Justice Unending by Elizabeth Spencer


Justice Unending by Elizabeth Spencer
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Genre: Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (185 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review by Poinsettia

Within the walls of the Bastion, it’s an honor to become a host for an Unending—the bodiless, immortal spirits who rule the country. But for Faye, it meant her sister would have to die. When Faye sneaks into the Mother Duchess’s manor, she just wanted to see her sister one last time. Instead, Faye finds a manor in chaos, a murdered man, and an Unending assassin named Aris who needs a new body—Faye’s body—to bring the Bastion to its knees. Now Faye’s harboring the Bastion’s most wanted criminal. And if she wants to live, she’ll have to escape the Duchess and her immortals, all while keeping Aris from harming anyone else. There’s just one problem—Aris is not the villain. And now Faye is the only one who can help her stop the Duchess before anyone else—and especially Faye—has to die for the Unendings’ whims.

Faye just wanted to say goodbye.

The Unending rule Faye’s world, but she never imagined that her sister would be claimed by one. Everything happens quickly and Justine is whisked away before Faye’s had a chance to properly say goodbye. Sneaking into the manor brings her face to face with Aris, the mad immortal. Is Aris really the villain, or is something sinister going on in the Mother Duchess’ manor? Will Faye discover the truth or is she simply a pawn in an ancient feud?

Faye is a very likable character. She’s very willful and stubborn, which isn’t always convenient for those around her, but I count this as her greatest strength. She has a strong sense of right and wrong, and her determination to stand up for what she believes is impressive. I do wish that Faye had been more willing to listen to Aris. They were sharing the same body, but Faye seemed determined to close herself off from Aris as much as possible. I think they could have avoided a lot of trouble had Faye been willing to listen. On the other hand, I also believe that the journey Faye and Aris take helped form their bond and understanding of each other. The glimpses into Aris’ past were particularly interesting, and I believe that as Faye learns more about Aris, they will be a great team.

The secondary characters definitely have potential, but haven’t been developed fully. At this point, they are mostly a background to Faye and Aris and I never felt that I got to know any of them well. The villains are also interesting, but I would like to know more about them and their motivations as well. The Mother Duchess in particular has piqued my curiosity. She seems to have had good intentions at one time, but her own wants and needs have blinded her to the horror of the society she has created.

I thoroughly enjoyed Justice Unending. The main characters are realistic, their story is compelling, and the pacing is excellent. I sincerely hope that Ms. Spencer has plans for a sequel because I would love to learn more about Faye, Aris, and the Unending.

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.

Priestess by Deidre Huesmann


Priestess by Deidre Huesmann
A Modern Greek Myth 2
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (194 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 stars
Review by: Poinsettia

Trapped on Mykonos, Azalee makes a deal with a god of death: find him Desdemona, and he’ll bring Joel, the love of her life, back to her. But her attempts are thwarted at every turn by an infuriating High Priestess, who touts great political pull and seems to have sinister plans for Azalee’s future.

Shipped back to Illyria, Joel is imprisoned beneath the Kurios’s quarters, where he’s unwittingly reunited with his dangerous elder brother, Deimos. Joel wants to rescue Azalee, but Deimos is determined to prove that Joel must break his pacifism to do it.

Though on opposite ends of Greece, Azalee and Joel’s decisions continue to twine across the threads of fate. Will fate bring them together, or are they destined to remain apart?

Can Azalee trust the gods?

The fates brought Azalee and Joel together, but now everyone seems to be conspiring to keep them apart. Determined to be reunited with Joel, Azalee makes a deal with Thanatos, a god of death. I was wary of this relationship from the start. The gods always seem to have ulterior motives and aren’t often concerned with the mortals they hurt along the way. Will Thanatos truly bring Azalee and Joel together, or will the gods continue to keep them apart? I must mention that Priestess picks up where the first book, Blistered, ended. To enjoy Azalee and Joel’s story, I recommend reading Blistered first.

When I finished Blistered, Joel and Azalee’s situation was far from ideal, but they seemed sure they would soon find their way back to each other. However, in this installment, things have quickly gone from bad to worse. Joel is imprisoned in a cell similar to the one he rescued Azalee from with one key difference. His brother Deimos is in the cell across from his. I’m not quite sure what to make of Deimos. He certainly has a colorful personality. Charming and flippant one moment, and deadly serious the next. I have a feeling that Deimos’ attitude is a front that masks deeper issues. Joel doesn’t have good memories of him, but I’m wondering if there is more to the story that Joel remembers or knows. I look forward to watching the brothers reconnect.

Niribelle has also been harshly punished for failing her mission. While I can’t say that I’ve grown to like her, I do actually feel bad for her now that I know more about her situation and family life. I will say that Niribelle provides a shocking plot twist, that I’m sure will come back to haunt her in some way.

When Azalee reaches the temple of Selene, it isn’t what she expected at all. The High Priestess takes an immediate and intense disliking toward Azalee. The priestesses are strongly discouraged from making friends with each other. I found this strange and very unsettling. However, Azalee does manage to make one friend, Emilia. Azalee and Emilia both know that something is wrong at the temple, and it has something to do with the High Priestess. Neither can figure out exactly what the problem is. One thing is certain. Azalee had a very strong connection with Selene before coming to the temple. It stands to reason her connection should be stronger at the temple, but once there, she can’t seem to hear the goddess at all. What is blocking Selene from communicating with her priestesses?

As if dealing with the vicious High Priestess wasn’t bad enough, Azalee also has to fend off the unwanted attention of Theseus, a very rich and powerful man. Theseus believes that if he and Azalee were to have a child, it would bring strength and peace to the Chertz people. Theseus is vain, selfish, and arrogant, and it would be very easy to write him off. However, the more I read, I think there is more to his character that has yet to be revealed. He treats Azalee terribly at times, but however misguided his actions are, I think he truly believes he is doing the right thing for the Chertzes.

Azalee and Joel’s situation is even more precarious at the end of this installment than it was at the end of the first. They are desperately trying to reach each other, but there are so many obstacles standing in their way. I fear they have a long hard road to travel before they will finally be able to be together. However, I’m still holding out hope that they will find their way to a happy ending. I eagerly anticipate reading the third and final book in this series!

Blistered by Deidre Huesmann


Blistered by Deidre Huesmann
A Modern Greek Myth Volume 1
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full (183 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 stars
Review by Poinsettia

Bearing the Curse Azalee wants a home—one that isn’t a cold, dirty prison deep within the earth. Even if she wanted to escape, she can’t walk in sunlight. Her skin will burn and flay, blistered by a god. Defying the Fates Joel wants to get her somewhere safe. Both are outcasts, shunned, and forbidden from taking proper Greek names. He breaks her out of an underground prison, and they flee toward Mykonos. Angering the Gods The battle-worn Kurios sends Niribelle after them. She’s gorgeous, she’s cunning, and she seems to have a thing for Joel. She arrives armed with Hecate’s magic, and blessed by Aphrodite’s beauty. Inciting the War Soon the three teenagers discover one horrifying thing: Mykonos will be no paradise. 14+ due to adult situations

Is Azalee and Joel’s connection a blessing or a curse?

Azalee’s life has never been close to resembling anything normal. As a child, she was an outcast. After she was blistered, she was thrown into an underground prison by her own parents. When Joel comes to rescue her, Azalee is understandably skeptical. After all, she’s never even known basic kindness. Azalee’s desire to be free is stronger than her doubts so she reluctantly leaves with Joel. However, it isn’t long before they are joined by Niribelle. I didn’t trust Niribelle from the first moment she appeared. Her whiny and superior attitude grated on my nerves. I couldn’t help but wonder what her true motivations were and how much damage she would do to Joel and Azalee’s quest.

Azalee is a likable character, but she can be very abrasive. She and Niribelle fought constantly while Joel made futile attempts to stay neutral and keep the peace. I must say that I’m rather surprised that Joel didn’t see through Niribelle’s attitude sooner. While it is clear he tries to see the best in people, he is also very smart. Niribelle shows her true colors on multiple occasions yet he persisted in making excuses for her. I found this hard to swallow.

Azalee and Joel’s budding friendship and romance perfectly balances the animosity between Azalee and Niribelle. Azalee is very guarded, convinced no one could truly care about her. However, Joel is so genuine, honest, kind, and patient that she gradually begins to trust him. I loved watching them get to know each other, particularly when Joel takes the time to teach Azalee how to read. The little things Joel did for her every day thawed Azalee’s heart bit by bit. I enjoyed watching their feelings grow so naturally that before they realized it, they had fallen in love. However, no one, not even the gods, is likely to look on their relationship with favor.

I do wish there had been more details provided about a couple of issues. I’d like to know more about the Chertz and Spinel. How did these two groups come to be, and why do they hate each other so much? I’d also like more explanation on why some children weren’t given Greek names. Clearly it is meant to shame them, but why? Because the child was conceived unexpectedly? This doesn’t make much sense to me.

I also have an issue with the fact that there are no good parental figures. Most of the adults are absolutely horrible and completely devoid of love and compassion. Familial bonds are nonexistent. I realize I’m not getting a picture of the entire culture, but the families I’ve met so far are beyond dysfunctional.

Despite these issues, I really enjoyed reading Blistered. The pacing is excellent, the plot is compelling, and Azalee and Joel are wonderful characters who are easy to cheer for. I must warn readers that this installment ends on a “to be continued” note. I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that Azalee and Joel are relatively okay, but their situation is far from ideal. I will be picking up the second book immediately because I absolutely have to know what happens next!

The Magician’s Workshop: Volume Two by Christopher Hansen and J.R. Fehr


The Magician’s Workshop: Volume Two by Christopher Hansen and J.R. Fehr
Publisher: Wondertale
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full (191 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 5 stars
Review by Poinsettia

Return to the world of the Magician’s Workshop: Where Dreams Become Reality.

In Volume Two, the Festival of Stars has finally arrived, and the Color Ceremony is about to commence. As children from all over the islands gather to stand before a puller, one question remains: who will have a Color, and who will be found void?

Rejoin your favorite characters as they step forward and receive a label that will have the power to dramatically alter the course of their lives forever.

After the Color Ceremony, life will never be the same.

First, it is absolutely imperative to read Volume One before reading this installment of the Magician’s Workshop series. Volume Two picks up exactly where the previous book ended, right before the life altering Color Ceremony. After reading Volume One, I desperately wanted to know how the Color Ceremony would go for Kai, Talia, Weston, Kalaya, Kaso, and Layauna. The course of their futures would be determined in a single moment. Each of these characters have grown on me, and I must admit I felt nervous as each of them stood before the puller. Who would have Color? Who would be void? I had to stop myself from rushing ahead to find the answers, and I discovered the truth is much more complicated than I ever could have imagined.

The more I learn about Color, the more convinced I am that the system is flawed. I won’t reveal any names, but some very talented characters are found void. Each time a promising character was found void, it was a breath-stealing blow. I couldn’t believe how unfair it was. However, the more I read, the more it became clear that there are big changes on the horizon for the inhabitants of O’Ceea. Some people are beginning to believe that having Color isn’t nearly as important they have been led to believe. Again, I can’t give too many details, but Layauna’s story convinced me that Color is not the only expression of power and talent. Her experience with the puller and indeed her entire storyline is by far the most disturbing and clearly illustrates that something needs to change. I fear that Layauna, Kai, and the others are pawns in a larger scheme that has yet to be fully revealed. Will the change be for the better or worse?

As I mentioned in my review of Volume One, everyone in O’Ceea has the ability to make projections, which are essentially magical illusions. They aren’t real, but in this installment, there are rumblings of people who’d like to make projections into reality. Most people think this is impossible, but I’m not so sure. I look forward to seeing how this particular plot thread develops.

The Magician’s Workshop: Volume Two is an absolutely delightful addition to the series. The more I read, the more intrigued I become. I am thrilled I had the opportunity to read this installment, and I’m eagerly anticipating the release of Volume Three.

The Magician’s Workshop: Volume One by Christopher Hansen and J.R. Fehr


The Magician’s Workshop: Volume One by Christopher Hansen and J.R. Fehr
Publisher: Wondertale
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full (250 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 5 stars
Review by Poinsettia

Everyone in the islands of O’Ceea has a magical ability: whatever they imagine can be brought into existence. Whoever becomes a master over these powers is awarded the title of magician and given fame, power, riches, and glory. Journey with a group of kids as they strive to rise to the top and become members of the Magician’s Workshop.

Layauna desperately wants to create beautiful things with her magical powers, but all she can seem to do is make horrible, savage monsters. For years she has tried to hide her creations, but when her power is at last discovered by a great magician, she realizes that what she’s tried to hide might actually be of tremendous value.

Kai just wants to use his powers to have fun and play with his friends. Unfortunately, nearly everyone on his island sees him as a bad influence, so he’s forced to meet them in secret. When one of the creatures they create gets out of control and starts flinging fireballs at their town, Kai is tempted to believe that he is as nefarious as people say. However, his prospects change when two mysterious visitors arrive, praising his ability and making extraordinary promises about his future.

Follow the adventures of Kai, Layauna, and a boatload of other characters as they struggle to grow up well in this fantastical world.

Everyone in O’ceea has magic, but not everyone is allowed to use it.

Mr. Hansen and Mr. Fehr have done an excellent job building O’ceea. It is a very well thought out world filled with magic and a host of interesting characters. Everyone in O’ceea has the ability to make projections, which I think is a very intriguing concept. Projections are magical illusions, and the more skilled a person is, the more realistic their projections are. Projections can’t hurt people, but they can destroy other projections, which can be quite expensive. Consequently, there are restrictions on who can make projections and at what level.

Only the best of the best can study at the Magician’s Workshop, and to even have a chance at entering the workshop a person has to have a color, which seems to be something internal that a person is either born with or not. When a person turns 16, they attend the Color Ceremony where they stand before a puller and it is determined if they have a color or not. Their entire future pivots on that moment. I’m not sure if having a color makes a person’s projections better, and even in O’ceea this seems to be up for debate. I found this all extremely fascinating, and I couldn’t wait to learn more.

I must inform readers that this story is told from the viewpoints of six main characters. Please don’t be intimidated by this. When the viewpoint changes, it is clearly marked and each character’s story is unique. I had no trouble keeping them separate, and I never felt confused or lost. I think telling the story in multiple viewpoints is a great way to expose the readers to different parts of O’ceea without resorting to exposition. The details of O’ceea and the people who live there are woven seamlessly into the plot of each character. As a result, the pacing never suffers.

When I finished reading, I was surprised to discover that I’m attached to all six of the characters for various reasons. I enjoyed getting to know each one as they prepared for the Color Ceremony. Some characters want to have a color. Others would be fine if they were found void. This installment of the series ends on the cusp of the Color Ceremony, and I desperately want to know what will happen to each character.

I enjoyed reading The Magician’s Workshop immensely. I had so much fun exploring the world of O’ceea, and I can’t wait to read the next volume.

Angel of Night by Julie Simons

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.

Supremacy by Christin Lee

supremacy-by-christin-lee
Supremacy by Christin Lee
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Romance
Length: Full (375 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 3 stars
Review by: Poinsettia

Kate Parker, is a 17 year old senior living in Texas. She’s on the swim team, has two incredible best friends, and a passion for saving animals. She falls hard when she meets a mysterious and fascinating guy named Lucas. He has a sexy accent and a killer smile. However, she sees unexplained pain and anger in his dark brown eyes. He claims he’s a foreign exchange student from Spain who is attending the local University—Kate knows there’s more to his story than that. She works hard to discover who he is—what he is.

Does Kate really want to know the truth about Lucas?

I liked Kate immediately. Her kindness and passion for animals in need made it very easy for me to warm up to her character. Kate has a lot going for her. She’s pretty, smart, and athletic with a competitive streak. Kate also has a special ability she doesn’t talk about much. If she did, others assume she’s showing off when in reality Kate truly desires to use her ability to help others. I can’t say more about her ability without spoiling the story, but I will say that I’m very curious to learn if it can be developed further.

Kate’s ability does isolate her from her peers a bit, but she has a great support system in her family and two best friends, Shea and Stephen. Kate and Shea have a great connection, but I have no idea why Kate considers Stephen a friend, let alone a best friend. Not once in the entire story did Stephen behave the way a friend should. In fact, Stephen puts her in a very uncomfortable position that a true friend who has known Kate for years never would have. Kate kept insisting Stephen was a best friend, but there is no evidence to support that claim.

Kate’s family is great. Her parents, especially her father, are overprotective, but I really liked the fact that they care about Kate enough to be truly involved in her life. I especially enjoyed watching Kate with her brothers. While they pick on each other mercilessly, it is clear that this is the way they express love for each other.

When Kate meets Lucas, she is completely unprepared for the torrent of emotions he unlocks in her heart. I must admit that I was never quite able to get comfortable with their relationship. Considering that their time together is very limited, I think they fell in love rather quickly. However, I do like the fact that Kate is able to be herself around Lucas. She doesn’t have to hide her personality or her special ability. Lucas is very closed off at first, but he opens up more toward the end of the book, especially after Kate figures out what he is and where he’s from. Unfortunately, he hides some very important details from Kate that have her questioning everything about their relationship. I must say that the ending of Supremacy is very hard to swallow. I certainly hope that Ms. Lee has some happiness is store for the couple in the next installment of this series.

I enjoyed reading Supremacy. I’m glad I got to know Kate and Lucas, and the brief glimpse of Lucas’ world left me wanting to know more. Fans of young adult romance should give Supremacy a try.

Star Racers by Martin Felando

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.

Shadow of the Hawk by K.S. Jones

ShadowOfTheHawk

Shadow of the Hawk by K.S. Jones
Publisher: Astraea Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full length (358 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 stars
Review by: Poinsettia

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

It is May 1932 and life in the timbered rise and fall of Western Arkansas has just gotten harder for sixteen-year-old Sooze Williams. With debt mounting and both friends and family fleeing, Sooze is determined to ‘do the right thing’. She promises her heart to a well-to-do man believing true love is just another loss along the way.

But when her uncle is murdered and family is accused of the crime, Sooze vows not to be beaten. Is salvation within her grasp by relying solely on truth, or is it in the security of her intended’s money? Sooze must decide before it’s too late.

Is marrying for money the only way to keep Sooze’s family from falling apart?

Sooze and her family don’t have a lot, but they are a pretty close knit group and are doing their best to keep their farm going. However, it isn’t long before tragedy strikes them hard and fast. As I read, it seemed that the Williams family was caught in a downward spiral they just couldn’t to pull out of. My heart ached as Sooze and her family try to cope. I recommend readers keep a box of tissues handy as they read about the hardships Sooze and her family face.

Sooze is a very sweet girl who sincerely tries to do the right thing even if it makes her unhappy. Her selfless attitude and devotion to her family are commendable. Sooze is smart and definitely strong willed, but her decision to accept David’s proposal of marriage was never a good idea. The money she would earn working in the store David’s family owns would certainly go a long way toward helping her family out, and even Sooze’s parents seem to suggest that marrying David is in her best interest. It is no wonder that Sooze felt she had no choice. However, there is absolutely nothing appealing about David. He is selfish, uncaring, and unwilling to help Sooze’s family out in even the smallest of ways. I’m really not sure I even understand why David was so set on marrying Sooze in the first place. He professed to love her, but never showed it, and his treatment of the rest of her family is terrible and quite shocking at times. Sooze’s relationship with David continued to deteriorate throughout the book. She could barely stand to be around him for more than a few minutes, so I have no idea how she thought she’d be able to endure being married to him.

I kept hoping that Sooze would find someone truly worthy of her heart. Then Thomas came into town like a knight in shining armor. Thomas is the complete opposite of David. He’s kind, considerate, and always willing to help out. From the moment Sooze and David meet, there is a connection. Unfortunately, Thomas’ family has fallen on hard times and he can’t provide the kind of money that David and his family have. Can Sooze afford to follow her heart?

I really enjoyed reading Shadow of the Hawk. Sooze is a wonderful character, and the ending of her story is so intense I raced through the pages wondering if her family would finally get the justice they sought. I recommend this book to readers looking for a powerful tale of love and family.