Title: Derek Agons Slays a Dragon
Author: Samuel Tucker Young
Release Date: February 17, 2014
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Characters: Derek is your average teenager, but a bit more intelligent and lonely, a “nerd” you could call him. His professor, Prometheus, is looking for a book that Derek has, but he has his own agenda. Then there’s this talking cat that seems to be deceiving not only Derek, but the whole animal kingdom in pursuit of this book, which he claims will help Derek kill a dragon and save the world. There is also a mythical girl, Tella, that Derek falls completely head over heels for. She’s a bit cold, but we find out why as the book goes on.
Plot: The title is slightly corny and it seems like a typical fantasy, but it is so not. Every time I thought I could figure out what happens, something totally unexpected, yet still realistic comes up. At first, Derek is kind of going with the flow, shell-shocked, not really believing that his mission is what will stop the earth from destruction. Then about halfway through, he realized how much is at stake. While he is mature in the beginning of the book, his choice will ultimately decide not only his fate, but every living thing’s.
Writing: This is really where the high rating comes from. While the plot is good and well-put together, it drags slightly through the middle and picks back up again. The writing, however, remains phenomenal throughout the entire novel. The characters seem typical – misunderstood teenaged boy, talking animals, evil professor – but the way Young describes and evolves them is what held my interest. I would recommend Derek Agons Slays a Dragon to lovers of young adult fantasy with a little bit of sci-fi and coming of age reality thrown in. Great characters and great writing.
Title: Of Dreams and Shadow (Forget Me Not #1)
Author: D.S. McKnight
Release Date: February 3, 2014
Publisher: Stone Bay Press
Synopsis: We live. We die. Is there anything more? Jenna Barton is about to find out. After moving to the coastal North Carolina town of Parson’s Cove, Jenna has unwittingly stepped into the middle of a mystery involving a missing child. Unfortunately, the predator is still on the loose and Jenna has become his new obsession. With a little luck and a bit of paranormal help, Jenna might survive.
Characters: Main is Jenna, who moved to Parson’s Cove with her mother from North Carolina. At first, she is lonely and bitter about leaving her friends, but then she starts making new ones and blending in. Then there is Chase, her next door neighbor and classmate, who seems to hate Jenna on the spot. When Chase was younger, he saw a little girl, Sarah, that lived in the house before Jenna vanish. But it turns out, Sarah was taken by a mysterious evil shadow who’s been around since the 1800’s. Jenna is your average teenage girl and other than her strong bond with her mother, I didn’t find anything remarkable about her, but she was developed enough to push the story along. Chase seems torn between love and hate for his new neighbor, so his behavior is kind of erratic for most of the novel.
Plot: Jenna’s new life is going smoothly until she finds an old, sparkling necklace in her backyard. Then she begins having terrible nightmares and visitations from a teenage girl, who she later finds out is Sarah. Sarah is still under the dark shadow, which is the spirit of an angry murderer named Silas. But Sarah wants to destroy Silas, so together, she, Chase, and Jenna come up with a plan to bury him permanently.
Writing: Although Jenna is the main character, the novel takes on the point of view of some of the other characters, including Chase and Silas. Since Silas has been around for a couple of hundred years, his thoughts and words are in Old English. McKnight nails this beautifully. She also portrays the modern-day teenagers in a realistic way. The story is captivating and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Although I think the ending happened a little too fast, the sequence of events flowed nicely. I would recommend Of Dreams and Shadow to all lovers of young adult, since it appeals to both paranormal and contemporary fans.
Synopsis: Grace Hathaway is no stranger to tragedy. At the age of ten Grace tragically lost both her parents in a boating accident, leaving her older brother James to take over the task of raising his two younger sisters. Grace tries to lead the life of a normal teenager, but assumes some of the responsibility of caring for her younger sister Michelle and taking care of her parent’s home. Grace is a talented aspiring artist mature beyond her years. Her world is turned upside down the day that Ian Taylor, misfit-rocker-rebel, clanks his way into her mathematics class. At first sight, Grace is taken by Ian’s alluring nature. The two fall deeply in love with each other quickly. After learning of Ian’s troubled family life James allows Ian to move into the Hathaway home. A dramatic turn of events sends Ian and Grace on the road to Los Angeles, CA where Ian pursues his dream of becoming a rock star. New challenges present themselves to Grace as Ian dives head first into the lifestyle of an LA rocker. Forced to grow up all too quickly, Grace is now faced with heart wrenching circumstances that change her life forever.
The Falling of Love is the first novel in a series of novels that will follow Grace Hathaway’s life and personal struggles. Everyone has a beginning to their story and an end…
This is the beginning of Grace’s story.
Characters: Grace and Ian are the two main characters, high-schoolers that fall completely head over heels for each other. At first, Ian puts up a surly front but knocks it down for Grace much faster than I expected. Grace is a sweet and responsible girl but oddly sexually experienced considering she was a virgin in the beginning of the novel. Other characters include Grace’s siblings, Melissa and James, and Ian’s best friend Jaden. All three of those characters are developed enough- I especially liked Melissa’s sassy attitude- but I couldn’t understand the motive behind almost any of James’s actions.
Plot: Ian and Grace meet, fall in love, and eventually move to California together after an unexpected situation arises. They are eager to leave their pasts behind, but then Ian gets a little too caught up in the rock star lifestyle. Fed up, Grace leaves and moves on with her life, but there is always a part of her that still loves Ian. He gets himself together and searches for her, but fears it may already be too late. The story is a lot like a typical young romance, but different as well since the characters had their own unique backgrounds. I found myself rooting for their love to pull through even though it may have been more toxic than good. This is the first book of a trilogy, so I’d be interested in reading what happens next.
Writing: Oldham uses great vocabulary and descriptions, but her sentence structure and grammar fall a little flat. I think if she played around a bit more with her words, the novel would have been fantastic, but unfortunately writing style can either make or break a book. The sequence of events flowed nicely and were intriguing enough for me to want to know what happens next, as well as the fate of the two lovers. I would recommend The Falling Of Love to those who enjoy young romance with a little bit of racy scenes mixed in.
Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Ruby Fields has always lived by the rules set up by her foolishly overprotective mother. As a result, she doesn’t go to school, she’s never been kissed, and almost everything she knows about life is what she has learned from old movies.
But now there’s this Joshua guy. He’s quirky, and he’s tall, and he uses “romantic” and “old-fashioned” in the same sentence.
And there’s Mrs. Wheeler, an eccentric retired Hollywood costume designer and Ruby’s new best friend.
When Mrs. Wheeler ends up in the hospital only a couple of days after telling Ruby her long-kept secret, Ruby decides to break her mother’s rules and embark on a journey that will change her life forever.
This heartfelt story will appeal both to young readers and adults who still remember the pain and beauty of growing up.
Characters: The novel is told in the voice of Ruby, a shy 17 year old girl who feels like she should have been born in another time period. Her best friend is 78 year old Mrs. Wheeler, who takes a turn for the worse halfway through the novel. Then there’s Joshua, a sardonic but adventurous and optimistic guy with Tourette’s Syndrome. Other characters include the many people Ruby and Joshua encounter on their journey to find Mrs. Wheeler’s long-lost relative, and Ruby’s mother who I found irritatingly stupid, but that may be because I’m a mother as well and wouldn’t subject my children to what she did. All of their characters had realistic flaws and strong points, and were easy to empathize with.
Plot: When Mrs. Wheeler’s health takes a turn for the worse, Ruby decides to find her long-lost daughter, who Mrs. Wheeler had to give up at birth, and reunite them before the former passes away. Joshua, who has feelings for Ruby, occompanies her across a couple of states. Along the way, they learn a lot about themselves, each other, and the world in general. The events flowed smoothly without any hesitation or dullness. They were realistic, except for the part where Ruby’s nuerotic mother accepts that she’s in another state with a guy. I expected her to race down the highway and snatch up her daughter. But then again, she didn’t seem to have any clue how to be a mother. But it was a good thing because Ruby was able to carry out her plans.
Writing: The plot isn’t the only thing that shines in this novel. Veen’s ability to create emotion from words is stellar. The combination of great sentence structure, description, and character development helped me get lost in the novel. I would recommend Just Like A Musical to all lovers of young adult with a penchant for some romance and non-traditional storylines.
Title: The Peregrine Prophecy (The Rithhek Cage Trilogy: Book 2)
Author: Darren T. Patrick
Release Date: December 4, 2013
Publisher: Darren T. Patrick
Synopsis: It’s been almost two months since Karsen Morgate fled Aystin, and he’s still running for his life. Colored with loss, death and betrayal, his journey has intersected with the nefarious Shroud and the deadly Fashwei, an ancient martial brotherhood trained in stealth and brutality.
With danger at every turn, Karsen does the only thing he knows to do: he keeps going. He still carries the Cloudstone carving bestowed upon him by Adept Noxyn, and is determined to deliver it to Adept Ghyre as he promised. The only problem is that Adept Ghyre is nowhere to be found—if he even still lives.
As Karsen slowly puts the pieces together, he comes to realize that his mission is more intricately tied up with the history of Tholann than he ever could have imagined—and more shockingly, it somehow involves the disappearance of his sister, Elysse, six years earlier. For it appears that Karsen himself is playing a central role in fulfilling an ancient prophecy, one that will bring him face to face with an unimaginably powerful evil, and lead him to the greatest mystery of them all:
The Rithhek Cage
Characters: The novel is in third person and takes the point of view of a few characters, but the main one would probably be Karsen, an adventurous and somewhat nervous boy and brother to Petr, a temperamental, raging murder-machine. Other characters include the two Adepts helping Karsen translate the coveted carving he is smuggling around Tholann, and Karsen’s sister Elysse, who is supposedly being guided through the mysterious Rithhek Cage to find treasure with a man named Kahlryn, who has a more sinister agenda for her.
Plot: Karsen is stumbling around a part of Tholann unknown to him, under the impression that he is there by accident, until he finds who he is looking for: Adept Ghyre. Ghyre, disguised as a falcon, helps Karsen understand the real reason why he is the one holding the carving and why it’s so important. Karsen is then lead to Adept Leod and his bookstore, where he finds out the reason why it is so urgent for him to unlock the secrets of the Cage. Meanwhile, Kahlryn is leading Elysse to the same spot with the promise of her finding Rithhek treasure. His secret plan, however, would devastate the human population of Tholann so it is up to Karsen to fufill his duty to stop him. This is the second book of the trilogy, and I didn’t read the first one. I didn’t need to, since this book tells the story so clearly.
Writing: Patrick’s story-telling ability combined with great sentence structure and awesome vocabulary is what really makes this novel a winner. I also enjoyed the dialogue, which helped me learn quite a bit about the characters themselves.The fantasy element is very heavy but the story is told so well that it was easy for me to understand exactly what was happening, and interesting enough throughout the entire novel to keep the pages turning. I would recommend The Peregrine Prophecy to all lovers of fantasy and I’m definitely interested in reading the third novel.
Title: Treacle Mountain
Author: F.W. Pinkerton
Release Date: August 28, 2013
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Synopsis: Growing up in a bad neighbourhood – just trying to get by and survive without support or love from any family or friends is all Annie has ever known. Can she now at the age of 17 make any difference and clean up the area she lives in when surrounded by drug dealers, prostitutes and generally the scum of society. Against all these odds will she ever be able to climb Treacle Mountain or always remain hidden away in the shadows crying alone?
Everyone has a bit of Annie in them: some choose to fight, some choose to lurk in the darkness and fly under life’s radar. Can Annie’s inner courage win and make a real difference?
Will a mysterious stranger change her life forever?
Set mainly in New York – Bronx
Contains adult language/ some sexual content
Characters: The novel is in the point of view of Annie, a poor girl living in the Bronx. Other characters include Destiny, her best friend/lover, the Kims, a family that takes her in, and a mysterious figure that seems to be following Annie.
Plot: Annie is a poor girl living in the Bronx trying to tackle each day of her grim life. She works at a soup kitchen run by a pair of nasty girls who are involved in some shady business. As Annie tries to get back at them for treating her badly, she runs into a guy that keeps turning up everywhere and claiming he’s her “friend.” Turns out he actually is a friend, but that part comes later. The story is interesting, especially the end, but the characters except for Annie and the Kims are not very developed. The events were realistic and were strung together nicely.
Writing: This is the area that brought my rating down. Pinkerton’s sentence structure and vocabulary are great, but his grammar and punctuation needs some help. It was distracting and took away from the good things like the well-developed plot. Also, the setting is in the Bronx, but the characters all spoke and thought with British words and phrases. An editor or another set of eyes and a dictionary of American slang would have enhanced this unusual and entertaining story.
Title: A Punk Rock Love Song
Author: C.I. DeMann
Release Date: November 9, 2013
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Characters: The novel is in first person, narrated by 16 year old Maggie, an awkward high schooler trying to get over her mother’s death. Other characters include her caring but alcoholic father, her awesome new friend Audrey, and a guy she has a super-crush on, Damian. This is one of the few novels I’ve read where I loved every character. You can’t not feel bad for Maggie and her situation, but she manages to put a humorous spin on everything that had me laughing more than crying. Not only were the characters likable, but they are very well developed and easy to imagine in real life.
Plot: Maggie has just lost her mother and is trying to deal with that in addition to her father’s drinking and of course, all the nuances of being a unknown high school sophomore. When she sees a band poster, she decides to take her late mother’s bass, practice, and try out. She doesn’t make it but she is surprised to find that she loves playing so she starts her own band. Since she puts herself out there, more people have the chance to see her warmth and charisma, helping her get over her past. Like I stated above, her story had me both laughing and crying.
Writing: The novel is written as a narrative with Maggie’s voice, and DeMann nailed it. I could honestly hear a shy 16 year old telling me her story as I was reading. Even though it is a young girl’s perspective, the descriptions and dialogue were realistic and intriguing. DeMann’s sentence structure and plot development are on-point. I would fully recommend A Punk Rock Love Song to all fans of young adult fiction, or anyone who has had a rough time and needs a laugh as well as a character to identify with.