Category Archives: YA Challenge

REVIEW: Panic by Sharon M. Draper


by Sharon M. Draper

YA Contemporary

Book Description

Diamond knows not to get into a car with a stranger.

But what if the stranger is well-dressed and handsome? On his way to meet his wife and daughter? And casting a movie that very night—a movie in need of a star dancer? What then?

Then Diamond might make the wrong decision.

It’s a nightmare come true: Diamond Landers has been kidnapped. She was at the mall with a friend, alone for only a few brief minutes—and now she’s being held captive, forced to endure horrors beyond what she ever could have dreamed, while her family and friends experience their own torments and wait desperately for any bit of news.


Panic by Sharon M. Draper

I gave it my best attempt, I swear, I really did.

But I had to quit reading around page 95 when a character’s name made me laugh out loud–and not in a good way. This book was not a satire, so when I came across the name Magnificent Significant Jones, I knew I couldn’t take the book seriously any more.

I should have stopped after the first chapter. The part I read was full of slang and it made reading very awkward for me. Maybe I’m not the core demographic for the book…but just because a teenager will be reading something does not mean the word “dissing” needs to be used.

For a book that’s supposed to be about a kidnapped girl, the book does not really have a lot to do with a kidnapping. In the first 100 pages, I read more about her friends’ dance and boyfriend dramas than about the girl in question.

When I got to this point, I was just done.

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I read this book courtesy of Around the World ARC Tours.

REVIEW: Undeadly by Michelle Vail


by Michelle Vail

The Reaper Diaries, Book One

Expected publication: November 20, 2012

Book Description

The day I turned 16, my boyfriend-to-be died. I brought him back to life. Then things got a little weird…

Molly Bartolucci wants to blend in, date hottie Rick and keep her zombie-raising abilities on the down-low. Then the god Anubis chooses her to become a reaper-and she accidentally undoes the work of another reaper, Rath. Within days, she’s shipped off to the Nekyia Academy, an elite school that trains the best necromancers in the world. And her personal reaping tutor? Rath. Who seems to hate her guts.

Rath will be watching closely to be sure she completes her first assignment-reaping Rick, the boy who should have died. The boy she still wants to be with. To make matters worse, students at the academy start turning up catatonic, and accusations fly-against Molly. The only way out of this mess? To go through hell. Literally.


Undeadly by Michele Vail

Molly Bartolucci is in the family business. Her father owns Big Al’s Zomporium, where you can have your recently deceased loved one zombified to have around for a while longer. Molly is able to remove souls from bodies, and she’s still in training, but pretty good at it.

Until Molly’s sixteenth birthday party, that is. Her crush gives her her first kiss, then has an accident. Molly tries to save him, but something goes awry. As if that weren’t traumatic enough, her heretofore missing maternal grandparents suddenly show up and tell Molly she is to be shipped off to necromancy boarding school! Being sixteen shouldn’t be so complicated.

A YA book filled with Ancient Egyptian mythology?!?!?! SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY. This book had a whole heck of a lot going on, and I loved every bit of it.

Molly is a really fun girl. Smart, sarcastic, and funny. I laughed out loud at so much of her inner dialogue. She is just barely 16, and I love that she ACTS LIKE IT. In so many YA books, the characters sound like they’re 20-somethings. Molly’s speech is full of teenage slang.

Unlike most YA books, there wasn’t just one supernatural entity in Undeadly. Zombies, ghouls, ghosts, reapers…all ran rampant. This could have gone convoluted, but the author found a way to seamlessly bind them all together.

There were definitely a couple of twists that I didn’t see coming, and as always I appreciate that.

There were just minor things that bothered me: besides Molly, who narrates, there isn’t very much development of the other characters. I do know that this is the first in a planned series though, so I’m hoping that will be remedied in future books. Also, as far as the big twist in the middle, I thought Molly would have reacted a bit more. I almost felt like it shocked me more than her!

As far as the end, holy CLIFFHANGER Batman! I was waiting for Molly to open her mouth and defend herself, but the book ended quite abruptly. I had so much fun reading this book, and you better believe I’m waiting on pins and needles for the next one 🙂

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*I was able to review this book thanks to Around the World ARC Tours.

BOOK TOUR REVIEW: Ironskin by Tina Connolly


by Tina Connolly

Ironskin Series, Book One

YA Steampunk/Fantasy

Book Description

Jane Eliot wears an iron mask.

It’s the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. The Great War is five years gone, but its scattered victims remain—the ironskin.

When a carefully worded listing appears for a governess to assist with a “delicate situation”—a child born during the Great War—Jane is certain the child is fey-cursed, and that she can help.

Teaching the unruly Dorie to suppress her curse is hard enough; she certainly didn’t expect to fall for the girl’s father, the enigmatic artist Edward Rochart. But her blossoming crush is stifled by her own scars, and by his parade of women. Ugly women, who enter his closed studio…and come out as beautiful as the fey.

Jane knows Rochart cannot love her, just as she knows that she must wear iron for the rest of her life. But what if neither of these things is true? Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of her new life—and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.


Ironskin by Tina Connolly

Jane Eliot wears an iron mask over half her face to both conceal the fey curse that scarred her, and to keep its’ effects within. Jane was cursed with uncontrollable rage when she tried to save her brother during the fey wars. In the years since, Jane has survived but is not really living.

Jane finds a position working with a child with “special needs” in the home of the enigmatic widower Edward Rochart. While caring for young Dorie, whose problems are very unique indeed, Jane notices that women cycle in and out of the Rochart home quite frequently…each leaving more beautiful than when they came. Jane is determined to find out what’s going on, but the truth is far more macabre than she could have imagined.

Apparently this story is a retelling of Jane Eyre. I might get my book lover card revoked for this confession, but…I’ve never read Jane Eyre. So I’m not really sure how this book stacks up against it. As a story on its’ own merits, well…

Jane is 21 years old, and the only family she has left is her younger sister, Helen. Because of her curse, Jane is extremely self conscious, a trait that does not couple well with her fey-induced rage. When Jane gets angry (which sometimes doesn’t take much), her anger is like a red hot fire that she can feel inside. It’s sometimes hard to keep it contained. Not only is Jane self conscious, she’s also a bit paranoid.

Edward is a young widower who lost his wife in childbirth. He loves his daughter Dorie, but is somewhat removed from her because of the things she can do. Still, I must ask, is bringing in a nanny who ADMITS that she is cursed with fury the best thing to do for your five year old daughter? This is just something that occurred to me while reading. I found it very interesting that Edward chose to surround himself with an all female house staff.

Even though he barely talks to her and is rarely there for his daughter, Jane falls for Edward. This was probably the most annoying thing to me in the entire book. They spent so little time together, to me it was like Jane’s feelings for him came up absolutely out of nowhere. Despite the way he speaks to her, and all the women she saw coming in and out…Jane still fell in love with him. I didn’t get it, at all.

I did very much enjoy the evil fey elements of the book. In fact, the supernatural parts were the most intriguing to me, and are what kept me reading. The book takes place in what sounds like an alternate post-Industrial Revolution dystopian period. Fey magic used to power the world, but after the war nothing was left and everyone is quite poor. I have very rarely seen fey as the evil entity in a book, so that was unique and appreciated.

As I got to the end of the book, I could see what was coming but the details surrounding everything were a little horrifying. I definitely applaud the author for creating such a cool background story for Edward. The events at the end moved pretty fast, but I was satisfied with the way the book closed.

I’d recommend this book for anyone who wants a different twist on a fey story–but don’t read it for the romance.

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About the Author

TINA CONNOLLY lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and baby boy. Her stories have appeared in Strange HorizonsFantasyBeneath Ceaseless SkiesHighlights Magazine, and the anthology Unplugged: Year’s Best Online SF 2008. Her young adult dystopia play, Witebox, will premier in Portland in 2013. Connolly is a frequent reader for Escape Pod and Podcastle, and works as a face painter, which means a glitter-filled house is an occupational hazard. Ironskin is her first novel.



BOOK TOUR REVIEW: Shallow by Georgia Cates


by Georgia Cates

Going Under Series, Book Two

Book Description

Payton Archer’s best friend, Claire, strives to be perfect in every way. Payton doesn’t and this is her story.

Nick Hawke likes his car fast and his girls even faster. He blows through females quicker than his muscle car races down the “The Strip” in Collinsville and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Determined to avoid the devastation he has watched his father endure in the aftermath of his mother leaving, he believes there is no room in his life or his heart for a relationship lasting more than one night. He seeks happiness in things that won’t let him down…fast cars, adrenaline and one night stands. To his absolute dismay, all of that changes when he unexpectedly runs into an old friend and is introduced to Payton Archer, the first girl he ever wanted for more than one night. There’s only one catch…she is completely immune to him and his smooth talking ways.

Payton Archer is looking for what Claire has with Jessie, but she has given up on finding it…at least until she leaves for college in the Fall because she is certain that is where she will find the perfect guy to fit into her perfect world. She plans on Summer being nothing but three uneventful months of fun, but it turns out to be anything but ordinary when Payton is introduced to Nick Hawke, one of Jessie’s old Collinsville friends. She is shocked by her immediate and intense attraction for “Hawke” because nothing about him is what Payton is looking for. Sure, he’s hot and sexy but he comes from Collinsville and that is definitely not on her list of prerequisites. Everything about him makes Payton’s heart speed because he is exciting and dangerous, but his fast car and the dangerous chances he takes aren’t what scares Payton the most…it’s the way Nick Hawke makes her feel every time he looks at her. Can Payton find that moment of total fearlessness and make the decision to leave the safe, shallow end of love to risk going under completely?


Shallow by Georgia Cates

Payton Archer is a take no prisoners, lay it all out there kind of girl. Nick Hawke is a player and has had more than his fair share of female attention. Yet when the two meet, sparks fly and from then on, neither can get the other out of their mind.

Nick is an adrenalin junkie, and Payton is by no means backing down from the challenges he presents to her. But she also doesn’t want to be just another notch on his bedpost. Add to that the pressure from her parents to stay away from him, and his mother issues, and it’s a volatile combination. Payton and Nick must decide if they want to stay away, or explode with each other.

This book wasn’t exactly a sequel to Going Under, it was more of a spin-off. The Payton in question is Claire’s best friend from Going Under, whom I loved for her wit and quick, sarcastic insults. She definitely comes back with more in Shallow.

When they first meet, Nick is taken aback by Payton’s attitude and simply her difference from every other conquest he’s ever had. He makes a bet with her, and if she loses, she must go on a date with him. From there, the relationship moves pretty quickly, though I never felt that insta-love vibe.

I adore Payton so much. She is NEVER afraid to speak her mind, no matter to whom. There were several quotes from her that had me literally laughing out loud. But she’s also quick tempered, and it doesn’t take much for Nick’s past to anger her.

The sexual energy between Nick and Payton was HOT, HOT, HOT! They are sexual opposites–Payton is a virgin, while Nick is the farthest thing from one. Despite that, I was really touched with how Nick went against his own personality to take his time with her.

I didn’t feel like the drama in this book was on the same level as Going Under. Also, I thought the end moved pretty fast. I was a little annoyed by how little it took for Payton to believe and forgive Nick in the end.

This book drew me in right from the beginning and never let go. This is the fourth book I’ve read from Georgia Cates, and I am definitely a huge fan!!

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About the Author

I am a wife, mother of two daughters and a labor and delivery nurse. I have recently added Paranormal Romance Writer to my list of things to keep be busy, but I am ecstatic to release my debut novel, Blood of Anteros, the first book in The Vampire Agápe Series.  I am also the author of Going Under and Shallow.

Like others that enjoy a great story of paranormal romance, I am easily bored by the tale of an obtainable, ordinary romance and was inspired to create The Vampire Agápe Series. When I am not tied up with my family or delivering babies, I am working feverishly on the third book in The Vampire Agápe Series.

Twitter: @GeorgiaCates

BOOK TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Going Under by Georgia Cates

Going Under

by Georgia Cates

Going Under Series, Book One

Book Description

Jessie Boone is a self proclaimed bad boy and doesn’t march to the beat of anyone’s drum, but his own. Growing up in less than desirable circumstances has made him no stranger to the hard knock life and his determination to leave it behind is fierce. When he finds himself transferred to East Franklin High School, he sees his opportunity to use his athletic ability to snag a college football scholarship, but Forbes Henderson, the player Jessie means to replace isn’t giving up his spot willingly. In fact, Forbes is willing to go to extreme measures to retain his place as first string quarterback. When Forbes’ malicious plan to injure his replacement fails, Jessie is furious and determined to show him he messed with the wrong person; not only is he going to take the position of first string quarterback, he’s going to take his girl, too.

Claire Deveraux is perfection at it’s best. She is beautiful, intelligent and unaware she just became Jessie Boone’s conquest as revenge against her boyfriend, Forbes Henderson. Like her flawless performance as the perfect daughter and student, Claire’s production of being the perfect girlfriend has everyone fooled, except Jessie Boone, and she fears this tattooed bad boy will see her secret desire to explore his crude threats and promises to rock her perfect world. If she decides to give in to one uninhibited moment with Jessie, will she learn too late that it was all an act of vengeance or will Jessie learn the taste of first love is sweeter than that of revenge?



Going Under by Georgia Cates

Jessie Boone is just starting in a new school full of rich kids after dire circumstances forced him to move in with his drug dealing grandma. Claire is the quintessential beautiful cheerleader dating the quarterback. But when Jessie and Claire come together, sparks fly.

But if they want to be together, they have more than their fair share of hurdles to get over. Claire needs to ditch her controlling, two timing boyfriend, and Jessie has to figure out a way to keep Claire from learning the sad truth about his life. Unfortunately for both of them, the truth always has a way of coming out.

As I was reading this, I definitely noticed it had a lot in common with Pushing the Limits, but this book was published first (interesting.). However, I felt this story was better told.

The story is told from both Jessie and Claire’s alternating points of view, which I loved. With a book that is so centered in a relationship, I believe it’s important to get to see each person’s true feelings.

Jessie put on a tough front, which of course was necessary for him to just make it through his everyday life. But I loved that he was sensitive even from the beginning. I know that sounds like a YA stereotype, but he was different. It’s something I can’t explain, you just need to read the book to understand.

Claire was OK on her own, but overall I enjoyed Jessie’s chapters more. Claire’s best friend Payton was actually more entertaining for me.

The chemistry between Claire and Jessie was sizzling and palpable, but the book actually keeps their physical contact pretty clean. I love that they didn’t jump into bed together quickly. I believe this is important in YA books, and lets teen readers know that a relationship doesn’t necessarily need sex for it to be hot.

As the book got to its’ ending chapters I felt my emotions being wrenched. The story definitely got to me, and I loved the way it ended, even though it was a little bit too perfect.

I believe this is a book that everyone will love, and the author has a gift for making readers feel what the characters are feeling.

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About the Author

I am a wife, mother of two daughters and a labor and delivery nurse. I have recently added Paranormal Romance Writer to my list of things to keep be busy, but I am ecstatic to release my debut novel, Blood of Anteros, the first book in The Vampire Agápe Series.  I am also the author of Going Under and Shallow.

Like others that enjoy a great story of paranormal romance, I am easily bored by the tale of an obtainable, ordinary romance and was inspired to create The Vampire Agápe Series. When I am not tied up with my family or delivering babies, I am working feverishly on the third book in The Vampire Agápe Series.

Twitter: @GeorgiaCates
The author is offering a tourwide giveaway.  Prizes:
 US Only: (2) Signed print copies of GOING UNDER
(2) GOING UNDER T-Shirts
International: (5) eBook copies of GOING UNDER and SHALLOW


BOOK TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: My Boyfriend Merlin by Priya Ardis

My Boyfriend Merlin

by Priya Ardis

My Merlin Series, Book One

Book Description

He was a little older than he was letting on. By a few eons…

In this modern Arthurian, 17 year-old Boston high schooler Arriane, aka Ryan, DuLac just found out the guy she’s been crushing on, hot biker Matt, is a little older than he was letting on. In fact, he is really Merlin—the Merlin, King Arthur’s Merlin, the greatest wizard who ever lived. Frozen in a cave for over fifteen hundred years, he’s woken for a purpose. But Ryan’s not impressed. Tired of being a relationship loser, she’d rather kick his legendary behind.

Sure, the world has been crazy ever since the sword and the stone fell out of the sky like a meteor. But despite gruesome gargoyles, a deadly new world of magic, and the guy driving her crazy, Ryan knows that family is everything. Will Merlin sacrifice hers to save the world? Will she be able to stop him?


My Boyfriend Merlin by Priya Ardis

Ryan DuLac is a high school student with some problems: she and her boyfriend Matt have just called it quits, and since her mother’s death, she’s been living with a close friend of the family. But everything in her life is about to get way more complicated.

When Ryan loses her best friend in a freaky dragon attack, she learns that there’s more to the world than meets the eye. Magic is real–and Matt is not really Matt. Ryan quickly gets on the track to becoming an unlikely hero.

This book was a really cool spin on Arthurian legend..not quite a retelling, but all the components we know and love are there: Merlin, Excalibur, the Lady of the Lake. Along with a few unique chracters I really loved.

I really liked Ryan from the start of the book, and as it progressed she got even cooler for me. Though she was thrown some pretty unbelievable roadblocks, she stood strong and didn’t rely on anyone to help her. She worked out her own problems and was not falling all over herself around the guys. And…I’m always a sucker for a girl who punches a guy in the face 🙂

Matt is Ryan’s ex, and he actually turns out to be Merlin, the legendary wizard. Although he has broken Ryan’s heart, there is a reason behind it. He was a truly nice guy but very focused on his work. Vane is Matt’s brother, also a wizard. He’s more of a loose cannon and the brothers have some issues between them. Although Vane and Ryan clash, they can’t stay away from each other and things get pretty heated. So yes, this book does have somewhat of a love triangle, which I usually hate. But the chemistry between Ryan and the two brothers was really sizzling, and I like it when I actually have no idea who the heroine will pick. The triangle kind of reminded me of Damon-Elena-Stefan from The Vampire Diaries (one of my fave shows).

I loved the romance aspect of the book, but the action was definitely not lacking. Fast-paced scenes start very soon in the book, and they are interspersed nicely throughout the novel. This made it a very compelling read, and I never got bored.

The author did a very nice job with weaving the traditional Arthurian elements with completely original supernatural ones, and I really enjoyed reading this novel. I am definitely excited for the next!

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About the Author

Priya Ardis loves books of all kinds—but especially the gooey ones that make your nose leak and let your latte go cold. She started her first book at sixteen, writing in notebooks on long train rides during a hot summer vacation in India. Her favorite Arthurian piece is the poem The Lady of Shalott by Lord Alfred Tennyson. A hopeless romantic, she’s a longtime member of the Romance Writer’s of America. When not living in her characters’ world, she might be found at the local coffee shop—her nose buried in a book.
You can win paperback or ebook copies of the first two books in the series!


REVIEW: Breathe by Sarah Crossan


by Sarah Crossan

Breathe Series, Book One

Book Description

Inhale. Exhale. 
Breathe . . .
The world is dead.
The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.

has been stealing for a long time. She’s a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she’s never been caught before. If she’s careful, it’ll be easy. If she’s careful.

should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it’s also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn’t every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.

wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they’d planned a trip together, the two of them, and she’d hoped he’d discover her out here, not another girl.

And as they walk into the Outlands with two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?


Breathe by Sarah Crossan

*Below is a review that will most probably make people mad at me…*

Quinn, Alina, and Bea are teenagers in a dystopian future where the atmosphere has been depleted of oxygen, making it impossible for anyone to breathe. As a result, The small population of survivors from The Switch now lives in a structure called The Pod, where air is pumped in and pretty much every aspect of life is controlled by an oppressive government (any of this sounding familiar yet?).

Quinn is the oldest son in a prominent family, and happens to be best friends with Bea, a brilliant but poor girl who has high aspirations. Alina is a member of a resistance group that plans to bring Breathe (the government) down. When Quinn meets Alina, he immediately becomes interested in her, and soon all three of the kids’ lives are intertwined, for better or worse.

Breathe was one of the most anticipated releases of Fall 2012. I was one of those bloggers who heard about it ages ago and immediately put it on my TBR list. But unfortunately, the book description that roped me into wanting to read this book was just about the only compelling thing about it.

I was so excited to start reading this book, but once I started, the many shortcomings I found made me not want to finish it. First off, maybe it’s just me having dystopian overload, but I feel like I have read this story. So. Many. Times. Pure by Julianna Baggott comes to mind, countless others. It’s kinda like the author went down a dystopian novel checklist:
-Oppressive Government: CHECK
-Resistance group with a crazy leader: CHECK

Then there was a YA checklist:
-Love triangle: CHECK
-Non-existent/non-caring parents: CHECK
-Whiny girl, idiot boy, kickass (but not quite) heroine: CHECK

So many things about this book didn’t make sense to me. Just for example: the kids find a drifter, an older lady named Maude. She explains that before The Switch, she was training in the medical field. That would take a person with fairly high intelligence, correct? Well, in this book she talks as if she just stepped out of 1870’s Appalachia. “I weren’t no threat.” and such. Maybe I picked things apart, but hey, I’m a reviewer so things like this catch my attention.

Characterization was severely lacking in this novel, and I’d be hard pressed to say I found redeeming qualities in any of the characters. Quinn made me want to punch him several times, Alina just wasn’t the smartest, and Bea had no backbone. The sort-of-but-not-quite love triangle was very annoying.

There are several other things I had issues with, but honestly, I am tired of talking about this book and I’m ready to get it out of my mind. I only finished it because I started it…and I kind of wish I hadn’t.

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BOOK TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Tools of Prophecy by Michael A. Rothman

Tools of Prophecy

by Michael A. Rothman

The Prophecies Series, Book Two

Book Description

The TOOLS OF PROPHECY is the second volume in an epic saga which describes a prophecy that has placed the Riverton brothers in the lead roles of a struggle to save their world from being overrun by unspeakable horrors. This destiny requires that they face off with the demons that nearly destroyed their world over five centuries ago.

In the first book, the population of wizards had been practically eradicated by the former tyrant. The Rivertons are now charged with creating an Academy of Magic, recruiting qualified students, and furthering their own training with secrets that have long been held by the reclusive elves.

Despite their youth, a mysterious spirit has engaged them in an epic struggle to gain mastery of their newfound skills, help raise and train two armies, and stay alive long enough for their final showdown with destiny.

The only things that stand in their way are the assassins hired to destroy them and the Demon Lord’s minion who holds a personal grudge and intends to witness the young boys’ deaths.


*Spoiler warning! This review is of the second book in a series and possibly will contain spoilers from the first book.  You can find my review of the first book, Heirs of Prophecy, HERE. *

Tools of Prophecy by Michael A. Rothman

Two years have passed since the Riverton family arrived in Trimoria and acquired their magical powers. But a new threat is never far away, and dad Jared Lancaster knows his boys and everyone else close to him must be prepared when that threat nears.

So the boys are sent to train and strengthen their powers with the elves, and Jared opens a school where all citizens who show some magic potential can attend. New allies and old friends come together to face the latest evil Sammael has to offer.

Even though it had been several months since I read the first book in this series, I found it quite easy to slip back into the wonderful world Michael Rothman has created. The author does a fantastic job of refreshing the reader’s memory at the beginning of the book without repeating too much information.

I flew through reading this novel quite quickly. I really enjoyed seeing Ryan and Aaron get stronger, but I felt this book was a bit more lopsided on character focus than the previous one. I would have like to have seen more from the perspective of Aaron, especially, as his brother seemed to get more space in the book. I was used to being able to see what everyone was doing and thinking in the first book, so I kind of missed that here. We did, however, get a closer look into the wicked queen Ellisanethra and a brief look at the behind the scenes at demon lord Sammael’s world.

With the building of the magic school we saw the introduction of several new characters, and they all bring with them a distinct personality. A few already familiar characters get unexpected powers, as well.

I thought his book was quite a bit slower than the first–less outright action, and more suspense building. Where in the first book I could see several parallels to other fantasy series, I thought this book began to stand out and create it’s own unique niche.

Tools of Prophecy is a fantastic follow-up to Heirs of Prophecy. Both are clean, fun, fantasy reads that readers young and old will devour.

View all my reviews


About the Author

I am an Army brat and the first person in my family to be born in the United States.  This heavily influenced my youth by instilling a love of reading and a burning curiosity about the world and all things within it.  As an adult, my love of travel allowed me to explore many unimaginable locations.  I participated in many adventures and documented them in what will be a series of books.  Some might put these books in the Fantasy genre, and I never had issues with this label.  After all, the adventures were, without any doubt in my mind, fantastic.  I simply quibble with the label of “Fiction” that some might put on these tales.  These tales should be viewed as historical records, more along the lines of a documentary.  I’ve learned one thing over the years.  Magic is real.  Keep exploring, and you too will find your magic.


You can win SIGNED paperback copies of Heirs of Prophecy and Tools of Prophecy!


REVIEW: Josie Griffin is NOT a Vampire by Heather Swain

Book Description

When former good girl turned rebel Josie Griffin gets busted for what was in her mind perfectly acceptable revenge on her cheating dog of a boyfriend, she lands herself in anger management therapy. It could be worse: it could be juvvie, or she could be a zombie cheerleader like the rest of her former friends. But there’s something strange about therapy–these are not normal kids. There’s the wannabe ladies man with a weird accent, Johann; the blindingly gorgeous Helios; Avis with his wild dreads; and Tarren, the sprite of a girl with a wicked temper. And all of them keep talking about “powers.” Josie knows that has to be impossible, but strange things start happening, and nothing weird ever happens in Indiana. After all, there’re no such things as vampires, werewolves, Greek gods, or fairies . . . right?


Josie Griffin has been sentenced to anger management classes after destroying her cheating boyfriend’s car with a baseball bat. Once she gets there, she finds out that the other kids in the group are a bunch of wackos–claiming to be vampires, faeries, and oh yeah, Greek gods. But Josie is determined to get through the course and the laborious community service she has been assigned to.

As Josie gets to know her group mates, she realizes that as far out as it sounds, they were all telling the truth! Not only is she now friends with a pack of supernatural creatures, she’s also trying to uncover a mystery in the shelter where she’s doing her community service; girls are going missing without a trace. Can Josie and the group of paranormal misfits find out the truth?

This book pulled me in from the very beginning, but as I read on I struggled with knowing what rating I would give it. I couldn’t decide if this novel was hilarious or ridiculous (and believe me, it’s a fine line), so I ended up rating it right in the middle.

Josie is likable enough–she gets points just for beating up her ex’s car with a bat!–but I never really connected with her. The characterization wasn’t very deep in this novel, and I think that’s why I didn’t connect with anyone. The relationship between Josie and Helios was pretty weak. As a matter of fact, it was more interesting to watch Johann the awkward vampire fawn all over Kayla. That, at least, was funny. The group was diverse but not intriguing as a whole.

The writing was trite at times, with Tarren the dyslexic faerie botching her speech, and Josie misunderstanding things often. Though I did enjoy when Tarren mixing up her words resulted in spells which did not work they way they were intended.

I figured out the ending about halfway into the book, so when it turned out as I expected it would, that was a bit of a disappointment for me. In my opinion, this was just a very “meh” book that just left me with a few weak smiles and a lack of any other strong emotion.


*Thanks to Around the World ARC Tours for allowing me to review this ARC.

REVIEW: Zom-B by Darren Shan


by Darren Shan

ZOM-B Series, Book One

Book Description

When news reports start appearing of a zombie outbreak in Ireland, B’s racist father thinks it’s a joke– but even if it isn’t, he figures, it’s ok to lose a few Irish.
B doesn’t fully buy into Dad’s racism, but figures it’s easier to go along with it than to risk the fights and abuse that will surely follow sticking up for Muslims, blacks, or immigrants. And when dodging his fists doesn’t work, B doesn’t hesitate to take the piss out of kids at school with a few slaps or cruel remarks.
That is, until zombies attack the school. B is forced on a mad dash through the serpentine corridors of high school, making allegiances with anyone with enough gall to fight off their pursuers.


Zom-B by Darren Shan

B is a high school kid who lives in London with a racist, abusive alcoholic father, and a mom who doesn’t stand up for herself. B hangs out with a tough group of friends, and has gotten a bit of a reputation.

When the zombie attacks that happened in Ireland (which B and family did not believe were real) come breaking through the front door of B’s high school, race and reputation don’t mean much. After all, zombies don’t notice skin color when digging through someone’s skull to devour their brains.

Well, I never had trouble getting into this book, but I will admit it had a slow start. Besides the prologue, it took more than half the book for zombie action to even happen. But once it did, HOLY CRAP.

The entire first half of the book was basically showing the foundation of B’s dysfunctional family. The father, Todd, is an extreme racist who believes England should be whites-only. Todd drinks too much and takes his frustrations out on his wife, until B gets between them.

Yet in spite of this abuse, B has a sick desire to please Todd. B regularly bullies a black kid named Tyler, and picks fights for no reason. Even though B knows it’s wrong, the urge to make Todd proud is a strong one.

So, then zombies attack at B’s school one day. I must say, this was a zombie novel done right. Blood and gore are not spared in the narrative, and it’s awesome. The undead hordes quickly consume kids in their path, using sharp nails to drill through skulls like plywood. B and friends form a large group to try to find some escape, but their numbers start dropping quickly. Imagine B’s surprise when one of the strongest, most level headed members is a black boy.

As I said, the first half of the book was slow, but the GIANT twist at the end and the explosive final page, combined with an abundance of zombie gore, more than made up for it in my opinion.

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Thanks to Around the World ARC Tours for allowing me to review this ARC.