The Dreaming Spires by William Kingshart


The Dreaming Spires by William Kingshart
Publisher: Finch Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (140 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 5 stars
Review by Aloe

What do you do when the troll at the end of your garden tells you everything you ever believed in is a fantasy and your fantasies are reality?

When Jake moves from California to his new school in Oxford, he knows he is going to a different country, but he doesn’t realize he is entering a whole new world.

His first clue is when Gorm, a nine-foot, three-thousand-year-old Irish gnome, appears at the foot of his garden and gives him three special powers—powers that are of absolutely no use to him—or so he thinks.

But when things start getting really weird and Jake discovers that there’s an ancient prince from Tír na nÓg who is out to get not only him and the girl he is in love with but the whole of mankind, too, he also discovers that the powers Gorm has given him are more useful than he could ever have dreamed possible.

Jake knew that moving from California to England would mean some changes in his life. What he didn’t realize was just how much it would change and what direction that change would make…

The author has a very good imagination and when he introduces a nine foot tall gnome who is always eating while visiting, it’s just the beginning of strange creatures vexing Jake. He’s told he’s a changeling. He’s given a necklace from his mother (the one he never knew), and he’s told about his powers. He’s not impressed by the powers. He can’t turn invisible or anything. But the ones he gets are the ones that will help keep him alive!

The pace of the story is fast and there’s action on almost every page. He has a bully after him, a girl he’s interested in, and a good friend that stands by him in thick and thin. He’s going to need him.

He has more than one quest, he’s facing danger from the fae world, and his fae brother is trying to kill him. In the meantime, he has to convince the powers that be to change their minds and stop drilling in the ocean. The points he makes about the climate changes and the damages humans are doing to the earth are real. With no changes, we might see the type of collapse Jake was trying hard to stop.

It reads fast, is a fun read, has lots of fantastic characters and you find yourself rooting for Jake, even if he is the underdog. Sometimes just sticking with it makes a difference. He’s trying to save the girl he loves, so he has a good cause. Young readers will want to be as good as he is with a sword or bow.

Trouble Returns by Nancy Oswald


Trouble Returns by Nancy Oswald
Publisher: Filter Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical
Length: Full (207 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 8+
Rating: 5 stars
Review by: Aloe

BoM LASR YA copy

Trouble Returns is the third installment in the Ruby and Maude Adventure series.

Eleven-year-old Ruby is in an unbelievable amount of trouble. Trouble in school, trouble with the Sisters of Mercy, trouble with her cat named Trouble, and trouble with Pa after he proposes to the school principal. In 1896 Cripple Creek, Colorado, Ruby narrowly escapes death, and her donkey, Maude, steals the story with an unexpected surprise.

Ruby is not real good at staying out of trouble. She defends herself and her animals from those who would harm them, just like any good tomboy would do. The new schoolmarm is not impressed by that so she gets punished. When the teacher talks to her father, Ruby feels so bad. But she has reason to feel even worse. Her Pa decides she needs a mom and he’s going to date the teacher!

This is written in the style of the old classics. She’s a girl whose mother died earlier in her life and she and her Pa travel the land and sell candlesticks and camp. Now they’re in a cabin and he’s looking for a mother for her.

Ruby’s companions are a mule named Maude and a cat named Trouble. She has a good girlfriend named Lizzie.

The antics of the animals, Ruby’s fights with boys and girls, and the fact that she has testify at court about a man who tried to kill her keep your attention all the way through. Ruby keeps hoping her Pa will change his mind about the wedding, but no…

Ms. Oswald’s story flows easily off the pages into your mind. There are a lot of unexpected situations in the story so you can’t wait to see what will happen next. The author does a nice job of bringing everything together and ending the story well. I’m sure you’ll be looking forward to the next adventures Ruby will be having, just like I am, when you’ve read it.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full (253 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4 stars
Review by Aloe

BoM LASR YA copy

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in a new series of adventure mystery stories that are one part travel, one part history and five parts adventure. This first installment of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations.

She’s been flying since she was a baby so she thinks nothing of taking off in her plane to study humpback whales. She wrote a convincing enough project she got funded. She has friends to stay with. All she needs to do is follow the whales, mark their routes, and take photos. That does not include snooping around a campsite of strangers…

Mr. Reading offers you a look at the past and the present. She’s in an area close to the gold rush days of Alaska. He ties that into the story very successfully and the facts are good. Having read Yukon gold history in the past, what he offers is true look at how awful the conditions were everyone was trying to get there first.

Since Kitty has met several new friends in Alaska and she hears the tale of the boat that burned, blew up and sunk near an island. It was supposed to have a load of gold on it and many people are still trying to find that. When she sees men near the area, she wonders if they are looking for the gold. She should have left well enough alone.

This story flows well, Kitty is a good strong young lady who need all her skills and judgement to get out of the situation she’s in. As she travels with the band of brothers who captured her, she learns about Jack London and other Alaskan gold miners.

It kept my attention and made me wonder what the author would share with us next. It was a very good read and he gives you more reference information at the end of the story. If you haven’t heard of all this history, it should lead you to reading more. That’s a good thing. All in all, the story won’t bore you.

Amanda on the Danube: The Sounds of Music by Darlene Foster

amanda-on-the-danube-by-darlene-foster
Amanda on the Danube: The Sounds of Music by Darlene Foster
Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short (120 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rating: 4 stars
Review by: Aloe

Twelve year old Amanda Ross finds herself on an elegant riverboat with her bestie, Leah, cruising down the beautiful Danube, passing medieval castles, luscious green valleys and charming villages. When she is entrusted with a valuable violin by a young, homeless musician during a stop in Germany, a mean boy immediately attempts to take it from her.

Back on their cruise, Amanda struggles to keep the precious violin safe for the poor prodigy. Along the way, she encounters a mysterious monk, a Santa Claus look-alike, and the same nasty boy.

Follow Amanda down the Danube, through Germany, Austria and Hungary, as she enjoys the enchanting sounds of music everywhere she goes. She remains on the lookout though, wondering just who she can trust.

Amanda is excited. Her family and she are meeting her English friend and her parents to take a boat trip on the Danube. She’s from Canada and Leah is from England so they don’t get to see each other as much as they would have liked. They’ll have lots of sights to see, good music and museums and historical sites galore. What could go wrong?

This book can be read alone but if it’s a good fit for your child others are out there and more will be coming. The author does a good job of writing an interesting story that will keep a child’s attention without being condescending. The mystery is realistic and entertaining. These points make a good book for young ones.

Amanda and Leah are visiting the cities they stop at with their parents. They are allowed to wander alone as long as they stay together. Leah is there but she’s almost always texting with friends at home. That annoys Amanda a bit. Amanda keeps running across the same boy in their travels. He finally hands her a violin case and asks her to keep it safe. That’s going to be harder than it sounds. She hides it well but it’s obvious someone is after it.

As she asks questions she learns more about the violin and also more about the boy. Without trying to, she’s managed to get entwined in a case where thieves are after the violin because of its value. It’s the boy’s only connection to his family and he doesn’t want to lose it. Amanda has her work cut out for her, but she’s up to the task. Recommended.

Shake the Spiders by Anne Wentworth

Shake the Spiders by Anne Wentworth
Shake the Spiders by Anne Wentworth
Publisher: Finch Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure Contemporary Historical Paranormal Suspense/Mystery, Young Adult
Length: Short Story (111 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 5 stars
Review by: Aloe

When her Grandma Haley warns her to shake the spiders from her shoes, Kim comes to understand those words can also apply to all the unhappy things that life has brought her.

Life hasn’t been kind to Kim Baylor. She’s fourteen going on old. After losing her dad seven years ago, life has gone downhill. Her mom’s drinking is taking a real toll on both their lives and Kim just wants to survive the chaos. Kim is dumped off at her grandma’s farm in small-town Manitoba for the summer, though she hasn’t seen her grandma since before her dad died. Life really starts to change—Kim finds Grandma Haley and her two odd friends aren’t the country bumpkins she’d thought they’d be.

Then life on the farm takes on a spooky twist with paranormal sightings and the legend of Rawlings Mannakee’s lost gold. With Jammer—her grandma’s huge black cat—at her side, she embarks on a summer filled with trying to understand the mysterious events at Haley’s farm, solving the mystery of the missing Mannakee gold and beginning her own process of healing from her mother’s destructive drinking.

Kim does not want to stay with a grandmother that she hardly knows during the summer. Her mom has a new boyfriend, he won a trip, and the resort doesn’t take children. Her mother isn’t just leaving her there for two weeks either. It will be the whole summer so she can drink and party with no worries. Kim has worries. What’s there to do in summer on a farm in the middle of the Canadian plains?

This author does a very nice job with the theme of an abused young girl who is mostly left to fend on her own since her father died. She shows that, with the support of family and friends, you can let the hurt go and move on. Just like shaking the spiders out of your shoes. The story flows well, the paranormal sightings and strange happenings are partly paranormal/partly human made, and she finds even if people are strange and unusual they can still be good friends.

Once Kim learns the tale of the missing gold, she wants to solve the mystery. It’s okay, she has three adults willing to work with her. The problem is that someone else wants that money. Is there really a ghost or is it the person trying to scare them off the property? It’s a bit of both.

The author does a good job of making her ghosts friendly. They show her sections of a book about the past that she’s reading to read about the legend. They even make her bed. It takes her new friends to help her stop the fake ghost.

This was a very good read with some chills and some heartfelt emotions expressed. All’s well that ends well.

The Kingdom of Oceana by Mitchell Charles

The Kingdom of Oceana by Mitchell Charles
The Kingdom of Oceana by Mitchell Charles
Publisher: Butterhorse Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure Historical Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (207 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4 stars
Review by: Aloe

SURFER. SHARK TAMER. FIRE WALKER. EXPLORER. TEENAGER. HERO.

Five Centuries Ago, On the Island Now Called Hawaii, There was a Kingdom Filled with Adventure, Beauty, and Magic.

When 16-year-old Prince Ailani and his brother Nahoa trespass on a forbidden burial ground and uncover an ancient tiki mask, they unleash a thousand-year-old curse that threatens to destroy their tropical paradise.

As warring factions collide for control of Oceana, it sparks an age-old conflict between rival sorcerers that threatens to erupt–just like Mauna Kea, the towering volcano.

With the help of his ancestral spirit animals, his shape shifting sidekick, and a beautiful princess, Prince Ailani must overcome his own insecurities, a lifetime of sibling rivalry, and a plague of cursed sea creatures brought forth by the tiki’s spell.

Can peace be restored to the kingdom? Can Prince Ailani claim his rightful place as the future king of Oceana?

TWO BROTHERS, BUT ONLY ONE CAN RULE.

Set in a world where myth, spirit animals and magic exists, the islands in this story are like the Hawaiian Islands. I’ve visited Hawaii several times and love the beautiful plants and the people there. This story took me right back there.

While this tale is written for young adults, it was an interesting read for an adult, too. Mr. Charles knows the islands and the folklore and he creates a story that holds your attention and keeps you wondering which Prince is right. His writing style is smooth and light even with the horrors this story has.

There are two Princes who have been competing with each other since birth. Their personalities are very different and the older one is intent on becoming King. The younger one assumes he’ll get it because he’s the oldest, so he doesn’t see what the problem is. It will become apparent before long. He doesn’t know the family loyalties are split.

This is a tale of right and wrong. The King is trying to partner with the near island so if they are invaded, they will fight together to survive. The Princess likes the youngest brother best but ends up being betrothed to the oldest. There’s a dangerous tiki, another Kahuna, and even Zombies before you get to the end. The King on the other island has an alchemist and they are slaughtering whales for the oil. That’s against local custom. How can he be stopped?

Full of legends with a touch of history, this tale is interesting and you get an island feel. Would you be brave enough to fight the undead and your brother both?

Peaches and the Queen by Edith Layton

Peaches and the Queen by Edith Layton
Peaches and the Queen by Edith Layton
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Holiday
Length: Short Story (49 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 5 stars
Review by: Aloe

Presenting a never-before-published, holiday short story from Regency author Edith Layton!

Christmas is coming to Victorian London. A poor boy living with his milliner sister in a marginal part of town discovers his cat is missing. His old dog can’t live without the cat, so he searches—and hears that the Queen has kidnapped his cat! Queen Victoria’s favorite moggie strayed, and her minions scooped up the wrong cat—or so the boy and his sister think.

This Christmas novella tells how an earnest young Beefeater, his world-weary superior, and one of the wiliest criminals in London each try to find the right cat without disturbing the old queen, win the boy’s cat back—and woo the pretty sister—before the Queen leaves London for her Christmas holiday.

From the servants at the palace and the Queen’s own chambers, to Billingsgate and the mudlarks’ favorite taverns, the adventures are many among the high- and low-life of Victorian London.

His cat is missing. Their old dog is nearing the end of his life and the cat is his buddy. If the cat is there, he gets up and moves around and eats better. But the cat hasn’t come back for a couple of days. Where could it be?

This is a sweet tale that the author shares by wrapping her words around you. You worry about the young boy and his sister since they are living on the edge of poverty. You also worry about the cat. You should, because the Queen’s cat is missing and they are offering a reward for the return of the animal. The bad news is it’s another orange cat. Suddenly everybody is looking for an orange cat!

Ms. Layton has introduced us to two children who are very brave and love each other. The sister will do what she can to help her younger brother. Her brother looks in areas of the city that are not safe for his sister to travel. It’s Victorian times and things are tough everywhere.

He finally asks the man who has his hand in every dirty deal in town to help him get his cat back from the Queen. He knows she has it. He will help if he introduces him to his sister. He agrees. His sister is not happy.

In no time at all, there are two more men from the castle involved and they also have an interest in his sister…

It’s Christmas and sometimes dreams come true. I enjoyed this read a lot. It’s busy tale with lots of characters, cats, and even the beginning of a romance. Ms. Layton writes a good tale and I’ll be looking for more written by her. Try it, you might feel the same way.

Vic: Fast! by Jerry Gill

VicFast
Vic: Fast! by Jerry Gill
The Incredible Adventures of Vic Challenger Book 5
Publisher: Ann Darrow Co
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full (203 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4
Review by: Aloe

BoM LASR YA copy

In the search for her eternal love, the re-incarnated cave girl visits family in Australia and when her aunt is robbed Vic pursues the bad guys to a mysterious grotto where legend says a horrible monster guards a family treasure – and finds herself confronted by other equally virulent threats along the way! A swell vacation turns into a fight for survival!

All the things you expect from a Vic Challenger novel – bad guys, cryptids, nature, just a mention of social issue, 1920’s nostalgia, and Vic continues her search for her lost love. She is with Lin Li in Australia, visiting family on her mothers side. It’s a swell vacation, then whamo! The best laid plans of travel writers and their friends often go kaboom! Time after time, Vic and Lin find the relevance to the saying, ‘It’s easy to get dead when you’re slow.’ Savage, unpredictable action! Guaranteed!

#5 in the series but each novel stands on it’s own.

Vic is still on the hunt for her lost love. They were both killed in a natural disaster during the days of cavemen, but she’s become reincarnated and believes he may have, too. She’s got her eye on one adventurer but she hasn’t located him yet. In the meantime, she’s improving her survival skills and training for battle. She’s also going to go visit her relatives in Australia.

This series has the flavor of the dime detective novels. They were exciting, fun to read and the characters did outrageous things. So do Vic and her friend, Lin.

The story is full of monsters, both human and animal. Some are real animals, some are fantasy. When the reception they are having in Vic and Lin’s honor is interrupted by bandits and they steal everything of value, including a map, Vic has a new quest. She’s going to go find them and recover the goods. They don’t even get away from the house without having a battle to the death.

They almost die from lack of water in the outback. The bandits sic Tasmania Devils on them. They get attacked by lizards. It’s a good thing they practice all the time or they wouldn’t be alive. Vic almost turns into a Tasmanian Devil herself when she is facing terrible odds. She can also do more with an ax than most humans could.

Hang onto your chair when you start this book. It’s a wild ride from beginning to end and you’ll find yourself turning pages faster and faster. Mr. Gill grabs your attention and then commences in his story telling. This would be fun to read around a campfire as long as you aren’t afraid of the dark. You might start hearing things…

The Shadow of Seth by Tom Llewellyn

The Shadow of Seth by Tom Llewellyn

The Shadow of Seth by Tom Llewellyn
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full (174 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 stars
Review by: Aloe

Sixteen-year-old Seth Anomundy is a product of his environment: in this case, Tacoma, Washington. What L.A. was to Chandler, Tacoma—a working-class port city now undergoing urban renewal—is to author Tom Llewellyn.

Seth has grown up in Tacoma’s tough neighborhoods, where he’s perfectly at home in Choo-Choo’s boxing gym and Miss Irene’s soul food palace, the Shotgun Shack. With his mom working nights as a cleaner, Seth goes to high school, gets decent grades, and makes money where he can: filling in as cook at the Shotgun Shack, working as a sparring partner, and running errands for Nadel, the clock repairman. Life is hand-to-mouth, but okay—until he gets the news that his mother has been killed.

The police don’t care about the death of just another drug addict, so a bewildered Seth takes it upon himself to find the killer. On a clock delivery run, he meets a beautiful rich girl named Azura Lear, who encourages Seth and tries to help track down the killer. But instead of finding answers, Seth finds only trouble. He faces down a gang of baseball-bat-wielding high school jocks and deals with the contempt of Azura’s suspicious father. And then there’s King George—a teenage thug Seth has previously managed to avoid—who has for some reason let it be known that he wants Seth dead. Right now.

Seth’s mother was a cleaning lady. She worked at night and she worked at four different places. She didn’t make a lot of money but they were doing okay. At least they were until the night she came home dead…

Mr. Llewellyn has written a good murder mystery for young adults. It also discusses bullying, beginning romances, youth and adult relationships and growing up. It’s a full bodied book that has a lot of background coming to light as well as showing off portions of Tacoma. As is usual, there’s a good side of town and a bad. Seth is from the bad side.

The cops tell him to leave the murder alone; they’ll investigate if they have time. He’s not content with that but then he ends up getting beat up by other side. He also meets a real pretty girl from the right side of town and gets beat up by her supposed boyfriend and his friends. Seth isn’t having real good luck here.

As he keeps asking questions, he’s not finding any answers. He finds more things to worry about. What happened to the lady who worked at the diner? She was his mother’s friend as well as employer, and the cops think she’s good for the crime. Seth knows she isn’t.

Even more impressive than the mystery, the story of Seth’s friends closing in around him and helping him is impressive. Now that his mother is dead, he has no one. But then he finds out he does. The old prize fighter saves him from death. But another friend was no real friend; that person’s friend was money.

The story is well paced, the story sounds real, and the action keeps you turning the pages. I’d read another in this series. After all, Seth hasn’t grown up yet and his girlfriend in now in California. There’s more to his story.

The Tower and the Assassin by J F Parcher

The Tower and the Assassin

The Tower and the Assassin by J F Parcher
Publisher: Rogue Phoenix Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Young Adult
Length: Full Length (174 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 stars
Review by: Aloe

What started out as a simple trip to dusty, boring museum has become more than Tom Vogenson had bargained for. After a fateful encounter with a mysterious artifact, he finds himself kidnapped by a society of wizards and transported against his will to a world on the verge of reviving a centuries old war. While learning about his unique and mysterious abilities, he is also targeted for death by a mysterious kingdom of assassins who fear his powerful presence may upset their secret plans. Adding to the complexity, Tom finds himself forging a relationship with a young girl, who may or may not be the unwilling tool of the assassins herself. In order to save himself and his new friends he will have to master his newfound powers and figure out friend from foe, before its too late.

He’s getting really tired of walking around San Francisco with his cousin. After all, they had a car available. Why walk? Pretty soon, he’ll have more to concern him. An innocent guided tour of an old building is pretty boring until he looks in the mirror. He sees more than himself in that mirror. And he’s soon sent through another door that takes him away from his world…

This story moves fast and is exciting. The author does a very good job of weaving his words and drawing your attention. Young adults should really enjoy the storyline. I’ve just finished reading this book and am already to read the next one!

Tom doesn’t understand where he is, how he got there, or what he’s supposed to do now that he’s there. He quickly finds out this is a world where life doesn’t count for much. While waiting for the person to transport him to the Tower, he witnesses a fight where a young woman is killed. He even manages to get involved when he shouldn’t have. That’s a not a good start.

He has new skills to learn, new friends to make and new enemies all in the first day. He’s haunted by the girl he saved but she’s an assassin and he can’t even speak to her. She’s from the other side. She manages to let him know they have a chameleon in their midst. But every time he runs into her, there is a fight around them and bad things happen. He wants to be on the side of right, but how does he know which is right? Murdering people is obviously bad. She doesn’t seem to be like that, though. Is that because he doesn’t want to see her that way?

It starts out as training and escalates to war before the story ends. You’ll find yourself flipping pages and wondering where the author is going next. I’m anxious to read the next installment in this series. It grabs you and you want to know how it’s going to all work out or if it won’t.