Sugar Lump by Megan Gaudino


Sugar Lump by Megan Gaudino
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Young Adult, Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (209 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

Seventeen-year-old travel blogger CC is stuck on a never-ending road trip with her wanderlust-addicted father. When her dad lands the job of his dreams in Sugar Lump—wedding capital of the world—CC finally finds a place to call home. Complete with two quirky best friends and a quixotic guy to crush on, Sugar Lump is more shades of perfect than she can possibly count. But when CC accidentally overhears the mayor complaining that she has to “take out” a rogue employee for not fulfilling the terms of his contract, the idyllic town’s facade crumbles. Devastated by the possibility of having to move yet again, CC discovers everyone has been keeping a massive secret from her—including her own father.

Many communities have secrets, but most of them aren’t quite as big as the ones hidden in Sugar Lump.

The town of Sugar Lump honestly sounded like the perfect place to live when I was first introduced to it. I adored how friendly and helpful everyone was, especially when it came to helping new residents settle in and figure out all of the little quirks that make every community unique. This kind of genuine hospitality only made the events later on in this tale even more unsettling than they would have otherwise been.

It took a very long time for the plot to develop past the point of introducing the characters and exploring the idyllic community they seemed to be living in. As much as I liked getting to know CC and her friends, it wasn’t easy to stay interested in what was happening to them because of how slowly everything was moving. I started reading with the expectation that I’d love this book, so I was surprised and disappointed by how much I had to struggle to keep reading it.

CC was an interesting girl. I liked the fact that she was so oblivious to the thought that something odd might be happening in the town she’d just moved to. While there were definitely times when I wanted to text her and ask her how in the world she could accept everything she heard and saw without questioning it, this part of her personality wasn’t something that she could easily change. Her sometimes naive approach to life did have its endearing side.

Sugar Lump should be read by anyone who is in the mood for a slow-burning mystery.

March YA Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ What Time Is It There? by Christine Potter


What Time Is It There? by Christine Potter
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full length (167 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review by: Orchid

BoM LASR YA copy

Just over a year ago, Bean and Zak headed for colleges two thousand miles apart, promising to write, but to see other people … until Bean fell for the wrong guy and Zak fell off the planet. Now, Bean’s got two weeks’ worth of Zak’s year-old letters that she still can’t bear to open—and a broken heart. Her new best friend, a guy named Amp, wants her to read the letters and be done with it, but he may have his own reasons for that. When Sam shows up at Bean’s school unexpectedly and Bean tumbles into the 19th century from the cellar of a ruined church, things start making a bizarre kind of sense. That is, if she can just fit all the pieces together again…

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

Ancient Tripod of Peace by Kalen Cap – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Kalen Cap will be awarding a $40 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Teens Lexi and Gil face relic-thieving secret societies.

Plagued by loneliness in her Lake Erie Islands community, vegan Lexi hopes to make like-minded friends in high school. But her dad’s job is jeopardized when relics are stolen from his museum, changing her priorities. And she finds her new teachers’ eerie dislike of her troubling.

His dad in jail, cipher enthusiast and bacon-loving Gil hopes freshman year will provide a clean slate. Soon, he discovers secret codes within a Shakespearean play while paired with Lexi, pulling him into an ancient mystery.

With the official museum burglary investigation stalled, the mismatched teen sleuths join forces to try and crack the case. Lexi’s inquiries and Gil’s codes capture their teachers’ attention. But these teachers have the stolen Tripod of Peace, a powerful relic sought by rival secret societies. Caught in these societies’ crossfire as thieves wield an instrument of astounding power, Gil and Lexi are in danger.

The Ancient Tripod of Peace is the first book in novelist Kalen Cap’s Teen Thief-Catchers Series. If you like stories with artifact treasures, fighting secret societies, and spirited protagonists, you’ll enjoy this novel.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Brandon flicked on the light switch. The yellow bulb provided a muted view of the dusty, windowless room.

A box with shiny tape near the entrance looked new. It contained three metal pieces, each about thirty inches in length, that he needed. He unboxed the items, each unevenly notched and appended with short metal lengths, and set them by the door. He found the only large piece, a tripod seat, already unboxed in the back of the room. The museum board had pulled the tripod seat from the prior evening’s exhibit opening on the main floor.

Though he’d received a text confirming arrangements as planned, Brandon grew worried two remaining pieces were displayed upstairs after all. He wouldn’t risk triggering the security system in the main exhibition hall to retrieve them if they there. Breaking into the warehouse was already too far beyond his comfort zone.

The room’s dust taking its toll, Brandon sneezed. He frowned, worried a sprayed dripping might get him caught by some high tech analysis like those used in crime television shows. It’d be my luck to be caught by snot.

Or sweat. Tears of perspiration streamed down his cheek. Brandon checked the room again. Curation opportunity? What a joke!

Sue Ballentine, who hired him for the job, had called it a “curation opportunity.” Though Brandon knew selling steroids was illegal, stealing objects from a museum was a more aggressive crime. But he needed the money to finish paying his supplier.

Brandon knew not to cross his steroid supplier in Detroit.

About the Author:

Kalen Cap is a writer living in Ohio and regularly commutes back and forth between Columbus and Port Clinton residences. Set among the Lake Erie Islands, “TheAncient Tripod of Peace” is his second novel, first of the Teen Thief-Catcher series. His first novel, “Tangled Ties to a Manatee,” was published in 2012.

Website | Amazon Author Page | Facebook

Buy the book at https://www.amazon.com/Ancient-Tripod-Peace-Thief-Catchers-Novel-ebook/dp/B07B29FTBX

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February YA Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Secrets From Myself by Christine Hart

Secrets from Myself by Christine Hart
Publisher: Dancing Cat Books
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal, Mystery
Length: Full Length (180 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Rose

BoM LASR YA copy

Twelve-year-old Katelyn has always heard voices and had visions. She’s long suspected she was hearing from past lives. But when she runs away from home and hides out with an old friend in Vancouver, things become more real. She even finds herself writing the words of someone else in a diary – the words of someone whose fate was deeply impacted by the Komagata Maru incident.

As Katelyn learns more about the Komagata Maru and the person communicating with her, she realizes that she has a task to fulfill that will correct a wrong from the past.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

Jack Gregson & the Forgotten Portal by Peter Wilson – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions.
Peter Wilson will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Winner of the Bronze medal in the 2017 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards in the Pre-Teen Fiction-Mystery category.

Something has changed at Gregson Manor. An evil force from the family’s past has returned to upheave their lives. Jack and his cousins explore the family secrets as they are pulled through a portal into a universe of endless worlds and possibilities. Together, they race to escape and destroy the evil Theorden and his followers who strive to unlock the power of the Forgotten Portal and wreak havoc on Gregson Manor and the World.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“Amazing! It makes sense then. If Theorden had that book in his possession, he could create hundreds of portals and attack Earth from multiple places at once. He could place those Horde stones all over the globe and overrun your world in a matter of weeks!”

“I don’t get why is he so interested in invading Earth.”

“Earth is quite unique, Jack. Because its portal has been kept a secret, it has allowed you humans to grow and thrive without the influences of magic and other civilizations. Unlike other worlds, you haven’t spread out across the Universe and there are now seven billion of you on the one planet. You don’t have magic, but you have weapons that can kill hundreds of thousands of people with the push of a button! If Theorden managed to take control of your people and technology, and combine it with his magic, he’d be unstoppable. He would control the Universe!”

Jack sat back in shock. Control the Universe? He couldn’t understand why someone would want that much power.

“Jack. If David and Rosie went back to the Manor, they should have taken the book with them. It isn’t safe carrying that around. Why did you three decide it should be brought here when you split up?”

Jack shifted uncomfortably where he sat. “We didn’t really discuss it. We didn’t really talk about splitting up either…”

Anthrow looked at him and then sighed. “You decided to come here alone, and didn’t tell them. Why?”

About the Author: Peter Wilson has been writing for years. He started with short stories (many of them just 55 words long). The storylines and genres he chooses to write in are fantasy, horror & fast paced thrillers, as that is what he enjoys reading.

A number of years ago Peter sat down to write another short story, based on a prompt given in an online writing competition. As the word count rose, he realized that it wasn’t so short and it had turned into a novel: Jack Gregson & the Forgotten Portal, which recently won a Moonbeam award. He’s currently working on the sequel to the book, in what he plans to be a trilogy.

Peter lives in Sydney Australia. When he’s not writing, he works in the digital world, creating content for games, music and movie companies.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Buy the book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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Secrets from Myself by Christine Hart

Secrets from Myself by Christine Hart
Publisher: Dancing Cat Books
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal, Mystery
Length: Full Length (180 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Rose

BoM LASR YA copy

Twelve-year-old Katelyn has always heard voices and had visions. She’s long suspected she was hearing from past lives. But when she runs away from home and hides out with an old friend in Vancouver, things become more real. She even finds herself writing the words of someone else in a diary – the words of someone whose fate was deeply impacted by the Komagata Maru incident.

As Katelyn learns more about the Komagata Maru and the person communicating with her, she realizes that she has a task to fulfill that will correct a wrong from the past.

Katelyn is a modern twelve year old who has been having blackouts and discovering strange writing in her diary (in Hindi, no less). She is, understandably, interested in discovering why, while her mother is concerned that she’s having mental or physical issues.

Little by little, Katelyn discovers more and more about Akasha and starts to believe that not only is she discovering another life, she begins to suspect that it is her life in a previous existence.

The book is an easy read, and it was fascinating learning about the history the book is based on. The characters are likeable, even Katelyn’s mom. Being a mom myself, I can easily put myself in her place and understand how very worried she was.

The mystery was interesting. Katelyn proved herself to be resilient as well as resourceful in discovering evidence to support her idea. There were a few times when she acted more precipitously than once might have wished, but she is twelve, after all.

The author has done a wonderful job in tying these two facets of history together. Kudos, Ms. Hart!

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See by Lee Ann Ward


See by Lee Ann Ward
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full (221 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 4.5 star
Review by: Orchid

Carlie Henson is pretty, popular, and an All-American girl. She has a gorgeous boyfriend and a mother who lives to keep her safe. Probably because everyone is drawn to Carlie…including the murderers she has the ability to identify when she looks in the eyes of their victims. Keeping Carlie’s secret is pretty simple when all she has to do is avoid dead people. But when a cheerleader at her high school is murdered and the killer seems to have gotten away with it, Carlie knows what she has to do. With the help of her boyfriend, Dillon, she devises a plan to see what she must, no matter her personal safety. But when Dillon is the one who’s injured in the showdown with the killer, Carlie vows to never help anyone again…until the next young woman attacked is her best friend, Jenna.

A nice, scary story which had me sitting on the edge of my seat wondering whether Carlie would survive her psychic abilities. How does an almost sixteen year old cope with being able to see a murderers face in the eyes of his victim? Scary enough, but the murderer is also drawn to her by some sort of psychic link.

I liked the way Carlie’s life carried on despite her need to either hide her abilities or put them to good use. Despite telling her boyfriend Dillon she will not lie to him, she does and justifies it by saying it’s for the best, but then has to face the consequences.

The author paints a great character picture of Carlie and Dillon, plus her new friend Jenna. The story has a nice balance between the normal life of a teenager who’s trying to come to terms with her parents divorce, and wanting to help with the nastiness that’s going on around her.

I have to admit, at first I didn’t think I’d like this story, but as I got further into the book it hooked me, making me want to find out what happened next. Good book, satisfying ending and well written.

January YA Book of the Month Poll Winners ~ a Tie! ~ Stumped by Kate Larkindale & Dorm Rats by Michelle Levigne

We have a tie this month for Book of the Month!!


Stumped by Kate Larkindale
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (246 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

BoM LASR YA copy

Seventeen-year-old Ozzy has a super-hot girlfriend who’s ready to take their relationship to the next level. Tonight. At the lake. But a missing condom scuttles his plans for seduction. Furious, Ozzy takes his girlfriend home and drives off—into the path of an oncoming truck. He wakes up with both legs amputated above the knees. When his girlfriend runs out gagging after one look at him, Ozzy knows he’s a hideous freak. He’s convinced he’s blown any chance of having a real relationship with a girl. Determined to prove he can still be a man despite his disability, Ozzy throws himself into dumping his virginity, but finds there’s a limited number of people willing to touch legless dudes in wheelchairs. His obsession takes him into an underworld of brothels and escort services where he discovers the difference between sex and intimacy, and that sometimes the price is much higher than a sex worker’s fee.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

AND…


Dorm Rats by Michelle L Levigne
Growing Up Neighborlee

Publisher: Uncial Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (323 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 5 stars
Review by: Orchid

BoM LASR YA copy

Lanie and her Lost Kids friends continue growing into their semi-pseudo-superhero powers and responsibilities, and learn more about what it means to be a guardian of the odd little town of Neighborlee. Sometimes that meant protecting the rest of the world from the everyday weirdness and magic around them.

The transition from high school to college is marked with challenges and mystical, magical attacks from outside Neighborlee’s borders. When the academic game-playing and politics of the local college are used to run a questionable experiment on the entire freshman class, Lanie is there in the middle of it. Sometimes those who realize there’s something strange going on aren’t as enchanted as Lanie and her geek friends, and it takes a lot of fast talking and faster maneuvering to keep the lid from blowing off the entire town.

The threats grow bigger and the enemies grow meaner, but it’s all in a day’s work for the guardians of Neighborlee. This is home, and they’re willing to pay the price. Sometimes, they do. With their lives.

The really big questions remain: Why are they the way they are and how can they do the things they do? At least when they mess up and use their talents in public, most people don’t even notice. It’s just part of the background weirdness of Neighborlee, Ohio.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!!

December Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Topaz Reign by Teresa Richards


Topaz Reign by Teresa Richards
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full (286 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: Best Book
Review by: Orchid

BoM LASR YA copy

Fairy tales are simply tales, told and re-told, but changed over time. It has been four months since Maggie learned the dark truth behind the tale of the Princess and the Pea and freed Princess Lindy from the cursed Emerald. Lindy is now back in the past where she belongs, queen of her tiny Scandinavian country, and Maggie is a fully reformed ex-stalker. Except … she can’t stop doing internet searches on Lindy and her country. One morning, Maggie wakes to find history turned on its head. Apparently, you can’t destroy a centuries-old curse without consequence. In order to prevent the changes in history from wiping out the present, Maggie resurrects her stalking gene and learns that fairy tales don’t stay dead for long. Or at all. Back in 1623, Lindy is juggling a threat to her family, a handsome new guard she’s not supposed to have feelings for, and a cursed Topaz with ties to the tale of Thumbelina. When past and present collide, Lindy and Maggie are brought together again, and another of Andersen’s tales turns from twisted fiction to chilling fact.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

Escape from Witchwood Hollow by Jordan Elizabeth


Escape from Witchwood Hollow by Jordan Elizabeth
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary, Paranormal, Historical
Length: Full Length (180 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

Everyone in Arnn – a small farming town with more legends than residents – knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees.

After losing her parents in a horrific terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria and her older brother escape New York City to Arnn. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope, when she should be afraid.

Perhaps the witch can reunite her with her lost parents. Awakening the witch, however, brings more than salvation from mourning, for Honoria discovers a past of missing children and broken promises.

To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness.

How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?

Anything can happen when someone gets lost in the woods.

Ms. Elizabeth did an excellent job of blending multiple genres together into one storyline. It was equally a ghost story, a mystery, and a science fiction novel. I honestly couldn’t narrow it down any further than that because of how all of these elements of the plot worked together to show what happened to every character who accidentally or purposefully found themselves in Witchwood Hollow.

While it was incredibly interesting to see how the town of Arnn had changed from one century to the next, I do wish that I’d been able to get to know the characters better than I did. It was confusing to move between three different time periods. Each one of them had a fairly large cast of characters to introduce to the reader, and they all had complicated plots to unravel as well. I met several unique characters in each era, but I felt like I never had the chance to learn more than pretty basic basic information about their personalities and origins. It would have been nice to dive into their lives more deeply.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about this book was how it explored grief. All of the characters had been through some kind of trauma or loss, and all of them were working through the long-term consequences of that. It was fascinating to see how people in different eras thought about their grief and what kinds of coping skills they used to get through it. These scenes were as poignant as they were beautiful.

Escape from Witchwood Hollow should be read by anyone who is in the mood for something thought provoking.