My Diary from the Edge of the World – Jodi Lynn Anderson

My Diary from the Edge of the WorldGracie lives in a United States that is not altogether like ours in a world that is flat.  Oh sure, there are the 50 states, but beyond that it is a world of dragons, sasquatches, witches, ghosts, angels, and clouds that come for people who are dying.  This is the story of spunky middle child, Gracie and her family.  Perfect older sister Millie, sweet younger brother Sam, loving mother, scientist father, and orphan Oliver are trying to out run a cloud that appears to have come for Sam.  They have heard of The Extraordinary World (our techno world that revolves around the sun) where they hope they can lose the cloud and save Sam’s life.  They quickly crowd into a Winnebago, leaving their home in Maine, head to their witch grandmother’s home in the Smoky Mountains, then journey through the wilds of the West.  Once there, they hire a guardian angel and a skipper to take them south by boat to the extraordinary world.

This delightful, enchanting, charming adventure story is chock full of well-drawn characters.  People in each world take in their marvels as commonplace.  While it’s a curious and interesting world, the family’s journey really is a desperate attempt to try and save the life of a child and going to the ends of the world to do so.  It’s a story of love and acceptance and family.  Unique and so readable – the diary musings of Gracie are wonderful and the perfect vehicle to tell this story.  Highly recommend.

eGalley review                         Publication date 11.3.15

Posted in adventure

Return Once More – Trisha Leigh

return once moreHumans left a ruined Earth and now reside in space colonies.  Kaia is in the final years of training to be a Historian.  This elite group travels back in time to observe history presumably to keep from making the same mistakes.  There are strict rules stipulating observation only with no interference that may change history in any way.  The consequences of even a minor influence could be disastrous.  Kaia celebrates her 16th birthday by receiving the name of her one true love.  Through a complex set of algorithms, scientist can determine your one true love in all the ages.  Sound great? Well, chances are highly likely that your true love lived and died many years before you were born.  Kaia learns her true love is Caesarion Caesar, the son of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra.  He was murdered at the age of 17, by Octavian of Rome to eliminate any possible threat to the Roman Empire.

Kaia tends to question authority and manages to travel back to glimpse her true love.  Oops, they actually speak and kiss.  Lots of very big violations with the time-space continuum.  Kaia isn’t the only one breaking the rules and she uncovers many untruths among the elder Historians.

There is a lot of reflection laced into the story.  We are told so many times about the potential ramifications of interfering with history that I tended to skim past the lectures and self-reflections.  The story is good, it just needed to move along at a faster pace for my taste.  The author poses an interesting premise of finding and observing your one true love.  And would you save that person if you could and risk future generations?  Teens should enjoy this selection, peppered with romance, danger, and intriguing what-ifs.

eGalley review                              Publication date 10.20.15

Posted in science fiction | Tagged ,

Written in Stone: A Journey Through the Stone Age and the Origins of Modern Language – Christopher Stevens

written in stoneSay pu. Your lips are pursed, nose wrinkled. There is an unpleasant look on your face. And pu in the Stone Age meant just what it means today – poo. On the other hand, mei makes your mouth stretch from side to side. It makes you do what you are saying – smile.

The hundreds of one syllable words used by Stone Age people are the roots of many words now used by half of the world. Christopher Stevens takes the reader through the alphabet describing the words that sprang from the roots, beginning with Ak (to be sharp or quick) and ending with Wid (to see truly).

He sprinkles the chapters with humor and is quite thorough. Perhaps he is a bit too thorough, for by the middle of the alphabet (Lab, to hand down) it was becoming a little monotonous. Also, I had hoped to learn how researchers assembled a language that had never been recorded. But, alas, that was never explained.

The book is interesting and informative, although I would suggest reading a few chapters at a time.

eGalley review                              Publication date 11.15.15

Posted in nonfiction | Tagged ,

Wolf by Wolf – Ryan Graudin

wolf by wolfAlternate history!  The year is 1956 and Nazi Germany and Japan rule most of the world.  To celebrate their domination, both countries select their best young men to compete in an arduous cross-country motorcycle race – The Axis Tour.  One year, a teen girl, Adele Wolfe, enters the competition and wins much to the delight of the Adolf Hitler, who has become both reclusive and surrounded by security.  Hitler celebrates the victory by asking the girl to dance.  This is the basis of a plan by the resistance to kill Adolf Hitler and topple the reign of terror.

This is Yael’s story.  She was brought to a Jewish death camp as a young child and selected for medical experiments designed to genetically change her appearance.  After her escape from the camp, she stumbles into the resistance where she is groomed to one day kill Adolf Hitler.  To do this, she must assume the identity of Adele and then win the grueling motorcycle race so she can get close enough to Hitler to kill him.

This is a really good book, really good.  I was rooting for Adele/Yael, her brother, and former victor, Luka, each in turn to win the race.  But of course there is only one winner.  The odds against the plan succeeding are immense but they must try.  Woven into the story is Yael’s past.  Her life in the death camp, the experiments, her dedication to the resistance, the lives lost, her life lost – the nuances in weaving the story from present to past and back again . . . brilliant!  The writing is extremely well crafted and succeeded in holding my attention throughout.  Never a dull moment or a misplaced word.  I want to know more about the real Adele Wolfe – why she entered the race and what really happened during that race, and also Luka’s backstory, plus the ramifications of Yael’s actions.  Wolf by Wolf is the first book of a duology, with the sequel due in Fall 2016.  This book will surely win many accolades.  Highly recommend.

eGalley review                            Publication date 10.20.15

Posted in adventure, highly recommend | Tagged , ,

SandRider: TodHunter Moon, Book Two – Angie Sage

sandriderThey’re back!  All the rich characters from the Septimus Heap series and the spinoff TodHunter Moon series bring another sparkling adventure to entertain.  I like Tod.  She’s smart and serious and works things out.  Rather than fretting about, she just handles it.  This time, we are meeting characters from a desert region where a young girl is thrust into an adventure after an evil man kidnaps her young sister.  His intent is to keep the girl hostage to force her mother to protect a mysterious egg that must hatch.  This is the Orm’s egg and after it hatches, will create Lapis Lazuli the stones that enable Magyk.  Tod and Septimus must not let the hatchling imprint on the evil sorcerer but first, they must find it.  Spit Fyre, feeling a kinship with the Orm, tracks the egg and sets up watch.

The adventures twist and turn while the characters reunite and part, to tell another delightful story.  These books are just fun to read.  With each publication, it’s like coming home.  Highly recommend!

eGalley review                     Publication date 10.13.15

Posted in fantasy, highly recommend | Tagged ,

A Thousand Nights – E. K. Johnston

A thousand nightsA desert demon has entwined itself into the mind of desert king Lo-Melkhiin.  The good king stays entrapped within a corner of his own mind while the demon rules the kingdom.  The demon, in the body of Lo-Melkhiin, travels from village to village taking a bride who rarely lasts the night.  He has killed 300  brideus until he comes to the tents of a wealthy merchant.  The oldest and most beautiful of two close sisters will surely be chosen as the next bride/victim.  But the younger sister dresses as the older and is taken to be the next bride.  She is different and has power of her own.  She survives a thousand nights as his wife and queen.

The description of the harsh desert life is described as wondrous yet hardening.  The strong female characters are central to the story, from Lo-Melkhiin’s mother to the servants who all play a part in helping this most recent bride.  The mystical elements can be a bit hard to follow, but it really doesn’t matter.  It is an enchanting story and cleverly told.

eGalley review                         Publication date 10/6/15

Posted in fantasy, folklore | Tagged ,

Madly – Amy Alward

MadlyThe Princess Evelyn mixed an illegal love potion with unintended disastrous effects.  A Wilde Hunt is called to find a cure for the princess and save the kingdom.  Samantha Kemi, who inherited a talent for mixing potions answers the call and teams with their family’s Finder who travels the world seeking rare ingredients.  Their direct competition is the father/son team who reportedly cheated Sam’s family during a previous Wild Hunt by developing a synthetic potion.  To complicate things, the son is the dashing Zain, reported boyfriend of the princess, the intended victim of the love potion gone wrong. Also in the race is the evil exiled aunt of the princess who is determined to win the hunt and takeover the kingdom.

The hunt for the rare ingredients takes them into dangerous regions and of course, Sam develops feelings for Zain.  Danger abounds at every turn and the race to save the princess appears doomed.  Samantha is a fun heroine and Zain plays a good role but it is resourceful Kirsty the finder who is intriguing.  There hopefully a story to come about her past adventures.  And Sam’s little sister, Molly, is brave and wise beyond her years and still developing her magic.  Madly is the first in a planned series and should be very successful.  I look forward to reading the next in the series.  Highly recommend!

eGalley review                                Publication date 9.29.15

Posted in adventure, fantasy, highly recommend