Daughter of the Pirate King – Tricia Levenseller

daughter-of-the-pirate-kingAlosa is part Siren and also the daughter of the pirate king and as such, quite dangerous.  Raised by her fierce father to fight, he tortured her to toughen her.  She has her own ship and mostly female crew under her command but ultimately under her father’s rule.  The story opens with her ship attacked by a rival pirate.  Most of her crew is murdered.  Her disguise does not work and she is recognized as the Princess Alosa.  She is captured and held for ransom.  But her capture was planned.  Her father wants her to search the ship for a missing piece of a map to treasure.  Alosa must play the part of helpless prisoner to rival pirate lords, brothers Draxen and Riden.  Draxen, the eldest is cruel but Riden, well, he’s charming.

Brimming with swashbuckling action, torture, fights, murder, and trickery this book is hard to put down.  Alosa is tough, cunning, skilled and fierce and that has come at a steep price.  Riden is the perfect hero.  At first we wonder if his charm is deceitful or is it authentic.  The story ends with so much left to tell and I eagerly await the sequel.  Highly recommend.

eGalley review                                                Publication date 2.28.17

Posted in adventure, highly recommend, Uncategorized | Tagged

Last Day on Mars – Kevin Emerson

last-day-on-marsTeens Liam and Phoebe are among the last people on Mars when a mass evacuation is underway due to the accelerated supernova of our sun.  Earth was evacuated decades before and the Mars settlement was only meant to be temporary until a suitable planet could be identified.  Liam and Phoebe’s parents are scientists whose last minute work is vital to successfully terraforming the new planet in a distant galaxy.  Saboteurs trap and injure their parents just moments before their evacuation on the massive starliner.  Liam and Phoebe rescue their unconscious parents but not in time to catch the starliner with a million souls on board, including Liam’s sister.  Liam’s small craft is not designed for deep space duration flights but Liam devises a plan to catch up at the nearest refueling station.  But can they outrun the saboteurs?

The story opens with a prologue featuring an alien who has the ability to leap galaxies and observe millennia of planetary evolution in a heartbeat.  She discovers a plot to interfere with the natural life of a star causing destructive supernovas far before their time.  It appears there are two sets of bad guys in the story.  Chock full of action, unbelievable near misses and a frantic race against time, Last Day on Mars is the first in the planned, Chronicle of the Dark Star series.  It’s a thrill of a read, packed with suspense, a plethora of unanswered questions, and cliffhangers.  Highly recommend.

eGalley review                                               Publication date 2.14.17

Posted in highly recommend, science fiction, suspense, Uncategorized | Tagged

Empress of a Thousand Skies – Rhoda Belleza

empress-of-a-thousand-skiesIn this science fiction political thriller, Crown Princess Rhee’s family is murdered when their space ship is blown up.  Rhee is raised an a planet away from the seat of the Empire and is to return when she is sixteen to claim the throne.  The day has come and off she travels back to her home planet.  Rhee is rather naive in not considering whoever was responsible for her family’s murder might try to have her killed as well.  Fortunately, she has had years of combat training and doesn’t die during the assassination attempt en route.  She did have unexpected help in the nick of time when Dahlen, a member of a religious order on another planet, comes to her aide and thwarts the attack.  The two begin a hazardous journey across the Empire to find safety and regroup, but first she seeks revenge on the one she blames for her family’s death and her assassination attempt.

Meanwhile, the empire has broadcast Rhee’s supposed death when her transport ship explodes.  Aly, a pilot in the military and star of a reality show, is blamed for the princess’s murder.  He has a bounty on his head and must run.  He never is quite clear on why he was blamed, but then he seems in the dark on rather alot as the plot twists and turns and tumbles poor Aly along.  There’s a whole lot of scheming going on when Rhee’s usurper plans to reignite the war her father worked so hard to end.

An absolutely excellent read!  Adventure and plot twists abound in this war-torn galaxy of political scheming.  Rhee makes plenty of mistakes and that’s normal – she’s only sixteen and in way over her head.  Aly also stumbles around just like the reader, never quite knowing who to trust.  This is a solid adventure/mystery/sci-fi romp for any tween or teen looking for a brisk and twisty tale.  Highly recommend!

eGalley review                                            Publication date 2.7.17

Posted in adventure, highly recommend, science fiction, Uncategorized

The Edge of Everything – Jeff Giles

the-edge-of-everythingZoe lives in an isolated cabin in Montana where the winters can be brutally cold.  During a blizzard, she finds her little brother almost frozen and they take shelter in an abandoned cabin where an elderly couple was murdered.  The murderer returns and it looking bad for them when a mysterious boy appears with the powers to drag the murderer to the Lowlands/Hell.  True love interferes and the boy ends up at Zoe’s cabin where her mother is rather anxious.  Zoe names him X, because he has no name.  He is a bounty hunter from the Lowlands for all eternity.  X violates rules so the masters of the Lowlands come for him and threaten those he now cares about.

This plot moves along briskly with plenty of action to spike the scenes.  We feel for Zoe’s family – dealing with the loss of their father who is presumed dead in a caving accident.  Banger and Ripper are two Lowland Bounty Hunters sent to the Lowlands for their own evil, but it seems they have turned a leaf.  Can they ever earn their way out of the Lowlands?  Probably not.  The premise of the story is a bit disconcerting since X is bound to the Lowlands when he has not done anything evil to deserve an eternity there.  There is a power above the Lowland masters that must be just as cruel to keep X in the Lowlands to be continually tortured and tested.  Still, this is a good read and teens will likely devour.

eGalley review                                   Publication date 1.31.17

Posted in horror, mystery, Uncategorized

The Murderer’s Ape – Jakob Wegelius

murderers-apeSally Jones is an ape.  She was captured years before and lived through many trials before the story opens.  She is highly intelligent and quite mechanically gifted.  Sally does not communicate vocally but can write and this story is her memoir that opens after she was saved by Captain Koskela.  Koskela and Sally sailed the seas, picking up cargo and delivering to ports around the world.  It was a happy and contented life, until they accepted a suspicious job that led to the sinking of their beloved ship and the imprisonment of Koskela in Lisbon for murder.  Alone in Lisbon, Sally is miserable and hides until she is befriended by Ana who has a beautiful and captivating singing voice.  The people that Sally meets during her journeys are building blocks to clear Koskela of his wrong conviction.

Each character that Sally meets is meticulously fletched out with a back story that adds to Sally’s adventures.  From the Maharadjan in Bhapur to the gentle accordion maker to troubled Alphonse Morro.  But it is Sally – her pure heart, her strong work ethic, her loyalty – Sally is the star.  She never gives up, she thinks and thinks until she has figured out a plan.  Except for those that are truly evil, Sally brings out the best in those around her.  I wish I had a Sally in my life.    The author also illustrates in beautiful detail, charming pictures that enhance the story.   It is a rather long book because Sally has amazing travels, fraught with danger, hardships, and delights and I wanted even more.  Originally published in Sweden, this book has already won awards in Europe.  The translation by Peter Graves is exceedingly well done so that the writing flows naturally. The Murderer’s Ape is one of a kind and should win accolades in the States. I am eager for the publisher to buy the rights to more from the author.   Highly recommend!

eGalley review                                                 Publication date 1.24.17

Posted in adventure, highly recommend, mystery, Uncategorized

Caraval – Stephanie Garber

caravelScarlett and Tella’s mother disappeared years ago, leaving them to be raised by an increasingly cruel father.  If he perceives one has misbehaved, he hurts the other as punishment. Their father is the governor of an island and has forbidden his daughters from leaving.  However, to improve the status of his name, he has arranged the marriage of Scarlett to a Duke on the mainland.  Scarlett has never met the Duke but envisions he will protect her and her sister and end their life of torment from their father.

Their grandmother told the girls stories about Caraval created by Legend – a magical play where the invited guests solve a mystery to win a wish.  Every year, Scarlett has written Legend to ask they bring the play to the island.  One year, she receives an answer and tickets to Caraval, located off the island.  The girls manage to get themselves to Caraval with the help of Justin, who joins Scarlett in the game . . . a deadly game with dire consequences.

Scarlett in many ways is a stereotype: protective big sister, marriage as a way out of a bad situation, poor judge of character, naive.  And there is a rather lot of introspection that the reader must endure.  Scarlett takes many missteps but that is fine.  For her first foray off the island and into this magical world of intrigue and deception, she does fairly well.  Caravel feels like a blend of Alice and Wonderland, Disney World and Murder Mystery Theater.  Tella is an interesting character that looks to have a larger role in the next book.  This is good and unique for YA lit.  Adventure, mystery, romance and magical games where nothing is as it seems.

eGalley review                                            Publication date 1.31.17

Posted in adventure, mystery, Uncategorized

An Eagle in the Snow – Michael Morpurgo

an-eagle-in-the-snowBritain’s most decorated private during World War I Henry Tandey. This is the fictionalized account of his life, his heroics, his bravery, and his morals.  Morals so strong he could not bring himself to shoot an injured German.  Years later, it is thought the life he spared was young Adolph Hitler.  The story of Private Henry Tandey unfolds when Barney and his mother are traveling to safety after their home was destroyed during the bombing of Coventry.  During the ride, an older gentleman retells the story of his friend’s exploits during World War I.

The story is a brief overview of a brave man, who did his duty, saved lives and did so without seeking recognition.  He repeatedly saved wounded soldiers and went on dangerous missions.  Brevity is key to this impactful story.  The focus is not on details of the battles, but on the man who shunned the spotlight while fighting for Britain.  Another excellent story from the acclaimed author.

eGalley review                                         Publication date 1.17.17

Posted in historical fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged ,