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.

The Artist and Me by Hannah Kay


The Artist and Me by Hannah Kay
Publisher: Finch Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (105 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 3 stars
Review by Quince

Like the colorful strokes of her brush, love changes the canvas of their lives.

Lucas is just a small town writer starting a summer internship at the local paper when Julie blows into town like a cyclone. Legs a mile long, ginger hair that curls delicately to the small of her back and a smile that could generate enough energy to power Carltonville for months on end, she is easily a knockout. Unlike the other girls at the high school, though, she simply is what she is—beautiful, smart, confident and an artist to her core—all facts that cause the girls to hate her and the guys to want her.

By some stroke of luck—or so he feels—she is choosing to give Lucas, the quiet writer guy, a chance. It doesn’t add up, but Lucas isn’t going to dispute it. He just prays to the great God in Heaven that he doesn’t screw it up.

The writer and the artist—pen and paint. Is this story a masterpiece that will stand the test of time or will it fade with the summer sun?

The Artist and Me is a really short, quick read. It is a story about first love, one summer and heartbreaks. The story revolves around Lucas and Julie’s relationship. Lucas is a small town boy dreaming of becoming a writer. It is the beginning of a summer and he’s just started an internship at a local paper. Soon a new girl is in town, the daughter of local paper owner – Julie. Julie recently lost her mother and has moved in with her father. Julie likes to paint, and in Lucas’ eyes she is the most beautiful creature on the Earth, but also the most unreachable one. But miracles do happen and soon Julie and Lucas begin to date. After that, the story pretty much follows their dating and relationship.

As I already mentioned this is a short story that. I enjoyed it up to one point toward the end of the story. At that point Julie stars to act really strange. Also I did not like how story ended, and really didn’t see the point in that kind of ending. Still, the writing was solid and the plot interesting.  My dissatisfaction was a personal thing, and it may not be the same for you.  Give it a try and let me know!

Integration by J.S. Frankel

integration-by-j-s-frankel
Integration by J.S. Frankel
Publisher: Finch Publishing
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (288 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

Facing off against an old enemy isn’t without repercussions. Paul and the Nightmare Crew take on not only their most dangerous adversary but also the establishment.

Paul Wiseman and the rest of the Nightmare Crew attempt to fit into society as best they can. It isn’t easy if you’re a werewolf, a vampire or if you’re a being made of water or sand.

Along with failed efforts at integration comes the news that Andres Peterson, founder of Rallan, Inc.—the company that created the original Nightmare Crew—is still at large.

Peterson is now a mutant, irretrievably evil, and he is also quite clever. With his genius, he sets about making a virtually limitless army of scientific horrors, and they begin to unleash terror on the populace.

It’s up to Paul and the rest of the crew to stop him. Along the way, they are joined by a young girl, who has powers of her own, and a group of Army Rangers.

Catching Peterson is harder than any of them could ever have imagined, though, and the Nightmare Crew ends up being the prey instead of the predator. It becomes a matter of who is willing to fight hardest. But winning isn’t the only goal Paul has in mind.

Paul’s biggest battles are yet to come.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed the most about this series was meeting all of the new characters that exist because of the scientific experiments that were done to create them. Mr. Frankel’s descriptions of them were as fascinating and detailed as ever in this tale. He has a vivid imagination that works really well for this kind of storytelling because of how the characters looks and what kinds of unusual animal genes were combined with their own.

There were a few pacing issues in the beginning. While I completely understood the need to recap what happened during Paul’s previous adventures, it did take me a little bit to get into this story because of how much time it took to jump into what was currently going on in this character’s life. Once the pacing picked up, though, I couldn’t wait to find out how his latest adventure would end.

The plot twists were nicely done. One of them caught me by total surprise, so it was exciting to see how the main character reacted to something that I never would have thought he’d be facing. The creativity he showed in that scene in particular is one of the reasons why I enjoy this author’s work so much.

This is the third book in this series, but it can be read on its own or out of order.

Integration was a thrilling piece of science fiction. I’d recommend it to anyone who has ever wondered what combining the DNA of different species might lead to.

Dream Guy by A.Z.A. Clarke

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!

The Possibility of You and Me by Lillie Todd

The Possibility of You and Me by Lillie Todd
The Possibility of You and Me by Lillie Todd
Publisher: Finch Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Length: Full Length (258 pages)
Heat Level:  Sensual
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: Best Book
Review by: Quince

Her whole world has been flipped upside down. She’s lost…and only he can find her.

Lori Black had everything she could ever want—security in social standing by being one of the most popular girls in school, a hot boyfriend, and a set path toward her future. But her brother’s overdose flipped her world upside down and now nothing makes sense.

After spending a year away from home, Lori is ready to try to reclaim her old life. But a lot can happen in a year, and when Lori returns, she realizes she isn’t the superficial girl she left behind and maybe she doesn’t fit the space she used to.

Rejected by her old friends and struggling to deal at home, Lori is lost. And the only person capable of understanding her is the quiet boy, Archer, whom no one knows anything about.

It is Archer who brings Lori the possibility of being found.

Reader Advisory: This book contains some brief scenes of violence and attempted sexual assault.

The Possibility of You and Me is an absolutely amazing story. It is a hidden gem that I read it in one sitting. It started as a typical YA novel; former popular girl Lori Black returns, after a year of absence in school and tries to live a life she left behind, but she changed so much that going back is impossible. She meets silent and unapproachable Archer. Because they are both alone they start to keep each other company, and that turns from friendship into a romantic relationship. But soon Archer’s past starts to hunt him down and they have to decide the fate of, not just of their relationship, but also of their future paths in life.

During the reading of The Possibility of You and Me my heart broke so many times. This is such an emotional book. There are heartbreaks, but neither Lori nor Archer are big on drama. On the contrary, some situations they resolve with such a wisdom and calmness. I like both of them, as individual characters and also as a couple.

Lori is a lost girl who, after a death of her twin brother, has to find herself again. She is torn between being a part of group of her former friends and being away from them. Then when she starts a relationship with Archer she becomes so wound up in it that she almost lost herself. If Archer had been a typical teen boy that might happened. Archer is also a bit lost.  He did something in his past and he cannot forget it. Just like Lori, he also needs someone to love him. They are both such complex three dimensional characters and they make this story interesting and dynamic.  The relationship between them develops gradually while the bond between them is strong and in the end it resists and conquers.

Lillie Todd wrote a beautiful story about loss, love, and becoming vulnerable in order to find your true self. There are a lot of twists and turns here and it is absolutely impossible to predict what will happen next. I more than highly recommend The Possibility of You and Me. It is a story that exceeded all my expectation. One of the best reads in the Young Adult category this year.

Lady in Waiting by Lady Victoria Hervey

Lady in Waiting by Lady Victoria Hervey
Lady in Waiting by Lady Victoria Hervey
The Wristband Diaries Book One
Publisher: Finch Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (255 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 stars
Review by: Orchid

Lady Frederica Felton, or Freddie to her friends, is poised to return to Mapleton Manor boarding school for Sixth Form. After a summer at home in Monaco, Freddie is more than ready to see her friends again…and she’ll find herself in numerous escapades along the way, collecting wristbands as she goes.

Midnight feasts, great escapes and ghost stories—life at Mapleton Manor is anything but boring, especially for someone like Freddie. Whilst fiercely loyal and fun loving, she is the go-to girl for contraband and fashion advice. Freddie is the girl to know.

But the next couple of years won’t all be fun and games. As well as exam pressure there are rotten teachers to contend with, and a friend Freddie isn’t so sure has her best interests at heart…

There are difficult choices to be made. First love to experience. Heartbreak to be had. But with her friends at her side and her fearless nature, will Freddie take her world by storm?

 

Lady Frederica Felton known to her friends as Freddie, is the eldest child of her wealthy parents. The family’s main home is in Monaco but Freddie spends most of the year at an English boarding school.

This book tells the excitement, pranks, feasts and other hi jinks a girl can get up to at boarding school. In her final year Freddie also finds the love of her life, but true love never runs smooth.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was a little bland in part, but had enough highlights and unexpected turns to keep me entertained, but not completely enthralled. The friends were as individual and amusing as Freddie, and all the usual schoolgirl pranks, plus a few new ones, were attempted.

Any teacher at a boarding school who reads this will either be in denial as in “it couldn’t happen in my school” or the inmates could suddenly find their freedom being severely restricted. Good read for younger teens but maybe not exciting enough for the older ones.

Beginnings by J.S. Frankel

Beginnings by J.S. Frankel
Beginnings by J.S. Frankel
Publisher: Finch Books
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (187 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

BoM LASR YA copy

Paul Wiseman, orphan and runaway, was looking for a family. He found one—and got a little more than he bargained for in the process.

Being an orphan is no fun. Having no friends isn’t much fun, either. When Paul Wiseman, seventeen, runs away from an orphanage to try his luck on the mean streets of New York, he finds himself trapped and almost beaten to death one night.

Rescued by a vampire named Angela, Paul goes to her small house in upstate New York where he meets her friends—Ooze, a sentient water being, Sandstorm, who uses his sandy body to blind his opponents, and CF—short for Cannon Fodder—a zombie.

The four of them become the Nightmare Crew—beings created by a scientist to fight against the lawless elements of the city. In joining them, Paul finds a family, friendship and maybe even love.

However, the company that allowed the creation of these beings wants them back, and they’ll stop at nothing to retrieve what they believe to be their property. It soon comes down to a battle between those born and those created…and it’s up to Paul to fight for the only family he’s ever known.

I’ve never met a more motley crew, but in this case that’s a very good thing!

Mr. Frankel’s plot twists have always been fantastic, but he really outdid himself this time. I couldn’t stop reading this book because of how many times he surprised me. Every time I thought I knew for sure what would happen to Paul next, I was caught off guard by how creatively the big reveals were handled when my theories were blown out of the water.

The romantic subplot was handled perfectly. I loved the fact that the characters involved in it got to know each other so well before anything even slightly flirtatious happened. Not only did this help me see why the characters might be a good match for each other, it also made me excited to see them explore the possibility of being a couple later on in the plot because I had to wait so long for any whiff of romance.

What I liked the most about Paul’s character development was how natural it was. He grew just as gradually and unevenly as as real people do. To be honest, sometimes his choices made me shake my head, but that’s the kind of reaction I look for when I’m reading. Imperfections make characters relatable and unforgettable, and Paul was both of those things to me.

I was fascinated by the descriptions of the Nightmare Crew. Their appearances and powers were described in such great detail that I felt like I was standing the same room with them. Even the one that grossed me out a little bit was still extremely interesting. This is exactly the kind of science fiction that I like to pick up when I’m relaxing.

Beginnings is a must-read for longtime and brand new fans of this author alike. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Abomination by Jane Dougherty

ABOMINATION
Abomination by Jane Dougherty
Book One in the Pathfinders Series
Publisher: Finch Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (210 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

As the end of the world begins, Carla and Tully hurtle through a wormhole five years forward in time­—to find they haven’t missed the Apocalypse after all.

Carla and Tully are picnicking in the quad of their international high school in central Paris when the end of the world begins. They are sucked into a wormhole that spits them out five years later to find that the world is a freezing desolation but still hanging on, waiting for something even worse to finish it off…the something worse turns out to be the Burnt Man and his horsemen.

Taken prisoner by the Flay Tribe to their lair in the ruins of a shopping mall, Tully is forced to become a warrior, while Carla joins the other girls as a kitchen slave and comfort woman.

Tully might like the idea of playing soldiers, but Carla knows what is waiting for the girls when the food runs out, and it isn’t pleasant. The supermarket holy man’s vision of the return of the Burnt Man and his demon friends drags Tully back to reality—when the four fiends are reunited, the Apocalypse will really begin. Carla and Tully don’t plan on being there when that happens.

But in this post-Abomination world where only the young and brutal have survived, where food and fuel are running out, and the climate is plunging into another final ice age, there is nowhere to run—except down another wormhole, with no idea of what might be waiting for them at the other end.

When the end of the world comes, is it lucky to be alive through the chaos or is it better to jump ahead a few years?

Abomination is the first book of the Pathfinders Series and sets the stage for the excitement of the end of the world. The story follows Tully and Carla as the beginning of the end of the world occurs-from volcanic eruptions to massive earthquakes. Tully and Carla find themselves trying to survive the falling building and tumble through a wormhole that places them five years in the future where the last remnants of humanity scramble to form tribes and try to survive in a desolate world.

The story takes place in a dark and foreboding world; one where fear, treachery and power struggles are a daily occurrence. The arrival of Tully and Carla shift much of the day to day lives of those who have lived in this world for the past five years and cause a minor ripple in the power held by those currently.

The author adds great description and paints a clear picture for the reader to understand how the world views have shifted. The dialogue between characters is clear and believable while the actions that the characters take follow the course of the change of humanity’s mindset. The author plays on the last bits of humanity and draws the reader into realistic ethical questions regarding the way the future will play out.

The only parts that may be confusing for some readers would be the storytelling of the past five years where some is narrated in first person view by a specific character and some is told in real time dialogue.

The overall story telling is great and the plot is very plausible; this is one series of futuristic events and time travel that you do not want to miss!

The Menagerie by J.S. Frankel

The Menagerie by J.S. Frankel
The Menagerie by J.S. Frankel
Publisher: Finch Books
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (206 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

Taking care of a pet is one thing, but when orphaned teenager Karen Fox is kidnapped to service an interstellar zoo, she gets more than she bargained for.

We do this for they bring us happiness.

We do this because they have no defense, nowhere else to go and no one to care for them.

We do this in order so that they may teach us what it means to be different, and for us to embrace that difference.

Karen Fox, sixteen and recovering from a terrible car crash that claimed the lives of her parents, dreams only of becoming physically able once more. Hearing a strange voice that comes from somewhere near her hospital, she investigates and is kidnapped by an automated ship transporting interstellar animals to a safe haven. Knowing nothing about how to take care of them and disliking animals to begin with, Karen learns the value of caring for interstellar life. And when a marauding band of poachers attacks the vessel, intending to seize all the animals, Karen is forced to fight for her own life as well as the animals she has come to care for.

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes.

Karen was well rounded and brave. It was fascinating to see how she responded to all of the strange events on her adventures. Some of them changed her in wonderful ways that still fit in well with everything I’d observed about her personality in the first chapter or two. This was especially true when it came to what Karen thought about the physical disabilities she’d recently acquired after a terrible accident. While I don’t know what Mr. Frankel’s future plans are, I’d definitely be seeing what this character does with her life next if he ever decides to write a sequel.

The communication in this tale left a lot to be desired. There were many times when her abductors refused to tell the main character things that she desperately needed to know for reasons that were never really explored. I would have understood if this happened once or twice, but the fact that it kept happening over and over again didn’t make sense to me. All of this secret keeping only made Karen’s work harder than it needed to be. The storyline also didn’t need any of this extra conflict in order to be interesting. I would have enjoyed it just as much had the aliens given Karen all of the information about her mission that she needed as soon as she arrived onboard.

One of my favorite parts of reading this book was seeing how vividly the author described all of the alien creatures that were on the automated ship. I could imagine exactly what every species looked, sounded, and smelled like. In many cases, I would have loved to sit next to their enclosures and gotten to know them! They sounded so beautiful and unique.

The Menagerie was adventurous and action-packed. I’d recommend it to anyone who has ever wondered what kinds of life might be found on other worlds.