers she’s not in the same home room with her best friend. New girl Kiki moves onto the scene and starts acting like the boss of the whole sixth grade. And the handsome new teacher seems way too interested in Greta’s mother.

Greta agrees to be a candidate for class president only to stop Kiki from winning. She regrets accepting Kiki’s bet that if Kiki wins the election, she gets to tell Greta what to do for the whole school year. It takes some inspiration from her school project about René Descartes and his “I think, therefore I am” beliefs to help Greta keep her sixth-grade experience from totally going down the toilet.

Sometimes life just falls apart and it seems like nothing can go right.

Greta is in sixth grade which places her at the top of the school food chain, but it seems like she can’t catch a break. Her mom and dad have separated, her grandfather is losing his memory and now there is a new girl at school stirring up trouble and telling everyone how they should dress and act.

Greta makes a bet with the new girl which hinges on winning the election for class president. Greta is by no means the most popular girl, and already she begins to regret running for class president. Things becomes even more muddled when her mother realizes that Greta’s teacher is an old friend from her past.

Ann Herrick does a great job at showing the world from the point of view of Greta, from her internal emotions to the feelings of frustration and loss of control. The reader comes to realize and understand how frustrated Greta feels. The reader can empathize with the various predicaments that Greta faces.

The dialogue is fun, the situations are understandable and the characters are deep. Ann Herrick does a perfect job at relating the difficult situations to the age of the reader. There are lessons at various levels and even older readers will find great enjoyment and humor at the various situations. Older readers will also be able to reflect on their own youth and understand the feelings that Greta faces throughout the story.

I really enjoyed the personality of Greta. Many authors develop a character that the reader often views as “pure” or “good” but Ann is able to show the actions that Greta takes when she is feeling frustration or anger. Rather than just describing the feelings that Greta has, Ann shows how Greta lets those feelings out, whether in words or actions the feelings come forth.

This is one story that is full of lessons and reflections for readers of all ages, you don’t want to miss this great read!

Curse of the Moon by Beth Trissel

Curse of the Moon by Beth Trissel
Secret Warrior Series
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full (182 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review by: Orchid

BoM LASR YA copy

The bad news? Morgan Daniel’s wolf is out of control. The good news? There’s a treatment. She just has to get a potion from a lizard shifter witch–without looking into the witch’s eyes. Easy, right? But when the witch puts a spell on her younger brother, Morgan has to do the witch’s bidding to save him.

Fortunately Morgan isn’t alone. She has Jackson to lean on, a few witches coming into their powers, a secret warlock, and the always mysterious Chief Okema. What could possibly go wrong?

Morgan is a teenager with a young brother but she’s horrified when she discovers she is also part werewolf. Help is offered by Jackson and his Native American tribe. Morgan’s transformation is particularly strong and painful and a potion is needed to calm things down. Unfortunately the only person with the potion is Lilith, the Lizard lady and when they go to her for help she puts a spell on Morgan’s brother.

Werewolves, shape-changing panthers… this book has it all, and just when you think you’ve got it sorted, another unexpected shape changer arrives on the scene. The budding romance between Morgan and Jackson, plus the danger not only to Morgan’s brother, but the tribe as a whole gives the tension and flow to make this a good book.

The story weaves between modern day and myths and legends, providing an exciting and compelling read.

Halversham by RS Anthony

Halversham by RS Anthony
Publisher: Self
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Young Adult
Length: Full Length (184 Pages)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Age Recommendation: 12+
Review by: Sorrel

With his mother dead and his father jetting off on yet another business trip, fifteen-year-old Andy Monaghan can’t stand the thought of spending summer alone in the city. Instead, he seeks a few weeks of solace in the place his mother loved the most: the rural town of Halversham where his father was raised.

No sooner does Andy arrive in Halversham than he hears of strange incidents occurring in town, including a few too close for comfort. Before long, Andy is reluctantly reeled into a chain of events that quickly darken the rose-colored glasses he’s been wearing for his mother’s beloved country getaway.

Finding out who’s responsible for Halversham’s many tragedies becomes Andy’s main priority. As he reconnects with his father’s family and dives deeper into the mysteries surrounding the town, he finds that even his own may not be safe from trouble. Is he willing to risk everything to uncover the truth of Halversham’s dark secrets, and protect the people he loves?

This is a twisted mystery.

A suspenseful story, Halversham kept me on my toes wanting to know more about everyone. The climax definitely surprised me. Right up to the end, I had no idea who was doing the killing or what made the small town of Halversham, well, Halversham.

When Andy’s mother died, he wanted to know more about the town that she loved so much; Halversham had the added mystery as to why his father left, never to return to it. What Andy finds out, and keeps finding out, continues to shock him. That was understandable. This was some strange and deadly occurrences.

This story was just the right length. While I am a mystery reader, I’m not much of a suspense fan. I almost gave up but actually glad that I didn’t, While I’m not one for over the top suspenseful stories, this is a book I would definitely recommend for younger kids who enjoy suspense or mystery.

Angel of Night by Julie Simons

Angel of Night by Julie Simons
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Romance
Length: Full (355 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review by: Poinsettia

He could guard an ancient temple or preside over the gates of Hell….

After enduring years of terrifying nightmares, a mysterious figure has begun to appear in Leah’s dreams. He’s both grim and glorious–lit with the glory of the sunrise, yet his fierce countenance banishes the horrors that haunt her. She recognizes him as the imposing, enigmatic senior who has drawn her interest since first sight. He’s been frequenting her dreams for months but now seems to be watching her day and night, and Leah can’t resist fantasizing that the aloof boy everyone else is afraid of may actually be protectively watching over her. But her friends warn her that he’s dangerous. When Leah’s worst nightmares begin to materialize around her and her world begins to fray at the seams, her night angel is the only one Leah trusts to help her. Angel or demon, with danger closing in on her, she wants to believe that he can save her. But can anyone save her from herself? If she only knew what awaits her. There’s something Leah’s nightmares have been trying to tell her….

Leah’s crush isn’t what he seems, but then neither is Leah.

Poor Leah. She just wants to survive high school and make her parents proud, but no matter how hard she tries, she can’t seem to get anything right. To top it off, she’s experiencing some health issues that are severely affecting her life. Her delicate stomach, sensitivity to light, and nocturnal habits are grating on her parents’ last nerve. Their suspicious and borderline hostile attitude is heartbreaking. It was hard to watch Leah struggle to behave “normally,” but as I read, it became clear that Leah is anything but normal.

I really like Leah. Her love of animals is particularly endearing, especially her friendship with a young deer. The time she spends with animals seems to be the only time she can truly relax. Leah is having a tough time going through her “change” into whatever she’s becoming. Her parents don’t understand what’s happening, and her father is very harsh and seems to have written Leah off completely. I get the impression that she was once close to both of her parents. This makes their broken relationships that much harder to bear. While I have a lot of sympathy for Leah, I think she could treat those around her better, especially her friend Joe and her mother. They have no clue what is happening to Leah, but they are genuinely trying to understand because they love her and want to help her. Leah just pushes them away and shuts them down when they try to talk to her. That being said, I do think Leah’s relationship with her mother can be saved. Leah’s mother is extremely smart and persistent, and I really like that. It shows she cares and will never give up on her daughter.

Asher, the mysterious senior, is a unique hero struggling with the same problems Leah has. While others perceive him as a “bad boy,” he’s really just trying to survive the best he can. Asher has admired Leah from afar for a long time, but never told her. However, he is very protective of Leah and defends her when some other students say and do some particularly nasty things to her. Asher and Leah have an interesting relationship. He is protective and pushy at times, but I never doubt the sincerity of his affections for her.

I must say that Angel of Night, is very slow paced for the first half. In fact, this is the sole reason I didn’t rate this book a five. While the slower pace at the beginning gave me an in depth feel for Leah and Asher and the world they life in, it was drawn out too long. However, Leah and Asher are wonderfully developed characters and my interest in them kept me going. My patience was definitely rewarded. Once Leah and Asher actually connect, the pacing really picks up. I do wish they had more time to simply enjoy being together, but Asher waited too long to approach Leah and they just don’t have time because something dangerous is closing in on them. Consequently, most of their spare time is devoted to teaching Leah how to develop her blossoming abilities. Unfortunately, time is running out.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Angel of Night. I’ve never encountered beings like Leah and Asher in a paranormal book before, and my curiosity is piqued. I hope that Ms. Simons has plans for a sequel because I can’t wait to read the next chapter in Leah and Asher’s story. I highly recommend Angel of Night to anyone looking for a unique paranormal laced with romance.

Star Racers by Martin Felando

Star Racers by Martin Felando
Publisher: McBarron Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full (562 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review by: Poinsettia

Get ready to fly into a whole new universe of awesome!

Rookie unknown battlejet pilot Rev Arden and refugee art gallery owner Sashi Oon risk their lives to compete in the awesome fury of a battlejet race known as Grand Battle. If they win the race they save their planet!

But the journey across the galaxy just to get to the amazing Milky Way Grand Hotel involves many incredibly dangerous moments. Other battlejet pilots and racing sponsors are desperate to win and will stop at nothing to finish first.

Star Racers begins a series of breathtaking adventures about winning Grand Battle. Fly into a whole new universe of action, romance, and fun!

One race will decide the fate of planets.

Rev and Sashi’s world is brutal. Planets are constantly in danger of being attacked by invaders bent on killing and destroying everything in their path. The only way to guarantee peace and security for their worlds and all who inhabit them is to win a perilous race against others who are just as desperate to save their planets. If Rev and Sashi lose, their worlds will disappear. As I started reading, I had so many questions. How did Rev and Sashi meet? Why are their chances so slim compared to other racers? Who are Dupaon, Scrap Meat, Eyeball, and Betsy’s Lover? Would these characters be as unique as their names? Hooked from the moment I read the blurb, I eagerly dove in to Star Racers.

Mr. Felando did an excellent job of building the strange and fascinating world his characters inhabit. There are abundant details that helped me clearly picture the setting, characters, creatures, and high tech gadgets. In addition, there are full page illustrations at the beginning of each chapter that also sparked my imagination as I read.

Rev and Sashi are a cute couple. While I’m not sure I fully understand their rather quick romantic connection, it is clear that they are fiercely devoted to each other. Other members of the racing community believe their emotional attachment will impair their chances at winning Grand Battle. However, I believe their bond is their greatest strength, and I truly enjoyed watching them work together.

The pacing is extremely fast for a good part of this book, and I liked the way that Mr. Felando interspersed chapters that explained the past with current events. I can’t spill many details, but at one point there is a rather lengthy doll fight which is interesting but doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the story. However, my patience was rewarded. Once the story gets back on track, the pacing really picks up and hurtles toward the exciting conclusion.

Rev, Sashi, and many of the secondary characters are well described and developed. I must admit that as I read, I felt torn. I really wanted Rev and Sashi to win the race, but after getting to know a bit more about Scrap Meat, Eyeball, and Betsy’s Lover, it was very hard for me to read the section on the race knowing there would only be one winning team. Mr. Felando’s solution to this problem is interesting and unexpected, and that is all I can say without spoiling the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Star Racers. It is a thrilling read that I highly recommend to fans of science fiction as well as those looking to try out the genre for the first time.

Dream Guy by A.Z.A. Clarke

Dream Guy by A.Z.A. Clarke
Publisher: Finch Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: 221 pages
Age Recommendation: 16+ (due to discussions of drug use and depictions of death and torture)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Review by: Stargazer

Book 1 in the Battalions of Oblivion series

Every teen has dreams, but only Joe Knightley can make his dreams reality. Even the nightmares…

There can be only one Dream Master.

Joe has been falling asleep everywhere, and he has enough on his plate with wrangling his wayward best mate, suppressing the urge to murder his little sister and facing off with Charlie Meek, the knife-wielding bully who makes school a misery for so many.

Joe does not need the discovery that he can make his dreams come true. At first, turning a classroom into an aquarium and conjuring up a Lamborghini are amusing ways to use this new power. But Joe soon realizes he’s roused an enemy far deadlier than Charlie Meek.

Drawn into a duel with a being who has had centuries of experience, Joe must fight for everything he cares for. But deciding exactly what he holds dear is perhaps the biggest battle of all.

What if your dreams were real? And, what if you could control those real dreams?

In the book, Dream Guy by A.Z.A. Clark, this is a real situation! Joe is just an average high school student when one day he finds he is able to control his own dreams and make them a realty. Unfortunately, this ability begins to take a toll on Joe’s body in the form of severe fatigue. Then when the secret begins to get out, Joe’s friend begins to take advantage of the special ability that Joe possesses. Things begin to spiral out of control when Joe meets a powerful individual with similar powers.

Throughout the book the exploration of human nature, human desire and frustration take centerfold. The situations build on each other much like real life and the author does a great job of tying everything together and not leaving any loose ends. From the initial confusion of the events to the understanding of how to focus dreams the reader is provided an opportunity to grow with Joe.

Finally as Joe’s friendship with his childhood friend Nell grows stronger, an event occurs that jolts everything Joe has begun to build. The reader is placed in a position of seeing heartbreak first-hand and further tasked with considering what they would do if they were in the same position as Joe. When Joe goes to change the timeline of events, the reader is left breathless with the same frustration and struggle that Joe experiences.

Dream Guy is the first Book in the Battalions of Oblivion Series, but the ending does not leave the reader struggling and frustrated that they must wait for another book. In fact, the ending leaves the reader feeling fulfilled but tied to the characters as though they were true friends who shared a special experience with the reader that transcended the story line.

The awesome story line and the smooth writing style of A.Z.A. Clark make this book a must read!